Pioneers in Their Fields
At UCSF, we believe that solving the most daunting health care questions depends on great research. Our work on groundbreaking drugs and pioneering therapies is built years earlier, on work at the cellular and molecular level. We call it discovery science.
Can the enzymes behind every living thing adapt to climate change? How soon will we be able to mimic pancreases in a lab to treat diabetes patients? And can we stop the next killer pandemic by understanding virus evolution?
Balyn Zaro, Assistant Professor of Pharmaceutical Chemistry
If Immunity Is Innate, What Impacts Our Ability to Fight Infections?
Balyn Zaro, PhD, is drawn to genetic differences in the innate immune system. After all, those differences can impact the effectiveness of the medications we take.
Her lab investigates the cause and consequence of genetic diversity in the immune system, in hopes that her discoveries can lead to better treatments for all patients.
Julie B. Sneddon, Assistant Professor of Cell and Tissue Biology
Can Lab-Grown Beta Cells Revolutionize Diabetes Care?
Since the 1970s, clinicians have known that people with type 1 diabetes can be treated by transplanting pancreatic islets – clusters of insulin-producing “beta cells” – from a healthy organ donor. The procedure, however, is limited by a shortage of donors.
Sneddon is trying to coax stem cells into reliably developing functional beta cells that can be transplanted into patients to produce insulin.
Qili Liu, Assistant Professor of Anatomy
Could Understanding Food Cravings Help Treat Obesity?
We’ve all had food cravings, whether it’s a hankering for a sugary snack or a savory slice of pizza. But have you ever thought about what motivates those cravings? Qili Liu, PhD, hopes to unlock insights that could help address the obesity epidemic.
Liu and her lab study the biological basis of appetites and how those appetites ensure a balanced diet.
Caroline Vissers, Sandler Fellow, Assistant Professional Researcher of Biochemistry and Biophysics
What We Were Taught About RNA in High School is Only Half the Picture
In high school, Caroline Vissers learned the central tenet of biology: DNA encodes RNA, then RNA is translated into proteins. In recent years, researchers – including Vissers, PhD – have discovered that RNA is more dynamic and more essential than we previously believed.
In fact, Vissers’ work has helped found the field of epitranscriptomics, the study of how chemical marks on RNA, rather than their sequence alone, dictate the function of the molecules.