Ron Baskin, biophysicist

Ron Baskin, professor emeritus of molecular and cellular biology at UC Davis, passed away July 3. A memorial service will be held this weekend (July 31) at the Episcopal Church of St. Martin in Davis. A full obituary can be found here.

Baskin was well-known for his work on biophysics and muscle contraction, as described in the obituary. He was also closely involved in one of earliest stories I did as a science writer here at UC Davis, and one I have continued to follow over the past few years. In 2001, with Steve Kowalczykowski, Piero Bianco and others, he developed technology to film a single enzyme unzipping a piece of DNA in real time.

Monkey studies paved way to successful anti-HIV gel trial

The 2010 XVIII International AIDS Conference in Vienna, Austria, was buzzing with excitement last Monday, July 19th, with the announcement of successful trial results for a vaginal microbicide gel, a recent addition to the arsenal in the fight against HIV infection in women. The phase 2 clinical trial organized by CAPRISA (Center for the AIDS Programme of Research In South Africa) tested the safety and effectiveness of the gel among nearly 900 women at two sites in South Africa.The success of the CAPRISA 004 trial is believed to be due to the addition of the anti-retroviral drug tenofovir.

On TV: Memories of the Manhattan Project

Watch John Jungerman, professor emeritus of physics, recalling the effort to build the first atomic bomb July 8 and 9 on Davis Community Television (Channel 15 on local cable). Jungerman’s talk, which was given at UC Extension’s Osher Lifetime Learning Institute earlier this year, will be broadcast at 5 pm July 8 and 1 pm the next day. We hope to be able to load a copy onto the UC Davis iTunes site, as well.

Jungerman was a graduate student at UC Berkeley and Los Alamos during World War II, when he worked on the Manhattan Project. He witnessed the first test of a atomic bomb, ‘Trinity,’ at White Sands, N.M. in 1945.