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UC Irvine Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences

Spring 2014 E-newsletter

Meet our new
Hana and Francisco J. Ayala Dean
Frank LaFerla!

Dear Alumni, Faculty, Staff and Community Friends,

Thank you for reading our Spring 2014 e-newsletter and for being a part of the extended School of Biological Sciences community. I am grateful for the opportunity to have been named the Hana and Francisco J. Ayala Dean of the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences and I look forward sharing many exciting updates in the months and years to come. 

One of the first items I want to share with you is that on March 11, 2014, we announced that our school has been renamed the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences.  The name change recognizes Dr. Ayala’s impressive scientific achievements, his international stature and his decades of support to many areas of the campus, both philanthropically and research-based. You can read more on the naming and Dr. Ayala’s impact on the campus and scientific community in the article below or here.

One of my first priorities as Dean has been to enhance the culture of our school by doing more outreach and enriching the experiences of faculty, staff and students. On March 12 we unveiled pole banners across the Bio Sci section of campus reflecting historical biological scientists who’ve changed our world in addition to UC Irvine innovators who have made a huge impact on their fields of study during their time on campus.

Read Dean LaFerla's entire message on our website here.

Introducing the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences!

On March 11, 2013, UC Irvine Chancellor Drake shared with Francisco J. Ayala that the School of Biological Sciences would be named in his honor.
The name change recognizes Ayala’s impressive scientific achievements, his international stature and his decades of support to many areas of the campus. His research on parasitic protozoa could lead to cures for malaria and other diseases. Additionally, Dr. Ayala has written more than 1,000 articles and 40 books, is an internationally renowned lecturer and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.
To show appreciation for Dr. Ayala’s generous contributions to the scientific community and campus over the years, students and admirers gathered at the Francisco J. Ayala library plaza to celebrate his remarkable life and school naming on his birthdate, March 12.
To read more about the naming, read the full press release.

Renowned neuroscientist
Bruce McNaughton joins UC Irvine

Bruce McNaughton, one of the foremost experts on the brain mechanisms underlying memory storage and cognition, has joined the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences as a Distinguished Professor of neurobiology & behavior.

He joins three other biological sciences faculty members with the Distinguished Professor title — one of the campus’s highest academic ranks — and is one of only 28 campus-wide to receive this designation.

“It’s a great honor to recruit such a prominent scholar as Dr. McNaughton,” said Frank LaFerla, the Hana & Francisco J. Ayala Dean of the Ayala School of Biological Sciences. “His recruitment adds to the rich and strong tradition of neuroscience research at UC Irvine, and many investigators on campus are looking forward to collaborating with his laboratory.”

McNaughton’s work integrates theory, computational modeling and technological development to decode the neural mechanisms of learning and memory, and his research contributions have significantly advanced the understanding of memory. 

Read more about Bruce McNaughton and if you are interested in supporting Bio Sci research, please contact Andrew DiNuzzo.

UCI Researchers discover unexpected differences in how male and female mice brains respond to protein damage

UC Irvine professor Dana Aswad, in the Department of Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, and colleagues, uncovered some new and unexpected differences between male and female brains with regard to the basic functions of neurons and synaptic transmission.

Their study, published in the November 5, 2013 issue of PLOS One, initially set out to define whether there is functional damage to a mouse brain that is missing a key protein repair enzyme found in neurons. Aswad and team found three neuronal proteins in the repair–deficient mice that had abnormal structural changes consistent with altered functionality. However, the unexpected result was that the degree of functional disturbance varied greatly between the male and female laboratory mice used in the experiment. 

Read more about Aswad's study here and i
f you are interested in supporting Bio Sci research, please contact Andrew DiNuzzo.

Four undergraduate students in the Bio Sci Minority Sciences Programs (MSP) receive AAAS research awards

At the 2014 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences (AAAS) in Chicago, IL, four UCI undergraduates, three of whom are Biological Sciences majors, received awards for their research presentations during the poster competitionRead more about the students and their research here. If you are interested in supporting promising Bio Sci undergrads, please contact Andrew DiNuzzo.

Join the Bio Sci Alumni Club!

Reconnect with old friends, build a network and support your school - all for free! More details at

Join the Autism Update 2014: The Future of Autism Research Conference on April 9

UCI Ayala School of Biological Sciences in collaboration with The Center for Autism Research and Translation and the Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders, with special thanks to the Allergan Foundation, presents Autism Update 2014: The Future of Autism Research on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 8am in the Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering. For registration and more information, visit the website.

Join us for the Allergan Lecture Series in Modern Biology April 9

UCI Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences proudly presents the Allergan Lecture Series in Modern Biology on Wednesday, April 9, 2014 at 7 p.m. Social-Communication School Based Interventions for Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders will be presented by Connie Kasari, Ph.D. Professor, UCLA Center for Autism Research & Treatment. For more details and to register for this free public lecture, please visit the website

Join us for the Schneiderman Bioethics lecture April 30

UCI Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Sciences proudly presents The Howard A. Schneiderman Memorial Bioethics Lecture on April 30, 2014 at 7 p.m. The lecture Pregnant Women and the Medical-Legal Divide features Michele Goodwin, J.D., LL.M., Everett Fraser Chair in Law & Professor of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Minnesota. Click here for more details and to register for this free event.

Faculty Recognition

Susan Bryant, former Bio Sci Dean and former Vice Chancellor for Research and editor in chief of the new open access journal Regeneration, announced that the inaugural issue is live. Regeneration is the first journal devoted solely to regeneration research and features a study by Bio Sci postdoctoral fellow Catherine McCusker and Associate Dean for Research, David Gardiner, showing that grafted limb cells acquire the molecular fingerprint of their new location.

Diane O'Dowd receives large 5-year National Institute of Health grant to study cellular mechanisms of epilepsy. 

Justin Shaffer appointed New Case Scholar.

Peter Donovan and fellow stem cell researchers awarded $1.54 million to advance basic studies to improve cancer, brain disease treatments.

John Avise, Distinguished Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, publishes book that received 2013 Outstanding Academic Title Award.

James McGaugh’s study on memory featured in 60 Minutes segment for the second time.

Larry Cahill, Professor of Neurobiology and Behavior, discussed the importance of sex influences on 60 Minutes.

UCI, Northwestern researchers create compounds that boost antibiotics’ effectiveness, led by Thomas Poulos,

Postdoctoral fellow Kasia M. Bieszczad receives Next Generation Award from the Society of Neuroscience.

Leslie Thompson named 2013 American Association for the Advancement of Science fellow.

Learn about how giving can positively affect your taxes – and support the Ayala School!

This year, you may have noticed a sharp increase in your taxes for 2013. On top of the higher federal tax bracket of 39.6 percent, certain individuals may also be subject to a Medicare tax of 0.9 percent and 3.8 percent on net investment income.
While this additional tax will certainly have an impact for those with Medicare, it is an anonymous impact that can’t be controlled.
But there are options. At the Francisco J. Ayala School of Biological Science, we believe that you should have the impact that you desire. There are a number of great tools and techniques that can help you mitigate your taxes and help you achieve the impact you desire for 2014.

Call us today to learn how! 949-824-6454.
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