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IN BRIEF: Health system backs basketball game; workshop highlights writing across the curriculum

By Amy Agronis on November 19, 2004 in University

Health system backs 'Break the Record Night'; giveaway set

The health system is sponsoring the Dec. 4 games on "Break the Record Night," the annual date on which the UC Davis athletics department strives to break the attendance record for a basketball game.

The Aggie women's team will play Menlo College at 6 p.m. at the Pavilion on campus, followed by the Aggie men's game against Northern Arizona University at 8 p.m.

The health system is sponsoring the games to help reinforce and strengthen the connection between the health system and the general campus.

The first 6,000 spectators to arrive at the games will get free scrub shirts bearing the UC Davis Aggies logo and the UC Davis Health System name. During timeouts, the video scoreboard in the Pavilion will show various health system employees reading trivia questions related to the health system.

Health System employees and their families and guests will be admitted free of charge to the men's and women's basketball games. Free tickets to the game will be distributed to health system departments and will be available to staff through managers or supervisors.

Writing Across the Curriculum faculty workshop planned

Faculty members are invited to a Writing Across the Curriculum workshop Jan. 4 that is co-sponsored by the Teaching Resources Center and the University Writing Program.

The workshop will provide practical strategies for integrating writing into courses, designing assignments to improve students' analytic and writing skills, and coaching and commenting on students' writing.

The all-day event is scheduled to run 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in MU II. More information and registration details are available at the Teaching Resources Center Web site,

Sperm donor kids are simply curious about genetic dads

The vast majority of children born from open-identity sperm donors feel positively about their conception and are simply curious about their genetic fathers, according to the first study of its kind, developed by UC Davis psychologist Joanna Scheib.

Her study, conducted with Maura Riordan and Susan Rubin, uses data collected through The Sperm Bank of California in Berkeley. The adolescents, ages 12-17, were conceived by donors who allowed their identification to be given to their adult offspring at age 18.

The study is important because the first children conceived under open-identity conditions in the United States are now about 21 years old, Scheib says. A growing number of children conceived through this method will be coming of age in the near future.

"Parents are concerned about how their children will react when they learn they are not genetically related," Scheib says.

"This feedback reassures us that the vast majority are curious but not really looking for a father in the donor. The youths are more likely looking for information that tells more about themselves."

Scheib, who also is director of research for the sperm bank, reports that more than 30,000 children are born each year in the United States through donor insemination.

The children in the study, when told early about their origins, reacted similarly to how adopted children respond when they have been told about their adopted state from a young age: They incorporate it as a matter of fact, Scheib reports.

The study, which queried youths across the nation, found that most of the children first learned how they were conceived between the ages of 5 and 8, and all knew by age 10.

Scheib's study on open-identity sperm donors was published Nov. 11 in Human Reproduction, Europe's leading reproductive medicine journal.

Aging memory: Researcher eyes what's normal, what's not

If you think getting old means losing your memory, you've got another think coming, says a UC Davis human development expert who spoke at a Nov. 10 aging conference on campus.

"Memory and other cognitive functions do not show significant decline in all elderly," says Beth Ober, professor of human development. "In fact, 85 percent of those 65 years old and older show normal functioning of the mind."

Ober spoke about what is normal for memory loss among the "elderly" (those 65 years and older) as part of a daylong conference to update professionals and scholars in the Sacramento region about the status of aging issues in California.

In her talk, Ober dispelled myths about aging and memory and explained differences between types of memory and how they are affected over time.

For instance, while memory for recent events is most impacted by aging, memory for one's language and other types of "world knowledge," as well as memory for rules and procedures (such as card games), is well maintained.

A researcher who looks at the aging brain among the healthy and not-so-healthy, Ober has analyzed how Alzheimer's disease and schizophrenia affect how older people think and remember.

Besides Ober's talk on memory, topics included health promotion; legal issues and retirement; how volunteers can better work with the aged; and health, illness and optimal aging.

Media contact(s)

Amy Agronis, Dateline, (530) 752-1932,