UC Davis Joins DARPA-funded “Safe Genes” Program

Initiative Aims to Support Responsible CRISPR Gene Editing

By Trina Wood

The federal Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) last week announced the Safe Genes program to explore innovative genetic techniques to support bio-innovation and combat biological threats. The effort, supported by a $65 million grant from DARPA over four years, aims to harness gene editing tools in a safe, responsible manner to maximize the benefits of these technologies while minimizing their inherent risks.

Aedes aegypti carries yellow fever, Zika and other viruses. (CDC photo)

Live-pig Markets and Traders Could Provide Insight to Controlling African Swine Fever

By Trina Wood

Understanding how live pigs are traded between villages and backyard farmers can help health agencies better understand how devastating swine diseases spread, according to a study published recently in the journal PLOS ONE.

Woman with pig

A Georgian pig owner with her animal. Backyard pigs are usually raised for home consumption, and loss of one to disease is a significant blow. Photo credit: FAO

UC Davis Joins Initiative to Fight Malaria in Africa

img6102p58b

Scientists hope to control the spread of malaria using genetically modified mosquitoes that are resistant to the parasite.

By Trina Wood

UC Davis vector biologist Greg Lanzaro is taking part in the newly-announced UC Irvine Malaria Initiative to genetically engineer new strains of mosquitoes to fight malaria in Africa. The project, led by UCI’s pioneering vector biologist Anthony James, will bring together experts in molecular biology, entomology, public health and community engagement from across the UC system.

Vasectomy Alternative Gets Boost at California Primate Center

By Carlos Villatoro

The successful application of an alternative male contraceptive in rhesus macaque monkeys at the California National Primate Research Center is paving  the way for human clinical trials.

For over a century, men who did not want to father a child had only one permament option for contraception. But according to the results of a study conducted at the California National Primate Research Center (CNPRC), there could be an alternative to a vasectomy that is as efficient and has the potential to be easily and successfully reversible.

Tests with rhesus monkeys show that Vasalgel shows potential as an alternative to vasectomy. (K. West, UC Davis)

Tests with rhesus monkeys show that Vasalgel shows potential as an alternative to vasectomy. (K. West, UC Davis)

Experts In Human, Horse Stem Cells Join World Stem Cell Summit

Event Includes Horse Therapies For First Time

By Pat Bailey

Four UC Davis researchers with expertise in the application of stem cell science for therapies in human or veterinary medicine are slated to speak during the World Stem Cell Summit in Palm Beach, Florida, Dec. 6-9.

UC Davis researchers are exploring stem cell technology to treat both horses and humans. Photo by Karin Higgins/UC Davis.

UC Davis researchers are exploring stem cell technology to treat both horses and humans. Photo by Karin Higgins/UC Davis.

This will be the 12th consecutive year that the summit has brought together scientists, physicians and veterinarians, industry representatives and patient advocates from around the world to share medical breakthroughs in stem cell research, also known as regenerative medicine.

UC Davis Veterinary Student Shares in Zika Virus Discoveries

By Pat Bailey

Hannah Laurence, a third-year student in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute fellow, had the privilege of doing biomedical research during the past year in the laboratory of Professor Jeff Kieft at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.

Vet student with horse

UC Davis veterinary student Hannah Laurence studied Zika virus through a HHMI fellowship.

Recently, the Kieft lab announced in the journal Science discovery of the molecular process used by the Zika virus to “hijack” the cells that it infects and potentially how the virus makes molecules that are directly linked to disease.

Do Zebra stripes confuse biting flies?

Audio: Listen to this story on our podcast, Three Minute Egghead. 

 

Zebra stripes have fascinated people for millennia, and there are a number of different theories to explain why these wild horses should be so brightly marked. A handful of laboratories around the world – including one lead by UC Davis wildlife biologist Tim Caro – have been putting these theories to the test. A new paper from Caro’s group, led by Ken Britten at the UC Davis Center for Neuroscience, puts a hole in one idea: that the stripes confuse biting flies by breaking up polarized light.

Brown pelicans released following Refugio oil spill

By Kat Kerlin

Rehabilitated pelicans once covered in oil from last month’s Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara County were released today (June 12) at Goleta Beach.

Video: Rehabilitated pelicans returned into wild (LA Times)

Wildlife responders from the UC Davis Oiled Wildlife Care Network and California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) placed satellite tracking devices on 12 brown pelicans affected by the spill.

Study to track rehabilitated birds’ survival

UC Davis leads new effort in livestock genomics

By Pat Bailey

Scientists and breeders working with poultry and livestock species will get a new set of tools from an international project that includes the University of California, Davis.

The UC Davis team is led by functional genomicist Huaijun Zhou, an associate professor and Chancellor’s Fellow in the Department of Animal Science. The researchers will focus on the genomes of the chicken, cow and pig, which make up the largest meat-producing industries in the United States.

Functional genomics can reveal how DNA controls genes that improve livestock species.

Functional genomics can reveal how DNA controls genes that improve livestock species.

Engineering students host “make-a-thon” for bats

While many Americans were enjoying a holiday weekend, biomedical engineering students at UC Davis worked straight through Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 17-18, to design and prototype a medical device…for bats. The effort was the first “Make-a-thon” organized by the UC Davis Biomedical Engineering Society.

“It’s the design process on steroids,” said Anthony Passerini, associate professor of biomedical engineering and director of the department’s senior design program. “The teams were doing over two days what they normally do over two quarters. They were highly constrained by time, materials, and manufacturing techniques. It was a great learning experience and a lot of fun for everyone.”