Biomedical sciences student selected for Chancellor’s Scholar Program

Marshall University biomedical sciences graduate student Kristeena L. Ray has been selected for the university’s Chancellor’s Scholar Program, an initiative to help ensure the academic success of underrepresented minority doctoral students.

The program will provide Ray with a stipend of $10,000 per semester. In addition, she will receive mentoring and research opportunities through the university, networking opportunities through the Southern Regional Education Board doctoral scholars program, and financial support for her dissertation and thesis work.

A native of Glen Allen, Va., Ray received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University in 2009. She worked as a research assistant at Duke and as a process development engineer at Talecris Biotherapeutics in Clayton, N.C. She has been a graduate student at Marshall since 2011.

“Kristeena is a truly outstanding graduate student and we are thrilled to present her with our first award from the new Chancellor’s Scholar Program,” said Dr. Shari Clarke, vice president for multicultural affairs. “The ideal candidate, she is dedicated, well-rounded and committed to her research.”

Kristeena Ray_webRay said, “Being part of this program is such a gift and an honor. The stipend lightens the burden of locating funding and allows me to really focus on my research. I am also excited to take advantage of the additional benefits, including networking opportunities and membership in key organizations in my field.”

Ray works in the lab of Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Her research is focused on endometriosis and the pain caused by the disease, which is characterized by cells normally present in the uterus migrating outside the organ and attaching to other places in the pelvis. At least one in seven women suffers from the condition.

Specifically, Ray is investigating the epigenetics of pain in endometriosis—the changes caused to DNA and genes by environment and lifestyle.

She said, “We’re looking at epigenetic markers in patients with endometriosis. We believe that our continuing research in this area will help us better understand what leads to endometriosis in some women and find alternate treatment options for its symptoms.

“Long-term, I am interested in the research and development behind drugs and therapies, such as one that may benefit women with endometriosis.”

In April, she presented her research at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which was held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference in Boston.

Ray serves as president of the Graduate Student Organization, is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and volunteers with the March of Dimes and the Tri-State Literacy Council.

The Chancellor’s Scholar Program at Marshall is funded through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

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BMS Cancer researcher presents technology developed to help personalize chemotherapy

Healthy for Life: ChemoID: What’s Next? [WCHS-TV Eyewitness News: July 12, 2013]

Groundbreaking Cancer Research May Help Chemo Patients [WCHS-TV Eyewitness News:  July 5, 2013]

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University biomedical sciences researcher Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio traveled to a national medical meeting in Chicago earlier this month to present a technology he and his colleagues think will help physicians personalize chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.Claudio’s presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology focused on ChemoID, a system he has developed with Marshall biology professor Dr. Jagan Valluri to measure the sensitivity of patients’ tumors to chemotherapy drugs.

“Oncologists every day face many challenges in determining the best course of therapy for an individual cancer patient,” says Claudio. “The basic problem is that patients with similar diagnoses don’t always respond to the same chemotherapy. This technology we have developed could help physicians select the appropriate chemotherapy for an individual patient—giving them an edge in the fight against cancer.”

He says ChemoID is the first chemosensitivity test for both cancer stem-like cells and bulk tumor cells.

According to Claudio, cancer stem-like cells are a small, resilient subset of cells found in tumors. Current anticancer therapies are imperfect because they target the tumor without treating the root of the cancer—the small subpopulation of these tumor-initiating cancer stem cells thought to be responsible for recurrences. The result is that the tumor often shrinks but soon grows back. In addition, the stem-like cells appear to be preferentially resistant to both standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He says more evaluation of the technology is needed, but a clinical trial on a small number of patients found ChemoID 100 percent accurate in predicting which drug is more effective in treating patients affected by brain cancer if the cancer stem-like cells are evaluated.

The upshot for a cancer patient, he says, is that ChemoID may make possible personalized treatment by predicting the most effective drug combination to successfully target that specific patient’s cancer—increasing the chance the drugs will work and perhaps reducing side effects by helping the patient avoid unnecessary drugs.

Claudio acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Anthony Alberico, chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, for providing the clinical samples, as well as his co-investigators at the school of medicine, McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute and Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center.

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BMS Cancer researcher presents technology developed to help personalize chemotherapy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University biomedical sciences researcher Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio traveled to a national medical meeting in Chicago earlier this month to present a technology he and his colleagues think will help physicians personalize chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.Claudio’s presentation at the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology focused on ChemoID, a system he has developed with Marshall biology professor Dr. Jagan Valluri to measure the sensitivity of patients’ tumors to chemotherapy drugs.

“Oncologists every day face many challenges in determining the best course of therapy for an individual cancer patient,” says Claudio. “The basic problem is that patients with similar diagnoses don’t always respond to the same chemotherapy. This technology we have developed could help physicians select the appropriate chemotherapy for an individual patient—giving them an edge in the fight against cancer.”

He says ChemoID is the first chemosensitivity test for both cancer stem-like cells and bulk tumor cells.

According to Claudio, cancer stem-like cells are a small, resilient subset of cells found in tumors. Current anticancer therapies are imperfect because they target the tumor without treating the root of the cancer—the small subpopulation of these tumor-initiating cancer stem cells thought to be responsible for recurrences. The result is that the tumor often shrinks but soon grows back. In addition, the stem-like cells appear to be preferentially resistant to both standard chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

He says more evaluation of the technology is needed, but a clinical trial on a small number of patients found ChemoID 100 percent accurate in predicting which drug is more effective in treating patients affected by brain cancer if the cancer stem-like cells are evaluated.

The upshot for a cancer patient, he says, is that ChemoID may make possible personalized treatment by predicting the most effective drug combination to successfully target that specific patient’s cancer—increasing the chance the drugs will work and perhaps reducing side effects by helping the patient avoid unnecessary drugs.

Claudio acknowledged the contributions of Dr. Anthony Alberico, chairman of the Department of Neuroscience at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, for providing the clinical samples, as well as his co-investigators at the school of medicine, McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute and Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. 

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Marshall hosting students from eight institutions for biomedical research internships

Ashlea and Dr. YuHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Twelve undergraduate students from eight institutions are spending their summer doing biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories. The students are participating in nine-week programs sponsored by the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) and the university’s Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) program.

Dr. Elsa I. Mangiarua, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, directs the WV-INBRE summer program. She said both programs give participants the opportunity to do meaningful research and much more.

“Over the summer, these students will gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s finest scientists,” she said. “We also teach them how to share their findings at a scientific meeting and to network, all of which helps them build academic competitiveness for graduate school.”

Diana R. Maue, who coordinates the SRIMS program, agreed, adding, “It’s exciting that we are able to provide these in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates, and it’s equally important that these programs promote awareness of graduate degree programs and careers in biomedical research. We are helping to develop a pipeline for training tomorrow’s scientists.”

Manny (front) and Hajer (back)While at Marshall, the interns are working in state-of-the-art facilities on research projects related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, neuroscience, toxicology and environmental health, infectious diseases and bioinformatics. The students will present their research results at a symposium on July 29 at the university’s Memorial Student Center.

In addition to the formal research training they each receive from their Marshall faculty mentors, the interns are taking part in workshops and seminars about a variety of topics related to research and graduate education. Students in the two programs attend many of the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, ice cream socials and other special events intended to help them get to know one another outside of the laboratory environment. 

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include: 

  • Jaya Ale, University of Charleston (Dr. Eric Blough, mentor)
  • Joshua Easterling, University of Charleston (Dr. Elaine Hardman, mentor)
  • Bishnu Kafley, Berea College (Dr. Travis Salisbury and Dr. Jim Denvir, mentors)
  • Rebecca Martin, Davis and Elkins College (Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, mentor)
  • Hajer Mazagri, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Noah Mitchell, Bluefield State College (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Rishi Reddy, West Virginia State University (Dr. Larry Grover, mentor)
  • Anthony Schnelle, Wheeling Jesuit University (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Linh Vu, University of Charleston (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)

The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipients are science teacher Olivia Boskovic of Huntington High School and Dr. Sobha Goraguntula, an assistant professor of chemistry at Alderson-Broaddus College. Boskovic is working in the lab of Dr. Emine Koc. Goraguntula’s mentor is Dr. Travis Salisbury.

WV-INBRE is funded through a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Marshall—in partnership with researchers at West Virginia University—received the award to help build expertise in biomedical research. 

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Annesha King, University of the Virgin Islands (Dr. Emine Koc, mentor)
  • Ashlea Hendrickson, Oakwood University (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Emmanuel Rosas, University of Texas at Brownsville (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)

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

Each student receives a stipend. Depending on the program in which they are participating, they may also receive room and board, lab fees, and reimbursement for travel to and from Marshall.

For more information about the WV-INBRE program, visit www.wv-inbre.org or contact Mangiarua at mangiaru@marshall.edu or 304-696-6211. For more information about the SRIMS program, visit www.marshall.edu/bms/future-students/summer-research-internship or contact Maue at maue1@marshall.edu or 304-696-3365.

 

Marshall Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program is well represented at Experimental Biology Meeting

Allison, Miranda, Kristeena

BMS Ph.D. students, Allison, Miranda, and Kristeena, take a time out from research to enjoy a Boston Red Sox game!

Marshall University’s Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program was well represented at the Experimental Biology Meeting that recently took place in Boston, MA. The annual national meeting involves over 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing fields of study ranging from anatomy, physiology, pathology, and biochemistry to epigenetics, nutrition, cancer biology, and pharmacology. Some Marshall School of Medicine faculty and students were invited to give oral presentations of their research, while others were able to present their research during the poster sessions. The list of attendees is given below.

Oral presentations by:

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D. -
Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Nicotine increases the expression of alpha7-nicotinic receptors (alpha7-nAChRs) in human squamous cell lung cancer cells via Sp1/GATA pathway”

 

 

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “What Comes First: The Food or the Nutrient?” – Title: “Whole foods or their bioactive components? Potential of walnuts in cancer prevention and treatment.” 

 

 

Maria Serrat, Ph.D.

Maria Serrat, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “Bone Physiology under Environmental Stress” – Title: “Temperature effects on the growth plate and its vasculature”

 

 

 

Allison Wolf, Ph.D. CandidateM. Allison Wolf, BMS Ph.D. Candidate – Invited speaker for special session – Title: “Benzyl isothiocyanate enhances chemosensitivity and inhibits migration and invasion of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma”

 

 

 

 

Katie_Brown_EB

Katie Brown, M.S. – Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Inhibition of cholinergic signaling causes apoptosis in human bronchioalveloar carcinoma”

 

 

Ron, Miranda, Allison, Johannes, Kristeena_EB

Poster presentations by:
Miranda Carper, BMS Ph.D. Candidate
Johannes Fahrmann, BMS Ph.D. Candidate Christopher McNees, MU student 
Rounake Nande, BMS Ph.D. Student
Chris Racine, BMS Ph.D. Student
Kristeena Ray, BMS Ph.D. Student
Cody Stover, MU student
Brent Thornhill, MU graduate
Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ Research Cluster Coordinator
Gary Rankin, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ 
Research Cluster

Dr. Maria Serrat, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Pathology and researcher within the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Research Cluster, had the opportunity to give an oral presentation as well as participate in a focus group that evaluated anatomy education material for a publisher. 

Johannes at Poster

Serrat said she was happy to see Marshall well represented at the meeting and that “the large number of Marshall attendees says a lot about the expanding research emphasis of our institution.”

Kristeena at Poster

Carper at Poster

 

 

Marshall’s BMS students recognized at the national level

Marshall’s BMS students recognized on a NATIONAL level for their recent Young Adult Science Café! The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology posted a press release on their Public Outreach website. Check it out: www.asbmb.org/PublicOutreach/Templates/PubOutreachDefault.aspx?id=40020

Study focuses on potential lung cancer therapies

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Scientists from Marshall University, Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.along with colleagues at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, have completed a study that may eventually help lead to the development of new treatments for lung cancer.

Their results were published in the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer Research, the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world.

At Marshall, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, worked on the study with her research team of Jamie Lau, Kathleen Brown and Brent Thornhill, and undergraduate students Cody Stover and Christopher McNees.

Researchers in Dasgupta’s lab explore how the various components of tobacco, especially nicotine, advance the progression of lung cancer.                                       

Dasgupta said this study focused on a specific type of lung cancer called bronchioalveolar carcinomas, or BACs, which are known to be associated with smoking. She and the other scientists working on the project looked at the cellular pathways through which nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—promotes the growth and survival of BACs. 

According to Dasgupta, nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, but studies have shown it can induce the growth and metastasis of lung cancers. It can also protect lung cancer cells against the beneficial effects of chemotherapy.

She said, “In this study, we found that nicotine raised the levels of specific neurotransmitters, or ‘chemical messengers,’ in human BACs. When we used a drug, vesamicol, to interrupt the neurotransmitters’ pathways, the nicotine-induced growth of these carcinomas was significantly suppressed. Our findings are important because they indicate that agents like vesamicol may be useful in the treatment of human lung cancers.” 

More information about the research is available online at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/73/4/1328.abstract?sid=c29c4530-21a3-4652-a977-23b25019258a.

The study was funded in part by a Young Clinical Scientist Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

For more information, contact Dasgupta at dasgupta@marshall.edu or 304-696-3612.

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