UC Davis Veterinary Medicine News, Spring/Summer 1997

New Center for Comparative Medicine Names Director

Photo: Dr. Stephen Barthold Following an international search, a director has been named for the UC Davis Center for Comparative Medicine, a unique joint venture between the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Medicine to carry out research on human diseases.
Stephen W. Barthold, professor and head of the Pathology Unit in the Section of Comparative Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine, became director of the new Center for Comparative Medicine and professor in the Department of Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology June 1.
Dr. Barthold (DVM, UC Davis '69; MS, PhD in comparative pathology, University of Wisconsin '73, '74), who is a laboratory animal pathologist and director of an NIH funded Lyme disease program, is a world renowned comparative pathologist. He has been a faculty member at Yale University School of Medicine since 1974 and is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists.
"The Center for Comparative Medicine will focus on mechanisms of persistent infections of diseases common to animals and humans," says Dr. Barthold. "The host-agent interactions are probably the most complex interactions to study. There is already strength here on campus with research on SIV/HIV. I'd like to expand to other agents, bacteria and even parasites, if we're so lucky to recruit such people in." Six new positions will be filled in addition to the current UC Davis faculty members who choose to join the center.
"The presence of a medical and veterinary school on the same campus who appreciate each other from the top down is really a very unique environment," says Dr. Barthold. "To have a building and a research program that merges the two is wonderful." Dr. Barthold's area of interest is Lyme disease, which will continue as a research program at the center. Dr. Barthold and his colleagues at Yale discovered and developed a vaccine for Lyme disease a few years ago in animal models that has just finished successful clinical trials. He expects that within about a year and a half the human Lyme disease vaccine, which is a genetically engineered recombinant protein vaccine, will be on the market. His current research on Lyme disease aims to identify the genes that stimulate effective host immunity in the hope of developing a therapeutic vaccine in the future, he says.
Another major focus of the center will be to serve teaching at all levels. "Hopefully," says Dr. Barthold, "we can attract the very best to scientific careers. We'll be integrating teaching as much as possible into many different programs across campus in both schools and beyond the schools.
The Center for Comparative Medicine will, in addition to laboratories, house core facilities for a mouse biology program that is evolving on campus for genetically altered mice. "The genetically altered mouse has emerged as a preeminent tool for biomedical research nowadays. It's only logical that we centralize these services for efficiency and effectiveness," says Dr. Barthold. He hopes that collaborations and programs related to the mouse biology program will develop at the center, saying, "There are a number of people in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, the Division of Biological Sciences, the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Medicine who are all coming together; all agree we need to do this.
"I'm trying to have the center have no boundaries," says Dr. Barthold. "It's a roof to some, but we want to have an open door policy for facilities in the center and for collaboration. "And," he says, "it's going to be a success! I'm very impressed by the enthusiasm of both deans, everybody on campus, about the concept of the Center for Comparative Medicine. A lot of people have put in a lot of long, hard hours in getting it to this stage. I'm stepping in at the 11th hour and having all the fun."

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