TAG: "health research"

UC Berkeley research pioneer dead at 77

John Forte’s work on stomach cells pointed the way to treatments for ulcers.

John G. Forte, UC Berkeley

John G. Forte, UC Berkeley

John Gaetano Forte, a University of California, Berkeley, physiologist whose work on acid-secreting cells in the stomach pointed the way to treatments for ulcers, died peacefully at his home in Berkeley on Nov. 19, 2012, following a prolonged battle with leukemia.

Forte, a professor of the Graduate School in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and former chair of UC Berkeley’s Department of Physiology and Anatomy, was 77.

Through his studies of the acid-producing parietal cells in the stomach, Forte identified a unique pump in the body, a potassium-activated ATPase, responsible for generating the stomach’s highly acidic secretions. This research helped point the direction toward pharmacological treatments for ulcers.

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UC Davis researchers win grants

Three teams awarded IDEA grants from the California Breast Cancer Research Program.

Abhijit Chaudhari, UC Davis

Three multidisciplinary teams of UC Davis researchers were among 11 in California to receive $150,000 IDEA research grants this year. The program funds innovative research through the tobacco tax, voluntary tax-check-off on personal income tax forms and individual contributions.

The grants cover an array of research expertise at UC Davis, including nutrition, pathology,  mouse biology, radiology and biomedical engineering.

One IDEA grant will fund development of a new type of PET scanner capable of detecting far more miniscule changes in breast tissue than can be detected with existing technology. Abhijit Chaudhari, assistant  professor of radiology and principal investigator, said higher-resolution PET imaging could allow physicians to monitor a patients’ response to breast cancer treatment  prior to undergoing surgery.

“We know that breast cancer takes different paths in different types of patients,” Chaudhari said. “The idea is to monitor on a much smaller scale what these changes are as the breast cancer progresses and is treated.”

Another grant will examine the potential effect of folic acid exposure on developing mammary glands in utero and after birth. and its potential role in the development of precancerous lesions and malignant tumors.

Josh Miller, principal investigator for the folic acid study, explained that since folic acid has been used to fortify flour and cereal grains, rates of neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida have been dramatically reduced. However, lingering questions remain about the safety of folic acid fortification. One area of concern is whether excess folic acid exposure in a developing fetus and in children can affect subsequent risk of breast cancer. Miller, and his co-principal investigators Alexander “Sandy” Boroswky and Russ Hovey, will use mice genetically engineered to mimic the effects of Her-2, the gene that contributes to 30 to 40 percent of human breast cancers, to test the molecular effects of excess folic acid exposure.

The third IDEA grant will help researchers establish the lifespans of different types of breast cancer cells and ultimately improve treatment approaches. Principal investigator Sandy Borowsky said current treatment methodologies, including radiation and chemotherapy, are most effective against rapidly dividing cells. Cancer stem cells – those cells that give rise to tumors – are believed to be relatively dormant and divide only rarely, believed to lead to treatment resistance and cancer recurrence. This controversial theory, which has never been directly tested, will be examined applying accelerated mass spectrometry C14 DNA technology to determine the average date of birth of the breast cancer stem cell population compared with other breast tumor cells in patient tumor samples.

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center
UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center is the only National Cancer Institute-designated center serving the Central Valley and inland Northern California, a region of more than 6 million people. Its specialists provide compassionate, comprehensive care for more than 9,000 adults and children every year, and access to more than 150 clinical trials at any given time. Its innovative research program engages more than 280 scientists at UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Jackson Laboratory (JAX West), whose scientific partnerships advance discovery of new tools to diagnose and treat cancer. Through the Cancer Care Network, UC Davis collaborates with a number of hospitals and clinical centers throughout the Central Valley and Northern California regions to offer the latest cancer care. Its community-based outreach and education programs address disparities in cancer outcomes across diverse populations. For more information, visit cancer.ucdavis.edu.

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UCSF fund’s grants support diabetes research

Awards of up to $500,000 come from an anonymous donor.

Matthias Hebrok, UC San Francisco

In 2008, an estimated 51 million adults had prediabetes in the U.S. Just two years later, that number had ballooned to 79 million. A proportion of these adults will soon join the 25.8 million people nationwide [PDF] who already have diabetes.

In California, the statistics are equally troubling, where one in seven adult Californians has diabetes, at a total cost of approximately $24 billion a year.

“It is a tsunami that’s going to hit us,” said Matthias Hebrok, Ph.D., the Hurlbut-Johnson Distinguished Professor in Diabetes Research and director of the UCSF Diabetes Center. While more than 90 percent of the prediabetic in the U.S. are type 2, he added, referring to the variation typically associated with being overweight, the incidence of type 1 diabetes caused by an autoimmune response against insulin-producing beta cells is also on the rise.

In the face of this dire trend, a member of the Diabetes Center Leadership Council has funded UCSF to fight against the greatest challenges of preventing and treating diabetes, ranging from how to communicate better with literacy-challenged patients to discovering rare mutations of genes that contribute to type 1 diabetes.

The UCSF Diabetes Family Fund for Innovative Patient Care, Education and Scientific Discovery, created by one anonymous donor who is committed to diabetes research, seeks to stimulate and support creative, collaborative and imaginative innovations in diabetes clinical care, patient education, medical training and diabetes-related clinical and basic research through awards of up to $500,000 for one to three years.

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UCSF scientists outline future

Multimedia stories provide preview of what the next decade may bring.

Multimedia stories from UCSF

Nine UCSF scientists invite you inside their work.

UCSF has a long history of pioneering biomedical research and a bold vision for advancing health worldwide. But what does that really mean in the near future and beyond?

Hailing from a wide spectrum of disciplines, nine UCSF scientists invite you inside their work to learn what the next decade may bring to the world of medicine.

Will dentists of the future help you grow new teeth? Will neurologists someday ‘print’ information directly into the brain? And will regular eye exams enable detection of diseases such as Alzheimer’s?

Direct from those who live and breathe it every day, find out what’s next in science.

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