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Superfund Grantee Hammock Honored for Teaching

By Eddy Ball
August 2008

Distinguished Teaching Award winner Bruce Hammock
Distinguished Teaching Award winner Bruce Hammock (Photo courtesy of UCD)

Veteran Superfund Basic Research Program (SBRP) grantee Bruce Hammock, Ph.D., will receive the 2008 Distinguished Teaching Award for Graduate and Professional Teaching from the University of California Davis (UCD), where he is a distinguished professor of entomology. According to the university, the award, which is sponsored by the UCD Academic Senate, will be presented at an awards dinner in March 2009.

The NIEHS has funded Hammock's research for more than 30 years. Hammock ( Exit NIEHS has been an SBRP principal investigator since the program started in 1987. He is well respected among colleagues at NIEHS, where he has given several lectures, including an October 2006 talk as part of the NIEHS 2006-2007 Distinguished Lecture Series.

Scores of current and former students supported Hammock's nomination for the award, as did the chair of his department at the time. The current interim chair of the Department of Entomology, Lynn Kimsey, Ph.D., described Hammock as "a campus icon" and "a role model that we should all emulate," and she praised his commitment to teaching and mentoring. "Despite his international reputation and his many commitments," she said, "he remains accessible and generously spends hours training and educating students and other professionals."

Hammock received his bachelor's degree in entomology from Louisiana State University and a doctoral degree in entomology/toxicology at UC Berkeley. After completing a Rockefeller postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University and spending six years at UC Riverside, Hammock joined the UC Davis faculty in 1980.

Hammock holds a joint appointment in Cancer Research with the UC Davis Medical Center. He directs the Superfund Program at UCD, as well as the NIH Training Program in Biotechnology and the NIEHS Combined Analytical Laboratory, where he has performed extensive research into applications of metabolomics methodologies.

With funding from NIEHS Hammock began investigating the role of hydrolytic enzymes involved in the degradation of insect juvenile hormone. These enzymes include esterases and epoxide hydrolases. His group then looked at the roles of similar enzymes in mammals. As his research progressed, he discovered potential benefits of inhibiting one of them, the soluble epoxide hydrolase, in the treatment of hypertension, pain and inflammation in mammals. In May 2007, ArĂȘte Therapeutics, a company he founded, announced that it raised a total of $51 million to take an inhibitor of the enzyme, a compound known as AR9281, into clinical trials.

The author of more than 650 peer-reviewed articles, Hammock is a leader in his fields of research. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1999 and has received a long list of awards and recognitions for his achievements. He has received the Frasch and Spencer Awards from the American Chemical Society and the Alexander von Humboldt Award, one of the most prestigious in the field of agriculture. Hammock also received the UC Davis Academic Senate's Faculty Research Lecturer Award in 2001.

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