Biomedical sciences researcher to present results of clinical trials on personalized chemotherapy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, a researcher at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, is traveling to Paphos, Cyprus, next month to present his work to personalize chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Claudio was invited to give the talk at the 5th International Conference on Recent Advances in Health and Medical Sciences, which will be held July 6-12.

He will be discussing the results of clinical trials conducted at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. The studies tested ChemoID, a cell culture method he developed with colleague Dr. Jagan Valluri to measure the sensitivity of patients’ tumors to chemotherapy treatment for lung, brain/spine and breast cancer.

He says more evaluation of the technology is needed, but preliminary tests 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 tumor-initiating cancer stem cells were evaluated.

Claudio“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 the good news for cancer patients 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.

In addition to presenting his own research at the conference, Claudio will be moderating a session, “Advances in Oncology and Anticancer Research. Cancer Pathology.”

Summaries of the research presented at the meeting will be published in the journal Frontiers in Bioscience.

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Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964 (o) www.marshall.edu/murc

Student researchers from 11 institutions participating in summer research opportunities at Marshall University

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Sixteen undergraduate students from 11 institutions are spending the summer conducting biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories. The students are participating in nine-week programs offered through the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) and the university’s Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) initiative.

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 both programs allow participants to gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s top scientists.

“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.”

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.

MU INBRE and SRIMS Group Photo 2013

SRIMS and WV-INBRE students and mentors at 2013 Research Symposium

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

 

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 the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, hiking and other special events outside of the laboratory environment.

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include:

  • Rebecca Goydel, Fairmont State University (Dr. Eric Blough, mentor)
  • Alnairouz Katrib, West Virginia State University (Dr. Beverly Delidow, mentor)
  • Ankita Khunt, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Jonathan Kinder, Bluefield State College (Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, mentor)
  • Kyle Lehosit, Bethany College (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Renuka Mahatara, University of Charleston (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Kenny Nguyen, University of Charleston (Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, mentor)
  • Courtney Pierron, University of Charleston (Dr. Sandrine Pierre, mentor)
  • KM Tanim, West Virginia State University (Dr. Travis Salisbury, mentor)
  • Jordan Tate, West Virginia Wesleyan College (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)
  • Judith Urbanic, Glenville State College (Dr. Larry Grover, mentor)
  • Linh Vu, University of Charleston (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)

The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipient is Dr. Sobha Gorugantula, an assistant professor of chemistry at Alderson Broaddus University, 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.

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SRIMS and WV-INBRE 2013 interns, Ashlea Hendrickson and Becca Martin, out bowling

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Luisa Hernandez, Fayetteville State University (Dr. Zijian Xie, mentor)
  • Steven Paniagua, University of California-Santa Cruz (Dr. Jung Han Kim, mentor)
  • Sheryl Vermudez, Chaminade University (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)
  • Saidah Wright, Claflin University (Dr. Jung Han Kim, mentor)

Support for the SRIMS program comes from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research, and private donations to the Marshall University Foundation SRIMS fund.

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 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/srims or contact Carothers at carothers@marshall.edu or 304-696-7279.

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Press Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964 (o) or 304-552-1287 (c), www.marshall.edu/murc

Researcher receives $432,000 grant to study progression of cancer, involve students

The following news story provides different information about Dr. Sollars’ research than the previous one posted on our News page.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Vincent E. Sollars, an associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, has received a $432,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to research a cutting edge concept to fight cancer.

The Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) will fund a three-year project in “epigenetics,” a relatively new concept in cancer therapies that has shown great promise.

“The basic question we are trying to answer is ‘What are the processes that enable a normal cell to start misbehaving and become cancer cells?’” says Sollars.

As he explains, the process that cells undergo to become cancer cells ultimately produces a cell that stops listening and cooperating with neighboring cells. That communication, however, is necessary for the complex mixture of cells our bodies contain.

He says, “This grant will investigate a process known as ‘canalization.’ Much like a canal for water directs the flow of water, canalization directs a cell as it matures into the specific type of cell needed by the body. Disrupting the canalization process can cause a cell to change and lose its direction, potentially pushing it down paths that lead to cancer.”

Sollars said his team will be testing the role of Vincent-Sollars-2012canalization in the process of maturing cells and cancer development. They will be targeting leukemia specifically with this grant but the results of their study can apply to all types of cancers.

“We think our work can have a great impact on science’s understanding of  how cancer progresses and will even help develop new treatments for most cancers,” he added.

This particular award is specifically designed to give students practical opportunities to participate in cutting-edge academic research. Over the course of the project, Sollars anticipates involving eight students from Marshall’s undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as students from the medical school. The grant also will fund a full-time technician.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training.

Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964 (o) or 304-552-1287 (c), www.marshall.edu/murc

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Grant to fund MU’s new cancer research

HUNTINGTON — A new concept in cancer treatment will be future explored at Marshall University thanks to a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Cancer Institute awarded a $432,369 three-year Academic Research Enhancement Award to the Marshall Vincent-Sollars-2012University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine to launch a cancer biology research project in “epigenetics,” a relatively new concept in cancer therapies, according to a press release from Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

The concept deals with a new chemotheraputic target in cancer treatment, said Dr. Vincent E. Sollars, an associate professor of biochemistry and biology at Marshall.

“It’s a great way for me and the students to get involved in some research I’ve wanted to do for some time,” Sollars said. “We’re targeting leukemia specifically with this grant, but the this could have ramifications on all types of cancers.”

Over the course of the three-year project, Marshall University anticipates involving eight students from undergraduate, master’s and doctoral academic programs, as well as students enrolled in the med school.

Sollars said the medical school also will hire a full time technician through the grant.

BMS Ph.D. student and advisor selected for podium presentations, and received notable award recognitions at national science conference

Holly Tamski, a second year Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student, was selected as a finalist in the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) Langman Graduate Student Platform Presentation Award competition held by the AAA at the recent Experimental Biology (EB) national conference. Her abstract was blindly pre-judged and the top six highest scores were selected to compete in this award.

Holly Tamski, Ph.D. student, on left in blue lab coat

Holly Tamski, Ph.D. student, on left

Tamski said, “The award session included six graduate students selected from 230 submissions, so just being selected as a finalist for this was a huge deal and a great honor.”

She presented her talk “Validation of a Unilateral Heating Model to Increase Hindlimb Length in Growing Mice” in the graduate student platform award session. She presented the same talk again in an Anatomy special symposium on the topic of Vascularization and Bone Regeneration just three days later at the EB Conference. Only six presenters were chosen to give this oral presentation, and Holly was the only graduate student.

Dr. Maria Serrat, Tamski’s faculty advisor, was also selected to speak in the same bone Maria Serrat, Ph.D.symposium. Her talk was titled “Hindlimb Heating Increases Vascular Access of Large Molecules to Murine Tibial Growth Plates Measured by In Vivo Multiphoton Imaging.”

Serrat was selected, based on blind abstract judging, to receive a $500 Young Faculty Travel Award from the American Association of Anatomists.

Congratulations to both Dr. Serrat, and Holly Tamski for their outstanding research, and for receiving national recognition!

 

Marshall biomedical researchers to present at the World Congress on Endometriosis in Brazil

Biomedical Sciences Doctoral candidate receives prestigious travel grant

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two investigators from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University will be traveling later this month to Sao Paolo to present their research at the World Congress on Endometriosis.

The congress is held every three years and brings together scientists, clinicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals involved in research or treatment of endometriosis—a chronic, inflammatory condition that affects young women and adversely impacts their fertility and quality of life.

Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and doctoral student Kristeena Ray said they are looking forward to participating in the conference, which is being held April 30-May 3.

Santanam“Though 10 to 15 percent of young women suffer from endometriosis and almost two-thirds of these women suffer from chronic pain, the exact nature of this disease is not very well understood. My laboratory has a long-standing interest in understanding why some women get endometriosis and have pain,” said Santanam. “We are very honored that our abstracts were chosen for presentation at this meeting. The most exciting part was to find out that Kristeena was selected to give an oral presentation and was one of only six investigators selected to receive the Rodolphe Maheux Travel Grant.”

The Rodolphe Maheux Travel Grants are awarded by the World Endometriosis Society to help young researchers attend scientific meetings. The program is named in honor of the society’s co-founder.

The balance of Ray’s travel expenses are being funded by the university’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

Ray said, “I was not sure if I had any chance of receiving the travel grant, since any young Kristeena Ray Spring 2014researcher including faculty and fellows under 40 years of age were eligible to compete. I was surprised that I was selected and am thrilled to go to Brazil to present my findings.”

Ray is a third-year Ph.D. candidate. She works in Santanam’s laboratory studying the epigenetics of pain in endometriosis—the changes caused to DNA and genes by environment and lifestyle. Last summer, she was selected for the university’s Chancellor’s Scholar Program, an initiative to help ensure the academic success of underrepresented minority doctoral students.

Their research is partially funded through Marshall’s partnership with the University of Kentucky and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards program aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

The researchers expressed their appreciation to Dr. Robert Nerhood and Dr. David Jude, the past and present chairmen of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for their support and acknowledged Sandy White and Carla Cook for coordinating the clinical study.

Santanam added, “This study would not have been possible without the collaboration and intellectual contributions of Dr. Brenda Mitchell, who is a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. We express special thanks to Dr. Mitchell.”

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BMS associate professor invited to chair at international meeting

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta has been invited to chair a minisymposium entitled “Lung Cancer” at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2014 conference in San Diego. The invitation to chair the special session came from the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP).

When asked to comment on being selected for this position, Dr. Dasgupta replied: “The ‘chair’ is selected based on their research and publications in the field of lung cancer. So, we feel thrilled that our work is being noticed by other researchers at an international level.”

piyali_dasguptaDr. Dasgupta is a member of the ASIP and has regularly presented at Experimental Biology over the past few years, including several oral seminar presentations. In 2012, she was invited to chair a special session at the EB 2012 entitled “Modeling Cancer: Biological and Therapeutic Implications.”

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting that draws almost 14,000 scientists and exhibitors. Scientists attending represent universities, academic institutions, government agencies, private corporations, and non-profit organizations. Participating societies include the ASIP, the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the American Physiological Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and others.

Dr. Dasgupta is Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology, and Toxicology. She received the “Dean’s award for Excellence in Basic Research, 2013” at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University. Her research examines the effects of nicotine (the active component of cigarettes) in regulating cellular responses, such as programmed cell death and cell growth, in the context of lung cancer. Dr. Dasgupta will have the opportunity to share her research by giving an oral presentation in addition to serving as chair of the Lung Cancer minisymposium.

Being asked to chair a session at such a prestigious conference is quite an honor. Congratulations to Dr. Piyali Dasgupta!

For more information, please visit: https://www.asip.org/meetings/2014/minisymposia.cfm.