Biomedical Sciences Doctoral candidate receives prestigious travel grant
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two investigators from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University will be traveling later this month to Sao Paolo to present their research at the World Congress on Endometriosis.
The congress is held every three years and brings together scientists, clinicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals involved in research or treatment of endometriosis—a chronic, inflammatory condition that affects young women and adversely impacts their fertility and quality of life.
Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and doctoral student Kristeena Ray said they are looking forward to participating in the conference, which is being held April 30-May 3.
“Though 10 to 15 percent of young women suffer from endometriosis and almost two-thirds of these women suffer from chronic pain, the exact nature of this disease is not very well understood. My laboratory has a long-standing interest in understanding why some women get endometriosis and have pain,” said Santanam. “We are very honored that our abstracts were chosen for presentation at this meeting. The most exciting part was to find out that Kristeena was selected to give an oral presentation and was one of only six investigators selected to receive the Rodolphe Maheux Travel Grant.”
The Rodolphe Maheux Travel Grants are awarded by the World Endometriosis Society to help young researchers attend scientific meetings. The program is named in honor of the society’s co-founder.
The balance of Ray’s travel expenses are being funded by the university’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.
Ray said, “I was not sure if I had any chance of receiving the travel grant, since any young researcher including faculty and fellows under 40 years of age were eligible to compete. I was surprised that I was selected and am thrilled to go to Brazil to present my findings.”
Ray is a third-year Ph.D. candidate. She works in Santanam’s laboratory studying the epigenetics of pain in endometriosis—the changes caused to DNA and genes by environment and lifestyle. Last summer, she was selected for the university’s Chancellor’s Scholar Program, an initiative to help ensure the academic success of underrepresented minority doctoral students.
Their research is partially funded through Marshall’s partnership with the University of Kentucky and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards program aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.
The researchers expressed their appreciation to Dr. Robert Nerhood and Dr. David Jude, the past and present chairmen of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for their support and acknowledged Sandy White and Carla Cook for coordinating the clinical study.
Santanam added, “This study would not have been possible without the collaboration and intellectual contributions of Dr. Brenda Mitchell, who is a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. We express special thanks to Dr. Mitchell.”