Volume 1.3 | April 2022
News from the SOM Office of Research
Message from the Associate Dean for Translational Research
“Mental health is not a destination, but a process. It’s about how you drive, not where you’re going.” (www.healthyplace.com)
“Are we all going to get infected by this virus?” This and other questions are on everyone’s mind. As we are on the heels of the largest COVID-19 wave caused by the omicron variant of SARSCoV-2, news about emerging surges is reaching us from Asia and Europe. 

Aside from this relentless pandemic already in its third year, many of us are highly distressed by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Watching the news, talking to friends and relatives, or thinking about what will come next evokes immense anxiety. Our focus on mental well-being and its health impact in this issue of the quarterly newsletter from the School of Medicine Office of Research (SOMOR) feels therefore timely.

It is an honor for me to introduce this issue of the SOMOR newsletter. For those who do not know me, I am a pulmonary immunologist, professor of medicine and associate dean for translational research in the school of medicine. Over the past two years, our office worked very hard to guide and facilitate the safe, step-by-step restoration (“ramp-up”) of research activities that came to a screeching halt in March 2020. It is a testament to our UC Davis SOM research community that despite the tremendous setbacks it prevailed and was able to maintain and in fact increase research productivity, especially in COVID-19-related areas. Mental resilience has been and still is a key to succeed in overcoming the effects of stress, hardship and all the unnatural conditions we had to face over the past two years. The longer these conditions persist, the more of us may face burn out.

So, how can we look after our mental well-being, avoid burnout, and cope better? Using World Health Organization (WHO), Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other sources, and advice from a psychiatrist colleague, Lally Pia, I compiled a 5-point list with some simple steps that I felt might be helpful for anybody. They are posted throughout this newsletter in the blue boxes. Please, feel free to reach out to me if you have any research-related questions, issues or ideas you’d like to share. Have a wonderful spring!

Angela Haczku, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Medicine
Director, UC Davis Lung Center
Associate Dean for Translational Research
School of Medicine, University of California, Davis
Maintaining mental well-being in trying times
Compiled from guidelines from the CDC, WHO, NHS, Mayo Clinic and mind.org.uk, and with advice from Lally Pia, M.D., a Child & Adolescent Psychiatry specialist in private practice in Sacramento.
Good relationships are critical. Build a sense of belonging and self-worth with others. Share positive experiences and provide support to others. Find creative and responsible ways to do outside activities that will help avoid isolation and loneliness.

  • Try to take time each day to be with your family
  • Arrange a day out with friends you have not seen for a while
  • Switch off the TV to talk or play with loved ones
  • Take a lunch break with a colleague
  • Make an effort to visit someone who needs support or company
  • Volunteer
  • Use technology (Skype, FaceTime, Zoom) to stay in touch but do not rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships
Exercise-triggered endorphin release lifts mood. When you exercise outside, you are interacting directly with your environment. Set goals or challenges to positively change your mood, and improve self esteem.

  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Find free activities and start running, swimming, cycling or dancing
  • It’s best to engage in activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life
  • If you have a disability or long-term health condition, find out about adaptive activities
There are multiple ways to bring learning into your life even if you feel you do not have the time.

  • Sign up for a class to learn something new or improve your current skills
  • Take on a new responsibility at work such as mentoring a trainee, junior faculty member or staff
  • Start a DIY project
  • Find activities you enjoy and make them a part of your life
  • Do a crossword, Sudoku or Wordle and share your Wordle results
Acts of giving and kindness can help improve mental well-being by creating positivity and a feeling of purpose and self-worth. Small acts of random kindness, such as paying for coffee for the person behind you in the drive through, or larger ones, like volunteering in your local community, all improve feelings of connection.

  • Say thank you for even the small things
  • Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is: ask friends, family or colleagues how they are and really listen
  • Offer help to someone

Broaden your awareness of yourself and your environment. Savoring and being in “the moment” while reaffirming life priorities enhances self-understanding and allows you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations. Mindfulness positively changes the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

• Read more about mindfulness
• Get a plant for your workspace
• Have a ‘clear the clutter’ day
• Take a different route on your journey to or from work, visit a new place for lunch
In This Issue
US News and World Report Rankings
The U.S. News and World Report has again recognized UC Davis School of Medicine as one of the top ranked medical schools in the U.S. For 2023, the School has maintained its top five ranking in diversity among its students, achieving #3 - the highest-ranked medical school on the West Coast. Additionally, it has maintained its top ten rankings in family medicine education (up two spots to #7) and primary care education (#8). It has increased its ranking in public health education to #19. Research remains ranked 51st.

Congratulations to Sergio Aguilar-Gaxiola, director of the UC Davis Center for Reducing Health Disparities and professor of clinical internal medicine, for winning the 2nd place 2022 AAMC “Innovations that Bolster Community Trust and Engagement” award. Aguilar-Gaxiola received this award in recognition of his great work on the Solano County Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Cultural Transformation Model (ICCTM) Innovation Project. The ICCTM project built community trust among underserved communities in Solano County by implementing Culturally Linguistic and Appropriate Service (CLAS) training to county mental health care workers. 

SciVal, an online program provided by Elsevier, is available to UC Davis faculty and staff. Using Kerberos credentials, faculty and staff have access to the research performance of thousands of institutions and their associated researchers worldwide. SciVal is a powerful benchmarking tool that can assist with developing new research strategies, identifying new and emerging research trends, and creating reports.

The School of Medicine Office of Research has utilized SciVal with Scopus ID to create uniquely tailored Publication Metrics Reports that will soon be available to School of Medicine departments. Access it here: https://scival.com/home

Get to know SOMOR
Safety Management Team
The Safety Management program at UC Davis School of Medicine is responsible for providing a safe workplace by minimizing the potential hazards to faculty, staff, students and visitors. It sets the standards for safety management and complements individual laboratory safety programs and activities.

Impactful Publications
Our faculty publish their research in “high-impact journals” - those considered to be highly influential in their fields. A journal’s impact factor is a measure of the frequency with which an average article in a journal has been cited in a particular year. The impact factor of a journal is an index number calculated by Clarivate and frequently used as a proxy for the importance of the journal in its field.
Featured in Lancet Oncology
Elysia Alvarez, assistant professor in the department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Hematology/ Oncology, is the first co-author of an article in the January issue of Lancet Oncology. This article is an analysis of the 2019 Global Burden of Diseases, Injuries, and Risk Factors study that addresses the gap in reporting of the global cancer burden in adolescents and young adults (aged 15-19 years), a distinct subgroup with unique epidemiology, clinical care needs and societal impact.

Featured in New England Journal of Medicine
William Murphy, distinguished professor and vice chair of research for the department of Dermatology, and distinguished professor for the department of Internal Medicine, division of Hematology/ Oncology, published an article in the January issue of the New England Journal of Medicine. Murphy wrote on the possible role of anti-idiotype antibodies in SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination, addressing the diversity in immune responses in people.

Featured in Lancet
In the March 12 issue of Lancet, Craig McDonald, chair of the department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and professor in the department of Pediatrics, published a study on repeated intravenous cardiosphere-derived cell therapy in late-stage Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The study concluded that this treatment appears to be safe and effective in reducing deterioration of upper limb function in patients with this condition, with further studies needed to confirm longer-term benefits. For more on this study, see also this story from UC Davis Health News.

Resilient Spaces: UC Davis SOM research and initiatives on well-being

During the COVID pandemic, a sense of isolation grew around the world as people retreated into their homes. While our social media communities exploded, our in-person lives shrank into bubbles and behind shields and masks. We sent our digital avatars to offices and classrooms and stopped going out into the world for food and recreation. ...

Research News
Research in the News
For all the latest research news, go to the research news page, which aggregates news about School of Medicine research as it is posted.

Join us at the 2022 Research Expo on May 11. The Research Expo is a one-day event showcasing the latest research-related insight, resources, opportunities and tools to help you advance your research. The event includes exhibits, presentations, workshops and opportunities to network with potential collaborators. We welcome you to enjoy the full event or attend portions that are of particular interest. Online options are available.

Research Expo
Data Visualization Help
Want to make your data reporting more accessible, clear and effective? The School of Medicine Office of Research Evaluation Unit offers monthly drop-in sessions for researchers and staff who are interested in improving the way they present data. Meetings are held the first Friday of each month.

Next Drop-in: May 6, 2022 at 10am. Guest speaker: Andon Carling, Business Intelligence Analyst for UC Davis Health Public Affairs.

For more info: [email protected]