The ability to organize our lives and to love the people we care about comes from the most remarkable organ in our bodies – the brain. It is only when the brain goes awry that we realize what we take for granted.
My father-in-law is a physician. He practiced in Savannah, Georgia, opening the first sickle-cell-anemia clinic in that city, leading the charge for fluoridation of water to prevent tooth decay and providing compassionate care to all his patients.
Today, suffering from advanced Parkinson's and dementia, he spends most of his day in bed, tended to around the clock by aides, with little awareness of time or the world going on outside his apartment.
In many ways, our family has already lost the physician, the husband and the father that he was. Many families are living with comparable stories.
That is why neuroscience research is so important – every day the scientists and clinicians at UC Davis work together to bring hope to patients with neurologic diseases and their families.
Researchers at our NIH-funded Alzheimer's Disease Center study the illness to discover clues to the causes of dementia and test new therapies. In this issue, you can read about how UC Davis researcher Charles DeCarli has focused on the role of vascular disease in dementia.
Our M.I.N.D. Institute is dedicated to finding cures for such neurodegenerative diseases as autism; fragile X and Tourette's syndromes; ADHD; and others. Launched by the passion of five families committed to finding answers for those suffering from these illnesses, the institute today supports a multidisciplinary team of scientists, educators and families partnering to achieve their vision. In this issue, UC Davis immunologist Judy Van de Water tells us about her work on how the immune system may be involved in the onset of autism.
Still other families have loved ones who suffer from mental illness. UC Davis was pleased to host Sacramentoarea U.S. Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) earlier this year when they convened a congressional field hearing on our Sacramento campus to address the cost to society of leaving people with mental health problems uninsured and untreated.
The passion, commitment and achievements of the UC Davis Health System team in investigating these illnesses, as well as pain syndromes, eye disorders, stroke, brain tumors and a wide array of other neurological diseases, are a reflection of neurosciences as a strategic focus area of excellence.
This issue of UC Davis Medicine is about neuroscience research – and the scientists and clinicians who bring families hope. I hope it motivates you to learn more about participating in one of our many neuroscience clinical trials or make a philanthropic donation to support this work. Thank you for reading these stories – and for being part of our UC Davis family.