Internationally recognized kidney specialist and sodium pump researcher visits Marshall University

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Dr. Anita Aperia, professor of pediatrics at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and former member of the Nobel Assembly, who is widely recognized for her groundbreaking research to medicine’s understanding of how the ‪‎kidneys function in health and disease, visited Marshall University and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine this week.

The visit was part of a series of public lectures hosted by the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research where work is focused on Na+/K+-ATPase—a protein often referred to as the “sodium potassium pump” because it directs many cellular processes in the heart, kidney and other tissues. By studying how this cellular signaling occurs, the institute’s researchers are working to develop new treatments for cancer, heart and kidney disease.

Aperia also served as a guest speaker at Marshall’s Department of Pediatrics grand rounds.

aperia photoA native of Sweden, Aperia graduated from the Karolinska Institutet medical school and received her Ph.D. training at Yale University. She has been at the Karolinska Institutet since 1976, and as chairman of the department of pediatrics from 1987 to 1999, was the founder and project leader for Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, the largest children’s hospital in Northern Europe.

In 1987, she was appointed to the Nobel Assembly for Physiology or Medicine in Stockholm, where she served as a member until 2003. From 1991 to 1996, she was a member of the Nobel Committee and in 2001 she was the first woman to chair the Nobel Assembly.

Cutline:
Dr. Anita Aperia speaks Thursday at the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center during a visit to Marshall University.

Photo by Rick Haye/Marshall University

Internationally recognized kidney specialist and sodium pump researcher to speak as part of MIIR lecture series

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – One of the world’s leading kidney authorities and researchers will be speaking next week at Marshall University.

Dr. Anita Aperia, professor of pediatrics at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm and a former member of the Nobel Assembly, is widely recognized for her groundbreaking research contributions to medicine’s understanding of how the kidneys function in health and disease.

Her talk titled “The Physiological Function of Na+/K+-ATPase” will begin at 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 12, in Room 101 of the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center on Marshall University’s Huntington campus.

The free event is part of a series of public lectures hosted by the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research.Dr. Anita Aperia

Research at MIIR is focused on Na+/K+-ATPase—a protein often referred to as the “sodium potassium pump” because it directs many cellular processes in the heart, kidney and other tissues. By studying how this cellular signaling occurs, the institute’s researchers are working to develop new treatments for cancer, heart and kidney disease.

A native of Sweden, Aperia graduated from the Karolinska Institutet medical school and received her Ph.D. training at Yale University. She has been at the Karolinska Institutet since 1976, and as chairman of the department of pediatrics from 1987-99, was the founder and project leader for Astrid Lindgren Children’s Hospital, the largest children’s hospital in Northern Europe.

In 1987, she was appointed to the Nobel Assembly for Physiology or Medicine in Stockholm, where she served as a member until 2003. From 1991-96, she was a member of the Nobel Committee and in 2001 she was the first woman to chair the Nobel Assembly.

She has served as a council member of the International Society of Nephrology, the International Pediatric Society of Nephrology and the European Society of Nephrology.

Aperia was the 2001 recipient of the Jean Hamburger Award from the International Society of Nephrology—the first pediatrician to receive the prestigious international award. In 2011, she received the Homer W. Smith Award from the American Society of Nephrology and in 2013 was the presenter of the Robert Berliner lecture at Yale. She also has received the Torsten and Ragnar Soderberg Prize in Medicine from the Swedish Society of Medicine, and another Swedish honor, His Majesty the King’s Medal.

A dedicated teacher, Aperia has trained numerous undergraduate students and pediatric residents, and has supervised nearly 50 Ph.D. students and 30 postdoctoral fellows. She also has published approximately 300 original papers, 40 review articles and 10 textbook chapters.

In addition to the public lecture, Aperia will present Grand Rounds in the Department of Pediatrics at Cabell Huntington Hospital at 8 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 13. Her topic will be “How being a pediatric nephrologist has influenced my scientific work and vice versa.”

For more information about the programs, contact Hollie Bailey at bailey134@marshall.edu or 304-696-3549.

MIIR is Marshall’s key vehicle to advancing regional economic development through entrepreneurship and commercialization of scientific discoveries. Scientists at the institute are developing an intensive program of biotechnology research dedicated to producing patentable scientific breakthroughs and creating new businesses based on those discoveries.

For more information, visit www.marshall.edu/miir.

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): http://www.impactjournals.com/Genes&Cancer/files/papers/1/43/43.pdf.

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

Jennifer Minigh, BMS Ph.D. alumnus, discusses careers in medical and scientific writing

Jennifer Minigh, Ph.D., Senior Manager Global Regulatory Writing for Amgen, recently spoke to the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate community. Dr. Minigh earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Marshall, and was welcomed back as a part of the BMS Transforming Interdisciplinary Graduate Research and Education (TIGRE) Program featuring career speakers in non-academic roles.

The medical writing field is growing with opportunities to contribute to newsletters, continuing medical education topics, journals, books, databases and regulatory Minigh, Jennifer_TIGRE Speaker fall 2014submissions. According to Minigh, this lucrative work often can be performed from home, offering flexibility for family obligations and the opportunity to live anywhere. Her current, and favorite, focus is Regulatory Writing for the pharmaceutical industry. What makes this different, she says, from other medical writing, is that it is template-driven, with more predictability and few creative components due to the highly regulated nature of the work.

Minigh says that her interdisciplinary education in the BMS doctorate program gave her the background needed to research effectively any writing topic from basic science to clinical trials and therapies.

Marshall School of Medicine researcher receives grant to continue musculoskeletal research

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—Maria A. Serrat, Ph.D, assistant professor in the department of anatomy and pathology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and a team of multidisciplinary researchers from several institutions have received federal grant funds totaling $383,000 to continue research into the effects of temperature on bone elongation.

Serrat says the three-year award from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases is an extension of work initially funded from a bridge grant from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

“We hope our results will facilitate the design of heat-based, drug-targeting approaches to enhance bone length using noninvasive techniques such as warm temperature serrat pixapplications,” Serrat said. “This work is significant because it has the potential to produce transformative findings that link heat, bone lengthening and vascular access to the growing skeleton which could lead to better clinical therapies for children in particular.”

Serrat’s team of collaborators include Marshall graduate and medical students as well as faculty researchers from Cornell University, Mayo Clinic, the University of Kentucky and Ohio University.

“We are in the basic science stage of research and over the course of the three-year funding period hope to collect enough data to support a larger scale translational medicine project leading to a potential clinical trial with help from our collaborators at Mayo Clinic,” Serrat said.

“Dr. Serrat is accomplishing great work in her laboratory which has the potential to have a tremendous clinical impact in the future,” said Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., dean of the Marshall School of Medicine. “Marshall is continuing to build its research footprint and investigators like Maria Serrat are an integral part of our success.”

Serrat graduated from Miami University in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. She then earned her master’s degree in anthropology from Kent State University and followed with a doctorate in biological anthropology from Kent State University in 2007. She joined the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in 2009.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Maria A. Serrat, Ph.D., middle, and her team – Holly Tamski, a Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student, and Dr. Gabriela Ion, Research Instructor – have received federal grant funds totaling $383,000 to continue musculoskeletal research.

Photo by Rick Lee

Contact: Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

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.

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Marshall University Biomedical Sciences professor has valuable research recognized in pharmacology journal

Richard-Egleton-2012Dr. Richard Egleton’s (Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Cluster Coordinator) manuscript, Drug Abuse and the Neurovascular Unit, was included in the prestigious journal, Advances in Pharmacology (71: 451-480, 2014). Published on August 22, the article focuses on the role of the neurovascular unit in addiction and the brain’s response to diseases.

This is important research because a better understanding of this function could assist in the development of more effective therapeutic methods for those who are drug-dependent.