The fruits of summer research

Members of the Marshall Biomedical Sciences (BMS) family recently attended the 15th Annual West Virginia Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) Summer Research Symposium at West Virginia University (WVU).Francisco Fernandez - SRIMS Intern at Marshall

Undergraduate students from summer internship programs at Marshall and WVU had the opportunity to present the results of their nine weeks of biomedical research to others from around the state. “This is a great opportunity for summer interns to share the results of their hard work, meet peers and faculty in their field, and add valuable experience to their graduate applications,” noted Kelly Carothers, Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) Coordinator.

Collins, Elliot_WLU and Ole MissWV-INBRE summer interns come from West Virginia colleges and universities, and can choose to attend the program at either Marshall or WVU. WV-INBRE also extends research opportunities to high school and college teachers. A professor at the University of Charleston, who previously earned her PhD from Marshall’s BMS program, was able to return to elements of her prior research, and teachers from Charleston and Hurricane High Schools conducted work in Marshall’s graduate-level labs. The mission of the WV-INBRE, as part of the NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) is to establish a consortium among selected institutions of higher education in the State of West Virginia to enhance their capacity for education and training their faculty and students in biomedical research.

L to R: Jamika, Fattal, Danny, Francisco_SRIMS 2016The Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) participants are from a variety of schools and universities around the U.S. This year, the BMS program hosted four interns who are from California State University, University of Texas, Cheney University and Central State University. Their research focused on areas such as toxicity and cellular stress in the kidney, diet-induced obesity, the molecular management of congestive heart failure, and adipose tissue dysfunction-related diseases.

Researchers from the American Heart Association Undergraduate Summer Internship Research (AHA-USIR) and their mentors attended the conference to present the results of their investigations into cardiovascular issues. These interns are selected from Marshall University undergraduate science programs.

Rodriguez, Danny with goggles_SRIMS_MUOther presenters included Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) interns and students who have conducted research in West Virginia colleges or universities over the summer months.

Elsa Mangiarua, PhD, WV-INBRE summer program director, stated, “I am always amazed at the amount that these students learn and the results that they obtain after just a few weeks. Their posters and oral presentations are fantastic.”

For further information about the BMS summer interns, please see:

MU science, medical programs restructured


HUNTINGTON – The recent restructuring of two colleges at Marshall University was designed to strengthen both colleges and create a more rounded experience for students, according to university officials.

In the past month, university officials announced the reorganization of Marshall’s College of Science as well as the restructuring of some departments in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Both announcements came a few months after administrators moved Marshall’s nationally renowned forensic science graduate program from the medical school, where it was first established in the mid-1990s, to the College of Science, where it’s being integrated with the university’s undergraduate digital forensic science and criminal justice programs.

Leaders of both schools described the reorganization as creating better opportunities for collaboration between departments and cultivating comprehensive interdisciplinary research efforts as well as curricular partnerships.

“We saw the synergy there that the combination of these programs could create something new and powerful, not only for Marshall, but for students interested in those fields,” said Chuck Somerville, dean of the College of Science. “It’s a really interesting overlap of things we can do to strengthen all of those programs at the same time.”

The changes to the College of Science were effective July 1 and included the restructuring of nine academic departments in the college into four schools: The School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, the School of Physical Sciences, the School of Mathematics and Applied Informatics, and the School of Forensic and Criminal Justice Sciences, according to a news release from the university.

During the spring 2016 semester, which ended in May, there were 1,420 students enrolled in the majors affected by the restructuring, but that number doesn’t include the students who took courses within the College of Science as a part of electives for other non-science majors, Somerville said. Overall, he said there were approximately 10,000 enrollments each year in service courses, which are courses that provide support for other majors in the university outside of the college in question.

In each of the new schools, college faculty and staff bring applied, real world experience together with advanced theoreticians, Somerville said.

He gave the example of the new Mathematics and Applied Informatics school.

“We have people who are studying the underlying mathematics of informatics as well as people who are writing commercial software,” he said. “Students can get the benefit of both perspectives and learn both the most advanced science of the field as well as some of the things that it takes to succeed in the market … By having both basic and applied researchers working together, we broaden the scope of students that we can attract to Marshall, and we also broaden the opportunities for students who come here and may not yet know if they want to pursue a higher degree or go directly into the workforce.”

At the medical school, the exit of the forensic science program led to the restructuring of the school’s departments of biochemistry, microbiology, anatomy, pharmacology, physiology, toxicology and animal resources, which resulted in the formation of one biomedical sciences department.

That department is being led by Dr. Gary O. Rankin, who was promoted to vice dean for basic sciences and chairman of the department of biomedical sciences.

The College of Science has 126 faculty and staff in the College of Science, and no employees have been laid off as a result of the restructuring, Somerville said. Somerville did note the responsibilities of four positions that became vacant this year were absorbed by existing faculty and staff in the reorganization process.

The restructuring of the programs changes would be cost neutral to the university and students, said Gayle Ormiston, Marshall’s provost and senior vice president of academic affairs.

Talks of moving the forensic program into the College of Science had taken place for years, but it was the completion of an academic portfolio review of all academic programs at Marshall that helped administrators develop the road map to make it happen, Ormiston said.

The move is also part of an effort to create a more robust undergraduate offering in forensic science as well as offer more slots in the graduate forensic science program, which is one of the most sought after programs of its kind in the United States, Somerville said.

Marshall’s graduate forensic science program was the seventh such program of its kind when it was established in 1994, and its graduates routinely rank No. 1 in the country for its students receiving the highest overall test scores compared to other graduate programs participating in the Forensic Science Assessment Test, a national assessment test offered each year by the American Board of Criminalistics.

In 2015, Marshall Forensic Science graduates ranked No. 1 in the country on the assessment test for the sixth time in the last nine years.

The program originally was established in the medical school as Dr. Terry Fenger, founding director of the program, was a faculty member in the school at the time.

Somerville said he hoped the restructuring also would provide the faculty and facilities support needed to allow the university to accept more students into the graduate program, which currently accepts 20 students each year. He said he hoped to bring that number up to 25 students in the next two or three years without creating an undue burden on faculty or students.

Marshall University deploys medical team to flood-ravaged Greenbrier County

Mobile unit will be stationed in Rainelle; President Gilbert to visit operation Friday

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.— At least two dozen medical volunteers from the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University School of Pharmacy, Marshall Health and Cabell Huntington Hospital are enroute to Rainelle, West Virginia, where they will deliver medical care and counseling services to victims of last week’s historic flooding.

The Marshall team will set up a temporary clinic in Rainelle at the National Guard Armory across from the Rainelle Medical Center. It will be staffed from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. by physicians, pharmacists, medical residents, pharmacy and medical students, counselors and nurses.

The operation is being coordinated through the school of medicine’s Marshall Medical Outreach (MMO) program, a student-led initiative that provides mobile medical care to the homeless in the city of Huntington.

Charles “Chuck” Clements, M.D., professor of family and community health and faculty advisor for MMO, says the effort will be divided into two separate phases.

“This initial phase will focus on the acute health care needs associated with this type of disaster,” Clements said.  “Wound assessment and treatment, tetanus vaccines, [and] writing prescriptions for those individuals who lost their medicines during the flood are the imminent issues to address at this point.  Beginning Sunday, we will reassess and revise the operation to deal with the longer term issues associated with floods like contaminated water disease and mosquito-related issues.”

Marshall Medical Outreach is sending two mobile units to the site and will also make use of temporary tents to see patients.  Cabell Huntington Hospital is donating needed medical supplies to the effort in Rainelle, which was identified as a high priority area.

“We’ve been working with state and local agencies to pinpoint where our services would be most beneficial,” said Brian Gallagher, R.Ph., J.D., director of pharmacy services and chief of government relations and health care policy for Marshall Health. “At this point, we will be stationed at Rainelle, but we are flexible and ready to move to any area that needs our help.”

Marshall President Jerome “Jerry” Gilbert is scheduled to visit the operation at 10 a.m., Friday, July 1.

“Marshall’s commitment to West Virginia is always apparent, but never more so than in a time of need like this,” Gilbert said. “I am proud of all the members of the Herd community who have stepped up to help.”

The university’s response to the disaster to date has included supply drives by Marshall University Athletics, the Women’s Center and Women’s Studies program; drop-off stations around the main and health science campuses and now the Marshall Medical Outreach efforts.


Contact: Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713; Ginny Painter, Senior Vice President for Communications and Marketing

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