Dean Allison Brashear praises clinical trials program, wants to include more patients

School of Medicine Research Expo connects researchers to support centers and programs


The UC Davis School of Medicine Office of Research held its second Annual Research Expo at Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing on Wednesday, highlighting the facilities and programs available to support researchers’ work.

Allison Brashear, Dean of UC Davis School of Medicine
Allison Brashear, Dean of UC Davis School of Medicine

Ted Wun, the Associate Dean for Research at UC Davis Health, presented a summary of the research achievements of the School of Medicine and introduced Allison Brashear, the Dean of the School of Medicine.

“What you do is incredibly important and matters to our patients, their families and our community,” she said. Brashear, who joined UC Davis in July, addressed the dozens of researchers and more than 30 exhibitors. She expressed her amazement with all the exciting research happening at the School of Medicine.

In 2019, she said, the School of Medicine was granted $315 million in funding, a little bit more than a third of all the total UC Davis grant funding.

“That is an incredible amount of funding. Nationally, we are at the top 20% of medical schools in terms of research funding,” she commented.

Brashear, who is a neurologist, praised the stem cell program, the Alzheimer’s Disease Center and the Autism Center of Excellence - calling it the number one center in the country.

“We bring to Northern California innovative health services unique to our region,” she added.

Stem cell research and clinical trials

Dean Brashear spoke of UC Davis’ efforts to find cures to diseases through clinical trials.

“We are strong not just in basic sciences, but we are strong in clinical trials,” she said. “By the end of 2019, there will be 50 stem cell clinical trials at the Alpha Clinic. We are also bringing gene therapy, which translates basic science discoveries into cures for patients.”

Currently, there are more than 5,200 patients enrolled in clinical trials at UC Davis, with more than 200 principal investigators working in over 2,000 active clinical studies.

Ted Wun, Allison Brashear, Angela Haczku and Prasant Mohapatra

“At UC Davis, we put patients first and we strive to bring cures to them,” Brashear said. “My belief is that every single patient should have the opportunity to be involved in clinical trials. We need to be able to offer clinical trials to all patients.”

She also spoke of her memorable experience in visiting the first patient in California who was being infused with the new drug UC Davis helped develop for post-partum depression called Zulresso. “That is taking basic science all the way to the bedside,” she said. “That is what UC Davis is all about.”

Aggie Square

The School of Medicine has substantial research presence on both the Davis and Sacramento campuses. The expo was an opportunity to bring together representatives from both campuses.

Brashear reminded the audience about Aggie Square, the new campus that will be built in Sacramento as an innovation hub that will create educational and economic opportunities in partnership with businesses and community programs. Aggie Square will include state-of-the-art research facilities.

“One message I want you to take back is that Aggie Square is real, and it is going to happen just next door,” she said. “At Aggie Square, researchers will work to find the next cure for the next disease.”

Prasant Mohapatra, Vice Chancellor for Research at UC Davis, highlighted the promising role of Aggie Square.

“There are lots of activities that will be going on in Aggie Square with lots of potential for collaborations,” Mohapatra said.

More than 100 participants, including faculty, students and staff attended the event. They had the opportunity to learn about the various centers and programs through more than 30 exhibitors from Davis and Sacramento.

The Expo included presentations by the Cardiovascular Research Institute (Nipavan Chiamvimonvat), the Center for Precision Medicine (Fred Meyers), the Center for Reducing Health Disparities (Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola), Clinical and Translational Science Center (Ted Wun), the Eye Center (Paul Fitzgerald) and the Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing (Sheryl Catz). Angela Haczku, Associate Dean for Translational Research for the School of Medicine, moderated the presentations.