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Superfund grantee honored by entomology group

By Eddy Ball
September 2010

Bruce  Hammock, Ph.D.
Hammock, above, is a scientific polymath - a divergent thinker who negotiates disciplinary boundaries as easily as he crosses a street to get to class. (Photo courtesy of UC Davis)

Veteran NIEHS Superfund Research Program (SRP) grantee Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., has added yet another prestigious honor to his long list of achievements. In a July 28 press release (http://www.entsoc.org/resources/press_releases/2010-fellows.htm) Exit NIEHS, the Entomological Society of America (ESA) announced the election of Hammock as one of ten new ESA fellows who will be recognized during Entomology 2010 - ESA's Annual Meeting (http://www.entsoc.org/am/cm/index.htm) Exit NIEHS Dec. 12-15 in San Diego.

Founded in 1889, ESA is a non-profit organization committed to serving the scientific and professional needs of more than 6,000 entomologists and individuals in related disciplines. ESA's membership includes representatives from educational institutions, government, health agencies, and private industry. ESA fellows are recognized authorities in their fields, and this year's group includes three from the University of California system - Hammock, UC Davis colleague Thomas Scott, Ph.D., and Thomas Miller, Ph.D., of UC Riverside.

ESA fellow Bruce Hammock

Hammock (http://cvec.ucdavis.edu/node/60) Exit NIEHS is a distinguished professor of entomology at the UC Davis, who was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999. He joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980 and currently holds a joint appointment in cancer research with the UC Davis Medical Center.

Funded continuously by NIEHS for more than 30 years, Hammock directs the Superfund Research and Training Program, as well as the NIH Training Program in Biotechnology and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory at UC Davis, where he has performed extensive research into applications of metabolomics methodologies.

An odyssey from basic to translational research

Trained as an insect developmental biologist, Hammock has expanded his research interests to include drug development and advanced laboratory analysis. In his early SRP-funded work, his laboratory pioneered the use of transition state theory to inhibit enzymes with small molecules and recombinant viruses as green pesticides, as well as the use of immunochemistry for pesticide analysis.

From his time as a graduate student, Hammock's laboratory has focused on xenobiotic metabolism, especially the role of enzymatic esterases and epoxide hydrolases. Current projects involve examining the role of esterases in insecticide resistance and human metabolism of pyrethroids, the active compound in many insecticides. His laboratory has applied this research, as Hammock explored the use of inhibitors of epoxide hydrolases as drugs to treat diabetes, inflammation, ischemia, and cardiovascular disease.

Hammock's findings have significant potential in the treatment of human disease. His group has demonstrated that increasing serum levels of the fatty acid 12-(3-adamantan-1-yl-ureiido)-dodecanoic acid (AUDA) effectively blocks the enzyme soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH) that is implicated in the hypertension and inflammation. A drug he developed - a compound known as AR9281 - is now in Phase II human clinical trials and promises to be the first novel treatment for hypertension and cardiovascular disease in the last 25 years (see UC Davis story(http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/news/benchtobedside.html) Exit NIEHS).

In a 2008 study, Hammock and his colleagues also demonstrated that raising AUDA levels to block effects of sEH has potential applications in treating the side effects of the chemotherapeutic agent cisplatin in the kidneys of mice (see story (http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2009/august/science-chemotherapy.cfm)). According to the study's authors, this novel approach may represent the first significant advance in clinical management of acute renal failure since the development of dialysis.

A distinguished career in science, teaching, and playing

Hammock received the UC Davis Faculty Research Lecture Award in 2001 and the Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching in 2008. He has also been honored with the Frasch and Spencer Awards of the American Chemical Society as well as the Alexander von Humboldt Award, one of the most prestigious in the field of agriculture.

Author or coauthor of more than 760 peer-reviewed publications, Hammock is the principal investigator on three NIEHS grants: Biomarkers of Exposure to Hazardous Substances(http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/portfolio/sc/detail.cfm?appl_id=7813364), which funds the SBR Center at UC Davis; Hydrolytic Enzymes in the Metabolism of Toxins(http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/portfolio/sc/detail.cfm?appl_id=7783796); and Metabolomic Study of Ozone and Nitronaphthalene Toxicity(http://tools.niehs.nih.gov/portfolio/sc/detail.cfm?appl_id=7668006).

Hammock is an engaging lecturer with a wry sense of humor who has spoken several times at NIEHS, including a distinguished lecture in October 2007 (see story (http://niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2006/november/science-distinguished.cfm). Those fortunate enough to know Hammock realize that he understands the importance of playing, as well as working hard (see UC Davis story(http://entomology.ucdavis.edu/news/waterballoonbattle10.html) Exit NIEHS).



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