It’s been almost seventeen years that I’ve been a professor here at UC Davis Medical School. It feels like home. I enjoy teaching our first-year medical students each year. Some end up doing research in my lab. Our school recently got a nice write-up over at STAT News by Usha Lee McFarling on the diversity here. From the piece:
“one school in California — the state with the country’s longest-standing ban on using race in admissions — has defied the odds. The University of California, Davis runs the country’s most diverse medical school after Howard, a historically Black university, and Florida International, a Hispanic-serving research university.”
At UC Davis Medical School we are more generally dedicated to diversity on many levels. You can see some of the cool DEI programs going on here.
- It’s Official: No More Crispr Babies—for Now, Wired. This piece is a good read, but the title isn’t great. The reality is that there could be more CRISPR babies tomorrow for all we know. I guess the implication of the title is that officially the big global meeting consensus policy on this front says the world isn’t ready to proceed or even be sure if we should proceed if we could. That last part is important. He Jiankui is unlikely to be the last person to try this.
- Gene researchers try to find ways to get around key CRISPR flaw, STAT News.
- PASTE, Don’t Cut: Genome Editing Tool Looks Beyond CRISPR and Prime, GEN. This approach combines multiple enzymes to insert segments of DNA. I can see how it might be useful for specific applications. The idea of nicking rather than fully cutting DNA could have advantages.
Other recommended reads
- The Personalized Stem Cells That Could One Day Treat Parkinson’s and Heart Failure, WSJ. They even quote a UC Davis Medical School faculty member (me).
- Top FDA official: Agency needs to start using accelerated approval for gene therapies, STAT News. Some criticize the FDA for being too slow on approvals, but the agency has such a difficult task to evaluate potential safety and efficacy of new medicines. Often there is pressure even when the agency has relatively limited data given to it. It’s not surprising to see Dr. Peter Marks highlight the importance of moving faster. Also, newer investigational gene therapy approaches are looking very promising these days, such as for sickle cell disease where it does seem like quite a few patients have almost no symptoms any more, but these complex approaches come with more risks than you might think. Responses could wane over time too although hopefully not. Some media are already characterizing still experimental approaches as known to be cures, which is not an accurate way to portray things. The key is balancing the need for excellent data with the need for not letting oversight get bogged down.
- To Ward off Aging, Stem Cells Must Take Out the Trash, Neuroscience News. Here’s the research paper in Cell Stem Cell: “Hematopoietic stem cells preferentially traffic misfolded proteins to aggresomes and depend on aggrephagy to maintain protein homeostasis”.