Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine hosts 27th annual Research Day – Winners Announced

Congratulations to two Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. students for winning best oral and best poster presentations at the recent Marshall University JCE School of Medicine 27th Annual Research Day!

Winner of Basic Science Poster Presentation
Fischer, AdamAdam Fischer, Ph.D. student
, works in Dr. Sarah Miles’ laboratory and presented a poster titled “Normoxic accumulation and activity of HIF-1 is associated with ascorbic acid transporter expression and localization in human melanoma”. The other author is Sarah L. Miles.





Winner of Basic Science Oral Presentation
Kristeena Ray_web
Kristeena Wright, Ph.D. candidate, works in Dr. Nalini Santanam’s laboratory and gave an oral presentation titled “Polycomb group and associated proteins as potential therapeutic targets for endometriosis”. Other authors include Brenda Mitchell and Nalini Santanam. 



Winners of clinical categories are as follows:

Clinical Science Oral Presentation, Student CategoryBrandon J. Smith
“Impact of influenza vaccination on clinical outcomes of patients admitted in a university affiliated large medical center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania”

Clinical Science Oral Presentation, Resident CategoryA. Allison Roy
“Evaluating Buprenorphine Metabolism in Cord Blood from Neonates Born to Opiate Addicted Mothers as a Predictor of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome in Rural Appalachia”

Clinical Case Poster Presentation, Student CategoryPaul Viscuse
“Fatigue, bruising, and weight loss in a teenage female with previously diagnosed thrombocytopenia”

Clinical Case Poster Presentation, Post-Graduate CategoryZain Qazi
“Atypical Growth of an Osteochondroma in a 31 year old female”

Clinical Science Poster Presentation, Student CategoryMaria Espiridion
The Medicare Annual Wellness Visit: Barriers and Patient Perceptions”

Clinical Science Poster Presentation, Post-Graduate CategoryJared Brownfield
“Placental ADRB1 mRNA as a Potential Predictor of Outcome and Possible Therapeutic Target in High Risk Pregnancies”

Earlier Press Release:

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Nearly 100 research projects and a keynote presentation focused on one of the region’s most pressing health problems, obesity, will mark the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine’s Health Sciences Center 27th Annual Research Day at Marshall University.

The two-day research event begins at 5:30 p.m. Monday, March 23, with a community seminar on obesity, co-sponsored by Cabell Huntington Hospital (CHH) and its Senior Services Program.

Richard J. Johnson, M.D., chief of the division of renal disease and hypertension at the University of Colorado, will serve as special guest speaker for both the community event and Marshall’s academic event.

Johnson graduated from the University of Minnesota Medical School and then completed a residency in internal medicine and fellowships in nephrology and infectious diseases at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Johnson’s community presentation, “Obesity,” is focused on the causes of weight gain and overall energy balance and concerns about the intake of added sugars containing fructose in the Western diet.  The lecture, which is free and open to the public, begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Harless Auditorium of the Marshall University Medical Center on the campus of Cabell Huntington Hospital.  The following day, Tuesday, March 24, Johnson also will deliver a lecture to medical students, residents and other medical personnel in the Harless Auditorium. The lecture, which begins at 11:30 a.m., is titled, “The Role of Sugar (Fructose) in the Great Epidemics of Diabetes and Obesity.”

Research Day showcases research conducted by medical students, graduate students, residents and postdoctoral fellows.   This year’s entries include a variety of projects that focus on various areas in medical and biomedical research. “The topic of our research day, obesity, is very important since most of the serious health care disparities affecting West Virginians result from obesity,” said Uma Sundaram, M.D., vice dean for research at the School of Medicine. “The presentations by Dr. Johnson and the cutting-edge research that will be presented during the research day illustrate our commitment to education, prevention and treatment of obesity and its many complications in West Virginia.”

For more information about Research Day contact the Office of Continuing Medical Education at 304-691-1770.


Mixer brings biomedical and medical school students together

Students from the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program (BMS) and first-year Joan C.Edwards School of Medicine class enjoyed a mixer on March 18. Around 20 people, including several MS-1 class officers and BMS Graduate Student OrganizationMixer event_March 2015 leaders, shared fun conversations, chips, fruit, brownies, and sloppy joe sandwiches at the Byrd Clinical Center. After all, it was National Sloppy Joe Day!

These gatherings will be held once per semester to assist in developing comfortable relationships and peer networks between the clinical and research area participants.

Racine publishes with Rankin’s lab

Chris Racine, a Marshall Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate, has been involved with two papers accepted for publication since October.

Racine RankinThe first manuscript, 3,4,5-Trichloroaniline nephrotoxicity in vitro: Potential role of free radicals and renal biotransformation, was published in the well-respected International Journal of Molecular Sciences in a Special Issue: Renal Toxicology—Epidemiology and Mechanisms. Racine is the first author on this publication. Please see to view the entire article.

Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D. authored the second paper with Mr. Racine and others in the lab including Adam Sweeny, Travis FergusonDeborah Preston, and Dianne K. Anestis. 4-amino-2-chlorophenol: Comparative in vitro nephrotoxicity and mechanisms of bioactivation was published in Chemico-Biological Interactions. This journal ranks in the top 25% of toxicology journals. The full article is available here:

Chris conducts research in the lab of Dr. Rankin, a member of the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Cluster. Rankin’s lab explores the role that the kidney plays in metabolizing compounds used as intermediates in the production of a wide variety of agricultural products. Exposure to these compounds can occur both in industrial and environmental settings, and therefore, an understanding of the activation mechanism is important for better insight into kidney health.

School of Medicine researchers continue to battle endometriosis in laboratory

Nalini Santanam, PhD, MPHA pair of School of Medicine researchers is making great strides in understanding endometriosis, a disorder that often leads to chronic pain and/or infertility in many women of reproductive age. Dr. Nalini Santanam, Professor, Department of Pharma- cology, Physiology & Toxicology and Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate Kristeena Ray Wright have published two publications in the last two months regarding their research on endometriosis and pain. The first, “Power over Pain: a brief overview of current and novel interventions for endometriosis associated pain” was published in the Journal of Endometriosis and  Pelvic Pain Disorders at the end of 2014.

The second manuscript “Oxidation Sensitive Nociception Involved in Endometriosis Associated Pain”, is published in “Pain” which is a top impact journal in pain research, in January 2015. This study summarizes some of the seminal work performed in Dr. Santanam’s laboratory over the past several years that led to a ground-breaking discovery in the mechanisms of pain in endo- metriosis.

Both publications were in collaboration with Dr. Brenda Mitchell, Professor Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Recent Biomedical Sciences graduate, Miranda Carper, PhD, publishes in prestigious journal

Miranda Carper, Ph.D., a December 2014 graduate of Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program, had her manuscript published in Genes and Cancer, a leading journal in the field. Dr. Carper worked in the lab of Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D./Ph.D.

RGS16, a novel p53 and pRb cross-talk candidate inhibits migration and invasion of pancreatic cancer cells focuses on the identification of a protein that is able to inhibit Carper, Miranda_12.14.14pancreatic cancer cell invasion and migration. The research provides information on why this protein is down-regulated in metastatic pancreatic cancer and makes the case for continued investigation. Read the entire article here (November Issue):

Congratulations on your publication and recent graduation, Dr. Miranda B. Carper!

Marshall Ph.D. student receives Chancellor’s Scholarship

Tenacious.  Passionate. Driven.  These are the words that Sean Piwarski uses to describe himself.

Piwarski is this year’s recipient of the Chancellor’s Scholarship, given to a student in Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program. The Chancellor’s Scholar Program is intended to recruit, educate and graduate underrepresented minority students in doctoral programs.  It offers a substantial tuition benefit and stipend as well as professional research and career development opportunities and a strong support network.  Further, it aims to provide support as the student transitions from his or her education into university faculty or administration roles.

Piwarski grew up in a bilingual, Hispanic household in California. He said that when he was a youngster, his mother provided “a lot of love” that allowed him to take risks and explore boundaries, while ensuring that he remained polite and stayed on the right path.  He was recruited to California Lutheran University on a football scholarship, where he double-majored in biology and chemistry.

One of his biggest influences was Dr. John Tannaci, who taught organic chemistry at California Lutheran, and to Piwarski’s surprise, made it fun and relatable.  Piwarski said that was not something that he often found in his science courses, so one of his goals is to bring that level of passion and interest to a new generation.

With his strong science background, Piwarski came to Marshall University to obtain his master’s degree in forensic science, focusing on toxicology and drug chemistry.  In deciding how to apply the knowledge and skills gained through that program, he realized that a Ph.D. was the logical next step, particularly with the interdisciplinary, team-based science program offered at Marshall.

Piwarski, Sean 2014Currently in his third year of a program that typically takes 5 to 6 years to complete, Piwarski is working with Dr. Travis Salisbury in the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences cluster.  His research focuses on determining how certain chemical mechanisms in specific toxins may work to stop cancer metastasis.  He said it is a subject close to his heart, since several of his family members have lost battles with cancer.

Piwarski said that being the first Hispanic student to receive the Chancellor’s Scholarship is “very humbling,” and gives him the opportunity to pursue his passions.  He also said he believes that it gives validation to exploring his scientific ideas. When he was younger, he noticed that certain classes were considered to be only for the “smart people.”

“Science isn’t so much about being the smartest person in the room; it’s about tenacity,” Piwarski said.  “Try out creative ideas and don’t be afraid to put yourself out there to further what is possible.”

Once he completes the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program, Piwarski says he will pursue an academic position where he can put the “swagger in science” and stimulate the same passion and drive for excellence in others.



Biomedical Sciences research graduate has work on fatty acids published

Recent MU Biomedical Sciences Research M.S. graduate, William L. Patterson III, “Billy”, has authored a review on the relationship between omega-3 Fatty Acids (FA), inflammation and cancer with his graduate advisor, Dr. Philippe Georgel (Biomedical Science Graduate Program faculty in the Cancer Biology research cluster.)

Billy Patterson_news2014Mr. Patterson submitted a manuscript which reviewed the various pathways affected by omega-3 Fatty Acids related to cancer. The international journal, Biochemistry and Cell Biology (BCB), accepted this article for publication in May, and it appeared in a special edition of the BCB in July. This topic is highly relevant to the public interest regarding diet and health. It includes details of the biochemical processes that can be affected by the daily consumption of omega-3 Fatty Acids in the form of canola oil or fish products.

Dr. Georgel indicated that Mr. Patterson had performed the research for this analysis as a part of his thesis, and expressed the excitement that he always feels when a student’s work is recognized.

Since graduation, Billy continues to conduct research, but with Dr. Michael Norton (Biomedical Sciences Graduate Faculty, Neuroscience and Developmental Biology research cluster) on Marshall’s Huntington Campus.

For further information, please view the abstract for Patterson’s article.