Posts Tagged: Bruce Hammock
Just because an entomologist is cast in a Hollywood movie, that doesn't mean there will be bugs.
Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis, and his wife, Lassie, recently headed to the Los Angeles Film Festival for the premier showing of “The Well,” directed by their son, Tom Hammock.
The parents play minor roles in the film, a thriller set in a futuristic dust bowl.
“It was too cold for bugs,” said Professor Hammock of the December 2013 filming in a secluded area of the high desert, near the Mojave.
“No bugs were featured in the film,” Tom confirmed. “But there were bugs around the set. A few velvet ants, for sure.”
The film marks Tom Hammock's debut as a director and Bruce and Lassie Hammock's debut as actors.
At the edge of a barren valley, all that remains of the Wallace Farm for Wayward Youth is a few hollowed-out husks of buildings and the memories of Kendal, a seventeen-year-old girl who can barely recall when the valley was lush. It's been a decade since the last rainfall, and society at large has dried up and blown away. Only Kendal and a few others remain, barely scraping by while dreaming of escape. When a gang leader named Carson lays claim to what little precious water remains underground, Kendal must decide whether to run and hide or bravely fight for what little she has left in this post-apocalyptic thriller.
The film stars Haley Lu Richardson, Booboo Stewart, Max Charles, Nicole Fox, Michael Welch and Jon Gries. Critics are praising the Tom Hammock-directed film as "superb" and looking forward to more of his work.
Wrote“Hammock's direction is superb; every moment of every scene matters, and the film shifts between action and drama superbly. Cinematographer Seamus Tierney also deserves kudos; considering how many scenes in the film incorporate both dark hiding places and the sun-razed landscape around them, the shots are always clean, clear and, in their way, beautiful. The Well"has its pleasures and powers, as well as a distinctive take on what could have been familiar, dead material; Hammock may have begun his career making worlds for other directors, but given a chance to create his own here, he not only succeeds but excels.”
Although new to acting business, Bruce Hammock is not new to "directing." In addition to his joint appointment with the UC Davis Department of Entomology and Nematology and the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center, 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. Bruce also is an athlete who loves rock climbing and white-water rafting and water balloon battles. (He will host the annual Bruce Hammock Water Balloon Battle--10 minutes of aim--on Thursday, July 24 on the Briggs Hall lawn for his students, researchers and colleagues.)
In "The Well," however, Bruce Hammock does not look like a professor, a researcher, an athlete or a water warrior. For the shoot, he grew a beard, donned his father's old ragged World War II clothes and worn-out shoes, and practiced looking (1) forlorn and haggard and (2) like a corpse.
“It was very interesting,” the professor told us last December. “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.”
Tom Hammock is obviously multitalented. He served as the production designer for the critically acclaimed horror films, "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane" and "You're Next," and also worked on such film productions as “Breaking Bad,” “Dexter,” “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." A 1994 graduate of Davis High School, he received his bachelor's degree in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley, and then studied film design at the American Film Institute. He is now very much involved in the hugely popular young adult and horror film genre, but showed more of his talent when he authored the original graphic novel, “An Aurora Grimeon Story—Will O' the Wisp." (See previous Bug Squad blog)
Release date of "The Well?"
Well...the next step is to find a buyer. Directors are fully aware that sometimes this can take months or years.
Meanwhile, Bruce Hammock doesn't intend to quit his day job, but he could--if he wanted to--add "acting" to his resume./span>
Professor Bruce Hammock in his office in Briggs Hall, UC Davis campus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
In research led by postdoctoral researcher Zuodong Zhang, a team of 16 scientists discovered a key mechanism by which dietary omega-3 fatty acids (fish oils) could reduce the tumor growth and spread of cancer, a disease that kills some 580,000 Americans a year.
The research is published today (April 3) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). They discovered cytochrome P450 epoxygenase metabolites of omega-3 fatty acid DHA or epoxy docosapentaenoic acids (EDPs) block blood supply to the tumor and thus inhibit tumor growth and metastasis.
The natural EDPs were further stabilized by a drug called a soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitor which is already under development to control pain and hypertension.
“Many human studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risks of cancers, but the mechanism is poorly understood,” said Zhang, a postdoctoral researcher who focuses his research on lipid mediators on angiogenesis, tumor growth and metastasis. “Our study provides a novel mechanism by which these omega-3 lipids inhibit cancer.”
“We demonstrated that EDPs have very potent anti-cancer and anti-metastatic effects,” Zhang said. “Current anti-cancer drugs that block angiogenesis (the formation of new blood vessels to fuel tumor progression) can cause serious side effects such as hypertension. By blocking angiogenesis by a new mechanism and by widening blood vessels, EDPs could block tumor growth with reduced side effects in cancer patients.”
The studies, conducted on mice, also suggest that a combination of omega-3 diet and some anti-cancer drugs such as sorafenib, “could not only be efficacious to treat cancers but reduce potential side effects,” said Zhang, who received his doctorate in food science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Thus the effects of the soluble epoxide hydrolase inhibitors have opposite effects depending on whether the background lipid mediators are omega 3 or omega 6,” Hammock said. “Assuming that humans are mice (the study involved mice), the prediction is that with some cancer drugs--particularly the ones like sorafenib and regorafenib that are potent epoxide hydrolase inhibitors as well as anti-angiogenic agents--these could be more effective with a high omega 3 and low omega 6 background.”
“This is an exciting step towards our full appreciation of the impact of bioactive products from the DHA metabolome,” said Charles Serhan of Harvard Medical School, an expert on omega-3 autacoids and inflammation who is the Simon Gelman Professor of Anesthesia, Periopterative and Pain Medicine, Harvard Medical School. “This (UC Davis) contribution places metabolic conversion of omega-3 DHA to epoxy DHA products pivotal in vascular mechanisms key in cancer and vascular biology. It will be exciting to watch these important findings translated to humans for new evidence based treatments for angiogenesis, tumor growth and cancer metastasis.”
Said cardiologist Jonathan Lindner of the Oregon Health & Science University: “New drug strategies for fighting cancer could emerge from knowledge of how the body uses nutrition to promote health. Diet has been shown to influence susceptibility to many types of cancer, and also to influence rate of tumor progression and response to chemotherapy. This information has been leveraged to make reasonable recommendations on diet in patients with cancer. Perhaps more importantly, by uncovering how diet influences tumor development and growth, it may be possible to develop new drugs that work through the same beneficial pathways.”
“The study by Zhang and colleagues has uncovered a previously unrecognized anti-cancer effect of omega-3 fatty acids which are an important lipid component of diets that have been developed to prevent heart disease and cancer,” Lindner said. “The authors have demonstrated that metabolites of these lipids can act to suppress the growth of new blood vessels that are necessary to feed tumor growth. By shutting off the tumor’s blood supply, these compounds can act to dramatically slow tumor growth and prevent metastasis. The results from this suggest that new drug strategies for fighting cancer could emerge from knowledge of how the body uses nutrition to promote health.”
Read more about the research on the UC Davis Department of Entomology website and see photos of some of the co-authors.
UC Davis postdoctoral researcher Zuodong Zhang. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
It promises to be a lively discussion.
UC Davis entomologist Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology, will speak on “From Butterflies to Blood Pressure and Beyond: Is It Possible to Get a Drug to the Clinic with a University’s Help?” at a Science Café session set Wednesday, April 3 at 5:30 p.m. in Crepeville, 330 3rd St., Davis.
The session, open to the public and billed as “a conversation with Professor Bruce Hammock,” will be hosted by the UC Davis Division of Math and Physical Sciences. Co-sponsor is the Department of Chemistry. Professor Jared T. Shaw will introduce Hammock.
Said Hammock: “The science is how basic research on insects has led to a drug for blocking hypertension and neuropathic pain. The general discussion is on the difficulties of translating basic science paid for by the taxpayer, into a technology that can actually help the taxpayer.”
Hammock, a member of the UC Davis Department of Entomology faculty since 1980, holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, and 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 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.
Western tiger swallowtail, Papilio rutulus. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Bruce Hammock in his habitat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Take entomologist Bruce Hammock, distinguished professor of entomology at the University of California, Davis. Forty years ago, while studying insect development, he discovered a group of anti-inflammatory compounds called sEH (soluble epoxide hydrolases) inhibitors.
In 2005 he began collaborating with cardiologist and cell biologist Nipavan Chiamvimonvat of the School of Medicine’s Division of Cardiovascular Medicine.
Fast forward to today.
Today an 11-scientist team from the Chiamvimonvat and Hammock labs published groundbreaking research in the Proceedings of National Academic of Sciences that shows a new treatment may help prevent and reduce cardiac fibrosis, a common occurrence in patients after a heart attack.
The research utilized a treatment involving a compound synthesized by Sing Lee and Sung Hee Hwang in the Hammock lab. The scientists determined the molecular mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) inhibitors in a heart attack.
“Our study (using rodents) provides evidence for a possible new therapeutic strategy to reduce cardiac fibrosis and improve cardiac function after a heart attack,” Chiamvimonvat told us.
Every year some 935,000 U.S. residents have a heart attack, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Heart disease kills about 600,000 a year, accounting for one in every four deaths in the nation.
The research, “New Mechanistic Insights into the Beneficial Effects of Soluble Epoxide Hydrolase Inhibitors in the Prevention of Cardiac Fibrosis,” is “really important in terms of understanding a unique pathway which may be targeted to reduce fibrosis and adverse cardiac remodeling,” Chiamvimonvat said.
The lead authors of the research paper are Padmini Sirish and Ning Li of the Chiamvimonvat lab, and Jun-Yan Liu of the Hammock lab. In addition, other researchers involved in the project are Kin Sing Stephen Lee, and Sung Hee Hwang of the Hammock lab; Hong Qiu, Cuifen Zhao, and Siu Mei Ma of the Chiamvimonvat lab, and López, who developed the methods to quantitate the fibrotic cells using flow cytometry.
Chiamvimonvat and Hammock have filed patents with the University of California for sEH inhibitors and cardiac hypertrophy therapy and organ fibrosis.
A multi-talented scientist and administrator, Hammock holds a joint appointment with the UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Research Center, and 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 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.
Heart researchers Bruce Hammock and Nipavan Chiamvimonvat. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Hoover, who received her doctorate in entomology from UC Davis in 1997, will discuss “Co-Evolution in a Host Baculovirus System” from noon to 1 p.m. in 366 Briggs Hall.
She will be in California in conjunction with her trip to Ventura to participate in the Gordon Research Conference, an international forum for the presentation and discussion of frontier research in the biological, chemical, and physical sciences, and their related technologies.
“The gypsy moth has a long co-evolutionary history with its host specific baculovirus, Lymantria dispar NPV,” Hoover said. “As a result, the gypsy moth has evolved counter-defenses against the virus, while in return the virus has strategies for increasing its own fitness at the expense of the host. For example, anti-viral defenses include apoptosis of infected cells (despite viral inhibitor of apoptosis genes), while the virus manipulates host behavior to enhance transmission to new hosts, which is an example of the extended phenotype.”
While a grad student at UC Davis, Hoover studied with major professors Bruce Hammock and Sean Duffey (1943-1997). After a one-year postdoctoral position at UC Berkeley, she joined the faculty of the Penn State University Department of Entomology in 1998.
Her research program at Penn State focuses on invasive species, including development of trapping techniques for the Asian longhorned beetle; gut microbial symbionts of the Asian longhorned beetle and hemlock woolly adelgid; functions of key viral genes in transmission of the gypsy moth baculovirus and anti-viral defenses; and biological control of hemlock woolly adelgid.
Hoover is the lead author of the highly acclaimed research, “A Gene for an Extended Phenotype,” published Sept. 9, 2011 in Science. It was selected for the Faculty of 1000 (F1000), which places her work in its library of the top 2 percent of published articles in biology and medicine.
Kelli Hoover of Penn State chats with Kevin Heinz (center) of Texas A&M and Bruce Hammock of UC Davis at a meeting of the Entomological Society of America. (Photo by Kathy Keatley Garvey)
Kelli Hoover (front center) received her doctorate from the UC Davis Department of Entomology in 1997. She's shown here in 1993 with (from left) major prin 19ofessor Sean Duffey (1943-1997), Billy McCutchen and Bryony Bonning. (Courtesy Photo)