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Lorena Anderson

$3.5 Million Hellman Endowment Expands Future of Research at UC Merced

Since 2011, the Hellman Fellows Fund has provided close to 60 UC Merced assistant professors with much-needed research support in the form of seed funding. The prestigious Hellman Fellowship has launched countless careers at UC Merced and across the UC system.

Now, thanks to a generous new $3.5 million gift from the Hellman family, UC Merced will permanently establish the UC Merced Society of Hellman Fellows starting in 2021. The endowment allows the program to continue in perpetuity, while affording the campus more flexibility in funding early-career research.

New Project Aims to Advance Understanding of Immune Cells as they Develop

Maybe now more than ever, scientists need to understand the immune system.

A new National Institutes of Health grant is funding a cross-disciplinary collaboration between bioengineering Professor Joel Spencer and immunology Professor Jennifer Manilay that will allow them to watch as immune-system cells develop in the bone marrow of a living mouse to gain insights into how they work.

Bacteria Use the Physics of Twist to Measure Their Own Size and Shape

Theoretical physics Professor Ajay Gopinathan has been working over the past decade to model a submicroscopic mystery. Now, he and a team of colleagues have verified an important piece of the puzzle of how tiny, intrinsically twisted protein filaments responsible for repairing and growing cells know where to go to perform their function.

The work could someday enable scientists to control bacterial growth.

At the Intersection of Math and Biology, Sindi Lab Sees a Breakthrough in Prion Disease

A UC Merced researcher and her lab have unlocked one of the mysteries that could lead to treatments — or even cures — for prion diseases in mammals.

Prion diseases are a family of rare, progressive neurodegenerative disorders that affect both humans — such as with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease or fatal familial insomnia — and animals, such as mad-cow disease. These disorders are usually rapidly progressive and always fatal, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Researchers Discover Mechanism Proteins Use To Find And Control Genes

Bioengineering Professor Victor Muñoz has answered a long-standing genetic mystery, and his research suggests that someday, bioengineers could devise ways to control gene activity — manually switching off the genes that contribute to cancer, for instance.

“If this mechanism turns out to be as powerful as we anticipate, engineering it will be relatively straightforward,” Muñoz said. “Controlling the output of genes could be done in a targeted way by new genome editing technologies such as CRISPR.”

UC Merced Alumna Represents Valley at State of the Union

One of UC Merced’s original students, Enid Picart — soon to graduate from the UCSF San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (SJV PRIME) — represented the San Joaquin Valley in a big way last week by attending the State of the Union address in Washington, D.C., as the guest of Congressman Jim Costa.

Together, the two reminded people of the need for ongoing medical education in the Valley and of the dedication of many UC Merced alumni to give back to their communities.

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