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Many Disciplines, One Purpose  

America’s first community-acquired case of COVID-19 arrived at UC Davis Medical Center on February 26, 2020. Experts from UC Davis immediately began working together to find solutions to a new global threat. Today their collective experience in virology, zoonotic diseases, human health, medicine, engineering and animal model research is helping us tackle the crisis at all levels, from the field and the laboratory to the hospital bed and beyond.

In the Deans Discuss: COVID-19 video podcast, hosts Allison Brashear, dean of the School of Medicine, and Michael D. Lairmore, dean of the School of Veterinary Medicine, examine the collaboration taking place across UC Davis and consider the pathways to progress that lie ahead.

Deans Discuss: COVID-19 Season 1 Episodes

Episode 19: The Year in COVID

Though the “19" refers to the year the novel coronavirus was actually discovered, we’ll all remember 2020 as the year COVID-19 utterly changed the world. In this final episode of the season, the deans discuss not only the technological leaps made but also the campus-wide collaborations — especially between the School of Veterinary Medicine and School of Medicine that — that gave us all hope and taught us many lessons along the way.

Episode 18: Herd Is the Word

It has been long observed that, after disease ravages a group of animals, the remaining herd often comes to possess a collective immunity. That’s one reason some epidemics seem to appear and flame out just as suddenly. But is that a good strategy for a human population fighting COVID-19, as some public figures have wishfully suggested? In this episode, the deans discuss why that is a very bad idea, and how we’ll be better off getting through this winter with clear, constant communication from respected public health institutions.

Episode 17: Crisis Management


The mark of a true leader is someone who takes bold action and develops innovations that bring not just short-term relief but long-term benefit. In this episode, the deans discuss ways that front-line workers are taking initiative and becoming the true heroes of this pandemic.

Episode 16: Plotting the Pandemic

Did you know that 60 to 70 percent of emerging human diseases come from animal sources? You don’t have to eat the animal to become infected. You just have to share its environment, and habitat destruction is causing our respective territories to increasingly overlap. Join the deans as they discuss how current field studies and advanced modeling technology are helping us trace the progression of novel diseases and predict where the next problem might arise.

Episode 15: Coping and Connecting

The pandemic has us physically distancing ourselves from one another, and this presents a host of challenges to the way humans connect, the way leaders lead, and the ways can take care of our own mind and body amid the chaos. In Episode 15, the deans discuss what it means to “lead in” and consider what adaptations we might want to perpetuate even after the crisis has ended.

Episode 14: Trial Running

One way medical science progresses is through the work done in clinical trials, but they cannot proceed without volunteers. Today, the deans discuss the value of clinical trials and who in the community might consider participating in one. Recently 3,500 people signed up for a UC Davis COVID-19 vaccine trial, but there are many ways to get involved, from answering questionnaires to donating organs after you pass away. There are even clinical trials for pets!

See all the available UC Davis Health clinical studies and our animal clinical trials.

Episode 13: Rapid Testing 1-2-3

As universities now strive to safely accommodate students, the need for rapid testing is more urgent than ever. In this episode, the deans discuss ways testing can be ramped up for greater speed and volume. What if a test were so simple you could administer it yourself? What if we tested pools of individuals all at once? We could even test the sewage coming out of the dorms. High-throughput testing techniques already in agricultural practice offer interesting possibilities for COVID-19 testing today.

Episode 12: Going Pathological

COVID-19 was initially seen as a respiratory disease. But as our understanding improves, we’re uncovering a surprising range of pathologies (such as inflammation, gastrointestinal distress, blood clotting and increased risk of stroke) that affect different age groups. In this episode, the deans discuss what we know about how coronavirus affects humans — and cats. They also reveal some of the advanced technologies, including imaging and artificial intelligence, we’re using to learn more.

Episode 11: Safe and Effective as Fast as Possible

As the race to develop a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine quickens, UC Davis Health recently announced plans to enroll 120 participants in a national clinical trial in partnership with Pfizer. In this episode, the deans discuss the differences between the very first “live vaccines” of the late 1700s and the cutting-edge messenger RNA vaccine at the heart of this new trial. Find out why diversity is important among participants and why the flu vaccine is especially important this year.

Episode 10: A New Normal

As many aspects of life are resuming despite the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic, many industries find themselves embracing a new normal. From increases in the number of telemedicine visits to daily Zoom meetings, new technology is becoming part of everyday life for many people in health care. In this episode, the deans discuss what their new normal looks like.

Episode 9: Thought for Food

In recent years, the idea of “food as medicine” has gained broad acceptance in health circles. We know it’s important (though not always easy) for people to get proper nutrition from whole foods and limit the intake of highly processed foods. But what happens when a global pandemic disrupts both supply and demand? With lines mounting at food banks throughout the country, our abundance is increasingly unable to reach those who need it most. In this episode, the deans discuss COVID-19’s ripple effects throughout our food supply chain and how innovations in sustainable agriculture might help.

Episode 8: Stressed Out!

COVID-19 is straining frontline workers, laid-off laborers and everyday families. It has changed the way we get our food, sunlight, exercise and sleep. In this episode, the deans discuss how stress affects us, and what we can do about it. From telemedicine to getting a pet, answers are coming from unexpected places.

Episode 7: The Resilience Test

COVID-19 interrupted everything and applied stress to nearly every aspect of our lives as patients, parents, teachers, students, researchers, employers and employees. It has exposed and exacerbated underlying social and economic problems. In this episode, the deans discuss how the effects of COVID have rippled throughout the system — from sleep loss to homeschool challenges — and how UC Davis is showing its resilience.

Episode 6: A Research Hub that’s Aggie Square Shaped

It’s one thing to conduct groundbreaking research. It’s another to deploy solutions to real world problems — which, as a land grant university, UC Davis was created to do. In today’s episode the deans discuss Aggie Square, a planned research hub that will link Sacramento and Davis campuses and bring in businesses and community leaders as well. It’s intended to promote cross-disciplinary collaboration and continuing education. The result might not only usher in new COVID-fighting technologies but also help fuel our region’s growing innovation sector.

Episode 5: Innovation in the Time of COVID, Part 2

There’s so much exciting science going on right now, the deans decided to pick up where they left off last week to further discuss innovations at the School of Veterinary Medicine and the School of Medicine. Smartphone apps could help make contact tracing more productive and less labor intensive. Scrutinizing air flow within built environments helps us understand how microorganisms make their way through the biome. Plus, we look at how genomic tools could shape our predictions of how this virus will evolve and how we’ll adapt to the next pandemic when it inevitably arrives.

Episode 4: Innovation in the Time of COVID

Responding to a crisis requires creative thinking at a breakneck pace. In this episode, the deans discuss how our multidisciplinary focus is leading to novel solutions—from promising drug trials to scanners that create incredibly nuanced pictures of a patient’s lung damage. UC Davis engineers, mathematicians and even cultural anthropologists are using large data sets and computer modeling to make critical predictions about the behavior of a virus going through a population. Find out how a diversity of minds is solving today’s unique problems.

Episode 3: Medical Education Amid Pandemic

At the UC Davis School of Medicine and School of Veterinary Medicine, the coronavirus pandemic disrupted day-to-day learning and all the usual celebrations. But it also presented opportunities to reimagine both training and care practices. In this episode, the deans discuss how their respective schools adapted and applied lessons that may provide lasting improvement to not only healthcare worker effectiveness but also access and safety for patients and pet owners.

Episode 2: The Race for the Vaccine

It’s one of the biggest questions on the public’s mind: How soon will we have a readily available COVID-19 vaccine? In this episode, our deans discuss how public immunization began and how it’s done today. They examine the challenges in producing rapid research while also ensuring patient safety and product efficacy. Discover recent innovations in vaccine delivery systems, including an easy-to-administer skin patch with microneedles. All on today’s Dean’s Discuss: COVID-19.

Episode 1: Testing 1-2-3

In this episode, our deans discuss the race to ramp up testing capabilities to not only diagnose patients but also learn more about the virus and how it is spread through the population. They also consider all the sticky questions that go along with testing: What are the technical and logistical challenges? What’s the difference between a PCR test and an antibody test? How accurate are they? Who benefits from them? Should asymptomatic people get tested? Should pets get tested? Find out why some tests might be useless to individuals but incredibly valuable to vaccine researchers. All that and more in this episode of Deans Discuss: COVID-19.

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