Marshall School of Medicine hosts US Rep. Evan Jenkins for research roundtables

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — More than a dozen Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine medical and biomedical students, as well as faculty and staff, had the opportunity to talk with U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.) today about biomedical research and the federal funding mechanisms used to pay for it.

Welcome Congressman Jenkins visit with students_11.20.15cr

L to R: PhD students Lexie Keding, Rachel Murphy, Dakota Ward, Jamie Friedman, Kristeena Wright, Justin Tomblin, Caroline Hunter Center: Congressman Evan Jenkins Far Right: MD/PhD student Diane Dawley

Jenkins, who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, encouraged the students to continue  investigations into health issues that plague the Appalachian region and West Virginians including obesity, diabetes and neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., dean of the school of medicine, said the series of meetings was important on several levels.

“In order for the research enterprise at the school of medicine to grow, our basic scientists and physician researchers must work collaboratively to advance novel concepts,” Shapiro said.  “Part of that process is understanding how research is funded and what they must do to make it happen. Congressman Jenkins was very helpful in expanding the dialogue for our researchers as well as explaining the federal funding landscape to our students.”

Prior to his term in Congress, Jenkins served as the executive director of the West Virginia State Medical Association and as a state legislator.

Moderation can counter the risks of eating meat

Link to the original story in the Herald Dispatch

HUNTINGTON – The World Health Organization’s pronouncement this week that processed meats raise the risk of colon and stomach cancer may be hard to swallow for a town where enough people like hot dogs to keep at least a dozen hot dog establishments in business.

So, is it time to throw out the bacon, hot dogs, bologna and steak? Well, not so fast.

“What I tell medical students in nutrition is ‘All things in moderation,’ ” said Dr. Elaine Hardman, professor in the department of biochemistry and microbiology at the Joan C. Edward’s School of Medicine at Marshall University.

“There are very few foods we should make all of our diet. At the same time, there are very few foods we have to completely avoid to stay healthy.”

The WHO findings were drafted by a panel of 22 international experts who reviewed decades of research on the link between red meat, processed meats and cancer.

The panel reviewed animal experiments, studies of human diet and health, and cell processes that could explain how red meat might cause cancer.

An analysis of 10 of the studies suggested that a 50-gram portion of processed meat daily – or about 1.75 ounces – increases the risk of colorectal cancer over a lifetime by about 18 percent.

Hardman said a 50-gram portion is about one hot dog. She said if someone ate several W. Elaine Hardman, dogs a day, every day, she would worry. Or if a diet involved bacon for breakfast, hot dogs for lunch and bologna for dinner.

But it’s all about lifestyle choices.

“Do you have normal body weight? Get regular exercise?” Hardman said. “Those are two things that really increase your risk. An overweight person who gets little exercise, one hot dog a month might do it. But they are already at risk. You really can’t tell.”

Hardman said what really struck her about the study was that is wasn’t new news. In 2007, the American Institute for Cancer Research found red meat and processed meats lead to colorectal cancer and called for limiting it in diets.

There has also been a push recently to reduce red meat in Americans’ diet, with many school districts implementing “meatless Monday,” an initiative that has support from First Lady Michelle Obama.

“We’ve known this for a long time,” Hardman said. “It’s not good for you to eat these things.”

She said another mark against processed meats is that they are high in calories.

“Reducing processed meats would not only reduce the bad things, but also reduce calorie consumption and help to maintain a healthy weight, which has got to be good,” she said.

According to the American Cancer Society, one third of cancer deaths can be attributed to poor diet and physical inactivity. It encourages people to eat more vegetables and fish and less red and processed meats.

Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer in the U.S. is about 1 in 20, or 5 percent, according to the cancer society. By the WHO’s calculations, having a cold-cut sandwich every day would only raise that to around 6 percent.

The WHO researchers defined processed meat as anything transformed to improve its flavor or preserve it, including sausages, beef jerky and anything smoked. They defined red meat to include beef, veal, pork, lamb, mutton, horse and goat.

The report said grilling, pan-frying or other high-temperature methods of cooking red meat produce the highest amounts of chemicals suspected of causing cancer.

Welcome new Biomedical Sciences PhD students

Welcome and congratulations to our new Biomedical Sciences PhD students! They joined the program just a few short weeks ago, and have already completed Biomedical Sciences PhD Boot Camp, and begun their first lab rotation.

PhD 2015 Class picture

From L to R – Jamie F., Lexie K., Jackie P., Sarah S., Diane D. (MD/PhD student), and Becca M.

Boot Camp was a week full of opportunities that involved current faculty, staff, and students, research discussions, assignments, lab skills, in-depth tours of facilities, team building exercises, and a discussion panel. The panel was added specifically for this year’s students because all five of the students are female. (Yes! All of the new PhD students are female!) These ladies were provided the opportunity to learn from a panel of female scientists about the challenges of being female in the world of science. What an opportunity!

From L to R – Minqi H. (Research MS student), Jackie, Jamie, Sarah, Diane (MD/PhD student), Becca, and Lexie

Another part of the Boot Camp was team building. The students got to know one another by having to work out challenges as a team – something they likely will be doing for the next five years in a lab setting.

One exercise involved following one student’s directions to complete an obstacle course. This is quite a challenge, especially since the followers were blind-folded!

Bootcamp team building 2015_Lexie w ball
Students also worked in pairs to read leadership-relative quotes then discuss and present what parallels they might encounter in a lab setting.

Boot Camp involved the five new PhD students as well as the one MD/PhD student – Diane D. – who is now beginning the PhD portion of the program, and one of the Research MS students – Minqi H.

Welcome students!

American Heart Association speaker at Marshall University

Cynthia-Keely.7Cynthia Keely, Mission: Lifeline Director for the local affiliate of the American Heart Association (AHA), recently spoke to summer interns, graduate students, and laboratory personnel. She detailed the AHA’s current initiatives and why their work is important in the region. Heart disease is one of the largest causes of death, and related issues such as stroke and diabetes are endemic in West Virginia. A current goal of the Association is to increase heart healthiness by 20% by the year 2020.

Ms. Keely reviewed some of the ways that her organization is assisting in the treatment of the worst forms of heart attacks through creation and improvement of care systems including Emergency Services, Referral Centers, and Receiving Centers. She also shared information about their multicultural initiatives to transform community health environments, Hands-Only CPR courses, fundraising events, and other awareness activities.

As future biomedical researchers and/or physicians, it was beneficial for the summer interns to learn about some of the strategies that are currently utilized to combat heart health-related challenges and to imagine how their education and work will contribute to those efforts.

Marshall University School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program received a grant from the Great Rivers Affiliate of the AHA to sponsor five undergraduate summer research internships related to cardiovascular issues. Please contact AHA-USIR Director, Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.H.A., for further information on this program.

For additional material about AHA’s work, please see

Four Marshall School of Medicine research students receive NASA research grants

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Four biomedical science Ph.D. students from the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine have received West Virginia Space Grant Consortium Graduate Research Fellowship grants to fund their continued dissertation research in a variety of disease-related areas.

Each student received a $12,000 grant from NASA West Virginia Space Grant Consortium for their projects, which vary from the study of protein functions to metabolic diseases to growth factors in cancer cells. The awards are supplemented by the School of Medicine and each student must work closely with a faculty member to conduct their research.

“These students are conducting valuable research to help move modern medicine forward,” said Richard Egleton, Ph.D., co-director of biomedical sciences at Marshall University. “Through these grants, both NASA and our institution help promote a dynamic environment for research among the next generation of researchers.”

The student recipients are:

Amos, DebbieDeborah L. Amos, of Dr. Nalini Santanam’s lab, will use the NASA grant to gain deeper insight into how exercise affects metabolic diseases, such as obesity, investigate the impact of exercise on lean/fat body mass and skeletal muscle function in a “stress less” mouse model and provide a means of improving skeletal muscle function and lean body mass.






Rachel MurphyRachel A. Murphy, of Dr. Monica Valentovic’s lab, will utilize the grant to study why the drug Tenofovir (a drug used to treat HIV and Hepatitis B) causes kidney damage by altering mitochondrial function and inducing oxidative stress.





Tomblin, Justin K.Justin K. Tomblin, with the lab of Travis Salisbury, Ph.D., will use the grant to study how growth factors regulate the expression and activity of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor in breast cancer cells.





Hunter, Caroline_2015Caroline A. Hunter, of Dr. Emine Koc’s lab, will use the grant to study the protein synthesis in mitochondria, metabolic syndrome, and potential treatments that could prevent the development of these and related diseases.





“I am honored to receive this grant. It is rewarding to know that NASA can see how my work can make a contribution in the prevention of diseases,” Hunter said. “This is a great opportunity for me to have my work funded so I can make further achievements doing what I love—research.”


Summer interns tour Huntington

Summer interns with the Marshall University School of Medicine Biomedical Program familiarized themselves with Huntington by participating in a walking tour on May 28.

Starting at the MU campus, the group went down Third Avenue to Harris Riverfront Park. After cooling down with a breeze coming from the river, it was time for fun on the playground. walking tour.megan.jonique.leslie.ana.natalia.sarah.srims





walking tour.heritage square.srims


Then it was on to Heritage Station.From there, the interns explored Pullman Square and saw the Cabell County Courthouse, Huntington City Hall, and Federal Buildings.



Jim's Spaghetti.summerinterns2015

At that point, it was time for a rest stop and dinner at Jim’s Steak and Spaghetti.The banana crème pie was a big hit.







walking tour.ana maria.srims

Another highlight of the tour was the decorated trains scattered around Downtown Huntington. A walk down the Avenue of Churches and on to Greek Row led the group back to campus.






Summer Researchers at Marshall University

Eighteen undergraduate students from nine institutions are spending the summer conducting biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories. The students are participating in nine-week programs offered through Marshall’s school of medicine SRIMS,-INBRE-Group-Photo-'14Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS), the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE), and the American Heart Association Undergraduate Summer Internship Research (AHA-USIR) program.

Dr. Elsa I. Mangiarua is a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and directs the WV-INBRE summer program. She said the programs allow participants to gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s top scientists.

Renuka-INBRE SRIMS 2014“We are providing in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates,” she said. “The programs also promote awareness of Marshall’s graduate degree programs and available careers in biomedical research.”

Kelly Carothers, who coordinates the SRIMS program, agreed, adding, “This is a chance for these students to do meaningful laboratory research, network with others in their field and enhance their academic competitiveness for graduate school.”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology will direct the newly funded AHA-USIR program. This program provides an opportunity specifically for Marshall undergraduate students to participate in research related to cardiovascular diseases.

While at Marshall, the interns are working in the university’s state-of-the-art facilities on research projects related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, neuroscience, toxicology, immunological diseases and bioinformatics.

The students will present their research results at a symposium at the end of the summer.

In addition to the formal research training each student receives from his or her Marshall Sheryl, Sammy the Hot Dog, Luisa, and Sai SRIMS summer 14faculty mentors, the interns are taking part in workshops and seminars about a variety of topics in research and graduate education. Students in the programs attend the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, hiking and other special events outside of the laboratory environment.

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Jonique George, University of the Virgin Islands (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Sofia Romero, University of California-Santa Cruz (Dr. Jung Han Kim, mentor)
  • Leslie Fogwe, Delaware State University (Dr. Jiang Liu, mentor)

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

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include:

  • Ana Maria Peña, University of Charleston (Dr. Philippe Georgel, mentor)
  • Megan Boone, West Virginia Wesleyan College (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Ankita Khunt, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Seth Deskins, University of Charleston (Dr. Vincent Sollars, mentor)
  • Madison Crank, Concord University (Dr. Travis Salisbury, mentor)
  • Alexandria Carter, University of Charleston (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Natalia Skilioutovskaya-Lopez, University of Charleston (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Christiana Hess, Shepherd University (Dr. Lawrence Grover, mentor)
  • Jordan Tate, West Virginia Wesleyan College (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)
  • Sarah Marshall, Davis and Elkins College (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)

Bowling-Group-Photo_SRIMS-INBRE-2014The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipient is Dr. Gary Morris, associate professor of Biology at Glenville State College, who is working with 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 selected from Marshall University for the AHA-USIR program include:

  • Janae Jackson (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Ibrahim Mohammed (Dr. Subha Arthur, mentor)
  • Reagan Stafford (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Akhil Gudivada (Dr. Jung Han Kim, mentor)
  • Amber Bryant (Dr. Sandrine Pierre, mentor)

The AHA-USIR program is funded by the American Heart Association’s Great Rivers Affiliate Undergraduate Student Research Program and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Each intern receives a stipend. Depending on the program in which they are participating, they may also receive room and board, and reimbursement for travel to and from Marshall.

For more information about the SRIMS program, visit or contact Carothers at or 304-696-7279. For more information about the WV-INBRE program, visit or contact Mangiarua at or 304-696-6211. See for additional information about the AHA-USIR program or contact Santanam at or 304-696-7321.