UC Davis Today: Finding solutions to global health problems

Michael Turelli stting in front of a blackboard

Finding solutions to global health problems

UC Davis is a place where faculty curiosity, hard work and brilliant deductions are leading to the eradication of major diseases.

Take Michael Turelli, distinguished professor in the UC Davis Department of Evolution and Ecology. He is the 2012 Faculty Research Lecture Award winner for his work with a bacterium that may stop the spread of dengue fever. Dengue is a potentially fatal illness that affects roughly 2.5 billion people—more than 40 percent of the global population.

His research, Turelli said, “is a great example of being curious, wanting to understand something in nature and discovering that this understanding has important practical applications.”

And it is just one example of how UC Davis researchers and professors are bringing their knowledge and expertise to confront the world’s most pressing problems.  

Other examples of UC Davis research that have been instrumental in tackling deadly diseases include:

  • the work of veterinary virologist Tilahun Yilma, who genetically engineered a vaccine for rinderpest, a devastating cattle disease;
  • the West Nile virus work by an extensive UC Davis team, including entomologists, wildlife veterinarians and toxicology specialists;
  • and genetically engineered vaccines that protect humans and cattle from Rift Valley fever.

Michael Turelli, who has spent his entire 35-year academic career at UC Davis, began researching a bacterium that could stop the spread of dengue in the 1980s. (Russ Thebaud/UC Davis photo illustration, Philip DeVries/source photo)

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