Recent News https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss Recent News for College of Biological Sciences en Survive, Thrive and Communicate: Baskin Award Winner Lynne Hagelthorn Explores the Chemical World of Plants https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/survive-thrive-and-communicate-baskin-award-winner-lynne-hagelthorn-explores-chemical-world <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Survive, Thrive and Communicate: Baskin Award Winner Lynne Hagelthorn Explores the Chemical World of Plants </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 20, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Hagelthorn-Zerbe-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg?h=f74b64af&amp;itok=rzHTdgtJ" width="1280" height="720" alt="Lynne Hagelthorn and Assistant Professor Philipp Zerbe" title="Baskin Award Winner Lynne Hagelthorn stand with Assistant Professor Philipp Zerbe, Department of Plant Biology. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Graduating senior Lynne Hagelthorn studies plant chemicals in the Zerbe Lab She&#039;s co-authored research papers published in ChemBioChem, Plant Physiology, PLOS ONE and The Plant Journal. After graduation, she&#039;ll spend the summer working in the lab of Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan before applying to grad school When Lynne Hagelthorn was in high school, she planned to pursue studying history as a college student. She loved speech and debate and was fascinated by how humans use language to understand and construct reality. But during her junior year, she took a biotech class and through it secured an internship in the lab of Distinguished Professor Richard Michelmore, director of the UC Davis Genome Center. Everything changed after that. After learning basic lab techniques, Hagelthorn would explore the Genome Center’s high-tech facility. “I’d see like all the posters and the research done and I’d be like, ‘This is something I want to do for the rest of my life,’” said Hagelthorn, now a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. Throughout her college career, Hagelthorn further indulged her passion for research. She joined the lab of Assistant Professor Philipp Zerbe and toured the world of plant biochemistry, learning how plant chemical compounds can be used to benefit human health. In that time, she co-authored research papers published in ChemBioChem, Plant Physiology, PLOS ONE and The Plant Journal. Hagelthorn is one of this year&#039;s recipients of the Ronald and Lydia Baskin Award, which recognizes a graduating senior for excellence in biological sciences research. “It feels really fulfilling,” she said of the honor. “Attending UC Davis was probably one of the best decisions of my life.” The underlying universality of plant communication Members of the Zerbe Lab study the various chemicals plants use “to survive, thrive and communicate in a constantly changing environment.” Among the hundreds of thousands of these chemicals plants produce, terpenes are the largest group, controlling things like growth or defense against stresses and pathogens. But all these chemicals originate from the same universal precursors. Hagelthorn’s research characterizes how these universal precursors eventually give rise to a legion of diverse plant chemicals. To unravel these biochemical pathways, Hagelthorn and her lab colleagues place plant genes in bacteria like E. coli. “We’re taking different genes that we don’t know what they do, putting them in a new organism and seeing what they actually make and how they work,” said Hagelthorn. “Plants are much better chemists than we are.” Hagelthorn has collected multiple awards for her dedication to research. In 2017, she was awarded the UC Davis Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship and the American Society of Plant Biologists Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. “I certainly benefited not only from Lynne contributing to our research, but also by her passion and effort in training new students and showing other students the benefits of joining a lab,” said Zerbe. “I think her time in my lab is a great example of how volunteering in a lab can be beneficial for undergraduate students, not only to gain research experience, but also to work directly with senior students and faculty to secure fellowships, explore what it is like to be a scientist and mentor, and find out where their career path in the broader science community might lead to.” In their PLOS ONE study, Hagelthorn and her Zerbe Lab colleagues examined genes from Isodon rubescens, a Chinese medicinal plant that’s “been used to treat respiratory and gastrointestinal bacterial infections, inflammation and malignant tumors.” “It has potential uses in anticancer pharmaceuticals,” said Hagelthorn, noting that researchers are particularly interested in a chemical compound called oridonin due to its antitumor properties. While mapping the biochemical pathways Isodon rubescens uses to produce compounds like oridonin, Hagelthorn and her colleagues discovered a previously unknown terpene in the plant called nezukol. In other plants, the terpene is known for its anti-oxidant properties. “We knew that compound existed, but we didn’t know it existed in Isodon,” said Hagelthorn. This teasing apart of plant biochemical pathways is the basis for drug discovery. By defining and mapping these pathways, scientists, like Hagelthorn and Zerbe, can uncover new compounds beneficial in the fight against the deadliest human diseases. For Hagelthorn, participating in this space between curious exploration and basic science application is what makes studying biology worthwhile.    Hagelthorn has collected multiple awards for her dedication to research. In 2017, she was awarded the UC Davis Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship and the American Society of Plant Biologists Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. David Slipher/UC DavisDreams of a place like Davis Outside of the research lab, Hagelthorn stays actively involved in the broader UC Davis community. She’s tutored chemistry at the Academic Assistance and Tutoring Centers, volunteered as a debate coach with a local high school and is involved in the LGBTQIA community. “I come from an LGBT community, where like a lot of my friends can’t afford their day-to-day meals because they were disowned by their families and are off on the streets,” said Hagelthorn. “Davis is a very welcoming place for LGBT people.”    Fostering such an inclusive environment is critical to the scientific endeavor. Diverse viewpoints prompt new questions and can lead to innovative solutions to problems that were previously never considered.  “It’s incredibly disheartening to never see people like you in science,” said Hagelthorn. “It means a lot when you can meet or look up to someone like you because it reminds you that you can also hopefully accomplish enough and be in that position as well.“ “I was very lucky, very privileged to be here and like be in the position that I was,” she added. “A lot of my friends are not that fortunate but they have dreams of being at a place like UC Davis.” Following graduation, Hagelthorn will take a gap year to work in the lab of Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan, Department of Plant Biology, before applying to graduate school. She’s set her sights on places like the University of British Columbia, located in Vancouver. “They have some really cool terpene work,” she said. “After that, I’m going to pursue a J.D. for biotech patent law.” When asked what advice she’d give to UC Davis students interested in research, Hagelthorn recommended not being afraid to reach out to professors if you’re interested in their lab. But before that, establish yourself academically first.  “Get your classes done, make sure you feel comfortable being a student because you’re a student first,” she said. “Take it one step at a time,” she added, noting that it’s important not to rush and to explore various interests. “You’ll get there eventually.”    Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter When asked what advice she’d give to UC Davis students interested in research, Hagelthorn recommended not being afraid to reach out to professors if you’re interested in their lab. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Senior biochemistry and molecular biology student Lynne Hagelthorn is one of the recipients of this year’s Ronald and Lydia Baskin Award, which recognizes a graduating senior for excellence in biological sciences research. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Graduating senior Lynne Hagelthorn studies plant chemicals in the Zerbe Lab</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>She's </strong></em><span><span><span><strong><em><span><span><span>co-authored research papers published in </span></span></span></em></strong><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cbic.201800580"><em><span><span><span>ChemBioChem</span></span></span></em></a><em><span><span><span>,</span></span></span> </em><a href="http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/178/1/54"><em><span><span><span>Plant Physiology</span></span></span></em></a><span><span><span>, </span></span></span><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176507"><em><span><span><span>PLOS ONE</span></span></span></em></a><em> </em><span><span><span><strong><em>and</em></strong> </span></span></span><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/tpj.13427"><em><span><span><span>The Plant Journal</span></span></span></em></a><em><span><span><span>.</span></span></span></em></span></span></span></li> <li><em><strong>After graduation, she'll spend the summer </strong></em><span><span><span><span><span><span><strong><em>working in the lab of Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan before applying to grad school</em></strong></span></span></span></span></span></span></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>When Lynne Hagelthorn was in high school, she planned to pursue studying history as a college student. She </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>loved speech and debate and was fascinated by how humans use language to understand and construct reality. But during her junior year, she took a biotech class and through it secured an internship in the lab of Distinguished Professor Richard Michelmore, director of the UC Davis Genome Center. Everything changed after that.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>After learning basic lab techniques, Hagelthorn would explore the Genome Center’s high-tech facility. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I’d see like all the posters and the research done and I’d be like, ‘This is something I want to do for the rest of my life,’” said Hagelthorn, now a senior majoring in biochemistry and molecular biology. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Throughout her college career, Hagelthorn further indulged her passion for research. She joined the lab of Assistant Professor Philipp Zerbe and toured the world of plant biochemistry, learning how plant chemical compounds can be used to benefit human health. In that time, she co-authored research papers published in </span></span></span><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/cbic.201800580"><em><span><span><span>ChemBioChem</span></span></span></em></a><em><span><span><span>,</span></span></span></em> <a href="http://www.plantphysiol.org/content/178/1/54"><em><span><span><span>Plant Physiology</span></span></span></em></a><span><span><span>, </span></span></span><a href="https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0176507"><em><span><span><span>PLOS ONE</span></span></span></em></a><em> </em><span><span><span>and </span></span></span><a href="https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/tpj.13427"><em><span><span><span>The Plant Journal</span></span></span></em></a><em><span><span><span>.</span></span></span></em></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Hagelthorn is one of this year's recipients of the Ronald and Lydia Baskin Award, which recognizes a graduating senior for excellence in biological sciences research. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It feels really fulfilling,” she said of the honor. “Attending UC Davis was probably one of the best decisions of my life.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/JApsSnF6l6M?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <h5><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>The underlying universality of plant communication </span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h5> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Members of the </span></span></span><a href="https://zerbelab.weebly.com/"><span><span><span>Zerbe Lab</span></span></span></a><span><span><span> study the various chemicals plants use “to survive, thrive and communicate in a constantly changing environment.” Among the hundreds of thousands of these chemicals plants produce, terpenes are the largest group, controlling things like growth or defense against stresses and pathogens. But all these chemicals originate from the same universal precursors. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Hagelthorn’s research characterizes how these universal precursors eventually give rise to a legion of diverse plant chemicals. To unravel these biochemical pathways, Hagelthorn and her lab colleagues place plant genes in bacteria like <em>E. coli. </em></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We’re taking different genes that we don’t know what they do, putting them in a new organism and seeing what they actually make and how they work,” said Hagelthorn. “Plants are much better chemists than we are.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Hagelthorn has collected multiple awards for her dedication to research. In 2017, she was awarded the UC Davis Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship and the American Society of Plant Biologists Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I certainly benefited not only from Lynne contributing to our research, but also by her passion and effort in training new students and showing other students the benefits of joining a lab,” said Zerbe. “I think her time in my lab is a great example of how volunteering in a lab can be beneficial for undergraduate students, not only to gain research experience, but also to work directly with senior students and faculty to secure fellowships, explore what it is like to be a scientist and mentor, and find out where their career path in the broader science community might lead to.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>In their <em>PLOS ONE</em> study, Hagelthorn and her Zerbe Lab colleagues examined genes from <em>Isodon rubescens</em>, a Chinese medicinal plant that’s “been used to treat respiratory and gastrointestinal bacterial infections, inflammation and malignant tumors.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It has potential uses in anticancer pharmaceuticals,” said Hagelthorn, noting that researchers are particularly interested in a chemical compound called oridonin due to its antitumor properties. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>While mapping the biochemical pathways <em>Isodon rubescens </em>uses to produce compounds like oridonin, Hagelthorn and her colleagues discovered a previously unknown terpene in the plant called nezukol. In other plants, the terpene is known for its anti-oxidant properties. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We knew that compound existed, but we didn’t know it existed in <em>Isodon,</em>” said Hagelthorn. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>This teasing apart of plant biochemical pathways is the basis for drug discovery. By defining and mapping these pathways, scientists, like Hagelthorn and Zerbe, can uncover new compounds beneficial in the fight against the deadliest human diseases. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>For Hagelthorn, participating in this space between curious exploration and basic science application is what makes studying biology worthwhile.    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Lynne Hagelthorn" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="16108bdd-b181-45c6-bc33-43cfb72e5fbc" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Hagelthorn-Zerbe-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-5.jpg" /><figcaption>Hagelthorn has collected multiple awards for her dedication to research. In 2017, she was awarded the UC Davis Provost’s Undergraduate Fellowship and the American Society of Plant Biologists Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h5><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Dreams of a place like Davis</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h5> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Outside of the research lab, Hagelthorn stays actively involved in the broader UC Davis community. She’s tutored chemistry at the Academic Assistance and Tutoring Centers, volunteered as a debate coach with a local high school and is involved in the LGBTQIA community.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I come from an LGBT community, where like a lot of my friends can’t afford their day-to-day meals because they were disowned by their families and are off on the streets,” said Hagelthorn. “Davis is a very welcoming place for LGBT people.”    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Fostering such an inclusive environment is critical to the scientific endeavor. Diverse viewpoints prompt new questions and can lead to innovative solutions to problems that were previously never considered.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It’s incredibly disheartening to never see people like you in science,” said Hagelthorn. “It means a lot when you can meet or look up to someone like you because it reminds you that you can also hopefully accomplish enough and be in that position as well.“ </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I was very lucky, very privileged to be here and like be in the position that I was,” she added. “A lot of my friends are not that fortunate but they have dreams of being at a place like UC Davis.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Following graduation, Hagelthorn will take a gap year to work in the lab of Professor Venkatesan Sundaresan, Department of Plant Biology, before applying to graduate school. She’s set her sights on places like the University of British Columbia, located in Vancouver. “They have some really cool terpene work,” she said. “After that, I’m going to pursue a J.D. for biotech patent law.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>When asked what advice she’d give to UC Davis students interested in research, Hagelthorn recommended not being afraid to reach out to professors if you’re interested in their lab. But before that, establish yourself academically first.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Get your classes done, make sure you feel comfortable being a student because you’re a student first,” she said.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Take it one step at a time,” she added, noting that it’s important not to rush and to explore various interests. “You’ll get there eventually.”    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Lynne Hagelthorn holds a bottle" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="b64e8ef3-857e-4ff8-a1e6-af8fa92794ef" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Hagelthorn-Zerbe-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg" /><figcaption>When asked what advice she’d give to UC Davis students interested in research, Hagelthorn recommended not being afraid to reach out to professors if you’re interested in their lab. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/students-campus-life" hreflang="en">Awards and Recognition</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/plant-biology-0" hreflang="en">Department of Plant Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biochemistry" hreflang="en">biochemistry</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-biology" hreflang="en">molecular biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/medicine" hreflang="en">medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/undergraduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Undergraduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/multimedia" hreflang="en">Multimedia</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 20 May 2019 16:02:52 +0000 Greg Watry 3236 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu A Menagerie of Model Organisms https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/menagerie-model-organisms <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">A Menagerie of Model Organisms</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 14, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Sean-Burgess-Masuda-Sharifi-Zebrafish-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.png?h=854a7be2&amp;itok=P9OdG-tn" width="1280" height="720" alt="Graduate student Masuda Sharifi and Professor Sean Burgess" title="Graduate student Masuda Sharifi and Professor Sean Burgess use zebrafish to understand how errors in meiosis lead to birth defects and miscarriage. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="What can a worm or fish tell us about the human body? When it comes to biology, quite a lot actually. In many cases, scientific inquiry begins with our relatives in the animal kingdom. For thousands of years, animals have helped humans advance biomedical research. From yeast and worms to fruit flies and mice, these creatures hold clues to the secrets of our own biology. Learn how UC Davis researchers are using animal models to answer basic biological questions that will build the foundation for revolutions in human health in the new feature story &quot;A Menagerie of Model Organisms.&quot; Designed by Steve Dana/UC DavisStay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "What can a worm or fish tell us about the human body? When it comes to biology, quite a lot actually. Learn how UC Davis researchers are using animal models to answer basic biological questions that will build the foundation for revolutions in human health in the new feature story &quot;A Menagerie of Model Organisms.&quot; " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>What can a worm or fish tell us about the human body? When it comes to biology, quite a lot actually. In many c</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>ases, scientific inquiry begins </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>with our relatives in the animal kingdom. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span> <span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>For thousands of years, </span></span></span></span>animals have helped humans advance biomedical research. From yeast and worms to fruit flies and mice, these creatures hold clues to the secrets of our own biology. Learn how </span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>UC Davis researchers are using animal models to answer basic biological questions that will build the foundation for revolutions in human health in the new feature story "<a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/model-organisms">A Menagerie of Model Organisms</a>."</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-center"><img alt="Zebrafish trading card" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="def26157-c650-4b92-9f67-fbb28419c497" height="384" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Zebra-Fish-Model-Organism-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis_1.png" width="274" /><figcaption>Designed by Steve Dana/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human and Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-and-cellular-biology" hreflang="en">Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/genome-center" hreflang="en">Genome Center</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/model-organisms" hreflang="en">model organisms</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/genetics" hreflang="en">genetics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-disease" hreflang="en">human disease</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 14 May 2019 18:14:41 +0000 Greg Watry 3231 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Engineering a Balanced Diet? Hormone FGF21 Promotes Protein Preference https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/engineering-balanced-diet-hormone-fgf21-promotes-protein-preference <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Engineering a Balanced Diet? Hormone FGF21 Promotes Protein Preference </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 13, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Mouse-Ryan-Karen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=b3660f0d&amp;itok=e_L1YU47" width="1280" height="720" alt="Mouse eating food" title="In a study appearing in Endocrinology, researchers identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. Pixabay" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Researchers identified the hormone FGF21 as a control for regulating dietary protein intake Male mice treated with FGF21 increased their intake of dietary protein over carbs and fats The identification could help researchers better understand organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development and aging To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference. But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other? After all, not all macronutrients are created equal. While carbohydrates and fats are stored as inert forms in the body for later energy use, proteins are broken down to amino acids, which provide the biochemical basis for muscle, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters, among other important molecules. When demand for amino acids exceeds the dietary supply, our bodies respond by breaking down muscle and other functional proteins. For this reason “protein intake has important effects on many aspects of health, from development to aging to metabolism to performance,” said Associate Professor Karen Ryan, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. In a study appearing in Endocrinology, Ryan and her colleagues, including Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Ph.D. student and lead study author Karlton Larson, identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. They found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. “FGF21 is a hormone that’s secreted primarily from the liver in response to nutritional stresses, and most strongly when the diet is deficient in protein or amino acids” said Ryan. “It increases energy expenditure and causes body weight and body fat loss in mice and for that reason, it’s been a target for development of treatments for metabolic diseases. But what we don’t understand very well is— what is its physiological role?” The study supports the hypothesis that FGF21 is used to promote protein homeostasis, in other words, to balance amino acid supply with demand, within the body. Ph.D. student Karlton Larson, Ryan and their colleagues found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. David Slipher/UC DavisShutting down sugary cravings? Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. She and her colleagues treated mice with FGF21 then gave them a choice between three different diets, each one consisting of a single macronutrient. The FGF21-treated mice decreased carb intake and increased dietary protein intake without a difference in total calories consumed. “That was really interesting to us because the homeostatic control of protein intake has been sort of an elusive concept,” said Ryan. “But here we have a hormone that is secreted in response to protein restriction, and when you give it to mice it leads to a compensatory increase in protein intake, so that caught our attention.” To confirm that FGF21 increased preference for dietary protein rather than avoidance of carbs, the team performed a series of two-choice diet tests. The diets were matched to different combinations of fats, proteins and carbs. “We knew that FGF21 decreased intake of sweet things,” said Ryan. “Whether it also regulates carbs independent of that was not clear. So we kept sugar constant across all diets.” Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. David Slipher/UC DavisIn the first test, mice chose between a diet of 22 percent fat, 18 percent protein and 60 percent carbohydrates or a diet of 22 percent fat, 4 percent protein and 74 percent carbohydrates. Upon treatment with FGF21, the mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet. In the second test, mice chose between a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent protein and 47 percent fat or a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent protein and 61 percent fat. Again, the FGF21-treated mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet. To further validate their findings, the team performed another test. They presented mice with a diet of 18 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 22 percent fat or a diet of 18 percent protein, 52 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. This time, FGF21 treatment did not change diet preference, supporting the hypothesis that FGF21 plays a role to specifically regulate dietary protein. Food on the brain Now that they’ve confirmed one of FGF21’s roles, the team wants to know how it accomplishes this, neurologically speaking. They’re currently investigating a receptor in the brain called β-klotho (Klb), a co-receptor for FGF21. When the team deleted Klb from the whole brain, FGF21 no longer increased protein intake. “We know something about how amino acids can de directly sensed by different parts of the brain,” said Ryan. But “we don’t where in the brain FGF21 is acting, so that’s really the first question we’d like to answer.” “Which specific neurons are necessary to convey the effects of FGF21 on protein intake, and then how do those potentially talk to other areas of the brain that are important for amino acid sensing?” she added. Identifying a hormone that regulates dietary protein could have important implications for understanding organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development, and aging, according to Ryan. A grant from the National Institutes of Health supported the study. Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "In a study appearing in Endocrinology, Associate Professor Karen Ryan and her colleagues identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. They found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>Researchers identified the hormone FGF21 as a control for regulating dietary protein intake</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Male mice treated with FGF21 increased their intake of dietary protein over carbs and fats</strong></em></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span>The identification could help researchers better understand organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development and aging</span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>To function daily, your body gleans energy from three food-derived macronutrients: carbohydrates, fats and proteins. How you divvy up </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>those macronutrients in your diet is a matter of personal preference. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>But what if you could train your brain to prefer one macronutrient over the other?</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>After all, not all macronutrients are created equal. While carbohydrates and fats are stored as inert forms in the body for later energy use, proteins are broken down to amino acids, which provide the biochemical basis for muscle, hormones, enzymes and neurotransmitters, among other important molecules. When demand for amino acids exceeds the dietary supply, our bodies respond by breaking down muscle and other functional proteins. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>For this reason “protein intake has important effects on many aspects of health, from development to aging to metabolism to performance,” said Associate Professor Karen Ryan, Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>In a study appearing in </span></span></span><a href="https://academic.oup.com/endo/article/160/5/1069/5364429"><em><span><span><span>Endocrinology</span></span></span></em></a><em><span><span><span>, </span></span></span></em><span><span><span>Ryan and her colleagues, including Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Ph.D. student and lead study author Karlton Larson, identified the hormone fibroblast growth factor-21 (FGF21) as a control for regulating dietary protein intake in male mice. They found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“FGF21 is a hormone that’s secreted primarily from the liver in response to nutritional stresses, and most strongly when the diet is deficient in protein or amino acids” said Ryan. “It increases energy expenditure and causes body weight and body fat loss in mice and for that reason, it’s been a target for development of treatments for metabolic diseases. But what we don’t understand very well is— what is its physiological role?” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The study supports the hypothesis that FGF21 is used to promote protein homeostasis, in other words, to balance amino acid supply with demand, within the body. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Karlton Larson and Karen Ryan" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="9a450c54-bb62-4294-bb2b-0cd46b1e3a4a" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Karen-Ryan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Web-2.jpg" /><figcaption>Ph.D. student Karlton Larson, Ryan and their colleagues found that male mice injected with the hormone increased their intake of dietary protein over carbohydrates and fats. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Shutting down sugary cravings?</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. She and her colleagues treated mice with FGF21 then gave them a choice between three different diets, each one consisting of a single macronutrient. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The FGF21-treated mice decreased carb intake and increased dietary protein intake without a difference in total calories consumed.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“That was really interesting to us because the homeostatic control of protein intake has been sort of an elusive concept,” said Ryan. “But here we have a hormone that is secreted in response to protein restriction, and when you give it to mice it leads to a compensatory increase in protein intake, so that caught our attention.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>To confirm that FGF21 increased preference for dietary protein rather than avoidance of carbs, the team performed a series of two-choice diet tests. The diets were matched to different combinations of fats, proteins and carbs. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We knew that FGF21 decreased intake of sweet things,” said Ryan. “Whether it also regulates carbs independent of that was not clear. So we kept sugar constant across all diets.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Karen Ryan" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="2f78a5a2-faf6-4610-ac31-ca43f7cafb2f" height="403" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Karen-Ryan-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-Web-3.jpg" width="269" /><figcaption>Inspired by research showing FGF21 decreased intake of sweet carbs like sucrose, Ryan wondered if the mice responded to the depletion of one macronutrient by increasing the intake of another. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>In the first test, mice chose between a diet of 22 percent fat, 18 percent protein and 60 percent carbohydrates or a diet of 22 percent fat, 4 percent protein and 74 percent carbohydrates. Upon treatment with FGF21, the mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>In the second test, mice chose between a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 18 percent protein and 47 percent fat or a diet of 35 percent carbohydrates, 4 percent protein and 61 percent fat. Again, the FGF21-treated mice shifted their preference towards the higher protein diet.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>To further validate their findings, the team performed another test. They presented mice with a diet of 18 percent protein, 60 percent carbohydrates and 22 percent fat or a diet of 18 percent protein, 52 percent carbohydrates and 30 percent fat. This time, FGF21 treatment did not change diet preference, supporting the hypothesis that FGF21 plays a role to specifically regulate dietary protein. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Food on the brain</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Now that they’ve confirmed one of FGF21’s roles, the team wants to know how it accomplishes this, neurologically speaking. They’re currently investigating a receptor in the brain called β-klotho (<em>Klb)</em>, a co-receptor for FGF21. When the team deleted <em>Klb</em> from the whole brain, FGF21 no longer increased protein intake.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We know something about how amino acids can de directly sensed by different parts of the brain,” said Ryan. But “we don’t where in the brain FGF21 is acting, so that’s really the first question we’d like to answer.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Which specific neurons are necessary to convey the effects of FGF21 on protein intake, and then how do those potentially talk to other areas of the brain that are important for amino acid sensing?” she added. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Identifying a hormone that regulates dietary protein could have important implications for understanding organismal health when it comes to metabolism, cognition, development, and aging, according to Ryan. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>A grant from the National Institutes of Health supported the study. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human and Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology-physiology-and-behavior" hreflang="en">Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neurobiology" hreflang="en">neurobiology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/nutrition" hreflang="en">nutrition</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/protein" hreflang="en">protein</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/carbohydrates" hreflang="en">carbohydrates</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/fats" hreflang="en">fats</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/public-health" hreflang="en">public health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/food" hreflang="en">food</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-cellular-and-integrative-physiology-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Molecular, Cellular and Integrative Physiology Graduate Group</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 13 May 2019 15:43:25 +0000 Greg Watry 3221 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Plant Biology Ph.D. Student Katie Murphy Wins Systemwide Grad Slam https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/plant-biology-phd-student-katie-murphy-wins-systemwide-grad-slam-0 <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Plant Biology Ph.D. Student Katie Murphy Wins Systemwide Grad Slam</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype=""> (not verified)</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 10, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/grad-slam-winner-uc-davis.jpg?h=86e97171&amp;itok=3SmmcrLr" width="1280" height="720" alt="Katie Murphy receiving Grad Slam check" title="Katie Murphy receives $6,000 check and trophy from UC President Janet Napolitano and Michael Brown, UC provost and executive vice president of Academic Affairs." typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Plant Biology Ph.D. student Katie Murphy of UC Davis won today’s UC Grad Slam, judged the best at summarizing her research in three minutes or less, for a general audience. She competed against other campus Grad Slam winners — and became the first UC Davis student to take the systemwide championship. Congratulations!   To learn more about Murphy and her research, check out our profile story on the &quot;Corn Queen&quot; Plant Biochemistry to Feed the World via the “Corn Queen” Katie Murphy There’s a small, fenced-in field near the Student Health and Wellness Center on the UC Davis campus. In the summer, you might find corn growing here, and among the rows, you might find Katherine Murphy weeding the field, hand pollinating the corn and finally harvesting it. This corn isn’t destined for the dinner table but rather the lab, where it’s used for research purposes to help feed our future. Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Plant Biology Ph.D. student Katie Murphy of UC Davis won today’s UC Grad Slam, judged the best at summarizing her research in three minutes or less, for a general audience. She competed against other campus Grad Slam winners — and became the first UC Davis student to take the systemwide championship. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Plant Biology Ph.D. student Katie Murphy of UC Davis won today’s UC Grad Slam, judged the best at summarizing her research in three minutes or less, for a general audience. She competed against other campus Grad Slam winners — and became the first UC Davis student to take the systemwide championship. Congratulations!</p> <div class="responsive-embed" style="padding-bottom: 56.25%"><iframe width="480" height="270" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/d_OMmB_JtjE?feature=oembed" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen=""></iframe></div> <p> </p> <p>To learn more about Murphy and her research, check out our profile story on the "<a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/plant-biochemistry-feed-world-corn-queen-katherine-murphy">Corn Queen</a>"</p> <a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/plant-biochemistry-feed-world-corn-queen-katherine-murphy" class="media-link"><div class="media-link__wrapper" data-url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/plant-biochemistry-feed-world-corn-queen-katherine-murphy"> <div class="media-link__figure"><img alt="" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="09b5a040-85d3-441a-b446-beb06ebfac08" height="284" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Katie-Murphy-Corn-Queen-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-3.jpg" width="190" /></div> <div class="media-link__body"> <h3 class="media-link__title"><span>Plant Biochemistry to Feed the World via the “Corn Queen” Katie Murphy</span></h3> <div class="media-link__content"> <p>There’s a small, fenced-in field near the Student Health and Wellness Center on the UC Davis campus. In the summer, you might find corn growing here, and among the rows, you might find Katherine Murphy weeding the field, hand pollinating the corn and finally harvesting it. This corn isn’t destined for the dinner table but rather the lab, where it’s used for research purposes to help feed our future.</p> </div> </div> </div></a> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/students-campus-life" hreflang="en">Awards and Recognition</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/plant-biology-0" hreflang="en">Department of Plant Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/corn" hreflang="en">corn</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/terpenes" hreflang="en">terpenes</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/agriculture" hreflang="en">agriculture</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biochemistry" hreflang="en">biochemistry</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/food-science" hreflang="en">food science</a></div> </div> </div> Fri, 10 May 2019 21:36:31 +0000 Anonymous 3206 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Aggie Hero: Marwa Zafarullah https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/aggie-hero-marwa-zafarullah <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Aggie Hero: Marwa Zafarullah</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype=""> (not verified)</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 09, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/marwa-zafarullah--hero-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=i9-hkP4N" width="1280" height="720" alt="Marwa Zafarullah" title="Courtesy photo" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="The culture shock hit Marwa Zafarullah right away. The native of Pakistan landed in the United States for the first time just four years ago, knowing little English and not having any family or friends to lean on for support. So, this graduate student in genetics made her own connections, got the support she needed, and is now giving back by mentoring her fellow international students and young women in science. She remains a key mentor for UC Davis’ community of international students, while also working to empower young students in her native country. She’s held summer sessions in Pakistan that highlighted the importance of women in science and higher education. “I’m still in contact with many of them and it was wonderful to get their feedback,” Zafarullah said. “They want to get educated but don’t know what to do. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.” This content originally appeared on the UC Davis Leadership website. Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "The culture shock hit Marwa Zafarullah right away. The native of Pakistan landed in the United States for the first time just four years ago, knowing little English and not having any family or friends to lean on for support. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The culture shock hit <strong>Marwa Zafarullah</strong> right away. The native of Pakistan landed in the United States for the first time just four years ago, knowing little English and not having any family or friends to lean on for support.</p> <p>So, this graduate student in genetics made her own connections, got the support she needed, and is now giving back by mentoring her fellow international students and young women in science.</p> <p>She remains a key mentor for UC Davis’ community of international students, while also working to empower young students in her native country. She’s held summer sessions in Pakistan that highlighted the importance of women in science and higher education. “I’m still in contact with many of them and it was wonderful to get their feedback,” Zafarullah said. “They want to get educated but don’t know what to do. There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”</p> <p><em><strong>This content originally appeared on the</strong></em> <em><strong><a href="https://leadership.ucdavis.edu/aggie-heroes/aggie-hero-marwa-zafarullah">UC Davis Leadership website</a>.</strong></em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/campus-community" hreflang="en">Campus and Community</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/integrative-genetics-and-genomics-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Integrative Genetics and Genomics Graduate Group</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 09 May 2019 22:32:12 +0000 Anonymous 3196 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Faculty Member Philipp Zerbe Shares his Experience with the Language of Plants—and People https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/faculty-member-philipp-zerbe-shares-his-experience-language-plants-and-people <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Faculty Member Philipp Zerbe Shares his Experience with the Language of Plants—and People</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype=""> (not verified)</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 09, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Enzyme%20assays%20in%20tobacco%20woth%20undergrad%20Iris%20Mollhoff.jpg?h=c673cd1c&amp;itok=4hiJoH3Y" width="1280" height="720" alt="Zerbe and an undergraduate student" title="Philipp Zerbe (left) and undergraduate student Iris Mollhoff (right) in the lab, working on using Nicotiana benthamiana for enzyme functional studies. Mollhoff is now a graduate student at Stanford University. Courtesy photo" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Growing up in Germany, Philipp Zerbe knew he wanted to be a biologist by the time he was 5 years old. In fact, he scribbled the decision to become a ‘Biologe’ down on paper, which his parents kept—and gifted to him upon becoming an assistant professor of plant biology in the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis in 2014.  “It turns out I ended up exactly in that field!” he says. Currently, his research looks into specific chemicals plants produce, and how they in turn use those chemicals as a language to communicate with the environment—and to protect themselves from its stressors. Zerbe (right) going over an analysis with students from his Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) class. Courtesy photoWhile UC Davis has long been hailed for its pioneering research in the field of plant biology, it was actually the interdisciplinary nature of collaboration that drew Zerbe to campus, which has since translated into a number of joint research and outreach projects crossing the field of chemistry, arts, evolution and ecology. “Having the opportunity to work with people in a variety of different fields was very attractive to me, both for the research possibilities, but also to be able to train my students within that interdisciplinarity,” he says. For Zerbe, the best part about this proactive approach is seeing students who have just arrived at the university have the opportunity to explore research and collaboration right away. Zerbe’s 2018 Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) class using N. benthamiana for enzyme functional studies (located in the UC Davis TEAM Lab run by Professor Marc Facciotti). Courtesy photo“This is a very exciting part for me in teaching and training,” he says. “To have this opportunity to work with students, to help open doors to new directions students can explore, has been most rewarding for me since I came to campus.” Trying on Language Barriers Zerbe has always had a strong fascination with the natural world. As a kid walking through the forests outside Hagen, Germany, he would pester his parents with questions about how it all actually worked. “Why is this flower yellow? Why is the other one red?” he would ask. “Consciously or unconsciously, that has triggered my choices throughout my career, and has led me to understanding how plants communicate at the molecular level with the environment.” In addition to courses on biochemistry, plant metabolism and a course-based undergraduate research experience class on plant biotechnology, he is also proud to lead a first-year seminar on intercultural communication. First envisioned by Bridgette Johnson, Ashley Vater, and Kyeema Zerbe of the UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health, the seminar helps first-year Aggies recognize both cultural and international differences—and learn to communicate across them—through various real-life scenarios posed by Zerbe and his colleagues. Zerbe (left) at a poster session with students from Mexico at the 2018 Phytochemical Society of North America (PSNA) annual meeting in St Luis Potosi, Mexico. Courtesy photo“It is an intriguing tool to highlight to students how difficult it is, for example, to work with someone who speaks little English or who’s resources are far more limited,” Zerbe says. “I certainly have felt that the students have grown appreciation for those differences, and have discovered new ideas to pursue because of them.&quot; This student outcome has motivated Zerbe to further develop his seminar pedagogy, thanks in part to the Curriculum Enhancement Through Global Learning Program, launched for UC Davis faculty by Global Affairs. As part of the 2018­­–19 faculty cohort, Zerbe’s participation in these training sessions helped him mastermind how to add more global learning outcomes into his intercultural communication lessons. “The course really was fantastic for doing that, not only to learn more about modern tools for teaching these kinds of approaches, but also for networking and connecting with people from very different research teams and expertise areas,” he says.  “I really enjoy the possibility to interact with the students, and as we are working together to feel out where the student is heading, what their future goals are.&quot; Schooling ‘Stronger Scientists’ Zerbe is no stranger to global education. He has worked in a number of countries, and whenever possible, welcomes students into his Zerbe Lab from abroad in order to promote cross-laboratory research. “I think it’s really important for both Californian and international students to appreciate how research is done across different countries,” he says. Zerbe (right) and colleague Dr. Lei Zhang discussing their collaborative research on health-beneficial Dendrobe orchids. Courtesy photo“In my personal experience, I have never grown more professionally and personally than when I lived and worked in another country.”  Consequently, trying to expand these research opportunities for both sides is something that Zerbe is incredibly invested in as a trainer. “It is crucially important for our students now to have these opportunities, because their work will almost certainly be in an international context,” he says. Two cases in point of such opportunities for collaboration: one of Zerbe’s students recently arrived in Japan for a student exchange, while back on campus, Zerbe contributes to an online journal club for students of Japan’s Nara Institute for Science and Technology and for UC Davis graduate students, thanks to a distance learning program established by fellow Plant Biology Professor John Harada.  “These exchanges provide invaluable context for students on both sides to understand the differences on how research is done at either end,” Zerbe says.  “With these exchanges, students really broaden their horizons—scientifically, personally and culturally. They learn to work with people from different cultures who speak different languages, to cross that barrier, which I think is an enormous strength to develop,&quot; he continues. “In the end, that’s what makes them stronger scientists.” This story originally appeared on the UC Davis Global Affairs website. Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Growing up in Germany, Philipp Zerbe knew he wanted to be a biologist by the time he was 5 years old. In fact, he scribbled the decision to become a ‘Biologe’ down on paper, which his parents kept—and gifted to him upon becoming an assistant professor of plant biology in the College of Biological Sciences at UC Davis in 2014. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Growing up in Germany, <strong>Philipp Zerbe </strong>knew he wanted to be a biologist by the time he was 5 years old. In fact, he scribbled the decision to become a ‘Biologe’ down on paper, which his parents kept—and gifted to him upon becoming an assistant professor of plant biology in the </span><a href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/">College of Biological Sciences</a><span> at UC Davis in 2014. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It turns out I ended up exactly in that field!” he says.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Currently, his research looks into specific chemicals plants produce, and how they in turn use those chemicals as a language to communicate with the environment—and to protect themselves from its stressors.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Zerbe stands with students in his lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="26791f43-b6a3-4972-9b81-a0066c99517d" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/GC-MS%20analysis%20explained%20as%20part%20of%20my%20CURE%20class.jpg" /><figcaption>Zerbe (right) going over an analysis with students from his Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) class<strong>. </strong>Courtesy photo</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>While UC Davis has long been hailed for its pioneering research in the field of plant biology, it was actually the interdisciplinary nature of collaboration that drew Zerbe to campus, which has since translated into a number of joint research and outreach projects crossing the field of chemistry, arts, evolution and ecology.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Having the opportunity to work with people in a variety of different fields was very attractive to me, both for the research possibilities, but also to be able to train my students within that interdisciplinarity,” he says.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>For Zerbe, the best part about this proactive approach is seeing students who have just arrived at the university have the opportunity to explore research and collaboration right away.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Zerbe's 2018 CURE class" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="3d3bb9c9-9b13-441a-b643-f82bd4c26d41" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/CURE%20-%20class%202018%5B1%5D.jpg" /><figcaption>Zerbe’s 2018 Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) class using N. benthamiana for enzyme functional studies (located in the UC Davis TEAM Lab run by Professor Marc Facciotti). Courtesy photo</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“This is a very exciting part for me in teaching and training,” he says. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span> </span></p> <blockquote> <p><span>“To have this opportunity to work with students, to help open doors to new directions students can explore, has been most rewarding for me since I came to campus.”</span></p> </blockquote> <h4><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span><span>Trying on Language Barriers</span></span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Zerbe has always had a strong fascination with the natural world. As a kid walking through the forests outside Hagen, Germany, he would pester his parents with questions about how it all actually <em>worked</em>.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Why is this flower yellow? Why is the other one red?” he would ask. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Consciously or unconsciously, that has triggered my choices throughout my career, and has led me to understanding how plants communicate at the molecular level with the environment.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p>In addition to courses on biochemistry, plant metabolism and a course-based undergraduate research experience class on plant biotechnology, he is also proud to <span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>lead a </span></span></span></span><a href="https://fys.ucdavis.edu/news/intercultural-communication-helps-students-face-global-challenges-together"><span><span><span>first-year seminar on intercultural communication.</span></span></span></a></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>First envisioned by <strong>Bridgette Johnson</strong>, <strong>Ashley Vater, </strong>and <strong>Kyeema Zerbe </strong>of the <a href="https://foodaghealth.solutions">UC Davis Innovation Institute for Food and Health</a>, the seminar helps first-year Aggies recognize both cultural and international differences—and learn to communicate across them—through various real-life scenarios posed by Zerbe and his colleagues.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="Zerbe at a poster session" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="3edf14b6-ab8e-44cb-b21c-69015e7d52db" height="252" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Poster%20Session%20at%20the%202019%20meeting%20of%20the%20Phytochemical%20Society%20of%20North%20america%20%28PSNA%29%20at%20St.%20Luis%20Potosi%20Mexico.jpg" width="449" /><figcaption>Zerbe (left) at a poster session with students from Mexico at the 2018 Phytochemical Society of North America (PSNA) annual meeting in St Luis Potosi, Mexico. Courtesy photo</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It is an intriguing tool to highlight to students how difficult it is, for example, to work with someone who speaks little English or who’s resources are far more limited,” Zerbe says. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I certainly have felt that the students have grown appreciation for those differences, and have discovered new ideas to pursue because of them."</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>This student outcome has motivated Zerbe to further develop his seminar pedagogy, thanks in part to the </span></span></span></span><a href="https://globalaffairs.ucdavis.edu/funding-resources/curriculum-enhancement"><span><span><span>Curriculum Enhancement Through Global Learning Program</span></span></span></a><span><span><span><span>, launched for UC Davis faculty by Global Affairs. </span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span>As part of the </span></span></span></span><a href="https://globalaffairs.ucdavis.edu/funding-resources/curriculum-enhancement/2018-19-cohort"><span><span><span>2018­­–19 faculty cohort</span></span></span></a><span><span><span><span>, Zerbe’s participation in these training sessions helped him mastermind how to add more global learning outcomes into his intercultural communication lessons.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“The course really was fantastic for doing that, not only to learn more about modern tools for teaching these kinds of approaches, but also for networking and connecting with people from very different research teams and expertise areas,” he says. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I really enjoy the possibility to interact with the students, and as we are working together to feel out where the student is heading, what their future goals are."</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <h4><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span><span>Schooling ‘Stronger Scientists’</span></span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Zerbe is no stranger to global education. He has worked in a number of countries, and whenever possible, welcomes students into his </span></span></span></span><span><span><span><a href="https://zerbelab.weebly.com/philipp-zerbe.html">Zerbe Lab</a> </span></span></span><span><span><span><span>from abroad in order to promote cross-laboratory research.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I think it’s really important for both Californian and international students to appreciate how research is done across different countries,” he says. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Zerbe and his colleague Lei Zhang" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7f0583fc-3bba-4792-8d52-91a1227d334f" height="240" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Research%20Discoussion%20with%20collaborator%20Lei%20Zhang%20Session%20at%20Zhejiang%20A%26F%20University%20China.jpg" width="426" /><figcaption>Zerbe (right) and colleague Dr. Lei Zhang discussing their collaborative research on health-beneficial Dendrobe orchids. Courtesy photo</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“In my personal experience, I have never grown more professionally and personally than when I lived and worked in another country.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Consequently, trying to expand these research opportunities for both sides is something that Zerbe is incredibly invested in as a trainer. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It is crucially important for our students now to have these opportunities, because their work will almost certainly be in an international context,” he says.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Two cases in point of such opportunities for collaboration: one of Zerbe’s students recently arrived in Japan for a student exchange, while back on campus, Zerbe contributes to an online journal club for students of Japan’s Nara Institute for Science and Technology and for UC Davis graduate students, thanks to a distance learning program established by fellow Plant Biology Professor <strong>John Harada</strong>. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“These exchanges provide invaluable context for students on both sides to understand the differences on how research is done at either end,” Zerbe says. </span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“With these exchanges, students really broaden their horizons—scientifically, personally and culturally. They learn to work with people from different cultures who speak different languages, to cross that barrier, which I think is an enormous strength to develop," he continues.</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span><span>“In the end, that’s what makes them stronger scientists.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><em><strong>This story originally appeared on the <a href="https://globalaffairs.ucdavis.edu/news/global-aggies-born-be-biologe">UC Davis Global Affairs website.</a></strong></em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/food-agriculture-plants" hreflang="en">Food, Agriculture and Plant Biology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/plant-biology-0" hreflang="en">Department of Plant Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/stem-education" hreflang="en">STEM education</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/plant-biology" hreflang="en">plant biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/science-communications" hreflang="en">science communications</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 09 May 2019 15:23:47 +0000 Anonymous 3191 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu How Do I Analyze All This Student Data? New App GradeR Makes Tracking Student Progress Simple https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/how-do-i-analyze-all-student-data-new-app-grader-makes-tracking-student-progress-simple <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">How Do I Analyze All This Student Data? New App GradeR Makes Tracking Student Progress Simple</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 06, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/GradeR-Joel-Ledford-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg?h=0374f3c2&amp;itok=3MoaWI9c" width="1280" height="720" alt="Lecturer Joel Ledford teaches a class" title="To help teachers track student progress, lecturer Joel Ledford and colleagues developed GradeR, GradeR, a grade book analytics application designed to work with Canvas, UC Davis’ learning management system. UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary Joel Ledford and colleagues designed GradeR to encourage data-driven teaching GradeR is a grade book analytics application that works with the Canvas system The app generates statistical and visual summaries of their grade book data, allowing instructors to track class progress Like life sciences research, teaching generates a lot of data. Just ask Assistant Professor of Teaching Joel Ledford, Department of Plant Biology. During the fall and winter quarters, Ledford teaches BIS 2C, Introduction to Biology: Biodiversity and the Tree of Life. The class is a behemoth, with around 800 students registering each fall, and Ledford is responsible for ushering each student through biological concepts. But monitoring the progress of 800 formative minds is no easy task. Luckily, Ledford and his colleagues have a solution. Introducing GradeR, a grade book analytics application designed to work with Canvas, UC Davis’ learning management system. The application works simply. Instructors upload a Canvas grade book to the app, which then generates statistical and visual summaries of their grade book data, allowing them to track individual student and overall class progress. “It’s a way for instructors to analyze their grade book data, so that it can help them become more reflective teachers,” said Ledford. “So if you teach, like myself, the same class over and over again—if I’m experimenting and trying new strategies then I can see if there’s a measurable effect in student performance.”     Analytics to track student success Ledford started working on GradeR with Geoff Benn, an academic coordinator in the Department of Plant Biology, close to four years ago. They wanted to figure out how to semi-automate analysis of the BIS 2C grade book. They wrote R programming scripts and utilized the datasets they generated to inform teaching methods for the course.    “It soon became clear that some of the other folks in the College of Biological Sciences were interested in seeing what they could learn from their classes,” said Ledford, who noted that at the time GradeR was only useable by those familiar with the R programming language. After some developmental fits and starts—the program was initially named GradePal—Ledford and postdoctoral researcher Katherine Ransom, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, designed GradeR to be layperson-friendly, creating a web-based application available to any instructor using Canvas. “Right now on Canvas, there’s no way to analyze any kind of performance of students,” said Ledford. “Even something like an average on a test, you can’t do. There’s no graphs or plots or charts that you can make and so this is meant to fill that space.”    “Now, instructors can easily build a quantitative sort of analysis of student performance,” he added. Getting on the GradeR GradeR even allows for cross-quarter examination of a class. So Ledford can take his grade book data from the fall 2018 BIS 2C cohort and compare it to the fall 2017 cohort. Summary stats can then be further broken down into different categories, giving instructors snapshots of how students in different colleges, or in different years, or with different majors are performing compared to one another. The GradeR logo was designed by evolution, ecology and biodiversity student Megan Ma.According to Ledford, instructors typically gauge the pulse of their classroom based on anecdotes. “We want data-driven teaching as opposed to anecdotal types of evidence, so that’s one I think big advantage of this,” he said. Ledford has already rolled out the application to some of his colleagues in the Department of Plant Biology, but he’s looking to disseminate it across, and perhaps beyond, campus. Student privacy, he noted, is paramount. “It’s important that people know that this app uses existing Canvas grade books and it’s your grade book,” he said. “The grade book is your data. We don’t keep, retain, store or transmit any kind of student information.” Ledford encourages all UC Davis faculty to test GradeR. He and his colleagues are eager for feedback. “For me, the most important thing is developing a tool to help instructors be more data-driven,” he said. “My ultimate hope would be that it would spur more rigorous questions in education research.” GradeR is available at https://grader.plb.ucdavis.edu/ Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter   Ledford can take his grade book data from the fall 2018 BIS 2C cohort and compare it to the fall 2017 cohort. Summary stats can then be further broken down into different categories, giving instructors snapshots of how students in different colleges, or in different years, or with different majors are performing compared to one another. UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "GradeR works simply. Instructors upload a Canvas grade book to the app, which then generates statistical and visual summaries of their grade book data, allowing them to track individual student and overall class progress. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><strong><em>Joel Ledford and colleagues designed GradeR to encourage data-driven teaching</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em>GradeR is a grade book analytics application that works with the Canvas system</em></strong></li> <li><strong><em><span><span><span><span><span><span>The app generates statistical and visual summaries of their grade book data, allowing instructors to track class progress</span></span></span></span></span></span></em></strong></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Like life sciences research, teaching generates a lot of data. Just ask Assistant Professor of Teaching Joel Ledford, </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>Department of Plant Biology. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>During the fall and winter quarters, Ledford teaches BIS 2C, Introduction to Biology: Biodiversity and the Tree of Life. The class is a behemoth, with around 800 students registering each fall, and Ledford is responsible for ushering each student through biological concepts. But monitoring the progress of 800 formative minds is no easy task. Luckily, Ledford and his colleagues have a solution. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Introducing </span></span></span><a href="https://grader.plb.ucdavis.edu/"><span><span><span>GradeR</span></span></span></a><span><span><span>, a grade book analytics application designed to work with Canvas, UC Davis’ learning management system. The application works simply. Instructors upload a Canvas grade book to the app, which then generates statistical and visual summaries of their grade book data, allowing them to track individual student and overall class progress. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It’s a way for instructors to analyze their grade book data, so that it can help them become more reflective teachers,” said Ledford. “So if you teach, like myself, the same class over and over again—if I’m experimenting and trying new strategies then I can see if there’s a measurable effect in student performance.”    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Analytics to track student success</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ledford started working on GradeR with Geoff Benn, an academic coordinator in the Department of Plant Biology, close to four years ago. They wanted to figure out how to semi-automate analysis of the BIS 2C grade book. They wrote R programming scripts and utilized the datasets they generated to inform teaching methods for the course.   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It soon became clear that some of the other folks in the College of Biological Sciences were interested in seeing what they could learn from their classes,” said Ledford, who noted that at the time GradeR was only useable by those familiar with the R programming language. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>After some developmental fits and starts—the program was initially named GradePal—Ledford and postdoctoral researcher Katherine Ransom, Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, designed GradeR to be layperson-friendly, creating a web-based application available to any instructor using Canvas.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Right now on Canvas, there’s no way to analyze any kind of performance of students,” said Ledford. “Even something like an average on a test, you can’t do. There’s no graphs or plots or charts that you can make and so this is meant to fill that space.”   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Now, instructors can easily build a quantitative sort of analysis of student performance,” he added. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Getting on the GradeR</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>GradeR even allows for cross-quarter examination of a class. So Ledford can take his grade book data from the fall 2018 BIS 2C cohort and compare it to the fall 2017 cohort. Summary stats can then be further broken down into different categories, giving instructors snapshots of how students in different colleges, or in different years, or with different majors are performing compared to one another. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="GradeR logo" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="c6ad4ce9-b06d-4750-95ee-fd16ee2b0050" height="241" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/GradeR-Logo-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" width="340" /><figcaption>The GradeR logo was designed by evolution, ecology and biodiversity student Megan Ma.</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>According to Ledford, instructors typically gauge the pulse of their classroom based on anecdotes. “We want data-driven teaching as opposed to anecdotal types of evidence, so that’s one I think big advantage of this,” he said. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ledford has already rolled out the application to some of his colleagues in the Department of Plant Biology, but he’s looking to disseminate it across, and perhaps beyond, campus. Student privacy, he noted, is paramount. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It’s important that people know that this app uses existing Canvas grade books and it’s your grade book,” he said. “The grade book is your data. We don’t keep, retain, store or transmit any kind of student information.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ledford encourages all UC Davis faculty to test GradeR. He and his colleagues are eager for feedback. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“For me, the most important thing is developing a tool to help instructors be more data-driven,” he said. “My ultimate hope would be that it would spur more rigorous questions in education research.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>GradeR is available at </span></span></span><a href="https://grader.plb.ucdavis.edu/">https://grader.plb.ucdavis.edu/</a></span></span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em> <span><span><span><span><span><span> </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Joel Ledford in class" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ffbaf11f-0dfb-4225-8888-9840ac55e305" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/GradeR-Joel-Ledford2-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>Ledford can take his grade book data from the fall 2018 BIS 2C cohort and compare it to the fall 2017 cohort. Summary stats can then be further broken down into different categories, giving instructors snapshots of how students in different colleges, or in different years, or with different majors are performing compared to one another. UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p class="text-align-center"> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/campus-community" hreflang="en">Campus and Community</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/plant-biology-0" hreflang="en">Department of Plant Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/stem-education" hreflang="en">STEM education</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/computer-science" hreflang="en">computer science</a></div> </div> </div> Mon, 06 May 2019 15:31:43 +0000 Greg Watry 3186 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu How Psychedelics Could Help Treat Depression with Neuroscience Ph.D. Student Lindsay Cameron https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/how-psychedelics-could-help-treat-depression-neuroscience-phd-student-lindsay-cameron <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">How Psychedelics Could Help Treat Depression with Neuroscience Ph.D. Student Lindsay Cameron</span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5451" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Greg Watry</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 02, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Lindsay-Cameron-Neuroscience-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-2.jpg?h=06ac0d8c&amp;itok=FVX0RF3z" width="1280" height="720" alt="Lindsay Cameron" title="Cameron and other researchers at UC Davis are actively exploring drugs capable of spurring such neural growth and restoring health. And some dark horse candidates are psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin and DMT. David Slipher/UC Davis " typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="Quick Summary In the hunt for therapeutics to treat mood disorders, UC Davis researchers have turned to compounds found in psychedelics Neuroscience Ph.D. student Lindsay Cameron is on the forefront of this research Her research with the Olson Lab has shown that microsdosing rats with DMT can positively affect their mood and anxiety Ask most people about the neurochemical origins of depression and you’ll likely hear how low serotonin levels are the cause. But today’s scientists know depression’s roots are more tangled and complex. One area of interest to them is the brain’s prefrontal cortex, a region responsible for motivational and goal-directed behavior. For those with depression, this region’s neurons are unhealthy, their connections, called synapses, withering like rotten roots. “If you’re not getting the right growth cues, the prefrontal cortex cannot communicate to other brain regions and you’re going to end up with depression,” said Lindsay Cameron, a neuroscience Ph.D. student. “So by stimulating growth in the prefrontal cortex, you’re strengthening control over these other regions and restoring health.” Cameron and other researchers at UC Davis are actively exploring drugs capable of spurring such neural growth and restoring health. And some dark horse candidates are psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin and DMT.    “Psychedelics can increase growth of neurons in the prefrontal cortex and they cause growth rapidly,” said Cameron, who was first author on an ACS Chemical Neuroscience study that showed microdosing rats with DMT can positively affect their mood and anxiety and a co-author on a Cell Reports study that showed psychedelics promote neural plasticity. “Psychedelics are some of the most powerful drugs out there and it’s ridiculous how little we know about them.” According to Cameron, popular antidepressants, like SSRIs and SSNRIs, are designed with the serotonin hypothesis of depression in mind and are missing the mark for some patients. Research shows the drugs are about 70 percent effective, tend to lose their potency and can be slow-acting, taking weeks to kick in.  “We need a fundamentally new way of tackling these diseases,” said Cameron. “That’s what I am hoping to do with my Ph.D.” “Lindsay is the kind of student that every principal investigator hopes to work with,” said Assistant Professor David Olson, Department of Chemistry. “She has a voracious appetite for knowledge, is intensely curious and is driven to make discoveries that will benefit the world. Students like Lindsay are really the lifeblood of academic research.”     In the Olson Lab, Cameron studies psychoplastogens, an Olson Lab-coined term that refers to the small molecules like psychedelics that promote neural plasticity. David Slipher/UC DavisOpening the doors of scientific perception Compounds found in DMT, the crystals seen here, are being explored as potential candidates to treat mood disorders. Lindsay CameronAt the basis of Cameron’s curiosity is a desire to develop tools that’ll fix the body when its systems go haywire. She traces her interest in physiology back to her parents, who both worked in the healthcare industry.   While pursuing a degree in pharmacology at McGill University, Cameron learned how various drugs travel through and affect the body. She was particularly drawn to brain-altering drugs, delving into the largely marginalized scientific literature available on psychedelics and their effects on brain chemistry. Following graduation, Cameron entered the workforce to pay off her bachelor’s degree debt before pursuing graduate school. She worked as a research assistant, an optometric assistant and at a health food store. She wound up at UC Davis after accepting a junior specialist position in the lab of Professor Hwai-Jong Cheng, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, Center for Neuroscience and the School of Medicine.  “Dr. Cheng really helped me figure out how to approach scientific problems,” said Cameron. “By the time I got into grad school and I started, I had a leg up of where I would’ve been right out of undergrad, so I’m really glad I ended up taking those years off.” By the time Cameron enrolled in the Neuroscience Graduate Group, psychedelic research had fallen off her radar. She then attended a presentation given by Olson. The Olson Lab specializes in chemical neuroscience, specifically focusing on psychoplastogens, an Olson Lab-coined term that refers to the small molecules like psychedelics that promote neural plasticity.  “I chased him out of the building and I was like, ‘Are you taking students?’” recalled Cameron. Micro-doses, big implications There’s a trend hitting the coast. Peruse Los Angeles Magazine or The Atlantic and you’ll read about people singing the praises of microdosing. “It’s people taking really small doses of psychedelics without any hallucination effects every couple of days. People are saying anecdotally that it helps them with depression and anxiety. It’s increasing their sociability and their creativity at work,” said Cameron. “They’re basically saying it’s enhancing cognitive function.” Such anecdotes led to experiments. Cameron and her Olson Lab colleagues administered microdoses of DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine) to rats and measured the molecule’s effects on the rodents’ depression and anxiety behaviors. To measure the antidepressant properties of psychedelics, the team performed a “swim test,” a staple rodent behavioral test for evaluating antidepressant drugs. During the test, researchers place a rodent in a small, water-filled tank after dosing the animal with either a psychedelic molecule or a placebo for a set period of time. Rodents with depression and anxiety-like symptoms typically just free-float in the water, but rodents dosed with DMT showcased motivational behavior, which in this case is swimming. “This is one of the main tests generally used in the field and it’s been shown to correlate really well with if a drug will have antidepressant effects in humans or not,” said Cameron. This is your brain on drugs “Psychedelics are some of the most powerful drugs out there and it’s ridiculous how little we know about them,” says Cameron. David Slipher/UC DavisThe team also tests the effects of psychedelics on the brain through neuronal cultures. Neurons from the prefrontal cortex are placed in a dish and then treated with a psychedelic molecule. “What psychedelics and the novel therapeutics that we develop do is they specifically target neurons in the prefrontal cortex and they make them grow,” said Cameron. “Synapses are the connections between the cells and psychoplastogens increase the number of these connections.” “The neurobiology of depression is directly linked to the neurobiology of plasticity,” added Olson. “As psychedelics are among our most powerful tools for promoting neural plasticity, we can use them to elucidate the biochemical signaling pathways that give rise to plasticity, and in the process, gain insight into potential strategies for treating depression and related disorders.” For Cameron and Olson, psychedelics are too powerful to ignore, but their stigmatization in popular culture, not to mention their illegality at the federal level, has hindered research. To mine the potential benefits of these psychedelics, scientists like Cameron and Olson need to perform more research. But doing so requires navigating the rocky terrain of public opinion. Fortunately, perceptions are changing. The limitations of available pharmaceuticals in treating mood disorders is ushering in a new wave of scientific inquiry into psychedelics. “The data that’s out there is remarkable and I think that if you can get past the stigma that’s associated with psychedelics, research into their therapeutic effects may yield important discoveries,” said Cameron. “When using these compounds in research, there is a need to be professional and treat it like any other science. Psychedelic compounds are important tools that I am using to understand the basic neurobiology of depression.” Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter   At the basis of Cameron’s curiosity is a desire to develop tools that’ll fix the body when its systems go haywire. David Slipher/UC Davis  "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "Neuroscience Ph.D. student Lindsay Cameron and other researchers at UC Davis are actively exploring drugs capable of restoring health in the brains of those with mood disorders. Some dark horse candidates are psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin and DMT. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><aside class="wysiwyg-feature-block u-width--half u-align--right"><h3 class="wysiwyg-feature-block__title">Quick Summary</h3> <div class="wysiwyg-feature-block__body"> <ul><li><em><strong>In the hunt for therapeutics to treat mood disorders, UC Davis researchers have turned to compounds found in psychedelics</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Neuroscience Ph.D. student Lindsay Cameron is on the forefront of this research</strong></em></li> <li><em><strong>Her research with the Olson Lab has shown that microsdosing rats with DMT can positively affect their mood and anxiety </strong></em></li> </ul></div> </aside><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Ask most people about the neurochemical origins of depression and you’ll likely hear how low serotonin levels are the cause. But today’s </span></span></span></span></span></span><span><span><span><span><span><span>scientists know depression’s roots are more tangled and complex. One area of interest to them is the brain’s prefrontal cortex, a region responsible for motivational and goal-directed behavior. For those with depression, this region’s neurons are unhealthy, their connections, called synapses, withering like rotten roots. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“If you’re not getting the right growth cues, the prefrontal cortex cannot communicate to other brain regions and you’re going to end up with depression,” said Lindsay Cameron, a neuroscience Ph.D. student. “So by stimulating growth in the prefrontal cortex, you’re strengthening control over these other regions and restoring health.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Cameron and other researchers at UC Davis are actively exploring drugs capable of spurring such neural growth and restoring health. And some dark horse candidates are psychedelics like LSD, psilocybin and DMT.   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Psychedelics can increase growth of neurons in the prefrontal cortex and they cause growth rapidly,” said Cameron, who was first author on an </span></span></span><a href="https://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/acschemneuro.8b00134?journalCode=acncdm&amp;"><em><span><span><span>ACS Chemical Neuroscience</span></span></span></em></a><em> </em><span><span><span>study that showed microdosing rats with DMT can positively affect their mood and anxiety and a co-author on a </span></span></span><a href="https://www.cell.com/cell-reports/pdf/S2211-1247(18)30755-1.pdf"><em><span><span><span>Cell Reports</span></span></span></em></a><span><span><span> study that showed psychedelics promote neural plasticity. “Psychedelics are some of the most powerful drugs out there and it’s ridiculous how little we know about them.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>According to Cameron, popular antidepressants, like SSRIs and SSNRIs, are designed with the serotonin hypothesis of depression in mind and are missing the mark for some patients. Research shows the drugs are about 70 percent effective, tend to lose their potency and can be slow-acting, taking weeks to kick in.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“We need a fundamentally new way of tackling these diseases,” said Cameron. “That’s what I am hoping to do with my Ph.D.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Lindsay is the kind of student that every principal investigator hopes to work with,” said Assistant Professor David Olson, Department of Chemistry. “She has a voracious appetite for knowledge, is intensely curious and is driven to make discoveries that will benefit the world. Students like Lindsay are really the lifeblood of academic research.”    </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Cameron at the compujter in the lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="8002e0f1-1ad6-45c8-8121-9fa9ea61baf9" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Lindsay-Cameron-Neuroscience-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-4.jpg" /><figcaption>In the Olson Lab, Cameron studies psychoplastogens, an Olson Lab-coined term that refers to the small molecules like psychedelics that promote neural plasticity. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Opening the doors of scientific perception</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="DMT crystals" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="f283fe23-e308-4b4f-816b-f70f7f51f265" height="466" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/DMT-Crystals-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpeg" width="349" /><figcaption>Compounds found in DMT, the crystals seen here, are being explored as potential candidates to treat mood disorders. Lindsay Cameron</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>At the basis of Cameron’s curiosity is a desire to develop tools that’ll fix the body when its systems go haywire. She traces her interest in physiology back to her parents, who both worked in the healthcare industry.   </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>While pursuing a degree in pharmacology at McGill University, Cameron learned how various drugs travel through and affect the body. She was particularly drawn to brain-altering drugs, delving into the largely marginalized scientific literature available on psychedelics and their effects on brain chemistry. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Following graduation, Cameron entered the workforce to pay off her bachelor’s degree debt before pursuing graduate school. She worked as a research assistant, an optometric assistant and at a health food store. She wound up at UC Davis after accepting a junior specialist position in the lab of Professor Hwai-Jong Cheng, who holds appointments in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, Center for Neuroscience and the School of Medicine.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“Dr. Cheng really helped me figure out how to approach scientific problems,” said Cameron. “By the time I got into grad school and I started, I had a leg up of where I would’ve been right out of undergrad, so I’m really glad I ended up taking those years off.” </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>By the time Cameron enrolled in the Neuroscience Graduate Group, psychedelic research had fallen off her radar. She then attended a presentation given by Olson. </span></span></span><a href="https://www.olsonlab.org/"><span><span><span>The Olson Lab</span></span></span></a><span><span><span> specializes in chemical neuroscience, specifically focusing on psychoplastogens, an Olson Lab-coined term that refers to the small molecules like psychedelics that promote neural plasticity.  </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“I chased him out of the building and I was like, ‘Are you taking students?’” recalled Cameron. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>Micro-doses, big implications</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>There’s a trend hitting the coast. Peruse </span></span></span><a href="https://www.lamag.com/citythinkblog/microdosing-lsd-mushrooms/"><em><span><span><span>Los Angeles Magazine</span></span></span></em></a><em> </em><span><span><span>or </span></span></span><a href="https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2019/03/psychedelic-microdosing-depression-anxiety/584119/"><em><span><span><span>The Atlantic</span></span></span></em></a><em> </em><span><span><span>and you’ll read about people singing the praises of microdosing.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“It’s people taking really small doses of psychedelics without any hallucination effects every couple of days. People are saying anecdotally that it helps them with depression and anxiety. It’s increasing their sociability and their creativity at work,” said Cameron. “They’re basically saying it’s enhancing cognitive function.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Such anecdotes led to experiments. Cameron and her Olson Lab colleagues administered microdoses of DMT (N, N-dimethyltryptamine) to rats and measured the molecule’s effects on the rodents’ depression and anxiety behaviors. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>To measure the antidepressant properties of psychedelics, the team performed a “swim test,” a staple rodent behavioral test for evaluating antidepressant drugs. During the test, researchers place a rodent in a small, water-filled tank after dosing the animal with either a psychedelic molecule or a placebo for a set period of time. Rodents with depression and anxiety-like symptoms typically just free-float in the water, but rodents dosed with DMT showcased motivational behavior, which in this case is swimming. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“This is one of the main tests generally used in the field and it’s been shown to correlate really well with if a drug will have antidepressant effects in humans or not,” said Cameron. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <h4><span><span><span><strong><span><span><span>This is your brain on drugs</span></span></span></strong></span></span></span></h4> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Cameron in the Olson Lab" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="b17bb8dc-de2d-4af5-bd3a-3387655be392" height="422" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Lindsay-Cameron-Neuroscience-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" width="281" /><figcaption>“Psychedelics are some of the most powerful drugs out there and it’s ridiculous how little we know about them,” says Cameron. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p><span><span><span><span><span><span>The team also tests the effects of psychedelics on the brain through neuronal cultures. Neurons from the prefrontal cortex are placed in a dish and then treated with a psychedelic molecule. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“What psychedelics and the novel therapeutics that we develop do is they specifically target neurons in the prefrontal cortex and they make them grow,” said Cameron. “Synapses are the connections between the cells and psychoplastogens increase the number of these connections.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </blockquote> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“The neurobiology of depression is directly linked to the neurobiology of plasticity,” added Olson. “As psychedelics are among our most powerful tools for promoting neural plasticity, we can use them to elucidate the biochemical signaling pathways that give rise to plasticity, and in the process, gain insight into potential strategies for treating depression and related disorders.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>For Cameron and Olson, psychedelics are too powerful to ignore, but their stigmatization in popular culture, not to mention their illegality at the federal level, has hindered research. To mine the potential benefits of these psychedelics, scientists like Cameron and Olson need to perform more research. But doing so requires navigating the rocky terrain of public opinion. </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>Fortunately, perceptions are changing. The limitations of available pharmaceuticals in treating mood disorders is ushering in a new wave of scientific inquiry into psychedelics.</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p><span><span><span><span><span><span>“The data that’s out there is remarkable and I think that if you can get past the stigma that’s associated with psychedelics, research into their therapeutic effects may yield important discoveries,” said Cameron. “When using these compounds in research, there is a need to be professional and treat it like any other science. Psychedelic compounds are important tools that I am using to understand the basic neurobiology of depression.”</span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em> <span><span><span><span><span><span> </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Cameron at the desk" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="7009fb5f-885a-469b-a876-40511041dac7" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Lindsay-Cameron-Neuroscience-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis-6.jpg" /><figcaption>At the basis of Cameron’s curiosity is a desire to develop tools that’ll fix the body when its systems go haywire. David Slipher/UC Davis</figcaption></figure><p> </p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/human-animal-health" hreflang="en">Human and Animal Health</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-neuroscience" hreflang="en">Center for Neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/graduate-student-news" hreflang="en">Graduate Student News</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/psychedelics" hreflang="en">psychedelics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/lsd" hreflang="en">LSD</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/dmt" hreflang="en">DMT</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience" hreflang="en">neuroscience</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/mood-disorders" hreflang="en">mood disorders</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-disease" hreflang="en">human disease</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/biochemistry" hreflang="en">biochemistry</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/molecular-medicine" hreflang="en">Molecular Medicine</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/neuroscience-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Neuroscience Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/depression" hreflang="en">depression</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 02 May 2019 16:58:23 +0000 Greg Watry 3176 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu An Evolutionary Rescue in Polluted Waters: How One Lucky Fish Species Adapted to Extreme Pollution https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/evolutionary-rescue-polluted-waters-how-genetics-resources-and-long-distant-relative-helped <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">An Evolutionary Rescue in Polluted Waters: How One Lucky Fish Species Adapted to Extreme Pollution </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5466" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Kat Kerlin</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">May 02, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Whitehead1-UC-Davis-College-of-Biological-Sciences.jpg?h=db9b6c52&amp;itok=wV5iSn7w" width="1280" height="720" alt="Atlantic killifish" title="Atlantic killifish contributed key adaptive genetic variation to the Gulf killifish, which amounted to an evolutionary rescue from toxic pollutants. (Andrew Whitehead/UC Davis)" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description="The combination of a big population, good genes and luck helps explain how a species of fish in Texas’ Houston Ship Channel was able to adapt to what normally would be lethal levels of toxins for most other species, according to a study to be published May 3 in the journal Science.  The exceptional survivor story of the Gulf killifish was one scientists at the University of California, Davis, Baylor University and their co-authoring colleagues wanted to unveil so they could learn more about what other species may need to adapt to drastically changed environments.  The minnowlike Gulf killifish are an important part of the food web for a number of larger fish species in coastal marsh habitats.  “Most species don’t survive radically altered environments,” said corresponding author Andrew Whitehead, a UC Davis professor of environmental toxicology. “By studying the survivors, we get insight into what it takes to be successful. In the case of the killifish, it came down to huge population sizes and luck.” Embryos from resistant (left) and sensitive (right) populations of Gulf killifish dosed at the same concentration of industrial contaminants. Resistant population embryo develops a normal, two chambered, heart with proper blood flow, while sensitive embryo develops a string heart with no blood flow. Right embryo is unlikely to survive to hatch. (Elias Oziolor/UC Davis)    Surprise guest  The researchers sequenced the genomes of hundreds of Gulf killifish living across a spectrum of toxicity — from clean water, moderately polluted water and very polluted water. They were searching for the footprints of natural selection that allowed the species to rapidly transition from a fish that is highly sensitive to pollution to one extremely resistant to it. They were surprised to find that the adaptive DNA that rescued this Gulf Coast species came from an Atlantic Coast species of killifish, which has also been known to rapidly evolve high levels of pollution resistance. But Atlantic Coast killifish live at least 1,500 miles from their Houston brethren, leaving researchers to think their transport to the Gulf was likely an accident initiated by humans.  Nonnative species can wreak environmental havoc on native species and habitats. But in this case, their arrival in the 1970s — right at a moment when Gulf killifish were likely beginning to decline — amounted to an “evolutionary rescue” from pollution for the Gulf killifish. “While the vast majority of research on invasive species rightly focuses on the environmental damage they can cause, this research shows that under rare circumstances they can also contribute valuable genetic variation to a closely related native species, thus acting as a mechanism of evolutionary rescue,” said co-corresponding author Cole Matson, an associate professor at Baylor University. UC Davis environmental toxicology Professor Andrew Whitehead carries minnow traps while collecting Gulf killifish from the Mississippi coast. (Pat Sullivan)A cautionary tale Gulf killifish began with many advantages other species do not have. Species with large populations can harbor high levels of genetic diversity that can help them adapt to rapid change. Gulf killifish already had among the highest levels of genetic diversity of any species with a backbone. Then, at the moment its population was beginning to decline, a long-distant relative — the Atlantic Coast killifish — came to visit, was able to successfully mate, and injected the Gulf species with genetic resources that helped it develop resilience and resistance to toxins. Whitehead is quick to note that not all species are so lucky. “The adaptation of these killifish is a cautionary tale,” Whitehead said. “It tells us what we need to do better for the vast majority of species that don’t have access to the kind of genetic resources killifish have. If we care about preserving biodiversity, we can’t expect evolution to be the solution. We need to reduce how much and how quickly we’re changing the environment so that species can keep up.&quot; Natural connections Humans are not only radically changing the environment, we are also fragmenting it, making it harder for animals to move throughout their range. Whitehead said a key lesson from killifish is the importance of keeping the doors to genetic diversity open. This includes connecting and preserving landscapes to allow for genetic variation to move more freely and naturally. That could help set the stage for more evolutionary “rescues” in the rapidly changing future.  Additional co-authoring institutions include the University of Connecticut and Indiana University.  The work was supported by funding from a C. Gus Glasscock Endowed Research Fellowship, Baylor University, the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill Trustees Council, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and Indiana University.  This story originally appeared on UC Davis News. Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter   "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "The combination of a big population, good genes and luck helps explain how a species of fish in Texas’ Houston Ship Channel was able to adapt to what normally would be lethal levels of toxins for most other species, according to a study to be published May 3 in the journal Science. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The combination of a big population, good genes and luck helps explain how a species of fish in Texas’ Houston Ship Channel was able to adapt to what normally would be lethal levels of toxins for most other species, according to <a href="https://science.sciencemag.org/content/364/6439/455">a study</a> to be published May 3 in the journal <em>Science</em>. </p> <p>The exceptional survivor story of the Gulf killifish was one scientists at the University of California, Davis, Baylor University and their co-authoring colleagues wanted to unveil so they could learn more about what other species may need to adapt to drastically changed environments. </p> <p>The minnowlike Gulf killifish are an important part of the food web for a number of larger fish species in coastal marsh habitats. </p> <p>“Most species don’t survive radically altered environments,” said corresponding author Andrew Whitehead, a UC Davis professor of environmental toxicology. “By studying the survivors, we get insight into what it takes to be successful. In the case of the killifish, it came down to huge population sizes and luck.”</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-right"><img alt="Embryos from resistant (left) and sensitive (right) populations of Gulf killifish" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="abbb2c8c-4658-4059-bb05-aad522759980" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Embryos-Whitehead-UC-Davis-College-of-Biological-Sciences.jpg" /><figcaption>Embryos from resistant (left) and sensitive (right) populations of Gulf killifish dosed at the same concentration of industrial contaminants. Resistant population embryo develops a normal, two chambered, heart with proper blood flow, while sensitive embryo develops a string heart with no blood flow. Right embryo is unlikely to survive to hatch. (Elias Oziolor/UC Davis)    </figcaption></figure><h4>Surprise guest </h4> <p>The researchers sequenced the genomes of hundreds of Gulf killifish living across a spectrum of toxicity — from clean water, moderately polluted water and very polluted water. They were searching for the footprints of natural selection that allowed the species to rapidly transition from a fish that is highly sensitive to pollution to one extremely resistant to it.</p> <p>They were surprised to find that the adaptive DNA that rescued this Gulf Coast species came from an Atlantic Coast species of killifish, which has also been known to rapidly evolve high levels of pollution resistance. But Atlantic Coast killifish live at least 1,500 miles from their Houston brethren, leaving researchers to think their transport to the Gulf was likely an accident initiated by humans. </p> <p>Nonnative species can wreak environmental havoc on native species and habitats. But in this case, their arrival in the 1970s — right at a moment when Gulf killifish were likely beginning to decline — amounted to an “evolutionary rescue” from pollution for the Gulf killifish.</p> <p>“While the vast majority of research on invasive species rightly focuses on the environmental damage they can cause, this research shows that under rare circumstances they can also contribute valuable genetic variation to a closely related native species, thus acting as a mechanism of evolutionary rescue,” said co-corresponding author Cole Matson, an associate professor at Baylor University.</p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img align-left"><img alt="Andrew Whitehead carries minnow traps" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="ebb0d9f8-b2ab-4207-b412-58110512b094" height="350" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Whitehead2-UC-Davis-College-of-Biological-Sciences.jpg" width="525" /><figcaption>UC Davis environmental toxicology Professor Andrew Whitehead carries minnow traps while collecting Gulf killifish from the Mississippi coast. (Pat Sullivan)</figcaption></figure><h4>A cautionary tale</h4> <p>Gulf killifish began with many advantages other species do not have. Species with large populations can harbor high levels of genetic diversity that can help them adapt to rapid change. Gulf killifish already had among the highest levels of genetic diversity of any species with a backbone. Then, at the moment its population was beginning to decline, a long-distant relative — the Atlantic Coast killifish — came to visit, was able to successfully mate, and injected the Gulf species with genetic resources that helped it develop resilience and resistance to toxins. Whitehead is quick to note that not all species are so lucky.</p> <p>“The adaptation of these killifish is a cautionary tale,” Whitehead said. “It tells us what we need to do better for the vast majority of species that don’t have access to the kind of genetic resources killifish have. If we care about preserving biodiversity, we can’t expect evolution to be the solution. We need to reduce how much and how quickly we’re changing the environment so that species can keep up."</p> <h4>Natural connections</h4> <p>Humans are not only radically changing the environment, we are also fragmenting it, making it harder for animals to move throughout their range. Whitehead said a key lesson from killifish is the importance of keeping the doors to genetic diversity open. This includes connecting and preserving landscapes to allow for genetic variation to move more freely and naturally. That could help set the stage for more evolutionary “rescues” in the <a href="https://climatechange.ucdavis.edu/news/an-evolutionary-rescue-in-polluted-waters/">rapidly changing future</a>. </p> <p>Additional co-authoring institutions include the University of Connecticut and Indiana University. </p> <p>The work was supported by funding from a C. Gus Glasscock Endowed Research Fellowship, Baylor University, the Exxon-Valdez Oil Spill Trustees Council, National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Environmental Health Sciences and Indiana University. </p> <p><em><strong>This story originally appeared on <a href="https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/evolutionary-rescue-polluted-waters/">UC Davis News</a>. </strong></em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em> <span><span><span><span><span><span> </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/ecology-environment" hreflang="en">Ecology and Environment</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/college-agricultural-and-environmental-sciences" hreflang="en">College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/conservation" hreflang="en">conservation</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/genetics" hreflang="en">genetics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/center-population-biology" hreflang="en">Center for Population Biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/population-biology-graduate-group" hreflang="en">Population Biology Graduate Group</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/environment" hreflang="en">environment</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/environmental-toxicology" hreflang="en">environmental toxicology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/fish" hreflang="en">fish</a></div> </div> </div> Thu, 02 May 2019 16:00:25 +0000 Kat Kerlin 3181 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu Disease-Causing Nibbling Amoeba Hides by Displaying Proteins From Host Cells https://biology.ucdavis.edu/news/disease-causing-nibbling-amoeba-hides-displaying-proteins-host-cells <span class="field field--name-title field--type-string field--label-hidden">Disease-Causing Nibbling Amoeba Hides by Displaying Proteins From Host Cells </span> <span class="field field--name-uid field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden"> <span lang="" about="/user/5461" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">Andy Fell</span> </span> <span class="field field--name-created field--type-created field--label-hidden">April 30, 2019</span> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-primary-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <img src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/styles/sf_landscape_16x9/public/images/article/Ralston-Miller-MCB-Light-Microscopy-Imaging-Facility-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis%20%284%29.jpg?h=06ac0d8c&amp;itok=r_3sdBX2" width="1280" height="720" alt="Computer screen with cell nibbling." title="Ralston initially discovered trogocytosis, or “cell nibbling,” in the single-cell gut parasite Entamoeba histolytica as a postdoc at the University of Virginia and has continued to work on it since joining UC Davis in 2014. David Slipher/UC Davis" typeof="foaf:Image" class="image-style-sf-landscape-16x9" /> </div> <div class="addthis_toolbox addthis_default_style addthis_32x32_style" addthis:url="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/articles.rss" addthis:title="Recent News" addthis:description=" A parasitic amoeba that causes severe gut disease in humans protects itself from attack by biting off pieces of host cells and putting their proteins on its own surface, according to a study by microbiologists at the University of California, Davis. “We’re very excited about how this ties into amoebic infection and into broader themes in cell biology,” said Katherine Ralston, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Biological Sciences. A paper describing the work appears today in the journal mBio.  Entamoeba histolytica causes severe diarrheal disease, mainly in tropical countries. It lives in the gut, causing ulcers and bleeding. In severe cases it can break out and invade other organs.  Ralston studied Entamoeba during postdoctoral work at the University of Virginia. Amoebae and many other cells — including some that protect us from disease — are known to “eat” other cells by engulfing them completely, a process called phagocytosis.  Ralston discovered that Entamoeba could also pinch off small pieces of human cells. She called this process trogocytosis or “cell nibbling.” “The amoeba quite literally takes bites out of other cells,” Ralston said. “This nibbling is how it attacks individual cells, and we think this is how it causes ulceration and damage to the human intestine.” Cell nibbling has also been described in other parasitic amoebae — and also in multicellular organisms. Immune system cells, for example, can swap pieces of their surface with each other by biting them off.   “We thought that if amoebae can take proteins from host cells and put them on their own surface this would have a functional effect on how they survive in the body,” said graduate student Hannah Miller.  Entamoeba histolytica kills human cells through trogocytosis or “cell nibbling” where amoebae bite off and ingest fragments of human cells. UC Davis researchers Katherine Ralston, Hannah Miller and Rene Suleiman discovered that the amoebae use this process to acquire and display human cell membrane proteins on their own surface. This protects them from immune responses. This image shows amoebae (green) attacking human cells and displaying human proteins (red) on their surface. (Image credit: Hannah Miller)Camouflage from complement The body produces a set of proteins in the blood, called “complement,” that can attack parasites and bacteria. Your own cells carry proteins that prevent them from being attacked by complement.  Miller, Ralston and Rene Suleiman, another graduate student in the lab, found that when the amoebae were put in contact with human cells, they could take these protective proteins and put them on as a sort of “complement camouflage.” Regular Entamoebae were killed by human serum, but amoebae that had camouflaged themselves survived.  This camouflage could protect them from complement as they migrate through the blood around the body, Miller said.  Miller and Ralston are now working to understand which proteins are transferred, how they interact with complement and what happens to these proteins after they are nibbled off another cell. Do they go straight into the amoeba’s membrane, or are they processed internally first?  They also want to know more about trogocytosis in general. Why are some cases benign, but others lead to cell death? The process may also be important for understanding behavior of cancer cells and how they can be killed.  “We’re really excited that this decoration with acquired proteins might apply to trogocytosis in general, because we’re realizing that it’s important in so many contexts,” Ralston said.  The work was supported by a scholarship from the Pew Charitable Trusts.   This story originally appeared on UC Davis News. Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter   "> <a class="addthis_button_facebook"></a> <a class="addthis_button_linkedin"></a> <script> var addthis_share = { templates: { twitter: "A parasitic amoeba that causes severe gut disease in humans protects itself from attack by biting off pieces of host cells and putting their proteins on its own surface, according to a study by microbiologists at the University of California, Davis. " } } </script> <a class="addthis_button_twitter"></a> <a class="addthis_button_email"></a> <a class="addthis_button_compact"></a> </div> <div class="clearfix text-formatted field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><div> <div> <div> <div> <div> <p>A parasitic amoeba that causes severe gut disease in humans protects itself from attack by biting off pieces of host cells and putting their proteins on its own surface, according to a study by microbiologists at the University of California, Davis.</p> <p>“We’re very excited about how this ties into amoebic infection and into broader themes in cell biology,” said Katherine Ralston, assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Biological Sciences. A paper describing the work appears today in the journal <a href="https://mbio.asm.org/content/10/2/e00068-19"><em>mBio</em></a>. </p> <p><em>Entamoeba histolytica</em> causes severe diarrheal disease, mainly in tropical countries. It lives in the gut, causing ulcers and bleeding. In severe cases it can break out and invade other organs. </p> <p>Ralston studied <em>Entamoeba</em> during postdoctoral work at the University of Virginia. Amoebae and many other cells — including some that protect us from disease — are known to “eat” other cells by engulfing them completely, a process called phagocytosis. </p> <p>Ralston discovered that <em>Entamoeba</em> could also pinch off small pieces of human cells. She called this process trogocytosis or “cell nibbling.”</p> <p>“The amoeba quite literally takes bites out of other cells,” Ralston said. “This nibbling is how it attacks individual cells, and we think this is how it causes ulceration and damage to the human intestine.”</p> <p>Cell nibbling has also been described in other parasitic amoebae — and also in multicellular organisms. Immune system cells, for example, can swap pieces of their surface with each other by biting them off.  </p> <p>“We thought that if amoebae can take proteins from host cells and put them on their own surface this would have a functional effect on how they survive in the body,” said graduate student Hannah Miller. </p> <figure role="group" class="caption caption-img"><img alt="Amoeba" data-entity-type="file" data-entity-uuid="1a24bae8-c7e8-4513-b32f-ff5779926652" src="/sites/g/files/dgvnsk2646/files/inline-images/Amoeba-Ralston-College-of-Biological-Sciences-UC-Davis.jpg" /><figcaption>Entamoeba histolytica kills human cells through trogocytosis or “cell nibbling” where amoebae bite off and ingest fragments of human cells. UC Davis researchers Katherine Ralston, Hannah Miller and Rene Suleiman discovered that the amoebae use this process to acquire and display human cell membrane proteins on their own surface. This protects them from immune responses. This image shows amoebae (green) attacking human cells and displaying human proteins (red) on their surface. (Image credit: Hannah Miller)</figcaption></figure><h4>Camouflage from complement</h4> <p>The body produces a set of proteins in the blood, called “complement,” that can attack parasites and bacteria. Your own cells carry proteins that prevent them from being attacked by complement. </p> <p>Miller, Ralston and Rene Suleiman, another graduate student in the lab, found that when the amoebae were put in contact with human cells, they could take these protective proteins and put them on as a sort of “complement camouflage.” Regular <em>Entamoebae</em> were killed by human serum, but amoebae that had camouflaged themselves survived. </p> <p>This camouflage could protect them from complement as they migrate through the blood around the body, Miller said. </p> <p>Miller and Ralston are now working to understand which proteins are transferred, how they interact with complement and what happens to these proteins after they are nibbled off another cell. Do they go straight into the amoeba’s membrane, or are they processed internally first? </p> <p>They also want to know more about trogocytosis in general. Why are some cases benign, but others lead to cell death? The process may also be important for understanding behavior of cancer cells and how they can be killed. </p> <p>“We’re really excited that this decoration with acquired proteins might apply to trogocytosis in general, because we’re realizing that it’s important in so many contexts,” Ralston said. </p> <p>The work was supported by a scholarship from the Pew Charitable Trusts.  </p> <p><em><strong>This story originally appeared on <a href="https://www.ucdavis.edu/news/disease-causing-nibbling-amoeba-hides-displaying-proteins-host-cells">UC Davis News</a>.</strong></em></p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong><a class="btn--lg btn--primary" href="https://biology.ucdavis.edu/form/tell-us-more-about-yourself-2">Stay Informed! Sign up for our monthly email newsletter</a></strong></em> <span><span><span><span><span><span> </span></span></span></span></span></span></p> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-article-category field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Category</div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/articles/genetics-microbiology" hreflang="en">Cellular and Microbiology</a></div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-sf-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-above"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/microbiology-and-molecular-genetics" hreflang="en">Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/women-stem" hreflang="en">Women in STEM</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/cell-biology" hreflang="en">cell biology</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/proteins" hreflang="en">proteins</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/amoeba" hreflang="en">amoeba</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/pew" hreflang="en">Pew</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-disease" hreflang="en">human disease</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/human-health" hreflang="en">human health</a></div> </div> </div> Tue, 30 Apr 2019 15:58:34 +0000 Andy Fell 3171 at https://biology.ucdavis.edu