Volume 3.1 | October 2023

News from the SOM Office of Research

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Message from the Vice Dean for Research

As the heat abates in favor of fall colors and the days shorten, it is a pleasure to introduce the fall quarter edition of our newsletter, with important updates for the School of Medicine research community. This publication coincides with National Hispanic Heritage Month, which is observed from September 15 to October 15. I join the rest of UC Davis leadership in taking this opportunity to appreciate the rich cultural heritage that

Hispanic communities contribute to our community. Importantly, UC Davis is actively working to both help the career development of Latin/x/a/o scientists (such as through the CAMPOS Scholarship Program) and to serve the local Hispanic patient population more effectively. An example of the latter is Latinos United for Cancer Health Advancement (LUCHA), which strives to move our Latino community from cancer health disparities to health equity through community outreach and robust representation in clinical trials. This program is run by Luis Carvajal-Carmona, a genomics researcher and Professor and Auburn Community Cancer Endowed Chair in Basic Science, and Laura Fejerman, an Associate Professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, and co-director of the Women’s Cancer Care Program at the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center.

At the School of Medicine Office of Research, we continuously look for ways to improve service delivery to our School of Medicine research faculty and staff. This year, we developed a new unit, Research Administration, to meet the need – identified by research administrators and department CAOs – for a centralized place to get answers to questions about research policies and practices. This unit will develop templates for pre- and post-award activities and provide assistance to researchers and staff in interpreting them. It will also develop a training, networking and advisory group infrastructure for School of Medicine Research Administrators. We’re excited to provide this service to the School of Medicine research community.

In the meanwhile, research at UC Davis continues to blaze new trails. For the second year in a row, university extramural funding topped $1 billion. The School of Medicine is the largest driver of this research funding and this year, I am pleased to announce that we topped the $400 million milestone for the first time ever.

I also invite you to join us this month for our annual research celebration, which both celebrates the previous year and looks forward to the innovative research ongoing and still to come. We will feature flash presentations by six researchers sharing their current work. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served and there will be ample opportunity for socializing and networking. See below for more details and registration information.

We also look forward to the rapidly approaching opening of Aggie Square. 2025 may seem like a long time away for some, but the work to finalize the details of School of Medicine research occupancy is bringing the reality of this project closer by the day. I appreciate the collaborative work of our office and campus stakeholders to prepare us for the momentous day when Aggie Square opens its doors.

Finally, it has been a pleasure to work closely with the new(ish) Associate Chief of Staff for Research at our local partnering Veterans Affairs (VA) affiliate, Dr. Jerry Nadler, who joined the VA after time spent as Dean of the New York Medical College. With his lengthy and productive career in academia, Dr. Nadler is eager to maximize the potential of UCD-VA collaborations in basic, translational and clinical research. For example, the VA has a very diverse population of patients who are eager to participate in clinical trials, and Dr. Nadler is putting infrastructure in place to help navigate the processes of collaboration. We look forward to invigorating this important partnership.

Kim E. Barrett, Ph.D.

Vice Dean for Research

UC Davis School of Medicine

Distinguished Professor of Physiology

and Membrane Biology


Susan D. Brown

Associate Professor Susan D. Brown has received an NIH award to establish the EMBER (Empowering Mentees to Become Exemplary Researchers) program at UC Davis. EMBER will expand Dr. Brown’s capacity to provide in-depth mentoring in behavioral diabetes prevention research for diverse pre- and post-doctoral scholars, including those from groups underrepresented in science and medicine. Within her intensive ongoing program of research, EMBER supports comprehensive training in mentorship best practices; and mentee training in health behaviors for diabetes prevention, health equity, maternal health, and implementation science. This work will leverage unique UC Davis resources, a transdisciplinary team science approach and a mentoring philosophy rooted in the science of social belonging, social cognitive theory, emotional intelligence, and strengths-based mentorship. These activities support the long-term objectives of diversifying the independent investigator workforce and advancing inclusive excellence in diabetes prevention research.

Julie Dang

Alongside high-profile individuals such as President Joe Biden, UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Julie Dang has been named one of the top 25 people nationally who is breaking down barriers to cancer health equity. Dang is the executive director of the cancer center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement. As a cancer health disparities behavioral scientist, Dang works to ensure that diverse and underserved populations have access to cancer prevention and intervention tailored to their culture and community. Her areas of expertise include breast and colorectal cancer screenings for Black, Latino and Native American communities. She is also committed to boosting Asian-American participation in cancer research and clinical trials and promoting testing for hepatitis B, which can lead to liver cancer.


Impactful Publications

Assistant Professor Shuchi Gulati from the Internal Medicine Division of Hematology and Oncology, is first author of a publication in JAMA Oncology, “Systemic Anticancer Therapy and Thromboembolic Outcomes in Hospitalized Patients With Cancer and COVID-19.” This work assesses the association between anticancer therapy exposure within 3 months prior to COVID-19 and thromboembolic events (TEEs) following COVID-19 diagnosis in patients with cancer.

Jakub Tomek, a University of Oxford fellow who spent his fellowship year at UC Davis, published “SparkMaster 2: A New Software for Automatic Analysis of Calcium Spark Data” in Circulation Research with UC Davis pharmacologists Madeline Nieves-Cintron, Manuel F. Navedo, Christopher Y. Ko and Distinguished Professor Donald Bers (pictured). This paper describes SparkMaster 2, an update of the original SparkMaster, which was released in 2007 by Bers and was the first free, user-friendly software for calcium spark imaging data analysis. The new version includes an improved user interface and higher accuracy at identifying calcium release events than previous tools.

A groundbreaking material — engineered bone marrow (eBM) — has the potential to improve treatment for osteosarcoma, a malignant bone cancer with low survival rates. A new study involving UC Davis researchers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes eBM’s potential. This includes helping researchers learn how bone marrow cells affect osteosarcoma growth, testing cancer therapeutics and potentially personalizing treatment. Kent Leach, professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at UC Davis is the corresponding author on the paper. Other authors include faculty from the Department of Orthopaedics (Steven W. Thorpe, Gabriela G. Loots, R. Lor Randall) with the School of Veterinary Medicine (Katherine H. Griffin), the Department of Biomedical Engineering (Thomas P. Coonan, Isabel S. Sagheb), and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Aimy Sebastian, Nicholas R. Hum). Read more on this study.

Extramural Funding Update

UC Davis is a leading research institution entrusted by many federal and state agencies and industry partners to conduct impactful research and make cutting-edge discoveries. In fiscal year 2022-23, this trust resulted in more than $1 billion in external research funding to the university. The School of Medicine was the top recipient with $401 million, a new record in research funding.

For the last three years, the School of Medicine has steadily increased its research funding through grants from industry partners as well as federal and state agencies.

“We are very grateful to all the funding agencies and industry partners who make groundbreaking medical and health research possible,” said Kim Barrett, vice dean for research and distinguished professor of physiology and membrane biology. “The record research funding garnered by our faculty will allow for new insights into fundamental biology, the development and testing of many potential therapies and a better understanding of the health challenges we’re facing post pandemic.”


Research Celebration

The 2023 Research Celebration Event is coming soon! This event celebrates another successful year of School of Medicine research and offers the chance to hear from and network with research leadership and faculty.

Please RSVP through Eventbrite.

School of Medicine Impact Symposia Awards

UC Davis School of Medicine is well-ranked with respect to objective measures of research success (extramural awards and publications), but our reputational rankings for research accomplishments lag behind. To narrow this gap and raise awareness of our research excellence, the School of Medicine Vice Dean for Research is announcing a new funding mechanism intended to incentivize and support departments to showcase our institution. This initiative aims to assist departments within the School of Medicine to host high quality symposia that advance our research mission and bring thought leaders to campus for fruitful discussions. Up to three departments will be awarded matching grants in the amount of $15,000 each, based on the scope and significance of the proposed symposium. The award funds are intended to cover various expenses associated with symposium organization, including but not limited to venue rental, speaker travel expenses and/or honoraria, promotional materials, and logistical arrangements. Symposia must be held on either the Davis or Sacramento campuses.

Application Process

Interested departments are required to submit a comprehensive application package. Find the eligibility and application requirements here.

• Deadline for Applications: November 1, 2023, at 5 pm.

Get to know SOMOR

Laboratory Health and Safety

In their ongoing commitment to safety and environmental stewardship, the Laboratory Health and Safety unit recently undertook a significant operation to safely manage two potentially explosive chemicals discovered in two university labs. These chemicals, Diethyl Ether and Picric Acid, required expert handling due to their hazardous nature.


The School of Medicine Office of Research Safety Unit coordinated this complex operation, working in partnership with Clean Harbors, a leading provider of environmental, energy, and industrial services. The operation also required a permit from the Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC), the California state department that oversees the handling and disposal of hazardous waste.

The operation was a masterclass in meticulous planning and coordination, involving multiple stakeholders including Parking and Transportation, the Fire Marshal's Office, Plant Operations and Maintenance, DTSC, Clean Harbors, and the School of Medicine Office of Research. A parking lot was designated as the site for the stabilization process, cordoned off to ensure safety. To minimize disruption and risk, the operation was scheduled on a Saturday, a day when campus occupancy was at its lowest.


The success of the operation underscores the Safety Unit's commitment to maintaining a safe environment and its ability to effectively coordinate complex operations. This is just one example of how this unit continues to prioritize the safety of our campus community and the environment.

In the aftermath of the operation, the labs involved have taken proactive steps to further enhance safety. Using Diethyl Ether, a solvent in organic synthesis, the labs have implemented stricter monitoring of the dates on their peroxide formers to prevent the formation of potentially explosive peroxides. The labs have also now transitioned to purchasing premade Bouin's solution, a fixative, instead of making it from Picric Acid. These measures not only mitigate risks but also demonstrate our community's shared commitment to maintaining a safe and productive research environment.

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Shawn Rasmussen

Director of Facilities and Space

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Tammi Olineka

Associate Director of Facilities and Safety

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Brett Smith

Safety Officer, Davis Campus

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Steve Libertini

Safety Officer, Sacramento Campus

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Feature: Department of PM&R Research

Innovative research and cutting-edge patient care defines the UC Davis Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). PM&R research includes such areas as rehabilitation interventions, pain management and neurological rehabilitation for individuals with neurological conditions such as stroke, spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis. 


October is National Physical Therapy Month

Every October National Physical Therapy Month is celebrated to raise awareness with the public about the many benefits of physical therapy. It's also a great opportunity to appreciate what Physical Therapists (PTs), PT Assistants and PT students do to transform lives. The 2023 theme is the "Value of PT" and serves to highlight the ways physical therapy improves quality of life. Check out https://www.apta.org/ for more resources.

UC Davis Physical Therapy is housed in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R). Resources include both inpatient and outpatient physical therapy. Physical therapists working in the hospital teach patients mobility skills needed to become functionally independent.Outpatient physical therapy staff treat a variety of orthopedic conditions including sprains, strains, tendonitis, bursitis, and contusions, as well as neurological conditions such as spinal cord injuries, strokes and head injuries.

Research News

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