Local Artist Creates a Lasting Legacy for Memory-Related Research at UC Davis


Headshot of Davida Feder
Davida Feder

DAVIS – Inspired by her mother, a talented painter, local artist Davida Feder has cultivated a lifelong passion for creation, first finding solace and joy in the intricacies of sewing projects. However, after she retired, Davida delved into photography classes, and when she exhausted those, she enrolled in art classes. Since the pandemic, Davida’s favorite pastime is getting lost in her art, enjoying the meticulous craft of handmade books and cards, which she lovingly sends to friends, each imbued with a fragment of herself.

“Chemo brain” sparked an interest in dementia research

Davida’s artistic journey took an unexpected turn in her life when she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2000, which not only introduced her to the harsh realities of a side effect called “chemo brain,” but also ignited a profound interest in dementia research.

"The thinking and memory problems associated with chemo brain gave a me a glimpse of what having dementia is like,” said Davida. “I wasn’t functional. It was really scary.”

After several years, the chemo brain symptoms reversed.

In Davida’s family, her grandmother and aunt both had dementia in their 90s. She saw firsthand the devastating impact dementia has on a person and their family.

“When you have dementia, the biggest thing is you really lose your Self with a capital “S,” said Davida. “It is incredibly sad."

Creating a lasting legacy for memory-related research

In 2019, Davida became a founding CNS Director’s Circle member. Impressed with the memory-related research being conducted at CNS, Davida included a bequest in her estate plan to support Alzheimer’s disease research.

The gift will provide funding for pilot neuroscience research awards that promote innovative and interdisciplinary collaborations to develop novel and potentially high-risk, high-impact ideas to further our understanding of the mechanisms related to memory and advance therapies and treatment for memory-related diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

"Davida’s generous contribution to the center is an investment in our shared commitment to accelerating our knowledge of the brain and enhancing human health,” said Kimberley McAllister, Ph.D., director of the Center for Neuroscience. “We are incredibly grateful to Davida for establishing this fund. Her generosity will leave a lasting impact and allow us to improve lives.”

A culture of giving back

A retired social worker, who worked for Yolo County, Sacramento Children’s Home and Jewish Family Service, Davida has lived in Sacramento for 50 years.

As a young child, Davida’s grandfather instilled in her the importance of having a strong work ethic, giving back and being generous.

“In my family’s culture, you donate. You give. You give back,” said Davida. “Supporting neuroscience research at UC Davis is important to me because I have a strong personal wish to have a cure, treatment and prevention for dementia.”

Davida’s gift supports UC Davis’ comprehensive fundraising campaign, Expect Greater: From UC Davis, For the World, the largest philanthropic endeavor in university history. Together, donors and UC Davis are advancing work to prepare future leaders, sustain healthier communities and bring innovative solutions to today's most urgent challenges.

Estate Planning at UC Davis

Like Davida, you can leave an enduring legacy of impact and support for the Center for Neuroscience in your estate plan. To learn more, contact Jennifer Scott at (530) 752-5304 or jescott@ucdavis.edu.