UC Davis School of Medicine

A Publication of UC Davis School of Medicine

Volume 12 • No 3 • Winter 2015

Body of Knowledge


A summary of recent findings in clinical, translational and basic science research at UC Davis

vitamin d pills

Vitamin D insufficiency among the elderly is highly correlated with accelerated cognitive decline and impaired performance, particularly in domains such as memory loss that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, researchers with the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center and Rutgers University found. The effect is “substantial,” with declines at rates three times faster than those with adequate vitamin D levels.

illustration of cells

UC Davis researchers have shown that the protein LRIG1 reduces breast cancer invasion and could potentially help control metastasis. Using aggressive basal-like breast cancer cell lines, the scientists found that restoring LRIG1 expression reduced these cells’ growth and invasiveness.

pathology slide

In findings never before seen in melanoma, a novel combination therapy was found to be highly effective at treating patients with skin metastases. UC Davis research found that Interleukin (IL)-2 combined with imiquimod and topical retinoid therapy in patients with so-called “in-transit metastases” is a promising therapeutic option.

illustration of human spine

UC Davis scientists have revealed that a biological process called endoplasmic reticulum stress, or ER stress, is the significant driver of neuropathic pain that affects millions of patients. The discovery will now allow researchers to specifically search for agents to control ER stress and its downstream pathways.

chili peppers

UC Davis researchers have identified the molecular interactions that allow capsaicin – the ingredient that makes chili peppers spicy and hot – to activate the body’s primary receptor for sensing heat and pain. The research paves the way for the design of more selective and effective drugs to relieve pain.


A comprehensive UC Davis study demonstrated that pediatric telemedicine consultations with rural emergency departments save money compared to telephone consults. While telemedicine systems are expensive to install and maintain, they more than pay their way, saving an average $4,662 per use.

medical diagram of a kidney

Kidneys transplanted from infants who died of birth-related or other complications are less likely to fail due to a post-surgical vascular complication known as graft arterial stenosis (GAS) than kidneys from deceased adults, UC Davis researchers found. The outcome highlights the importance of using kidneys for transplant from even the smallest donors, authors said.