biochemistry

Marie Heffern Wins NSF Career Award

Marie Heffern, assistant professor of chemistry, was awarded a prestigious CAREER grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) this month. The NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) program funds junior faculty who perform outstanding research, are excellent educators and include outreach in their work. Heffern is the third faculty member in the UC Davis Department of Chemistry to receive a CAREER award in 2021.

PsychLight Sensor to Enable Discovery of New Psychiatric Drugs

A genetically encoded fluorescent sensor to detect hallucinogenic compounds has been developed by researchers at the University of California, Davis. Named psychLight, the sensor could be used in discovering new treatments for mental illness, in neuroscience research and to detect drugs of abuse.

Synthetic Version of CBD Treats Seizures in Rats

A synthetic, non-intoxicating analogue of cannabidiol (CBD) is effective in treating seizures in rats, according to research by chemists at the University of California, Davis. The synthetic CBD alternative is easier to purify than a plant extract, eliminates the need to use agricultural land for hemp cultivation, and could avoid legal complications with cannabis-related products.

Metals Influence C-peptide Hormone Related to Insulin

Metals such as zinc, copper and chromium bind to and influence a peptide involved in insulin production, according to new work from chemists at the University of California, Davis. The research is part of a new field of “metalloendocrinology” that takes a detailed look at the role of metals in biological processes in the body. 

UC Davis Chemist Marie Heffern Wins Hartwell Foundation Award

Although trace metals such as copper, zinc and cobalt play a pivotal role in human health, not much is known about how the body uses these elements. A better understanding of the role and influence of metals could lead to new biomarkers and diagnostic tests for metabolic disorders such as diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), says UC Davis professor Marie Heffern, who specializes in bioinorganic chemistry. 

Psychedelic Microdosing in Rats Shows Beneficial Effects

The growing popularity of microdosing — taking tiny amounts of psychedelic drugs to boost mood and mental acuity — is based on anecdotal reports of its benefits. Now, a study in rats by researchers at the University of California, Davis, suggests microdosing can provide relief for symptoms of depression and anxiety, but also found potential negative effects.