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Friday, September 24, 2021

Fundraiser being held for UCD researcher Ben Davis

The UC Davis Center for Health and the Environment is an integral center for medical research at UC Davis. Each scientist brings a unique and essential perspective to their research focus. One such individual is Ben Davis, a researcher at the UC Davis Center for Health and the Environment.

Ben’s research focuses on finding a treatment for COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder), also known as emphysema to some people. However, Ben is also struggling with his own illness, an autoimmune neurological degenerative disorder. As the illness progresses, it has hindered him from working on his groundbreaking research on COPD.

Ben was raised in Winters and has always been surrounded by medicine. His father, Bill Davis, is a family practitioner and his mother, Wendy Davis, is a psychologist who has provided medical care in that area for years. Ben received his Ph.D. from UC Davis and has been working at the Center for Health and the Environment for about five years.

“Ben got a very prestigious young innovators research award because his research is so commendable, and he is very excited that there may be quite a breakthrough for helping people with COPD and extending their lifetime through the use of simvastatin,” said Renne Dryfoos, one of the fundraiser’s organizers, “So he wants very much to continue his research and that is difficult because he is now losing all voluntary muscle control.”

He was diagnosed in 2008 after he noticed difficulties with his active lifestyle. He was unable to maintain the level of activity he normally exercised. Ben’s illness has made him wheelchair-bound and has hindered his ability to talk. He now communicates using a computer.

In fact, as technology improves, there are many new ways for him to communicate. Soon he will have a laser reader that will read eye movements and allow Ben to communicate using his computer using just eye movement.

“In terms of his abilities as a scientist and his ability to think and plan experiments, he is doing quite well and his mind is completely intact. He is a brilliant scientist,” said Kent Pinkerton, professor and director at the UC Davis Center for Health and the Environment, “His health condition, even though it is an impediment, he’s not letting it get the best of him. He has been able to really overcome some severe obstacles that would normally for any other person really prevent them going forward with what he is doing.”

Ben is not allowing his illness to interfere with his research and is making a tremendous effort to overcome the difficulties it presents.

“He is really passionate about making his contribution, and he thinks about those people who he is trying to help. It’s very personal to him,” Wendy Davis said .

Due to this, Ben’s family and friends are organizing a fundraiser on his behalf, to help raise up to $150,000 for his care so he can continue to do the work he loves. The fundraiser will start on Saturday, Sept. 22 with a kick-off event at Sudwerk. The event runs from 4 to 6 p.m. and will feature live music and a raffle.

However, the main purpose of this event is to start the fundraiser through a concept called crowdfunding.

“Crowdfunding is a concept of utilizing the Internet to reach as many people as possible, so many, many people can give reasonable donations to the cause,” Dryfoos said. “People are encouraged to bring their laptops, smartphones, tablets to the event and help kick off this fundraiser.” A website, www.youcaring.com, has been set up for the crowdfunding.

“Ben is passionate about his work at the Center for Health and the Environment,” said Ryan Davis, Ben’s brother. “Although as his disability progresses he needs increasingly more help to get to work, once he is there and engrossed in his medical research his eyes are dancing with enthusiasm and he has a broad smile on his face. He will let you know, this is his life’s work and the way he will leave the world a little better place.”

PAAYAL ZAVERI can be reached at city@theaggie.org.

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