Infectious diseases – whether new, re-emerging or a persistent threat – are an ongoing challenge in today's global community. UC Davis has developed unique strengths in its research and outreach that contribute to the protection of human and animal health from viruses and other diseases.
Our health system, as you can read in this issue of UC Davis Medicine, confronts many of these threats, including HIV, tuberculosis and malaria. Those efforts are enhanced and strengthened through UC Davis' other top-rated programs in veterinary medicine, biological sciences and agricultural and environmental sciences. As a result, UC Davis researchers have a long collective tradition of advancing our understanding of human and animal diseases and vaccines.
In one recent major finding, Veterinary Medicine researchers identified a gene mutation that appears to be responsible for changing relatively mild forms of the West Nile virus into a highly virulent and deadly form in American crows, the major sentinel species for the disease.
UC Davis experts also recently launched a new Web site, in collaboration with the California Department of Public Health, local mosquito and vector control agencies and the larger UC system, to house and share surveillance information about West Nile and other diseases. An important resource for public-health and vector-control professionals, the site also assists in educating the public about plague, hantavirus, West Nile virus, tick-borne diseases and related topics.
UC Davis is extensively involved in studying, preparing for and managing influenza viruses with pandemic potential, such as avian influenza. We were recently named a partner in a new $18.5 million National Institutes of Health research center to expand the federal government's early-detection program for influenza. The initiative will help reduce the chances of a deadly influenza outbreak around the world, as well as reduce the effects of common, "seasonal" strains of influenza.
Much of our success in research is the result of our collaborative approach to science. By drawing from many disciplines, we are able to tackle challenges in new ways. For example, our Center for Comparative Medicine is a unique program between the schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine that looks at both human disease and its animal counterparts to derive insights that benefit both.
The potential for us to make an impact on the health of our communities is before us. Infectious disease is the second-leading cause of death worldwide. The efforts under way at UC Davis to track and respond to these various threats will go far in improving the lives of, not only Californians, but also people around the globe.