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