BMS Cancer researcher presents technology developed to help personalize chemotherapy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University biomedical sciences researcher Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio traveled to a national medical meeting in Chicago earlier this month to present a technology he and his colleagues think will help physicians personalize chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.Claudio’s presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology focused on ChemoID, a system he has developed with Marshall biology professor Dr. Jagan Valluri to measure the sensitivity of patients’ tumors to chemotherapy drugs.

“Oncologists every day face many challenges in determining the best course of therapy for an individual cancer patient,” says Claudio. “The basic problem is that patients with similar diagnoses don’t always respond to the same chemotherapy. This technology we have developed could help physicians select the appropriate chemotherapy for an individual patient—giving them an edge in the fight against cancer.”

He says ChemoID is the first chemosensitivity test for both cancer stem-like cells and bulk tumor cells.

According to Claudio, cancer stem-like cells are a small, resilient subset of cells found in tumors. Current anticancer therapies are imperfect because they target the tumor without treating the root of the cancer—the small subpopulation of these tumor-initiating cancer stem cells thought to be responsible for recurrences. The result is that the tumor often shrinks but soon grows back. In addition, the stem-like cells appear to be preferentially resistant to both standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He says more evaluation of the technology is needed, but a clinical trial on a small number of patients found ChemoID 100 percent accurate in predicting which drug is more effective in treating patients affected by brain cancer if the cancer stem-like cells are evaluated.

The upshot for a cancer patient, he says, is that ChemoID may make possible personalized treatment by predicting the most effective drug combination to successfully target that specific patient’s cancer—increasing the chance the drugs will work and perhaps reducing side effects by helping the patient avoid unnecessary drugs.

Claudio acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Anthony Alberico, chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, for providing the clinical samples, as well as his co-investigators at the school of medicine, McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute and Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. 


Marshall hosting students from eight institutions for biomedical research internships

Ashlea and Dr. YuHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Twelve undergraduate students from eight institutions are spending their summer doing biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories. The students are participating in nine-week programs sponsored by the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) and the university’s Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) program.

Dr. Elsa I. Mangiarua, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, directs the WV-INBRE summer program. She said both programs give participants the opportunity to do meaningful research and much more.

“Over the summer, these students will gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s finest scientists,” she said. “We also teach them how to share their findings at a scientific meeting and to network, all of which helps them build academic competitiveness for graduate school.”

Diana R. Maue, who coordinates the SRIMS program, agreed, adding, “It’s exciting that we are able to provide these in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates, and it’s equally important that these programs promote awareness of graduate degree programs and careers in biomedical research. We are helping to develop a pipeline for training tomorrow’s scientists.”

Manny (front) and Hajer (back)While at Marshall, the interns are working in state-of-the-art facilities on research projects related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, neuroscience, toxicology and environmental health, infectious diseases and bioinformatics. The students will present their research results at a symposium on July 29 at the university’s Memorial Student Center.

In addition to the formal research training they each receive from their Marshall faculty mentors, the interns are taking part in workshops and seminars about a variety of topics related to research and graduate education. Students in the two programs attend many of the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, ice cream socials and other special events intended to help them get to know one another outside of the laboratory environment. 

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include: 

  • Jaya Ale, University of Charleston (Dr. Eric Blough, mentor)
  • Joshua Easterling, University of Charleston (Dr. Elaine Hardman, mentor)
  • Bishnu Kafley, Berea College (Dr. Travis Salisbury and Dr. Jim Denvir, mentors)
  • Rebecca Martin, Davis and Elkins College (Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, mentor)
  • Hajer Mazagri, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Noah Mitchell, Bluefield State College (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Rishi Reddy, West Virginia State University (Dr. Larry Grover, mentor)
  • Anthony Schnelle, Wheeling Jesuit University (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Linh Vu, University of Charleston (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)

The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipients are science teacher Olivia Boskovic of Huntington High School and Dr. Sobha Goraguntula, an assistant professor of chemistry at Alderson-Broaddus College. Boskovic is working in the lab of Dr. Emine Koc. Goraguntula’s mentor is Dr. Travis Salisbury.

WV-INBRE is funded through a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Marshall—in partnership with researchers at West Virginia University—received the award to help build expertise in biomedical research. 

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Annesha King, University of the Virgin Islands (Dr. Emine Koc, mentor)
  • Ashlea Hendrickson, Oakwood University (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Emmanuel Rosas, University of Texas at Brownsville (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)

Support for the SRIMS program comes from the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research.

Each student receives a stipend. Depending on the program in which they are participating, they may also receive room and board, lab fees, and reimbursement for travel to and from Marshall.

For more information about the WV-INBRE program, visit or contact Mangiarua at or 304-696-6211. For more information about the SRIMS program, visit or contact Maue at or 304-696-3365.


Marshall Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program is well represented at Experimental Biology Meeting

Allison, Miranda, Kristeena

BMS Ph.D. students, Allison, Miranda, and Kristeena, take a time out from research to enjoy a Boston Red Sox game!

Marshall University’s Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program was well represented at the Experimental Biology Meeting that recently took place in Boston, MA. The annual national meeting involves over 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing fields of study ranging from anatomy, physiology, pathology, and biochemistry to epigenetics, nutrition, cancer biology, and pharmacology. Some Marshall School of Medicine faculty and students were invited to give oral presentations of their research, while others were able to present their research during the poster sessions. The list of attendees is given below.

Oral presentations by:

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D. -
Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Nicotine increases the expression of alpha7-nicotinic receptors (alpha7-nAChRs) in human squamous cell lung cancer cells via Sp1/GATA pathway”



W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “What Comes First: The Food or the Nutrient?” – Title: “Whole foods or their bioactive components? Potential of walnuts in cancer prevention and treatment.” 



Maria Serrat, Ph.D.

Maria Serrat, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “Bone Physiology under Environmental Stress” – Title: “Temperature effects on the growth plate and its vasculature”




Allison Wolf, Ph.D. CandidateM. Allison Wolf, BMS Ph.D. Candidate – Invited speaker for special session – Title: “Benzyl isothiocyanate enhances chemosensitivity and inhibits migration and invasion of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma”






Katie Brown, M.S. – Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Inhibition of cholinergic signaling causes apoptosis in human bronchioalveloar carcinoma”



Ron, Miranda, Allison, Johannes, Kristeena_EB

Poster presentations by:
Miranda Carper, BMS Ph.D. Candidate
Johannes Fahrmann, BMS Ph.D. Candidate Christopher McNees, MU student 
Rounake Nande, BMS Ph.D. Student
Chris Racine, BMS Ph.D. Student
Kristeena Ray, BMS Ph.D. Student
Cody Stover, MU student
Brent Thornhill, MU graduate
Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ Research Cluster Coordinator
Gary Rankin, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ 
Research Cluster

Dr. Maria Serrat, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Pathology and researcher within the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Research Cluster, had the opportunity to give an oral presentation as well as participate in a focus group that evaluated anatomy education material for a publisher. 

Johannes at Poster

Serrat said she was happy to see Marshall well represented at the meeting and that “the large number of Marshall attendees says a lot about the expanding research emphasis of our institution.”

Kristeena at Poster

Carper at Poster



School of Medicine increases space for research and economic development

Partnership with Huntington Area Development Council to facilitate expansion

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is expanding its research and development operations by acquiring laboratory and office space in the university’s Forensic Science Center Annex from the Huntington Area Development Council.

Today’s announcement by Dr. Joseph I. Shapiro, dean of the School of Medicine, reflects an agreement among the Huntington Area Development Council, the Marshall University Research Corporation and the medical school that will give the school the space it needs to grow its biomedical research program.

“I am thrilled we will soon expand our biomedical research operations into space at the Forensic Science Center Annex,” Shapiro said. “Through our partnership with HADCO and the Marshall University Research Corporation, the School of Medicine will now be able to move forward with research projects guided by our new vice dean for research, Dr. Nader Abraham.  Moreover, I’m certain expansion of our research capabilities will eventually lead to additional opportunities and ultimately to better health care for our patients.”

Forensic Science AnnexThe School of Medicine’s new space is in an area of the annex designated for research and biotechnology startup companies when the facility was built. HADCO, using $1 million in federal funding, partnered with Marshall University to build the annex with a goal of creating an environment for “new economy” jobs. Through the agreement announced today, the School of Medicine will sublease from HADCO 2,100 square feet for its new laboratories and offices.

Researchers in the new labs will be investigating the causes of kidney disease and hypertension as well as conducting clinical trials on medications to improve heart function and decrease body weight.    

“This is exactly what HADCO envisioned several years ago,” said Stephen J. Golder, chairman of HADCO’s executive committee.  “HADCO will continue to encourage research throughout Marshall University and the School of Medicine that can result in the creation of ‘new economy’ jobs in our region.”

Golder went on to say the partnership is a great example of how public and private entities can work to foster economic development in the region.

Dr. John M. Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, added, “We are excited by this rapid response to demand for new research space at the School of Medicine to accommodate new grant-funded researchers. With our partner HADCO, we look forward to the innovation and technology-based economic development that will follow this new research activity. This is another significant step in making Huntington a leading regional center for translational research.”

The research space is expected to be ready for occupancy this fall. It is located at the corner of 14th Street and Charleston Avenue in Huntington.


Taken from Press Release by Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713


Marshall’s BMS students recognized at the national level

Marshall’s BMS students recognized on a NATIONAL level for their recent Young Adult Science Café! The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology posted a press release on their Public Outreach website. Check it out:

Withers selected for an American Society for Microbiology (ASM) student travel award

 by M. Allison Wolf


T. Ryan Withers, a Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Candidate working for Dr. Hongwei Yu, has been selected for an American Society for Microbiology (ASM) Student Travel Award to attend the 113th ASM General Meeting in Denver, Colorado.  At the conference Withers will be presenting a research project entitled “Truncation in type-IV pilin induces mucoidy in Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PAO579.”  Part of this research was recently accepted for publication in the journal MicrobiologyOpen (

When asked what the benefits are to attending a Microbiology-specific meeting Withers said, “The advantages are the ease in which you can communicate and advance your research. Typically, your fellow conference attendees are familiar with the existing research and nomenclature, so you spend little time reviewing background information and more time discussing your contributions and receiving in-depth criticism of your research. Additionally, it is a great opportunity to establish a relationship with other PIs, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students and research associates specific to your field of interest.” 


To read the article published in MicrobiologyOpen:

Dr. Gary Rankin receives alumni award from Ole Miss

Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.Dr. Gary O. Rankin, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, was recently honored by the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy with its Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumni Award.

Rankin, who graduated with his doctorate from “Ole Miss” in 1976, joined the Marshall University faculty in 1978 after completing postdoctoral work at the Medical College of Ohio, now the University of Toledo. Rankin serves as principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health-funded West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) program. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, eight review articles, 13 book chapters and nearly 200 research presentations at local, regional, national and international meetings.

Rankin was honored in March during a ceremony in Oxford, Miss.

This article was published in this week’s edition of the We Are…Marshall newsletter. (

Marshall to host 900 scientists next week at Association of Southeastern Biologists meeting

Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964,

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University will host the 74th Annual Meeting of the Association of Southeastern Biologists next week in Charleston.

The meeting will bring 900 researchers, university faculty members and students from 20 states and Washington, D.C., to the Charleston Civic Center April 10-13.

Dr. Chuck Somerville, dean of Marshall’s College of Science, is a member of Marshall’s planning group and will welcome participants at the opening session. He said hosting the conference is a good opportunity to showcase Marshall and West Virginia.

“It’s very exciting that Marshall is the host institution for this year’s meeting,” he said. “This is a high-quality scientific conference with close to 1,000 attendees. We are excited about welcoming our colleagues to West Virginia and are looking forward to both the scientific sessions and showing our visitors some of the beautiful natural attractions in our region.”

Somerville said presentations will focus on the latest research conducted by association members and will cover a wide range of topics.

“Biology is a diverse field. We’ll have presentations about everything from a study of efforts to restore the American chestnut tree in central Appalachia to elk habitat use in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to crayfish and centipedes in West Virginia,” he added. “We’ve also got people who will present cutting-edge genetics and cancer research.”

In addition to learning about current research, Somerville said meeting attendees will participate in field trips to Kanawha State Forest, New River Gorge, the Huntington Museum of Art plant conservatory, West Virginia State University’s microbiology fermentation facility and Carter Caves.

Conference planners estimate the regional economic impact of the conference at $900,000.

The Association of Southeastern Biologists membership includes 1,400 members from 42 states and 13 countries.

For more information about next week’s meeting, visit or contact Somerville at 304-696-2424 or

Dr. Dasgupta’s research highlighted on WV Public Broadcasting radio

Study at Marshall focuses on new therapies for lung cancer

By Clark Davis
March 27, 2013 · Researchers from Marshall University are studying treatment options for lung cancer.

A study conducted by Marshall University associate professor Dr. Piyali Dasgupta may be the beginning of something big. In fact, the study was recently published in a highly respected medical journal called Cancer Research. The professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology worked on a study that could lead to new treatments for lung cancer.

Dasgupta said cells in the body are used by nicotine to promote the growth and survival of bronchioalveolar carcinomas or BACs. Dasgupta says they were able to find that using certain drugs to interrupt neurotransmitters, suppresses nicotine induced growth. Dasgupta said they hope to produce compounds based on the original agent vesamicol that are more potent in the fight of the cancer cells. 

“What we are hoping is that in the future using some kind of studies that are chemistry based, we can come up with novel compounds that are more potent and more specific which will have the same anti-cancer effects, it’s novel because it provides a new molecular target which can be used for the treatments of these cancers,” Dasgupta said.

Dasgupta said it’s exciting to find a unique angle to fighting lung cancer. 

“Yes I do think in tobacco dependent lung cancers that this is a novel strategy for therapy so we’ll see how things go, but as of now we are excited about it,” Dasgupta said.

Dasqupta said nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, but studies have shown it can induce the growth of lung cancers and even protect lung cancer cells against chemotherapy. Dasgupta said the study is important in West Virginia. 

“The angle of tobacco and lung cancer is a very relevant problem that we face in West Virginia and people are exposed to nicotine by second hand smoke and people that quit are exposed to patches and gums and then you have the electronic cigarette, but researchers within West Virginia we understand the urgency in this,” Dasgupta said.

Dasgupta used the help of a research team made up of undergraduate and graduate students and said these findings wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Dr. Yi Charlie Chen, a professor of biology at Alderson-Broaddus in Philippi.

“With the collaboration she’s able to accomplish more you know on her research and it’s the same for me, it’s very nice and important to have a collaborator so we can raise more questions,” Chen said.

Dr. Dasgupta said that ability to lean on a respected fellow researcher like Chen is important. 

“He did these experiments at his end and quantitated the results and we were thrilled to find out that he was getting exactly the same results that we were which means validation of your work in different sources, so yes he’s been a big part of our research program,” Dasgupta said.

That validation led to the work being published in Cancer Research, the most cited cancer research journal in the world.

Racine attends the Society of Toxicology General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas

by M. Allison Wolf

Chris Racine, Ph.D. student, on far leftBiomedical Sciences Ph.D. student Chris Racine recently presented his research at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The study Chris presented at this meeting was entitled “Role of renal cytochrome p450 isozymes in the bioactivation of 3,5-dichloroaniline in vitro.” The long term goal of this project is “to determine the biotransformation of 3,5-dichloroaniline (3,5-DCA), mechanisms for bioactivation of 3,5-DCA to nephrotoxic species by the kidney, and if gender differences exist in the susceptibility of the kidney to the toxic effects of 3,5-DCA.”   

The SOT conference, which was held from March 10-14, is the largest toxicology meeting in the world and it brings together scientist in academia, government, and industry from various countries. Dr. Gary Rankin, Chris Racine’s Ph.D. advisor said that, “It is important for students to experience the scientific exchange that happens at a national research conference. There is no substitute for attending such a meeting in person. The meeting also gives the advisor the opportunity to introduce the students to other top scientists and students in their field, and the feedback received at a national presentation can be very helpful for the student’s research projects.”

Congratulations, Chris!

First Outreach Science Café recently hosted by Marshall students, ASBMB, and Cabell Midland High School

Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Student Organization (GSO), in collaboration with the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and Cabell Midland High School, recently hosted the first Outreach Science Café at Marshall’s Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center. The intent of this event was to advocate scientific literacy, increase awareness for funding, and promote scientific interest among our youth. A total of 23 students from Cabell Midland High School attended this event, which highlighted two key graduate programs: the BMS and Forensic Science programs. Each program provided a unique perspective as well as a “hands-on” interactive session.

Synopsis: Biomedical Sciences, Ph.D. and M.S.

To facilitate a sense of excitement and opportunity, the BMS program focused on providing four unique perspectives of the BMS Program. First, Mrs. Diana Maue, Program Recruitment and Communication Coordinator, presented the overall goal of the BMS program, as well as the vast research and career opportunities available to students. Dr. Maria Serrat, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology, followed by giving an account of how she became fascinated with her field of interest (the effects of the environment and temperature on bone growth),  and what the BMS program can provide to future research scientists. Finally, second year Ph.D. student Kristeena Ray, and Ph.D. candidate M. Allison Wolf, spoke about what led them to act on their passion for science, and what it is like to pursue a doctorate in biomedical sciences at Marshall University.


Next, the students were divided into two groups for “hands-on” interactive sessions, which were graciously led by Richard Egleton, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Wei-ping Zeng, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. The purpose of these sessions was to provide participants with a unique opportunity to participate in various research-related angles of the BMS Program.

“I think the science café was an excellent opportunity for me to interact with high school students. This kind of event is a very good way to spark an interest in science and hopefully after this, these students will want to pursue science as undergraduates.” said Dr. Egleton when asked about the importance of the ASBMB Outreach Café. Similarly, Dr. Zeng agreed on the importance stating that “it exposes the younger generation to scientific research and ideas.”

Synopsis: Forensic Science, M.S.

Following the Biomedical Sciences graduate program section, participants heard from Dr. Graham Rankin, Professor of Forensic Science, on behalf of the Forensic Science master’s program at Marshall University. Students subsequently ventured to the Crime Scene House, located near campus, and were given a tour. High school students learning about crime scene evidence in Marshall's Forensic Science Crime Scene HouseThere, they used crime scene investigation equipment, and were shown how different evidence (e.g. latent fingerprints, footwear impressions, forensic photography, etc.) can be analyzed to help solve crimes.

When asked about the overall response from the students, Ms. Myriaha Selbee, a collaborator and teacher at Cabell Midland High School, stated “I heard nothing but positive remarks from my students” and that she was “very impressed with the amount of professional support that was allotted to my students.” She hopes that future ASBMB Outreach Cafés will keep Cabell Midland High School in mind.

Additionally, one participant went on to say that “this is a wonderful program and I would love to continue coming. I have taken away information about the program and other career options.”

Overall, the ASBMB Outreach Café was a wonderful success. Future events will be aimed at further diversifying our target population, and breaking out the café into more specific areas of interest.

Study focuses on potential lung cancer therapies

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Scientists from Marshall University, Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.along with colleagues at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, have completed a study that may eventually help lead to the development of new treatments for lung cancer.

Their results were published in the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer Research, the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world.

At Marshall, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, worked on the study with her research team of Jamie Lau, Kathleen Brown and Brent Thornhill, and undergraduate students Cody Stover and Christopher McNees.

Researchers in Dasgupta’s lab explore how the various components of tobacco, especially nicotine, advance the progression of lung cancer.                                       

Dasgupta said this study focused on a specific type of lung cancer called bronchioalveolar carcinomas, or BACs, which are known to be associated with smoking. She and the other scientists working on the project looked at the cellular pathways through which nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—promotes the growth and survival of BACs. 

According to Dasgupta, nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, but studies have shown it can induce the growth and metastasis of lung cancers. It can also protect lung cancer cells against the beneficial effects of chemotherapy.

She said, “In this study, we found that nicotine raised the levels of specific neurotransmitters, or ‘chemical messengers,’ in human BACs. When we used a drug, vesamicol, to interrupt the neurotransmitters’ pathways, the nicotine-induced growth of these carcinomas was significantly suppressed. Our findings are important because they indicate that agents like vesamicol may be useful in the treatment of human lung cancers.” 

More information about the research is available online at

The study was funded in part by a Young Clinical Scientist Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

For more information, contact Dasgupta at or 304-696-3612.


Teen Science Café to be held at Marshall on March 6, 2013

The BMS Graduate Student Organization (GSO), in collaboration with the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and Cabell Midland High School, are hosting an outreach program, Teen Science Café, on March 6, 2013 at the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Center.

The purpose of this event is to stimulate scientific interest in younger students and to emphasize the exciting careers available in research and science. This Teen Science Café will highlight Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program and Forensic Science Master’s Program. Diana Maue, will begin the Teen Science Café by giving an overview of the BMS Program and career opportunities available. A hands-on and interactive discussion will be hosted by Drs. Richard Egleton, Maria Serrat, and Wei-Ping Zeng from the BMS program and Dr. Graham Rankin and Ms. Nadine Borovicka from the Forensic Science program. GSO President and BMS Ph.D. candidate Allison Wolf and BMS Ph.D. student Kristeena Ray will give the attendees a student’s perspective on the BMS Program. And, the event will conclude with a tour of the Forensic Science program’s crime scene house.

Allison Wolf and Ph.D. candidate Johannes Fahrmann, BMS GSO Vice President, are co-organizers of this event. Fahrmann stated, “he hopes by organizing the Teen Science Café he will spark an early interest in science and research among the attendees, and events like this will continue in the future.” 

Funding for collaborative medical research announced at Marshall University

Translational research aims to transfer discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside quickly

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine officials today announced $150,000 in funding for six research grants associated with the school’s translational medicine research program.

The Marshall Health Translational Pilot Grant program, created in 2012, encourages collaborative research between basic scientists and clinical physicians in an effort to speed up the process of laboratory discovery to clinical application for patients.  The grants are funded by Marshall Health.

“We are very pleased that Marshall Health has created this grant program to stimulate research efforts,” said Richard M. Niles, Ph.D., senior associate dean for Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine. “Moving Marshall to the next level of medical research takes vision, commitment and of course, funding.  This grant allows 12 researchers, as well as medical residents and students, the opportunity to explore very diverse areas.”

Marshall Health is the faculty practice plan for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and supports the clinical, educational, research and services missions of the school.  Beth Hammers, executive director of the organization, says the pilot grant program provides one year of support at $25,000 for each grantee, with additional funding based on progress of the research.

“Medical research is essential to the development of new medical treatments and cures for patients,” Hammers said.  “We are thrilled to help stimulate a robust, viable grant program which pairs basic scientists from Marshall University with School of Medicine physicians to work on projects which will lead to the betterment of our community.”

The investigators and their projects are listed below:

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Anthony Alberico, Department of Neuroscience – “Chemotherapy resistance and sensitivity testing in tumors of the central nervous system”

Dr. Elaine Hardman, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. James Jensen, Department of Surgery – “Feasibility and Safety of Nutritional Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Prostate Specific Antigen Rise in Men with Biochemical Failure after Prostatectomy or External-Beam Radiotherapy”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Paulette Wehner, Department of Cardiology – “Perivascular Fat Relation to Hypertension—Appalachian Heart Study”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Abid Yaqub, Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Section – “Impact of Technology-based Behavioral Intervention on Molecular and Clinical Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes”

Dr. Monica Valentovic, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Brenda Dawley, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – “Prenatal Exposure to Heavy Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) Alter Umbilical Cord Blood Levels of Thyroid Hormone and Vitamin D”

Dr. Hongwei Yu, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Yoram Elitser, Department of Pediatrics – “Investigate the distribution of segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) in American children and the presence of SFB with childhood diseases”

Other current translational research under way at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine includes a partnership with the University of Kentucky (UK) as part of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, which also is aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

In 2011, UK and its partners received $20 million for the program to support research at UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, making Marshall part of a select national biomedical research network.

Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964, or Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

Marshall experts to speak at state biosciences summit

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Several Marshall University representatives are among more than 20 life science experts who will share experiences and discuss strategies for successfully growing the state’s bioscience industry during the upcoming West Virginia Bioscience Summit.

Sponsored by the Bioscience Association of West Virginia (BioWV), the summit will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 :30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Marriott Town Center in Charleston. The annual event brings together members of the state’s bioscience community with policy and opinion leaders, economic developers and others who are interested in learning more about how to grow and nurture the industry.

At the summit, Dr. John Maher, Marshall vice president for research, will join representatives from the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia State University, the University of Charleston and West Virginia University on a panel highlighting research being conducted in the state.

“The BioWV Summit is a tremendous opportunity to bring attention to the significant economic development happening via West Virginia’s life sciences community,” said Maher. “At the other end of the pipeline we have a great deal of exciting biotechnology work happening here at Marshall and we are pleased to have this chance to share it with our colleagues and friends from around the state and region.”

Dr. Nader Abraham, vice dean for research at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, is on the program to share information about clinical trials at Marshall, and the assistant director of Marshall’s Technology Transfer Office, Amy Melton, will participate in a panel discussion about commercialization opportunities and recent changes in U.S. patent law.

In addition, representatives of two Marshall spinout companies, Derek Gregg of Vandalia Research and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio of Cordgenics, are scheduled to be on a panel of bioscience company representatives and funders who will discuss the challenges of raising capital and creating an environment for life science growth in the state. Gregg and Claudio both founded their companies on technology they developed in the university’s labs.

A host of industry leaders, policy-makers and other experts also will participate in the conference, including the following:

•           Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (invited);

•           Fritz Bittenbender, Vice President, Alliance Development and State Government Relations, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO);

•           Jeff May, Vice President, Product Strategy, Mylan North America;

•           Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor, West Virginia Higher Education Commission;

•           Jeff Trewhitt, Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

The summit’s keynote speaker will be Dr. David Scholl, who helped grow Athens, Ohio-based Diagnostic Hybrids into a $100 million biotech company. He is now a partner in a regional venture capital firm and is involved with the billion-dollar Ohio Third Frontier program.

Gregg, who serves as the chairman of BioWV, said, “A successful life science industry begins with research, which then leads to discoveries. Those discoveries provide the basis for company development and economic growth for the state. West Virginia is having success but there is much more that can be done to help grow this industry within our borders.

“The bioscience industry is creating new technologies—pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical technologies, chemical processes and more—that not only advance science but provide high-wage jobs to West Virginia residents. This conference will bring people together to highlight what is currently under way and to discuss how we can grow the industry.”

In addition to BioWV, summit sponsors include BIO, PhRMA, Mylan, Pfizer, Fisher Scientific, Amgen, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia Small Business Development Center and TechConnect West Virginia. BioWV also receives funding through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. 

Marshall University is a founding member of BioWV. The purpose of the association is to promote and strengthen the bioscience industry in the state by developing a cohesive community that unites biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and research organizations.

For more information or to register for the summit, visit


Ray awarded the ASBMB Graduate Travel Award

by: Allison Wolf, MU Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate

BMS Ph.D. student Kristeena Ray was awarded The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Graduate Minority Travel Award, which is funded through a grant to the Federation of American Societies. Kristeena will travel to Boston, Massachusetts in April to present her research on the possible role of epigenetics in endometriosis at the 2013 Experimental Biology Conference. 

Kristeena Ray_web

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Kristeena’s mentor, stated, “Not much is known about the etiology of endometriosis. There are recent indications that epigenetics might be playing a role in its etiology. Kristeena’s project will, in the long-term, identify epigenetic markers that can be used as therapeutic targets for the treatment of endometriosis and/or its associated symptoms such as pain.”

Ray is the second BMS student to be notified of receiving a travel award to attend this international research conference. Dr. Santanam is pleased that Kristeena is one of the students selected for the ASBMB travel award and said that this opportunity will allow Kristeena to “meet peers from around the country, as well as listen and interact with expert scientists in basic and biomedical sciences.” 

Congratulations, Kristeena!

Applications being accepted for minority internship program in the biomedical sciences

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Summer Research Internship for Minority Students, available through the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

The program supports minority undergraduate students over a nine-week period. Participants conduct graduate-level research in the field of the biomedical sciences. They receive formal research training through workshops and seminars, mentoring and use of Marshall’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. Each student will receive a stipend of $3,000, free room and board, and support for travel.

This program has been conducted at Marshall since 2009 and is funded in part by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Division of Science and Research.

This year’s program runs from May 28 through July 29. The application deadline is Feb. 15. All materials may be submitted online.

For eligibility requirements and application procedures, visit For more information, e-mail or call 304-696-3365.


Carper selected for ASBMB Graduate Student Travel Award

by: M. Allison Wolf

Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate Miranda Carper was selected for a graduate student travel award to attend the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. ASBMB is one of six participating societies represented at the 2013 Experimental Biology Conference. The conference will run from April 20-24, and will bring together researchers from all over the world. 


The conference is a multidisciplinary scientific meeting and researchers will meet to discuss the new strides made in the fields of: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition, and pharmacology.

The research project Miranda plans to present focuses on a target thought to be a player in the cross talk between p53 and pRB. The objective of her current study is to investigate if this target, regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS16), plays a role in pancreatic cancer cell invasion and migration.

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Miranda’s Ph.D. advisor, is proud of his student’s achievement. “Miranda is driven and works hard. I am thrilled that she has the opportunity to share her research and attend an international conference.” Congrats, Miranda!

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio receives award from elementary school

It is probably safe to say that most people do not hear from their elementary schools when they move up the education ladder, but this is not the case for Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor and respected researcher within Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.  

Dr. Claudio recently received an award for his academic achievements from Suor Orsola Benincasa where he attended for his elementary education in Naples, Italy. This is not your traditional school, as it was founded in 1600 by nuns and was re-founded in 1860 by the Princess of Strongoli, Maria Adelaide del Balzo Pignatelli. It is a school that prepares children from pre-school, elementary, middle, high-school, up to disciplines at a university level (in the areas of humanistic, science of communication, law, conservation of cultural goods, restoration, and languages). 

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.When asked if he felt that his elementary school contributed to who he is today, Claudio said, “Absolutely. Suor Orsola Benincasa helped me study, understand how serious it is to study at a younger age. It is a very historical school, and when you study places like this, you breathe it. It makes you really want to advance yourself.”

Dr. Claudio was the first to receive this newly established award, and did so through a  Skype video conference event.

Congratulations to Dr. Claudio!

Research campaign reaches goal of $15M

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013
Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964,

Gift for MIIR takes Marshall University
to $15 million ‘Bucks for Brains’ goal

Allied Realty Company contributes $150,000 for research, capital campaign

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University officials today announced that a gift from Allied Realty Company is the final private donation needed to reach the university’s $15 million West Virginia Research Trust Fund fundraising goal.

Allied recently made a $150,000 donation to support the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (MIIR) and the university’s College of Fine Arts. The $100,000 portion of the gift designated for research at MIIR, in addition to other year-end gifts and pledges, is expected to be matched by the state’s trust fund and will allow Marshall to draw down the last of the money allocated to it in the fund. 

The West Virginia Legislature created the trust fund, which is also referred to as the “Bucks for Brains” program, in 2008 with an initial appropriation of $15 million for Marshall and $35 million for West Virginia University. Over the past five years, the universities have been able to tap into the fund to double private gifts that support research initiatives linked to economic development, health care and job growth. With this latest Allied contribution, Marshall has raised its maximum of $15 million in private donations, which, with the match from the trust fund, will result in a $30 million benefit to the university. The program has led to the creation of 16 new research endowments at Marshall and will increase the university’s overall endowment by more than 15 percent.

“It is entirely fitting that Allied Realty Company made the donation that brings us to our goal,” said Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp. “Allied was the first private donor to step forward when the trust fund program was established, and they have been supporting research at Marshall with generous donations ever since. The Polan family and their company are community leaders in every sense. We are fortunate to have their commitment to advancing local and regional economic development through research.” 

He continued, “On behalf of the entire Marshall community, I extend a hearty thank you to all the donors who have made it possible for us to reach this milestone. Their contributions will help ensure funding for research that will advance new discoveries and promote economic development far into the future.

“I also want to express deep gratitude to our state’s leaders, including members of the state legislature and officials at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, who had the foresight to support the ‘Bucks for Brains’ concept. We hope the success we have had will encourage continued support and reinvestment in this program.”

Allied Realty Company President Rebecca Polan said MIIR’s role of conducting commercially viable bioscience research at the university and facilitating partnerships with outside companies is vital to the future of Huntington and the entire region.

She added, “We are pleased to support organizations that serve Huntington, the state and region. Marshall University makes the Huntington community an excellent place to live, learn and work.” 

Lake Polan, Allied’s chairman of the board and CEO, said, “By helping Marshall University expand its presence as a leading research institute, we are helping our community leverage itself into the knowledge economy.”

Since 2008, Allied has donated a total of $450,000 for research at Marshall. With the match from the state’s trust fund, the total benefit to the university from Allied’s gifts is $900,000.

Dr. Ron Area, Marshall University Foundation CEO, said Allied and other donors like the research trust fund program because they can essentially double their gifts, while making a lasting impact through endowments. 

He said, “Hats off to Allied Realty for this most recent generous gift and for serving as pioneers in the trust fund program. They have helped us show others what a wonderful incentive the trust fund is. Donors like being able to maximize their contributions and, because their gifts are doubled and endowed through this program, they know they will be helping students, faculty and the community for generations. We have gained a good deal of momentum over the past year, and have additional qualifying donations and pledges ready to match if the state allocates more money for the trust fund.”

Dr. John Maher, Marshall vice president for research, added, “The proceeds from these endowments are already impacting research programs across the university—from science to engineering to medicine. Thank you to the donors and the state leaders who helped establish the research trust fund. We look forward to watching these research and economic development initiatives grow and prosper over the coming years.”

Allied Realty Company is the corporate hub for a full-service global logistics business with more than 2.5 million square feet of commercial, manufacturing and distribution holdings in downtown Huntington, Kenova, Nitro and Parkersburg; Paris, Ky.; and Waynesboro and Harrisonburg, Va. The $50,000 portion of Allied’s recent gift designated for Marshall’s College of Fine Arts will support the college’s capital campaign, including renovation of the former Stone and Thomas building in downtown Huntington. The renovated facility will house Marshall’s visual arts and graphic design programs.

MIIR was founded in 2008 to promote economic development and entrepreneurial activity by funding commercially viable bioscience research at Marshall and facilitating partnerships with outside companies.

At Marshall, the West Virginia Research Trust Fund is supporting research in disciplines as diverse as biotechnology, aging and dementia, engineering, chemistry and biology, transportation, obstetrics and gynecology, translational sports medicine, and occupational and environmental health. The program also has helped catalyze public and private support for a number of new research facilities at the university, including an applied engineering complex, translational genomics research institute, sports medicine translational research center, and schools of pharmacy and physical therapy.

For more information about “Bucks for Brains” at Marshall, visit


Marshall University receives $2.5 million BrickStreet Foundation gift for research

Brickstreet Marshall $2.5 M

Watch on HerdVideo

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University has received a $2.5 million gift from the BrickStreet Insurance Foundation Inc. to establish a research endowment.

The donation is expected to be matched through the state’s “Bucks for Brains” West Virginia Research Trust Fund, for a total benefit to Marshall of $5 million.

Proceeds from the endowment will be used to support research at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, particularly projects related to occupational and environmental health.

Greg Burton, president and chief executive officer of BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Company, presented the donation to university representatives today at the company’s headquarters in Charleston.

“Through the leadership and vision of our board, BrickStreet has set up a foundation focused on giving back to the community in which we live,” said Burton. “Through this partnership with Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, BrickStreet is proud to support their continued research efforts. Many of our employees are Marshall graduates, so our partnership with the university runs deep and I know this investment will be used to not only strengthen the university’s research efforts in occupational and environmental health, but also to continue to fulfill its mission to improve the health and wellness of our communities.

“As one of the largest workers’ compensation providers in the region, we understand that the graduates of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will be our future partners in continuing to improve occupational health across West Virginia.”

Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, president of Marshall University, thanked BrickStreet for the contribution, saying, “We are very pleased and proud that BrickStreet has chosen to make this gift commitment in support of endowment-based biomedical research focused on some of the most pressing occupational and rural health problems confronting our state and region. The Marshall University School of Medicine is a leader in rural medicine and the support provided by BrickStreet will be amplified by matching support from the West Virginia Research Trust Fund. This research endowment fund offers great promise to help improve the health and wellness of our rural communities.”

Dr. Joseph I. Shapiro, dean of Marshall’s medical school, added, “I couldn’t be more pleased to receive this generous gift from BrickStreet. It will most certainly benefit thousands of West Virginians. With this gift, Marshall researchers will conduct work that will span the spectrum from basic molecular research to practical, workplace-based research, finding both laboratory and clinical answers to help improve the quality of life for those in our state and region. BrickStreet has provided us with the necessary funding to get these projects under way and we can’t wait to get started.”

Last year, BrickStreet donated $300,000 to Marshall to support athletics, academics and research. A portion of that gift was matched by the state’s trust fund.

The state legislature created the West Virginia Research Trust Fund in 2008 with an initial appropriation of $15 million for Marshall. The university can tap into this fund to double private gifts that support specific research initiatives linked to economic development, health care and job growth.

Photo:  From left, Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp; Greg Burton, president and CEO of BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Company; Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation; and Dr. Joseph Shapiro, dean of the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, display an oversized check for $2.5 million presented by BrickStreet Foundation to the Marshall University Foundation today at the BrickStreet office in Charleston. The donation will be used to establish a research endowment at Marshall. Photo by Rick Haye/Marshall University

Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964

Biomedical Sciences professor invited to present at Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., a professor in Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Cancer Biology Research Cluster, was invited to speak at the recent Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference, which was held on December 16th in Pacific Grove, CA. He presented entirely new research, for which he designed most of the experimental procedure, and was performed by Dr. Ata Abbas, a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Philippe Georgel’s laboratory.

The study reports the positive effect of omega-3 fatty acid treatment on various breast cancer cell lines. The omega-3 treatment modified the profile of expression of Human Leukocyte Antigen G (HLA-G), a molecule important in the immune evasion properties displayed by numerous types of cancerous cells. The treated cells display an HLA-G expression profile that resembles that of normal epithelial breast cells as well as a reduced ability to migrate (a property that can be indicative of lower metastatic abilities).

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program



When asked what this research means to “non-scientists,” Georgel good-naturedly responded, “Our research is one additional piece of evidence to support the role of diet in preventing and/or helping find a cure for breast cancer (as well as other cancer types). An increase in omega-3 fatty acid (FA) in our regular diet can be easily achieved by substituting corn oil (rich in omega-6 FA and poor in omega-3 FA) with canola oil (rich in omega-3 FA and low in  omega-6 FA), and also by eating more fish (omega-3-FA-rich).”

This project will be expanded to include the analysis of HLA-G expression profile in tissues from breast cancer patients’ biopsies and a small scale clinical trial involving daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (in collaboration with Dr. Rajesh Sehgal, Medical Oncologist at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center). The results will be used as preliminary material for a submission to the National Institutes of Health and/or the Department of Defense. 

Three Biomedical Graduate Students walk at Winter Commencement 2012

On Sunday, December 16th, Aileen Marcelo, Anne Silvis, and J. Michael Brown walked proudly across stage to be “hooded” by their mentors; a long-awaited and well-deserved honor.

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D. and Mike Brown, Ph.D.

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D. and Mike Brown, Ph.D.

J. Mike Brown, Ph.D. was mentored by Dr. Monica Valentovic, and researched in the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Research Cluster. Dr. Brown is a student at the University of Charleston’s School of Pharmacy. Dissertation title: “A Mechanistic Study of S-Adenosyl-L-methionine Protection Against Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity”.


Richard Egleton, Ph.D. and Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D.

Richard Egleton, Ph.D. and Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D.

Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D. was mentored by Dr. Richard Egleton, and researched in the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Research Cluster. Dr. Marcelo is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. Dissertation title: “The Role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor at the Blood-Brain Barrier in Diabetes”.

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. and Anne Silvis, Ph.D.

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. and Anne Silvis, Ph.D.

Anne Silvis, Ph.D. was mentored by Dr. Kelley Kiningham and Dr. Elaine Hardman, and researched in the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Research Cluster. Dr. Silvis is now Research Assistant Professor with Marshall University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dissertation title: “Redox Regulation of Differentiation in Neuroblastoma”.



Graduates with Mentors

Left to right: Dr. Egleton, Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D., Dr. Valentovic, Mike Brown, Ph.D., Dr. Hardman, and Anne Silvis, Ph.D.

Congratulations to Marshall’s Best and Brightest…
Mike Brown, Ph.D., 
Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D. and
Anne Silvis, Ph.D.!


Dr. Silvis celebrating with her son

Dr. Silvis celebrating with her son













BMS Graduate Student Organization participates in the Jared Box Project

by Saeed Keshavarzian,

BMS students from left: Brad, Bill, Holly, Miranda, Allison, Johannes, and Saeed

As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded to think about others outside of our busy lives. This year, the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Student Organization (GSO) would like to share with you Jared’s story. He was a special five-year-old boy who, in 1999, was diagnosed with an incurable brainstem tumor; he unfortunately lost his battle with cancer in November 2000. In his short time on Earth, Jared went from doctor appointment to doctor appointment and always carried a backpack filled with his favorite toys and games. Those toys and games brought Jared such joy that, for a brief moment, he was not thinking about his illness, but was just being a child captivated in play.

This is the second year the BMS GSO has participated in the Jared Box Project, an endeavor to share the same joy and relief that toys brought to Jared with other children suffering similar childhood illnesses. Allison Wolf, GSO President and a BMS Ph.D. candidate, along with other BMS students organized the toy drive and a bake sale to contribute to filling Jared boxes.

Miranda and Allison, all smiles, with the toys for the children at Cabell Huntington Hospital

The GSO members delivered the toys to children at Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center on Friday, December 7th.  Allison said, “We have a wonderful group of students and faculty in our program who make events, such as the Jared Box Project, a success.” Miranda Carper, BMS Ph.D. candidate agreed, and also said that, “this is the second year I have participated and the experience left me feeling happy, humbled, and heart-broken all at the same time. Seeing the children’s faces light up when I handed them a gift warmed my heart, but also left me feeling amazed by their strength and determination.” 

Johannes organizing presents for the children

GSO Vice President, Johannes Fahrmann, who helped organize the Jared Box Project for the second time said that “being a part of this project is a great feeling and instills a sense of unity amongst the organization and the community. It also highlights the warmth that people have in their hearts and highlights one of the main goals, in my opinion, of the GSO which is to give back to those less fortunate.”

For more information on the Jared Box Project, please visit this website:

Marshall biomedical professor invited to present her research internationally

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, has been invited to present her research, yet again.

2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy 2012Dr. Santanam will be presenting her research internationally at the International Society of Antioxidants in Nutrition and Health’s (ISANH) 2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy, December 6 – 7, 2012 in Paris, France.

Santanam’s talk is relevant to all with a condition called Endometriosis. Endometriosis is a clinical condition that afflicts 10-15% of women of reproductive age (mainly diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35), posing a major cause for infertility and chronic pain. Since the etiology of this disease is still unknown, very few treatment options are available. Surgery is currently the best treatment; however, due to a high recurrence rate, the disease commonly returns within three to six months post-surgery. The conference provides attendees the opportunity to present and discuss new research relating to the condition. Dr. Santanam’s talk scheduled for Friday, December 7th, is titled “Prostaglandin-Like Lipid Oxidation Products in the peritoneal Fluid of Women with Endometriosis Respond to Antioxidant Therapy.” In addition to her presentation, she also will be co-sharing the meeting on December 7th, 2012. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge the continued collaboration with Dr. Brenda Dawley from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

It is quite an honor to be selected at such a high level in her field, and though Dr. Santanam is not foreign to these invites, she remains humble. This is the second time she has been recognized and invited to present her research in just two months. Dr. Santanam recently presented her research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Los Angeles, California in November. Her talk was titled  “Sex differences in epicardial fat biomarkers,” which highlighted the research she has conducted over the past three years in collaboration with Marshall’s Department of Cardiology and Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. She studied the adipose tissue surrounding the heart and blood vessels in patients with coronary artery disease. 

This epicardial and perivascular fat has unique biomarkers that show differences between Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H. the sexes; she states that with this study, they are “trying to identify biomarkers unique to this particular fat so that we can use it in the future to diagnose or in the treatment of coronary artery disease.”  Additionally, the biomarkers found in the adipose tissue have been correlated to patients with hypertension. This study is part of the West Virginia Appalachian Heart Study; therefore most of the individuals included in this study are Appalachians. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge: Dr. Christopher Adams, Dr. Nepal Chowdhury, Dr. Todd Gress, and Dr. Paulette Wehner.

Dr. Santanam is the chair of the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes research cluster within Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, and is a member of its Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology. 

Congratulations on your continued achievements, Dr. Santanam!

Marshall biomedical sciences’ researchers publish e-book on nutrition and cancer

Cover of "Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology"Researchers at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine have collaborated on an electronic book, “Nutrition and Cancer From Epidemiology to Biology,” recently published by Bentham Science Publishers.

This ebook is one of the latest efforts of researchers at the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center.

A collection of scientific articles written by Marshall faculty members and students, the publication was edited by Dr. Richard M. Niles, professor and chairman of the university’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and director of the McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute.

According to the publisher, various estimates suggest that between 30-40% of all human cancers are related to dietary patterns. Strong epidemiological evidence from studies points to dietary constituents that either contribute or protect against the development of various forms of cancer.

This e-book reviews some traditional and relatively new areas of nutrition and cancer. Epidemiological data is combined with molecular biology research and, where available, clinical trial data. The emerging science of “Nutrigenomics” is discussed with chapters on the biological role of various nutrition components from red wine, peppers, green tea, fish oil, cruciferous vegetables, retinoids; and the intersection of nutrition and epigenetics in hematopoiesis.

The publication will be of interest to researchers in the nutrition and cancer fields, physicians in family and community medicine, internal medicine and oncology, and dieticians providing counseling to cancer patients and cancer survivors.

by Ginny Painter
Director of Communications
Marshall University Research Corporation  


You are invited to enjoy the fall 2012 issue of “We Are…Bridging Medicine and Science”

Marshall University’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program invites you to enjoy reading the Fall 2012 | Issue 2 of We Are…Bridging Medicine and Science!

Click the publication’s front cover below to link to the magazine: 














Marshall WV-INBRE summer research program intern receives ABRCMS travel award

Mardochee Isme, MU WV-INBRE InternMardochee Isme, a senior student at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, and a 2012 participant in West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence’s (WV-INBRE) Summer Research Program at Marshall University, is the winner of a Student Travel Award from the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Isme will attend the 2012 ABRCMS conference located in San Jose, CA, November 7 – 10, 2012 to present her research. The travel award is worth $1,500 and can go toward any travel-related expenses to the conference and/or conference registration fees.

Isme, among other students, performed research at Marshall University with Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall University’s School of Medicine and Coordinator of the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Research Cluster. The abstract for her research is titled, “Epigenetics of endometriosis-associated pain.” Dr. Santanam’s laboratory is interested in the etiology of endometriosis and Mardochee’s research looked at the epigenetics of the disease, which as Dr. Santanam stated, “is a new area of research.”  

Kristeena Ray, a Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Santanam’s laboratory, helped Mardochee with her research and will continue this work as the focus of her own Ph.D. research. Dr. Santanam’s laboratory also has submitted a request for an NIH grant for further research in this field. Dr. Santanam would like to thank Dr. Brenda Dawley from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine for providing samples for this research project.

BMS associate professor plays significant role in heated tobacco debate

by Saeed Keshavarzian, BMS Medical Sciences student

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.Marshall’s Student Government Association (SGA) recently held a meeting to vote on a campus-wide tobacco ban. Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp asked Student Body President Ray Harrell Jr. to form a joint committee to draft a proposal for Marshall University to go tobacco free. The committee drafted the proposal to ban all tobacco products campus-wide.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was asked by Amy Saunders, Director of Student Health Education Programs, to attend the meeting in order to explain the effects of nicotine on the human body, and to answer any questions that the gallery had regarding the ill effects of nicotine. 

Early into the meeting Dr. Dasgupta explained that nicotine “can promote tobacco related diseases,” one of which is lung cancer. She also stated that her lab is performing research on the “ill effects of second hand smoke, even third hand smoke, which is the stuff that sticks to your car, [and] to your clothes when you smoke.” As the gallery was allowed to ask questions and voice concerns, Dr. Dasgupta answered health-related questions that were asked. After two hours of heated debate and testimonials from both the SGA senators and the gallery, the SGA voted 11-7 in favor of the campus-wide tobacco ban.

Dr. Monica Valentovic Endows a Scholarship

The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology, has endowed a scholarship to be awarded to a third or fourth year medical student in the School of Medicine who has financial need and is involved in research. The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship is named for her parents. 

“My parents were hard working individuals,” said Valentovic. “My dad was a foundry engineer and my mom worked in clothing manufacturing. They lived most of their lives in Cleveland, Ohio. I wanted them to be remembered in a way that would have an impact for a long time. I though this scholarship would help future physicians who will have patients similar to my parents, thus perpetuating my parents’ inclination to help others.”

Valentovic considers research to be an important aspect of training medical students. For this reason, first preference for the scholarship will be a student who has done or is currently involved in research with a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, either while a medical student or prior to entering medical school.

Second preference is for a student who has done research while in medical school with a full-time School of Medicine faculty member who is associated with a department other than Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

“Very few students take the time to do research, either prior to starting medical school or while they are in medical school,” said Valentovic. “In order to have a valuable research experience, students must invest time and dedication to a project. I believe this is the first scholarship at the medical school that targets students in this area.

“In my opinion, students doing research are often not recognized,” added Valentovic. “This scholarship is a small way to recognize and reward students who have taken this extra effort. Research is a critical component for the development of new drugs, medical devices and treatments. A research experience emphasizes the approach to answer a question such as the mechanism for a drug interaction, including how to properly design a study as well as the endpoints and analysis. I believe a research experience broadens a student’s approach to answering clinical problems. This scholarship is a way to give them financial assistance and remember my parents.”

Valentovic is well aware of the significant financial investment students have while they are in medical school. “Reducing student debt is important,” she said. “Medicine is a practice that helps other individuals in need. My parents were active in helping others and this scholarship is a long term commitment to help our medical students and, eventually, they will help others.”

This article may be found on page 49 in the 2012 Summer/Fall issue of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Benefactor: