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Connecting the dots

More than 2,500 years ago Hippocrates said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine thy food." W. Chris Hawkes wants to help make this a reality.

Hawkes is a research chemist at the USDA's Western Human Nutrition Research Center at UC Davis, one of six USDA laboratories in the country devoted to the study of health and nutrition. He and fellow chemists Robert Jacob and Betty Burri share a three-year, $900,000 in-house USDA project to study mechanisms of preventing cancer with micronutrients. At the same time, a recent agreement between the UC Davis Cancer Center and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory has created exciting possibilities for collaboration.

Hawkes is working with Lawrence Livermore to integrate the USDA's nutritional prevention of cancer program with the UC Davis Cancer Center's etiology, prevention and control program. He's also trying to establish a cooperative specialized center between the cancer center and Lawrence Livermore on nutrition, genomics and cancer.

"We expect that antioxidant nutrients will turn on or turn off cellular pathways related to cancer," said Hawkes. "We want to create a database of different nutrients' effects on gene expression so that we can come up with a multifaceted, nutritional intervention for disease."


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Supporting Cancer Center
UC Davis Cancer CenterUC Davis Health System

With a little help from UC Davis cancer researchers and Lawrence Livermore, Chris Hawkes hopes to clarify how nutrients affect cancer.