Sequencing the unsequenceable: Genome Center technology advances Fragile X research

The UC Davis Genome Center has been applying one of the world’s most advanced commercial genome sequencing machines to study the developmental disorder, Fragile X syndrome.

The DNA code is made up of four letters, A, T, C and G. Fragile X syndrome occurs when a large number of three-letter repeats CGG appears in part of the fragile X mental retardation gene, FMR1. A run of more than 200 repeats causes full-blown fragile X syndrome, switching off the gene altogether and causing serious intellectual disability. But shorter sequences of repeats can also cause a range of problems including learning disabilities, seizures and fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome.

BGI Chairman to speak on campus, Nov. 9

Huanming (Henry) Yang, Ph.D., co-founder and chairman of BGI — formerly known as the Beijing Genomics Institute — will speak in room 1005, Genome and Biomedical Sciences Facility at 4.10 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 9.

UC Davis and BGI have formed a partnership, BGI@UC Davis, to set up a DNA sequencing facility and foster new breakthroughs in genomics especially related to medicine, food and agricultural sciences, and the environment.

Cuts to Williamson act threaten open space and critical habitat

From UC ANR News

A survey by UC Davis doctoral students shows that cuts to California’s Williamson Act could lead to a sell-off of land currently protected from development.  The findings appear in the October–December 2012 California Agriculture, UC’s peer-reviewed research journal.

State budget cuts have dramatically reduced funding for the Williamson Act, California’s conservation law that provides property tax relief for the owners of 15 million acres of rangeland and farms — preserving California’s prized open space.

Migrating mallards carry bird flu strains to California

By Kat Kerlin

As migrating mallard ducks touch down on the wintering grounds of California’s Central Valley and mingle with resident mallard populations, they sometimes carry new avian influenza strains with them.

So concludes a new study conducted at the University of California, Davis, with researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Canadian Department of the Environment, and University of Minnesota. The study appears in the journal Molecular Ecology.

Practice makes perfect for oiled bird responders

Contributed by Kat Kerlin

“Do we have an ETA on those sandpipers?” Mike Ziccardi asked into his cell phone at the San Francisco Bay Oiled Wildlife Care and Education Center in Cordelia, Calif.

Ziccardi, a UC Davis wildlife veterinarian, is director of the UC Davis-led Oiled Wildlife Care Network. His phone call was made in the middle of a drill held earlier this summer that drew about 70 of the state’s key oiled wildlife responders.

Prion Nobelist Prusiner to speak on brain injuries, Oct. 12

Soldiers, football players and Alzheimer’s patients… What do they all have in common? Brain injuries.

Come hear Stanley B. Prusiner, the 1997 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine, speak on the topic of brain injuries in these groups on Friday, October 12, 2012, at 5:30 pm. The talk in Freeborn Hall on the UC Davis campus is free and open to the public.

What happens to the floodplain after restoration?

Contributed by Kat Kerlin

Restoring floodplains —  fertile swaths of land favored for agriculture, ecological diversity and shipping — can benefit wildlife while also reducing the risk of flood, acknowledge water managers. But predicting the effects of restoration projects is challenging. For instance, what happens to the fish, birds, plants and other life along the floodplain as levees and lands are rearranged to create a more natural setting?

A group of UC Davis graduate students set out to ask such questions as part of the interdisciplinary training program, Responding to Rapid Environmental Change Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship — or REACH IGERT, for short. The REACH IGERT is a two-year program funded by the U.S. National Science Foundation.

Hyundai, UC Davis sign partnership

The Hyundai Motor Group, South Korea’s biggest automaker, is to establish Centers of Excellence at the University of California, Davis and UC Berkeley. Hyundai and university officials signed a memorandum of understanding Friday, Aug. 31 at a ceremony at the Claremont hotel in Berkeley.

UC Davis, UC Berkeley, Hyundai sign agreement

Left to right: Michael Katz, Director, IP & Industry Research Alliances, UC Berkeley; Dean Shankar Sastry, UC Berkeley College of Engineering; Woong-chul Yang, Vice Chairman, Hyundai Motor Group; Dean Enrique J. Lavernia, UC Davis College of Engineering; Greg Gibbs, Director of Corporate Relations, College of Engineering, UC Davis. Photo by Scott Chernis.

ETTC is a Top Ten Incubator

The Engineering Translational Technology Center at the UC Davis College of Engineering has been named as one of “Ten College Business Incubators We’re Most Excited About” by bestcollegesonline.com. ETTC appears on the list alongside Syracuse University’s Student Sandbox and Harvard’s Innovation Lab.

“This incubator is all about supporting technology transfer, sharing learning experiences with students, providing professor support, and facilitating partnerships and collaborations with other groups on campus, like the UC Davis Center for Entrepreneurship,” notes the blog post.

More from Mars: UC Davis engineering alumn lead landing system design

Adam Steltzner, the NASA engineer who led the design and development of the “sky crane” system that allowed the Curiosity rover to make a soft landing from Mars, has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from UC Davis.

Steltzner was a distinctive figure in NASA’s live stream from the control room, pacing around the rows of monitors. He’s also one of the narrators of the NASA video, “Seven Minutes of Terror,” about the landing process.

Even before Curiosity landed, Steltzner has got an unusual amount of press for a NASA engineer, including this profile from National Public Radio.