Health & Medicine

Study Highlights Molecular Targets Integral to Breast Cancer Treatment

It’s estimated that over 281,000 women in the U.S. will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, according to the National Cancer Institute. And about one in seven women will receive a breast cancer diagnosis in their lifetime.

For those with breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) mutations, the risk of developing breast cancer is much higher. Between 45 and 69 percent of those with this genetic mutation will develop breast cancer by 70 to 80 years of age. 

A Map of Mouse Brain Metabolism in Aging

The first atlas of metabolites in the mouse brain has been published by a team led by UC Davis researchers. The dataset includes 1,547 different molecules across 10 brain regions in male and female laboratory mice from adolescence through adulthood and into advanced old age. The work is published Oct. 15 in the Nature Communications. The complete dataset is publicly available at

Genome Center Passes 1 Million COVID-19 Tests, Helping Keep Positivity Rates Low

UC Davis’ asymptomatic COVID-19 testing program completed its 1 millionth test last week, a little more than a year since the campus began offering tests to on-campus students, faculty and staff in mid-September 2020.

“Our asymptomatic testing program was the original foundation of the university’s COVID-19 strategy and, along with vaccination, continues to be central to our mitigation efforts,” said Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Mary Croughan.

UC Davis Launches Neuroscience Consortium

Last month, the University of California, Davis, officially launched a consortium called the UC Davis Neuroscience Consortium (UCDNC) to leverage the strength, breadth and depth of one of the largest neuroscience communities in the world. The consortium brings together nearly 300 researchers from eleven centers and 41 departments — integrating biologists, chemists, social scientists, engineers, computer scientists and clinicians.

Assistant Professor Gerald Quon Receives NIH New Innovator Award

Gerald Quon, an assistant professor in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology and the Genome Center, has received a New Innovator Award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The award will support the development of a computational framework for characterizing how genetic variants associated with the risk of psychiatric diseases like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder work at the at the cellular level.

Hippocampus Is the Brain’s Storyteller

People love stories. We find it easier to remember events when they are part of an overarching narrative. But in real life, the chapters of a story don’t follow smoothly one from another. Other things happen in between. A new brain imaging study from the Center for Neuroscience at the University of California, Davis, shows that the hippocampus is the brain’s storyteller, connecting separate, distant events into a single narrative. The work is published Sept. 29 in Current Biology.

Engineers Invent Machine to Shake up UC Davis’ COVID-19 Testing

UC Davis engineers have invented shaking and inversion machines that are a critical part of the UC Davis Genome Center’s award-winning asymptomatic COVID-19 testing. These machines, designed and built by biological and agricultural engineering (BAE) development engineer Dennis Sadowski, professor Stavros Vougioukas and postdoctoral researcher Zhenghao Fei in just six weeks, help treat saliva samples so they can be tested for the virus.

Researchers Identify a Potentially Safer Approach to Opioid Drug Development

Opioids are powerful painkillers but their use is hindered because patients become tolerant to them, requiring higher and higher doses, and overdoses can cause respiratory depression and death. A recent study from researchers at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience contradicts existing thinking about how opioid drugs cause tolerance and respiratory depression, and suggests a new, balanced approach to developing safer analgesics. The work was published July 13 in Neuropsychopharmacology.

Evolutionary Thinking

We watch a ball as it falls into our glove. We hear a strange sound in another part of the house and listen intently. In neuroscience, the act of narrowing our senses in response to an environmental event is called “attention,” and it is understood that when we attend to a stimulus, we lose the ability to focus on other surrounding inputs.

Interrupting the Development of Cancer Cells

Think of chromosomes as nature’s shoelaces. Built from DNA, these thread-like structures carry and ferry the genetic information necessary for life. To maintain genetic integrity, chromosomes possess protective structures located at their ends called telomeres. These telomeres are like the plastic tips of shoelaces, preventing the genetic thread from unraveling as cells continuously divide.

UC Davis Receives $15 Million Grant to Study the Effects of Maternal Infection on Risk for Psychiatric Illness in Offspring

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has awarded a $15.7 million grant to the UC Davis Silvio O. Conte Center, one of only 15 Conte Centers nationwide.

Psychiatric illnesses and neurodevelopmental disorders, including schizophrenia, affect 15-20 percent of the population worldwide, yet current treatments are at best only partially effective. The UC Davis Conte Center was first established in 2016 through the Center for Neuroscience to determine how maternal infection increases risk for these disorders and to identify new targets for novel treatments.

Exactly How Does an mRNA Vaccine Work?

UC Davis Virologist Samuel L. Díaz-Muñoz, an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, spoke with KCRA 3 in an interview late last year about the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines being hailed as "game-changers" by the medical community.