News In Brief

Surprising New Study Shows Curry is More than Meets the Eye

You can find it in curries, Indian, Indonesian, Thai and Persian cuisine and in French’s Classic Yellow Mustard. Turmeric is one of the world’s most commonly used spices. When not used to give flavor, it imparts a rich custard-yellow color to whatever food it is added to.

Mahtab Jafari, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences at UC Irvine, and Korean researcher Kyung-Jin Min, discovered that curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric, extended the lifespan of fruit flies by up to 20 percent, while improving locomotion and having tumor-prevention properties.

Curcumin’s reported anti-inflammatory, anticancer and antioxidant properties led Jafari to further investigate the compound’s properties. The National Institutes of Health is currently funding research on curcumin’s potential role in preventing acute respiratory distress syndrome, liver cancer and postmenopausal osteoporosis.

As a member of the Susan Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine, Jafari is involved in researching different foods used around the world as alternative medicine. While these foods have been used for centuries by different cultures around the world to treat various ailments, they have not been accepted as legitimate medical treatments by Western medical conventions.

Jafari and her colleagues at the Samueli Center for Integrative Medicine hope to change this perspective through their research, and lend Turmeric and other alternative medicines scientific legitimacy in the Western world.

UCI’s Law School Holds Event for Public Interest

On Wednesday, Oct. 14, UCI School of Law hosted its first annual Al Meyerhoff Public Interest lecture in the Student Center.

The event featured noted civil rights attorney Connie Rice, who spoke on “2010 A Freedom Oddessy: Achieving King’s Mandate for ‘Radical Reconstruction of Society’ Through Law.”

Rice is co-founder of the legal action and public policy group Advancement Project. She is a litigator who has spent the greater portion of her career fighting for urban peace, equal rights, social justice and upward mobility for the disadvantaged.

The lecture series was established in memory of Al Meyerhoff, a distinguished environmental and civil rights lawyer.

Angela Garcia’s Win in Literature: praise from the 2010 PEN USA Literary Award in Exceptional First Book

UC Irvine anthropologist Angela Garcia won the 2010 PEN U.S.A. Literary Award for Exceptional First Book for her work on the Española Valley in New Mexico titled “The Pastoral Clinic: Addiction and Dispossession Along the Rio Grande.” She will accept her award on Nov. 17th in Beverly Hills at PEN USA’s 20th annual LitFest.

Garcia’s book examines the valley’s festering problem – the highest per-capita death rate from heroin-related problems in the United States. The Española Valley’s heroin problem is often linked to land loss issues that date back to the Spanish Colonial era. Wealthy part-time residents buy the old adobe houses in the valley, while permanent residents live in trailers.

Garcia spent three years studying and working the valley, which she herself left at the age of 17 to pursue higher education at UC Berkeley. She worked as a detox attendant at a rehab clinic, administered medications, prepared meals and led group counseling sessions.

Although sobriety is tough in any environment, heroin is deeply entrenched in the Valley’s culture. Many in northern New Mexico use the Spanish word “medicina” to refer to the drug, belying the relaxed attitude many in the area have come to adopt –heroin is just another kind of medicine, something to help, to cure.