Murray B. Gardner Junior Faculty Research Fellowship Program, 2017-18

About Murray B. Gardner, MD

Murray Gardner (MD), Professor Emeritus, has a storied career investigating the clinical intersection of humans, animals, and the environment, pioneering the concept of One Medicine, One Health.  Dr. Gardner’s research focused on animal models of human diseases, with particular emphasis on oncogenic and immunosuppressive retroviruses in mice and nonhuman primates, particularly advancing the rhesus macaque model of HIV/AIDS pathogenesis and prevention.  He has been a long-time advocate of the power of animal models to address mechanisms of disease.  This concept was fulfilled by the opening of the Center for Comparative Medicine (CCM) in 1997, the research focus of which is the use of animal models for the study of human diseases and translational research.  Dr. Gardner’s contributions to both animal and human health has been internationally recognized, and in 2006, the veterinary community demonstrated their high regard for his professional contributions by electing him as an Honorary Member of the American College of Veterinary Pathology.  A central element in his career has been his enthusiastic mentoring and encouragement of students and faculty at all levels, and his invaluable contributions have directly benefitted countless individuals along their career paths in biomedical research.  Accordingly, Dr. Gardner has continued to fulfill this endeavor by creating the Murray B Gardner Junior Faculty Fellowship Program to enable the successful transition of junior faculty at UC Davis to become established faculty members who are able to meet the academic, research/clinical, and service missions of the university.


The Murray B. Gardner Junior Faculty Research Fellowship, which originated in 2016, supports junior faculty performing research in Animal Modeling of Human Diseases with a focus on infectious disease or pathogen-host interactions.

The goal of this program is to enable career advancement of junior faculty to the Associate Professor level by facilitating an increased number of fundable grant submissions through a mentoring program in animal models of human disease with a focus on infectious disease or pathogen-host interactions.  The biggest priority and challenge for Junior Faculty is securing their first extramurally funded award.  A core mission of the Center for Comparative Medicine within the Schools of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine, is to provide junior faculty with mentoring support to develop and secure extramural funding to carry out an extended research project.

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2017 Fellows:

2017: Eliza Bliss-Moreau, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and a Core Scientist at the California National Primate Research Center.

Project: The Impact of Zika Virus Infection on the Developing Post-Natal Infant Brain

One year after the World Health Organization declared Zika virus (ZIKV) a global health emergency, the devastating neural consequences of ZIKV infection are clear. The vast majority of experimental and epidemiological studies, though, have focused on the virus’ impact on fetal and adult brains – with little attention paid to its impact on the still developing infant brain.  With funds from the Murray B. Gardner Junior Faculty Research Fellowship Program, the Bliss-Moreau Laboratory will conduct a series of quantitative neuroanatomical studies to understand the mechanisms by which Zika virus changes the trajectory of brain development, with a focus on the infant brain.

2017: Colin Reardon, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology within the School of Veterinary Medicine.

Project: Neuro-Immune Medicated Control of Mucosal Immune Responses to Enteric Infection

Host-microbial interactions are a critical determinant of health. The intestinal mucosa provides serval distinct overlapping mechanisms that function together in concert to reduce the ability of pathogens to gain access to the body. These protective mechanisms are largely provided by specialized intestinal epithelial cells that can produce mucous and bactericidal antimicrobial peptides. While it has long been known that neurotransmitters control this process, it had been assumed that these originated from neurons. Recently we have identified a unique subset of B- and T-cells that produce the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, and that are specifically recruited during enteric bacterial infection.

The overall goals of this project are to determine the role of these unique B- and T-cells and elucidate the mechanisms of protection that are elicited. This will be achieved by using neutralizing antibodies and conditional knockout mice to decipher the role of these cells during infection. Determining if these B- and T-cells are protective to the host by increasing mucous production and release will also be assessed.

2016 Fellows:

2016: Melanie Gareau, PhD, is an Assistant Adjunct Professor and Researcher within the School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Anatomy, Physiology & Cell Biology.

Project: The role of Nod-like receptors on the developing microbiota-gut-brain axis

Colonization of our surfaces by microorganisms substantially impacts our health. Although it is widely accepted that pathogenic bacteria can cause infection, it is less clear how pathogenic, as well as perhaps non-pathogenic microorganisms, affect our brains and ultimately behavior. The Gareau lab has developed an experimental model that establishes that infection with at least one type of pathogenic bacteria, during neonatal development, can affect our cognition and lead to anxiety disorders. The Gareau lab will use the funds from the Murray B. Gardner Fellowship to use this model to define the key molecules that connect pathogenic microorganisms with the health of our nervous system.

2016: Kevin Woolard, DVM, PhD, is an Assistant Professor within the School of Veterinary Medicine, Department of Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology.

Project: Towards a cure for Glioma

Gliomas are the most common malignant brain tumor in humans that is incurable and leads to significant morbidity. Consistent with the mutation model of human cancer, many gliomas carry recurrent DNA lesions suggesting an association of that mutation with the oncogenic properties of gliomas. Based on the mutation status of a key enzyme, the Woolard lab, hypothesized that small molecule inhibitors of a downstream target of the enzyme may cripple glioma cell growth. They have established that the downstream target is present in malignant glioma cells and that the inhibitors function in glioma cells to inhibit their growth and to perturb their malignant status. Thus, they will use funds from the Murray B. Gardner Fellowship to identify additional molecular targets that play a role in this process to develop new, and perhaps, synergistic small molecule inhibitors that could be used to cure glioma malignancies.