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The institution's principal publication for alumni, friends and physicians.
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  F E A T U R E S  
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  UC Davis Shines in Nutrition Research  
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  FEATURES
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NUTRITION RESEARCH FROM ALL ANGLES

Defining the relationship between diet and disease

 "" PHOTO — UC Davis obesity and nutrition expert Judith Stern says collaboration helps advance research.
 
UC Davis obesity and nutrition expert Judith Stern says collaboration helps advance research.
   

About 100 years after researchers identified key vitamins that eliminated scourges like rickets and scurvy, nutrition is still big news. However, "over-nutrition" is now the headline grabber, as obesity-related illnesses are quickly catching up to smoking-related illnesses in the leading cause of death in the nation. Diet plays a significant role in cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis, and may have ties to Alzheimer's disease, eye diseases and the general disability that often accompanies aging. The American Cancer Society estimates that poor diet, along with insufficient exercise, causes one-third of U.S. cancer deaths.

Researchers at UC Davis Health System, often working with other UC Davis campus units, are exploring fascinating and relevant issues in the field of nutrition to discover new and better ways to treat people with a variety of diseases. Some researchers use sophisticated tools such as microarray technology or accelerator mass spectrometry to help pinpoint the role of nutrients in optimizing health. Others go right into local grocery stores and homes to find out what is available and what will help people choose the right foods.

A number of key research centers at UC Davis facilitate the successful collaborations in nutrition studies, including:

  • The Clinical Nutrition Research Unit, which brings together independent and collaborative nutrition research of 50 funded UC Davis faculty investigators from the School of Medicine, the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the School of Veterinary Medicine and the Division of Biological Sciences. One of 10 such units funded by the National Institutes of Health nationwide, the research unit provides laboratories, visiting professorships and grants for new faculty members.

  • The USDA Western Human Nutrition Research Center, which will soon have a new fully equipped 49,000-square-foot home on the UC Davis campus next to the Genome and Biomedical Sciences Building and the School of Medicine's Tupper Hall that houses its basic sciences departments. The new location will enhance interactions and collaborations among the USDA center and the clinical nutrition research unit's administrative core, nutritional assessment core, and molecular biology and genetics subcores.

  • The National Center of Excellence in Nutritional Genomics at UC Davis, which is supported in part by a $6.5 million grant from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities. The center focuses researchers' efforts on the study of "nutrigenomics" — how foods interact with particular genes to increase the risk of certain diseases.

"We are a research university without walls," says Judith Stern, professor in the Departments of Nutrition and Internal Medicine and in the Division of Endocrinology, Clinical Nutrition and Vascular Medicine. She has published numerous nutrition studies in collaboration with clinicians and researchers throughout UC Davis.

"Colleagues are always enthusiastically willing to get involved, and this makes my research better," she says. "Maybe it's because we started as a college of agriculture — and together we raised the barn."

At UC Davis Health System, research on nutrition comes from all angles. The research overviews in this issue demonstrate the breadth and depth of investigation into the relationship between diet and disease.

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  Some researchers use sophisticated tools such as microarray technology or accelerator mass spectrometry to help pinpoint the role of nutrients in optimizing health. Others go right into local grocery stores and homes to find out what is available and what will help people choose the right foods.  
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