Posts Tagged: Bruce Hammock
You'll never guess what Bruce Hammock did on Dec. 18.
First, a bit about Bruce Dupree Hammock. He's a distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis; he holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center; and he directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program, and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) Combined Analytical Laboratory.
He’s an athlete who loves rock climbing and white-water rafting and hosts the annual Bruce Hammock Water Balloon Battle in front of Briggs Hall for his students, researchers and colleagues.
So, what did he do on Dec. 18? He embarked upon an acting career.
His first role?
Hammock grew a beard, donned his father's old ragged World War II clothes and worn-out shoes, and practiced looking like a corpse. He then drove to a secluded place in the high desert, near Mojave, to participate in the production on Dec. 18. (The details are top secret.)
“It was very interesting,” Hammock. “But my, the producers work hard. We were on the set at 5:30 a.m. We worked until dark, in weather well below freezing, with high winds blowing sand. The professional actors and actresses put in amazing performances under quite adverse conditions."
“They’re a very professional and fun group. I had never realized the complexity of filming a movie. I hope they pull off their vision.”
Hammock, who is a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the 2001 UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award and the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching, doesn’t think his acting career is so established that he’ll be nominated for an Academy Award.
At least not soon.
And the beard? Will he shave?
Yes. The movie role is over.
His colleague, chemical ecologist Walter Leal, joked: “Just before he left, Bruce mentioned he was dressing to shoot a movie. I didn’t notice any difference; I thought he was taking off for another scientific meeting.”
Bruce Hammock: from distinguished professor to renowned scientist to skilled athlete to actor.
Bruce Hammock in his office in Briggs Hall, before he began his acting career. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It's no secret that Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, loves the water.
Well, there's white-water kayaking for one.
And, two, his water balloon battles.
Every summer for the past 10 years, he's hosted a water balloon battle on the Briggs Hall lawn. In a show of camaraderie, Hammock, his colleagues, graduate students and undergraduate students gather on the lawn and douse each other with water balloons--and sometimes heaping buckets of water. It's basically 15 minutes of aim because that's how long it takes. This year's event took place July 13 and ended in record time: 10 minutes.
Hammock doesn't have far to walk to the Big Balloon Battle at Briggs. His office and some of his labs are on the "garden level" of the three-story building.
That would be the basement.
Well, no thanks to the huge rainstorm last weekend, he experienced another kind of water--a flood.
He walked into his office Sunday morning only to see "lots of water and lots of mud." He sent us the photo below.
"Most things were off the floor, but of course, some were not," Hammock said. "Some equipment loss. Could be a nightmare if we get mold in the walls."
Some of his colleagues in the Briggs Hall basement also reported water in their offices and labs.
"We've had worse floods over the last 10 years," Hammock said. "We've had the water level above our head in the bike pit (the bicycle parking lot below the front steps)."
As for the water balloon battles, the Hammock lab is known for working hard and playing hard. Hammock, who holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, the National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory.
He is a fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the 2001 UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award and the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching.
But last weekend, Hammock was the recipient of one of Mother Nature's unexpected "gifts."
The kind of water nobody wants.
Bruce Hammock lab: a victim of the rainstorm. (Photo by Bruce Hammock)
Entomologist Bruce Hammock in his UC Davis office. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
The UC Davis news circulating around the world about a horse’s remarkable recovery from laminitis--thanks to an experimental compound--has an insect connection.
But first: the news story. Veterinarians at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine recently announced “plans to conduct the first clinical trial of an experimental drug that has shown promise in treating horses stricken with laminitis, an excruciatingly painful and often life-threatening foot-related disease,” wrote Pat Bailey of the UC Davis News Service. See news story and accompanying video.
“Four horses suffering from laminitis have been treated with the investigational anti-inflammatory drug so far. One experienced a complete remission that has lasted for more than a year, and three others have shown some improvement.”
The horses were treated under a "compassionate use" protocol approved by the UC Davis Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. That protocol allows animals to be treated with an experimental drug if no approved alternative treatment exists. A clinical trial to assess the drug's safety and establish a tolerable dose for the compound is expected to begin in the spring. Further clinical trials would be needed to establish the drug's effectiveness as a laminitis treatment.
“In reality, we found the soluble epoxide hydrolase target in mammals while studying the mammalian metabolism of a green pesticide based on the insect juvenile hormone,” Hammock told us this week.
“Neuropathic pain is an unmet medical need. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are counter productive—aspirin, Advil and Motrin make it worse."
Our compounds, he said, work in morphine-resistant models of diabetic pain.
Neuropathic pain comes from nerve damage--professional football, car wrecks, pinched nerves, but also diabetes--sugar spikes make nerves sick.
The experimental compound is known t-TUCB and as Hammock says, belongs to a group of anti-inflammatory compounds called sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolases) inhibitors. Hammock discovered the compound more than 40 years ago while he was working on basic insect research.
So that's how horses and insects, and entomologists and veterinarians, are connected.
And laminitis? It's extremely painful and involves inflammation of a horse's nailbed, which as Guedes explains, is the connective tissue where the horse's hoof and lower foot bone join. The survival rate for laminitis is about 25 percent.
The horse below is Hulahalla, a three-year-old thoroughbred filly with acute laminitis in both front feet. In the first photo, she refused to stand up. When given the compound, she was up within three hours.
The entomology-veterinary collaboration is very exciting--and to think this all originated when Bruce Hammock's basic research on insects. Hammock began this research at UC Berkeley and then went on to join the UC Davis faculty. He holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, directs the campuswide Superfund Research Program, the National Institutes of Health Biotechnology Training Program and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory. He is a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America, a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and the recipient of the UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award in 2001 and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching in 2008.
BEFORE: Hulahalla, a three-year-old thoroughbred filly with acute laminitis in both front feet. She refused to stand up. (Photo courtesy of Alonso Guedes)
AFTER: When given the compound, Hulahalla was up within three hours. (Photo courtesy of Alonso Guedes)
It's Halloween tomorrow (Wednesday) but what's really frightening is Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that transmits the deadly dengue. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), dengue is the world's most rapidly spreading mosquito-transmitted disease.
Some 2.5 billion people, or about 40 percent of the global population, are at risk from dengue, WHO says. The disease infects between 50 to 100 million people a year. The most severe form afflicts some 500,000 a year, killing an estimated 2.5 percent or 22,000.
Enter Sarjeet Gill, professor of cell biology and entomology at UC Riverside. He'll speak on on "Bacterial Toxins in Disease Mosquito Vector Control" at a seminar from 12:10 to 1 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 31 in Room 1022 of the Life Sciences Building, UC Davis.
His longtime colleague and good friend, Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology at UC Davis, will host him as part of the UC Davis Department of Entomology's fall seminar series.
"Aedes aegypti is an important vector of human diseases, such as dengue fever and yellow fever," Professor Gill says. "Its control has been attempted by eliminating breeding sites, using predators and with chemical insecticides. However, such control is still difficult because of operational limitations and the development of insect resistance. Therefore, Bacillus thuringiensis has been used for decades instead of physical and chemical control methods. B. thuringiensis israelensis is highly active against Aedes aegypti."
"The high insecticidal activity and the low toxicity to other organisms," Gill says, "have resulted in the rapid use of B. thuringiensis as an alternative for the control of mosquito populations. B. thuringiensis israelensis produces a variety of toxins that act synergistically to cause toxicity to larval populations."
Gill says his seminar "will discuss our current understanding of the mode of action of these toxins and provide evidence on how resistance to these toxins has not occurred in Aedes mosquitoes in the field even though B. thuringiensis israelensis has been used for more than three decades."
Gill’s laboratory focuses on two principal research activities. "The first area attempts to elucidate the mode of action of insecticidal toxins from the Gram positive bacteria Bacillus thuringiensis and Clostridium bifermantans," he says. "This research aims to identify novel toxins, and to gain a molecular understanding of how these toxins interact with cellular targets and thereby causing toxicity. The second area focuses on understanding mosquito midgut and Malpighian tubules function, in particular ion and nutrient transport, and changes that occur following a blood meal."
Gill, who received his doctorate from UC Berkeley, joined the UC Riverside Department of Entomology faculty in 1983. He helped establish the Department of Cell Biology and Neuroscience and also served as chair. Currently he is the co-editor of the journal Insect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
A noted scientist and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Gill received his doctorate in insecticide toxicology in 1973 from UC Berkeley. See his website.
If you miss his seminar, not to worry. It's scheduled to be recorded and then posted at a later date on UCTV. (See the index of previous Department of Entomology seminars posted on UCTV.)/span>
Aedes aegypti transmits the deadly dengue. (Photo by James Gathany, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
Professor Sarjeet Gill at a malaria conference at UC Davis. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Scorpions--to fear or to revere?
The Bohart Museum of Entomology's open house last Sunday drew visitors of all ages who marveled at the scorpions glowing under ultraviolet light.
UC Davis entomology major Alexander Nguyen flashed a UV light on the critters as his audience watched in amazement.
Most--but not all--of the world's scorpions glow under ultraviolet light, says Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum, which houses more than seven million insect specimens.
Scorpions are not insects, but arachnids, the same as spiders. Ranging in size from 9 mm to 21 mm, scorpions have eight legs (arachnid alert!) and grasping claws that help conquer their prey. But it's their venom that kills. And all scorpions possess venom.
UC Davis entomologist Bruce Hammock and his lab made the news back in 2003 when they published a study that showed that scorpions produce two venoms: a pre-venom to deter predators and immobilize small prey, and then the good stuff, the powerful venom that's meant to kill.
It's like saving the best for last or waiting for the venom glands to pump and reload, so to speak.
So, why do they glow?
Scientists believe it's because of the fluorescent material found in the scorpion's hard outer covering.
"The fact that they glow serves no physiological function," said Bohart senior museum scientist Steve Heydon. "It's probably a quirk of chemical makeup."
Great quote..."a quirk of chemical makeup."
Scorpion glowing under ultraviolet light at the Bohart Museum of Entomology. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
UC Davis entomology undergraduate student Alexander Nguyen flashes a UV light on a scorpion, as Professor Demosthenes Pappagianis, M.D., Ph.D., of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, watches. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)