Biomedical Sciences students recognized at international science meeting

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University students received special recognition for their research at this year’s international Experimental Biology conference held April 21-25 in San Diego.
 
M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate from Parkersburg, received first place in her group in a poster competition held as part of the conference’s Diet and Cancer mini-symposium. The mini-symposium was funded by the American Society of Nutrition.
 
Wolf’s presentation focused on her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates—a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables—on head and neck cancer. Her work shows the compound both inhibits head and neck metastasis and greatly increases sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers. Wolf works in the lab of Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.
 
Wolfe said she gained a great deal from the experience of attending the program and presenting her work.
 
“I really enjoyed this conference, particularly the Nutrition and Cancer Research Interest group, because it allowed me to be surrounded by people in my field,” she said. “Discussing my research with others also interested in or working on isothiocyanates gave me some promising future directions to pursue.”
 
Aaron Dom, a first-year MUSOM student and graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate ProgramIn addition, Aaron M. Dom, a first-year medical school student from Wellersburg, Pa., was invited to do a special oral “blitz” presentation about his research on how a synthetic drug called MG624 can prevent new blood vessel growth in small cell lung cancer and could potentially serve as a therapy for the disease. Dom was invited to present by the Blood Vessel Club of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). ASIP held its annual meeting in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference. The club sponsors the short oral presentations to present exciting new vascular biology research and to give audience members an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions about the research.
 
Dom, who is the president of the medical school’s Class of 2015, did the research in the lab of Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology and Toxicology.
 
He said of the experience, “Our lab is honored that I was selected to present at this special session, and we were excited to share some of the work that we are doing here at the medical school. Experiences like these—in both helping with this research and in presenting at and attending a conference of this size—have helped me gain a greater appreciation for research in medicine.”
 
Nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations attend the annual Experimental Biology meeting to share information about recent developments in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology.

Drs. Xie and Claudio receive grants for orthopedic and lung cancer research

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University scientists have been awarded grants of $25,000 each to advance their research, encourage collaborations and spur innovative approaches to healthcare.

Dr. Jingwei Xie and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio are the recipients of the first grants awarded through the Joint Pilot Research Program set up by Marshall and the University of Kentucky (UK) as part of their Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) partnership. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the CTSA program is aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

A senior scientist at the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, Xie will use his award to develop a method that may improve surgical repair of rotator cuff injuries.

Jingwei Xie, Ph.D.Xie, who is an expert in bone growth and development, will be working with Dr. Franklin D. Shuler, associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Among the most common conditions affecting the shoulder, rotator cuff injuries can occur from falls or repetitive motions like throwing a baseball. Rotator cuff repair is also one of the most common orthopedic surgeries, with approximately 300,000 procedures performed annually in the United States alone.

Xie explains that successful healing from rotator cuff surgery done with current methods has a failure rate that ranges from 20 to 90 percent, due in large part to the manner in which the tendons are reattached to the bone. For this project, he will use a multidisciplinary approach combining principles of engineering and biomedicine to construct a new type of biological device that will better mimic an uninjured tendon-to-bone attachment, and result in improved healing.

“We are pleased to be able to take advantage of this opportunity to combine expertise from two research groups at Marshall,” Xie adds. “My background in tissue engineering and Dr. Shuler’s extensive experience in clinical treatment of rotator cuff injury will allow us to do work that may very well improve the health and quality of life for individuals afflicted with these injuries. This research could also have a significant impact on the treatment of other, similar injuries of soft tissue-to-bone interfaces.”

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.The second grant went to Claudio, associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the medical school, to help develop an assay that will potentially allow the development of personalized treatment for lung cancer. He will collaborate with Dr. Rolf J. Craven of UK’s Department of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology on the project.

According to Claudio, lung cancer patients generally have a poor survival rate, mostly because of the high number of relapses they typically experience. Scientists believe these relapses are due to the presence of a rare population of cancer cells—called cancer stem cells—that have become resistant to conventional treatments.

Claudio’s laboratory in the university’s new McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute at the Edwards Cancer Center has developed an assay (ChemoIDSM) that measures the sensitivity of tumors to chemotherapy drugs. He says the work funded through this grant will provide information about how lung cancer cells respond to specific types, doses and combinations of drug therapies.

Claudio says, “Our model concentrates on recent discoveries that most tumors are derived from a small number of highly resistant cancer cells having stem cell properties, called cancer stem cells. By recognizing the existence of cancer stem cells, we have taken an important step toward understanding this complex disease.

“Once we have identified the cancer stem cells from patient tumor biopsies, we know how to identify most effective chemotherapy drugs that are already part of the standard of care. Our assay technology has particular value because it can help to determine the most effective drug for a patient’s tumor based on results from an in vitro chemo sensitivity assay.”

Currently, Claudio is conducting Phase-I clinical trials on lung, breast and brain cancers.

“We know that patients with the same stage and grade of cancer often vary considerably in their response to chemotherapy,” he adds. “Our research will provide information that may allow development of tailored therapies for lung cancer, resulting in more effective treatment strategies and better clinical outcomes in the very near future.”

Xie and Claudio both intend to use their findings from these awards as springboards to apply for larger federal grants for related research.

Dr. John M. Maher, vice president for research at Marshall, says this “seeding effect” is one of the emphases of this grant program.

“These pilot awards are relatively small from a research funding perspective, but they allow recipients to test their ideas and generate concrete results as the basis for proposals to the National Institutes of Health’s large grant programs,” Maher said. “It’s not unusual for collaborative projects like these to lead to multimillion dollar awards down the road, after the initial results show significant promise.”

The CTSA partnership between Marshall and UK supports scientists in Marshall’s clinical research program, training fellowships and early stage clinical research trials. The collaboration also gives Marshall investigators access to the expertise and resources at UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and opportunities to apply for significant research grants accessible only through the CTSA program.

Biomedical Sciences students recognized at international science meeting

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University students received special recognition for their research at this year’s international Experimental Biology conference held April 21-25 in San Diego.

M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate from Parkersburg, received first place in her group in a poster competition held as part of the conference’s Diet and Cancer mini-symposium. The mini-symposium was funded by the American Society of Nutrition.

Wolf’s presentation focused on her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates—a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables—on head and neck cancer. Her work shows the compound both inhibits head and neck metastasis and greatly increases sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers. Wolf works in the lab of Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Wolfe said she gained a great deal from the experience of attending the program and presenting her work.

“I really enjoyed this conference, particularly the Nutrition and Cancer Research Interest group, because it allowed me to be surrounded by people in my field,” she said. “Discussing my research with others also interested in or working on isothiocyanates gave me some promising future directions to pursue.”

Aaron Dom, a first-year MUSOM student and graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate ProgramIn addition, Aaron M. Dom, a first-year medical school student from Wellersburg, Pa., was invited to do a special oral “blitz” presentation about his research on how a synthetic drug called MG624 can prevent new blood vessel growth in small cell lung cancer and could potentially serve as a therapy for the disease. Dom was invited to present by the Blood Vessel Club of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). ASIP held its annual meeting in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference. The club sponsors the short oral presentations to present exciting new vascular biology research and to give audience members an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions about the research.

Dom, who is the president of the medical school’s Class of 2015, did the research in the lab of Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology and Toxicology.

He said of the experience, “Our lab is honored that I was selected to present at this special session, and we were excited to share some of the work that we are doing here at the medical school. Experiences like these—in both helping with this research and in presenting at and attending a conference of this size—have helped me gain a greater appreciation for research in medicine.”

Nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations attend the annual Experimental Biology meeting to share information about recent developments in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology.

Dr. Hardman to be featured in an NIH newsletter

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.A study by Dr. W. Elaine Hardman has been selected to be featured in Nutrition Frontiers, a quarterly publication of the Nutritional Science Research Group (NSRG) of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI is a subsection of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The electronic newsletter presents research that links diet to tumor behavior and cancer prevention. Each issue highlights two feature publications, chosen on the basis of innovation, scientific merit, and potential impact on public health. Feature studies have also been funded at least in part by the NSRG.

Dr. Hardman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and researches within the Cancer Biology research cluster. Her study is entitled “Dietary Walnut Suppressed Mammary Gland Tumorigenesis in the C(3)1 Tag Mouse.” This study was published last year in  Nutrition and Cancer.

Congratulations, Dr. Hardman!

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio explores gene therapy ‘cocktail’ for feline fibrosarcoma

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A team of researchers led by a Marshall University faculty member has found that a gene therapy “cocktail” may hold the key to treating feline fibrosarcoma—an aggressive type of cancer that affects thousands of cats in the U.S. each year. Current therapies for the disease are often ineffective for long-term tumor eradication.

The research was conducted by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and colleagues from the McKown Translational Research Institute at the school of medicine, the university’s Department of Biology, the Martin Veterinary Clinic in Ashland, Ky., and the University of L’Aquila in Italy.

According to Claudio, there are two types of feline fibrosarcomas. The most common type has been linked to the use of vaccines administered to prevent rabies and feline leukemia, and occurs at the site of the injection. The second type appears to occur spontaneously, without any known external cause.

The study at Marshall focused on the more rare, non-vaccination site fibrosarcomas, which have been found to be associated with genetic alterations. It seemed a natural fit for Claudio, whose research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms governing the growth of cancers to help develop new strategies for treatment.

“Gene therapy, which we study in my lab, uses genetic and cell-based technologies to treat disease,” he said. “Essentially, we were able to develop a cocktail of adenoviruses carrying functional therapeutic proteins that can be used to eliminate this deadly disease.”

Claudio pointed out that more studies need to be done to determine if his lab’s findings could also be applicable to cases of vaccine-induced fibrosarcomas.

The research was published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE. The full article, “Targeting a newly established spontaneous feline fibrosarcoma cell line by gene transfer,” is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037743.

Claudio is in Italy this week to present three invited lectures about his research. He will be speaking at the National Cancer Institute and the CEINGE Institute in Naples, and at the meeting “Fragment of history:  Seminar on the oral medicine of the past and of the future” in Sorrento.

For more information, contact Claudio at claudiop@marshall.edu or 304-696-3516.

CDDC announces 2nd Regional Research Symposium award winners

Madhukar Kolli, BMS Ph.D. CandidateOn March 23, 2012, the Marshall University Cell Differentiation and Development Center (CDDC) held its second annual regional research symposium. The CDDC symposium focused on bioinformatics and the ways in which it is used to study the molecular interactions involved in the regulation of gene expression.

The event involves poster presentations, scientific talks, and awards. The following are the recipients of this year’s awards:

  • Undergraduate winner: Clayton Crabtree (from Dr. Dasgupta’s lab)
  • Graduate winners: M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis (both from Dr. Claudio’s lab)
  • Graduate runners-up: Madhukar Kolli (from Dr. Blough’s lab) and Gargi Bajpayee (a medical student who researched in Dr. Santanam’s lab)

The CDDC was formed in 2007 and seeks to enhance the research environment on the Marshall campus and throughout West Virginia. Although its research interests are diverse, the center focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms linked to cell differentiation and development.

Award winners pictured:

Right: Madhukar Kolli
Directly below (from left to right): M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis
Bottom photo: Gargi Bajpayee

Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis, Ph.D. candidates

Dr. Claudio’s most recent study receives wide press coverage

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.Dr. Claudio’s most recent study, “Cadmium Induces p53-Dependent Apoptosis in Human Prostate Epithelial Cells,” has received wide press coverage since its publication. The following sources have highlighted his work:

http://www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=24574

http://www.wowktv.com/story/17210933/marshall-university-study-may-lead-to-advancement-in-prostate-cancer-treatments

http://www.healthcanal.com/cancers/27717-Study-may-lead-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer.html

http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-treatments-prostate-cancer.html

http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-1/Marshall-University-study-may-lead-to-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer-24237-1/

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/cadmium-implicated-in-prostate-tumours/story-e6frgcjx-1226307489399

http://www.sciencenewsline.com/medicine/summary/2012032117500036.html

The first link is an excellent interview by WV Pubcast with Dr. Claudio that includes a downloadable mp3.

Congratulations, Dr. Claudio! Refer back to this article over time, as this list is sure to grow.

Study by Dr. Claudio may lead to new treatments for prostate cancer

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.A recent study conducted at Marshall University may eventually help scientists develop new treatments for prostate cancer, the most common malignancy in American men.

The study, which focused on the effects of cadmium on the prostate, was conducted by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and an international team of colleagues from the University of L’Aquila and the National Cancer Institute in Italy, and the University of Colorado Denver and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States.

An extremely toxic metal found in industrial workplaces, cadmium is commonly used in electroplating and is a key component in batteries and some paints. It is also found in cigarettes and some food supplies.

According to Claudio, scientists believe the prostate may be a target for cancer caused by cadmium, although the underlying mechanisms have been unclear.

“In our study, we investigated the effects of cadmium exposure in normal and in tumor cells derived from human prostate tissue,” he said. “We were able to demonstrate the molecular mechanisms cadmium uses to induce carcinogenesis in the prostate.”

Claudio, who said he has spent the last 15 years conducting research to understand the crosstalk between the factors that contribute to cancer progression versus those that protect from it, says this study is important because once those molecular mechanisms are understood, new therapies can be tailored to treat prostate cancer.

He added, “The focus of work in our laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms governing malignant transformation in order to tailor novel therapeutic strategies. To effectively design novel biological drugs, a thorough understanding of the mechanism of cancer pathogenesis is required. Our study will contribute to the body of knowledge available to science and may lead to exciting new treatments for this common cancer.”

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The research was published today in the journal PLoS ONE. The full article, “Cadmium Induces p53-Dependent Apoptosis in Human Prostate Epithelial Cells,” is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033647. You can also read more about this story at the following links:

http://www.wowktv.com/story/17210933/marshall-university-study-may-lead-to-advancement-in-prostate-cancer-treatments
http://www.healthcanal.com/cancers/27717-Study-may-lead-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer.html
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-treatments-prostate-cancer.html
http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-1/Marshall-University-study-may-lead-to-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer-24237-1/
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/cadmium-implicated-in-prostate-tumours/story-e6frgcjx-1226307489399
http://www.sciencenewsline.com/medicine/summary/2012032117500036.html

The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

For more information, contact Claudio at claudiop@marshall.edu or (304) 696-3516.

BMS researchers present at international scientific meetings

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University biomedical sciences researchers are presenting their work in the fields of toxicology and cancer biology at international scientific meetings this month and in April.

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Dr. Monica Valentovic, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, presented at last week’s Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Her talk focused on her lab’s work to evaluate ways to reduce the side effects of cancer chemotherapeutic drugs.

Mike Brown, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate working in Valentovic’s lab, also presented at the conference. He discussed his research examining ways to reduce liver damage caused by acetaminophen use.

In addition, Valentovic served as chairman of the meeting’s Renal Toxicology Session.

The conference is the largest toxicology meeting and exhibition in the world, with attendance of more than 7,500 scientists from academia, government and industry from around the globe.

Another biomedical sciences doctoral candidate, Johannes Fahrmann, will be presenting his research to explore the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in early stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia at next month’s Experimental Biology conference in San Diego.

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.

Fahrmann works in the lab of Dr. W. Elaine Hardman, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. Valentovic will also be presenting at Experimental Biology. In that talk, she will discuss her work to examine the mechanisms for reducing cancer chemotherapy adverse effects to the kidney. That research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Also presenting at Experimental Biology 2012 will be M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate in the lab of Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D. She is disseminating her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates, a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables, on head and neck cancer. Her work shows that isothiocyanates both inhibit head and neck metastasis and greatly increase the sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers.

Nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations attend the annual Experimental Biology meeting to share information about recent developments in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology.

For more information, contact Valentovic at 304-696-7332 or valentov@marshall.edu, or Hardman at 304-696-7339 or hardmanw@marshall.edu.

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Drs. Claudio and Dasgupta to lead sessions at bioscience conferences

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University cancer researchers Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio and Dr. Piyali Dasgupta have been invited to lead sessions at two upcoming international conferences.

Claudio, who is an associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, will lead a session, “Cancer Biology and Therapy,” as part of the World Molecular & Cell Biology Online Conference later this month.

The conference will feature more than 60 professors and researchers giving oral presentations during 14 sessions spread over three days.

Claudio, who directs a laboratory in the new Charles H. McKown, M.D., Translational Genomic Research Institute at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center, will also give a talk, “Developing an Effective Targeted Gene Therapy System for Prostate Cancer with the Potential to Translate from the Laboratory to the Clinic,” during the program.

Research in Claudio’s lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms governing the development of cancers to help develop new strategies for treatment.
Dasgupta, an assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology and Toxicology, will co-chair a minisymposium titled “Modeling Cancer: Biological and Therapeutic Implications” at the Experimental Biology Conference to be held in San Diego in April.

The annual conference draws more than 14,000 scientists and exhibitors from universities, government agencies, private corporations and non-profit organizations.

Dasgupta’s research examines how the components of tobacco can promote the progression of lung cancer. In 2011, she was recognized with the university’s “John and Frances Rucker Graduate Advisor Award.”

For more information, contact Claudio at (304) 696-3516 or claudiop@marshal.edu, or Dasgupta at (304) 696-3612 or dasgupta@marshall.edu.

Kathleen Brown to present in special session at Experimental Biology 2012

 

Kathleen "Katie" Brown, Ph.D. studentKathleen “Katie” Brown has been selected to present a poster at the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) Annual Meeting at the Experimental Biology 2012 in San Diego. She will present her research at a special session entitled Highlights: Graduate Student Research in Pathology. The session will be held Saturday, April 21st. The ASIP seeks to promote basic and translational research into experimental pathology, and this special session features pathology-focused graduate student research. Sessions such as this allow faculty and students to meet and experience a variety of research interests.

Katie researches in the laboratory of Marshall’s School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences professor and researcher, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta. Her poster is entitled “The alpha7-nicotinic receptor antagonist induces robust apoptosis in human SCLC.” The alpha-7 nicotinic receptor (a7 nAChR) is a subtype of this group of receptors. These receptors can block apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Activation of these nicotinic receptors, such as in exposure to cigarette smoke, in human small cell lung cancer (SCLC) can allow cancerous cells to survive and reproduce. Antagonizing these receptors may allow the body to more adequately eliminate such cancerous cells. These receptors also have been found to be the main type of nicotinic receptor in charge of angiogenesis, or growth of new blood cells. Cancer cannot thrive or spread without an adequate blood supply, making angiogenesis an important issue for cancer treatment.

Congratulations to Katie and Dr. Dagupta’s lab for receiving this honor!

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman publishes in Nutrition and Cancer

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.Dr. W. Elaine Hardman has published an article in the most recent issue of Nutrition and Cancer, entitled “Dietary Walnut Suppressed Mammary Gland Tumorigenesis in the C(3)1 TAg Mouse.” In her study, including walnuts in the diets of mice lowered their incidence of developing cancer by 50%. The mice that did develop cancer presented with 50% less tumors. This is in comparison to control mice whose diet did not include walnut.

What makes the results of the study even more astounding is that Dr. Hardman was working with mice that were genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer. Genetic analysis showed that eating a walnut-containing diet altered the expression of many genes involved in the development of breast cancer, not only in mice, but also in humans. The compounds in walnuts that have been shown to slow cancer progression include antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytosterols.

Read the entire article online on the Nutrition and Cancer website. A video story featuring Dr. Hardman is also available on the Marshall University YouTube channel

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio presents oral cancer research in Italy

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University faculty member Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio recently returned from Italy, where he gave two presentations of his research at the International Congress of the Italian Society of Pathology and Oral Medicine.

The conference, which was held June 16-18 in Pugnochiuso, Italy, featured the most recent scientific findings in oral medicine, pathology, maxillofacial surgery, oral surgery and dental hygiene.

Claudio is an associate professor in the cancer biology research cluster at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and directs a laboratory in the new Translational Genomic Research Institute at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center.

His presentations, which were titled “Cancer stem cells and oral cancer” and “Novel therapies in oral squamous cell carcinoma,” highlighted a discovery in his lab of how to isolate and propagate cancer stem cells.

According to Claudio, this advance allows for a two-pronged approach in the fight against oral cancer.

He said, “We can now test and select the most effective chemotherapy options available to eradicate not only the traditional target of tumor bulk but also the highly resistant cancer stem cells we now know to be the major source of recurrence and treatment failure due to their ability to regrow the tumor population. Our research offers the promise of personalized cancer treatment options for the individual cancer patient’s needs.”

Claudio added that attending the conference and giving the seminars in Italy also gave him the opportunity to highlight the research being done at Marshall.

“This is just one example of the strides we hope to gain through the Translational Genomic Research Institute – translating what we learn in the lab directly to improving bedside care,” he said. “We also have recently entered into a Phase I clinical trial for the customized treatment of small cell lung cancer, so that is very exciting as well.”

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman honored at “Women in Medicine and Science” luncheon

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was honored on February 16 at a luncheon hosted by the Women in Medicine and Science program. The program is hosted about four times a year and features guests who speak to a collective group of women about their achievements. Dr. Hardman is an Associate Professor for the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Dr. Hardman was recognized for her achievements throughout her career and was asked to speak about her success. “She is a very accomplished researcher, not only in the area, but nationally,” said Professor Darshana Shah, the School of Medicine’s Associate Dean for Professional Development in Medical Education. “So I think that it would be a great opportunity for young people to look up to her and to see how she has gone the path she did.” Professor Shah is in charge of the program and said that its purpose was for students to learn by hearing her success story.

Professor Hardman has been working in the area of nutrition and cancer research for about 20 years. Currently, her research on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer has received six externally funded grants, including large grants form the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. “She has a love of knowledge and she imparts that onto her students,” said Anne Silvis, a graduate student and Ph.D candidate for cancer biology. “She gets them excited about research and excited about the world of science.”

As she spoke to the collective group of women, who were not only graduate students but also professors, she said that she always knew what she wanted to do with her life, and that was science. Professor Hardman completed three years of her undergraduate degree by the time she turned 18 and then married. She raised her family and went back to school to finish her degree and later earned her Master’s. While she was a graduate student, she received her first funding grant and has received funding ever since.

“There is always an overriding importance for what she does and that is always apparent when you are talking to her about anything in her research,” Silvis said.

One of the graduate students in attendance said she found her story to be not only interesting, but also inspiring. “I have three young children myself and had also married young and returned to school,” said Tamara Trout, a graduate student in the Medical Sciences Program. “I always thought ‘How am I going to do it?’ But then you meet someone like Professor Hardman and it shows that you can do it.”

Chrystal Phillips can be contacted at phillips152@marshall.edu. The original story can be read on the website for Marshall University’s Student Newspaper, “The Parthenon.”

Dr. Hardman featured by MU-Advance

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.Dr. Elaine Hardman of the Biomedical Sciences Program has been featured by MU-Advance, an organization on campus that seeks to empower, retain, and recruit female faculty members in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The following is the piece the MU-Advance ran on Dr. Hardman:

Education

A.A. (Biology), Lake City Junior College
B.S. (Biology), Auburn University at Montgomery

Ph.D. (Cell Biology), University of Texas Health Science Center

Research

Dr. Hardman recently received a grant from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program to further her studies on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer development. Dr. Hardman, in collaboration with Dr. Philippe Georgel, an associate professor of Biological Sciences, garnered more than $780,000 to conduct the research study. In addition, the National Cancer Institute awarded Dr. Hardman a grant ($266,000 for the fourth year) to study how the maternal diet can significantly reduce the lifetime risk of mammary gland cancer in the female offspring of mice. This particular study focuses on long-chain (20 or 22 carbons) omega-3 fatty acids. Her research has found that consumption of canola oil in the diet, instead of corn oil, may reduce the risk for mammary gland cancer. Also, a grant from the American Institute for Cancer Research allows Dr. Hardman to assess the effects of walnut (a good source of omega-3 fat and various phytosterols) consumption on breast cancer development. Money provided by the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation funds the identification of molecular mechanisms for altered interactions between adipocytes and mammary epithelial cells when omega-3 fats are incorporated into the cells.

Teaching

Dr. Hardman, a School of Medicine professor, currently teaches a Biomedical Sciences graduate course in Lipid Metabolism, and two Medical Biochemistry courses, Lipid Metabolism and Nutrition. Dr. Hardman previously taught Cancer Biology and Prevention.   

Service and Outreach

Dr. Hardman serves as an editorial advisor for the journal Cancer Cell International. She is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research and Women in Cancer Research. Dr. Hardman is also the Treasurer for the International Federation of Cell Biology, serving since 2000. In addition, Dr. Hardman serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the California Walnut Council.

Contact Info

Telephone: (304) 696-7339
E-mail: hardmanw@marshall.edu
News: Marshall researcher receives post-doctoral award from Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation

BMS Graduate Student Brandon Shiflett invited to special session by ASIP

Brandon ShiflettBiomedical Sciences Graduate Student Brandon Shiflett has been selected for a special honor by the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). Brandon is only one of eighteen students who have been chosen to present their research projects at a special session of the ASIP Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2011 in Washington, DC. The session is entitled “Highlights: Graduate Student Research in Pathology.” According to the ASIP, it is considered an honor to be invited to this special session. More about the ASIP, its annual meeting, and this special session can be found on the ASIP website.

Brandon’s abstract is entitled “MG624, an α-7nicotinic receptor antagonist suppresses the growth of human SCLC.” SCLC, or Small Cell Lung Cancer, is a rapidly-progressing disease that metastasizes early and has very low survival rates. Interestingly, nearly 90% of all reported SCLC cases have been correlated to smoking, which suggests that nicotine and other tobacco components may contribute to the disease’s pathophysiology. The data Brandon will present shows that long-term nicotine exposure stimulates the growth of human SCLCs. Nicotine stimulates nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), causing these cells to proliferate. By isolating and disabling a specific subunit of a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, α7-nAChR, Brandon and others on his project were able to suppress nicotine’s stimulatory effects. This indicates that the α7-nAChR subtype is important in the proliferation of human SCLCs, and that antagonizing it could be a possible treatment for the condition. One such antagonist, called MG624, was shown in Brandon’s study to not only induce apoptosis, or cell death, in human SCLC cells, but also suppress the nicotine-induced growth of these cells. The data from his study suggests that MG624 may have potential for treating human SCLCs.

Brandon Shiflett works in the laboratory of Dr. Piyali Dasgupta at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. He is currently completing his second year as a Medical Sciences student in the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences Program at Marshall. He will join the medical school in the fall as a first-year student.

Congratulations to Brandon Shiflett, Dr. Dasgupta, and all others who participated in this project!

Dr. Sollars and Jasjeet Bhullar to be published in Immunogenetics

A paper by Dr. Vincent Sollars and Ph.D. candidate Jasjeet Bullar of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program will be published in an upcoming edition of Immunogenetics. This journal spotlights research concerning the genetic control of the immune system, including immune response and susceptibility to disease. More about the journal can be found at the Immunogenetics website.

The paper is entitled “YB-1 expression and function in early hematopoiesis.” YB-1 is a gene that encodes for a “cold shock” protein that is a part of the stress response system. It is expressed broadly during development and serves as a cell survival factor, regulating the transcription and/or translation of numerous genes controlling cellular growth and death. According to their research, YB-1 is already known to be involved in the progression of cancers, and he is investigating its possible role in leukemia. His research specifically focuses on the characterization of the expression pattern and role of the YB-1 gene in early hematopoiesis and leukemia. YB-1 and Hsp90, another gene studied by Dr. Sollars, comprise a new arena of cancer therapeutic targets that offer aJasjeet Bhullar, Ph.D. candidate lot of promise. Jasjeet Bhullar was the primary author of the paper.

To learn more about the exciting biomedical research being performed by Dr. Sollars and other professors at the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, please visit the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center website.