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. 

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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 www.wv-inbre.org or contact Mangiarua at mangiaru@marshall.edu or 304-696-6211. For more information about the SRIMS program, visit www.marshall.edu/bms/future-students/summer-research-internship or contact Maue at maue1@marshall.edu 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_EB

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.

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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: www.asbmb.org/PublicOutreach/Templates/PubOutreachDefault.aspx?id=40020

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

 by M. Allison Wolf

Ryan-Withers

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 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23533140).

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.” 

OR:

To read the article published in MicrobiologyOpen: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23533140

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. (http://www.marshall.edu/wamnewsletter/2013/04/16/dr-gary-rankin-receives-alumni-award-from-ole-miss/