BMS faculty and student success at the Experimental Biology Meeting


Student researcher, Zak Robateau, presented at the Experimental Biology Meeting in San Diego. His work, along with his collaborators, in the lab of Piyali Dasgupta, PhD, resulted in the abstract entitled “Anti-angiogenic activity of nicotinic receptor antagonists in lung cancer.” This research focuses on a lung cancer therapy that may assist in delaying relapses and improving patient outcomes. The American Society of Investigative Pharmacoloy (ASIP) observed that the project had the potential to receive interest from the media, and placed the presentation on a short list for special promotion in a media releations effort.




Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.

Dr. Dasgupta also chaired a session at the conference sponsored by ASIP, “Molecular and Cellular Basis of Disease: From Prevention to Cancer Metastasis.”

Please see the press release:



New findings in breast cancer research


Justin Tomblin, PhD candidate, conducts research in the lab of Travis Salisbury, PhD. He was recently the first author on a paper, Aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR) regulation of L-Type Amino Acid Transporter 1 (LAT-1) expression in MCF-7 and MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells, in Biochemical Pharmacology Journal.

Mr. Tomblin explained, “Our recent report is important in that we have identified the transcription factor we study, the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), which regulates the levels of an important amino acid transporter in breast tumor cells, L-type amino acid transporter 1 (LAT1). Importing of amino acids is critical for the growth and survival of the tumor. We found that compounds that activate AHR increase the level of LAT1 expression in cancer cells, and that endogenous AHR signaling also regulates LAT1, without the addition of any added AHR activating compounds. This is important as prior reports have linked high levels of the LAT1 transporter with increased resistance to commonly used cancer chemotherapeutics in breast tumors, like the estrogen receptor targeting drug tamoxifen. Therefore, given our findings, combining AHR antagonizing compounds in combination with standard chemotherapy options could lead to a better treatment outcome for patients with breast cancer in the future.

“Working with Dr. Salisbury has definitely made me a better researcher. His knowledge of molecular biology combined with his drive and enthusiasm makes working in the lab a fun and rewarding experience. We have developed a friendship over the years that will last long after my tenure at Marshall is over, and if I can become half the researcher that he is, it will be quite an achievement. On the whole, I feel the BMS program in general has provided me with a knowledge base where I can branch out successfully into several different directions, no matter what the future holds,” Mr. Tomblin also noted.

For the full article please see:

Travel award winners!

Murphy, Rachel_august2015Amos, Debbie_2015_headshot


Rachel Murphy, PhD candidate, and Deborah Amos, PhD student have won Graduate Student Travel Awards offered by American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) to attend the Experimental Biology (EB) Meeting in San Diego, CA. Up to $1000.00 will be awarded to offset conference registration and travel. Ms. Murphy and Ms. Amos will receive their checks and certificates at the ASPET Business Meeting and Awards Presentation on the first day of the EB meeting that takes place from April 2-6.

The Travel Award Program is intended to encourage developing scientists by providing opportunities to network with peers and experts, access to the latest advances in pharmacology, and contribute their own work to the field.

Ms. Murphy works in the lab of Monica Valentovic, PhD, and her research focuses on Tenofovir, a drug used to treat HIV and Hepatitis B, and how it affects the kidney.  She will present her poster on April 3 entitled Anti-viral Agent Tenofovir Induces Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis in HK-2 Cells. Additional contributors to the research are: Reagan M. Stafford, Megann Boone, Brooke Petrasovits and Monica A. Valentovic, PhD.

Nalini Santanam, PhD, MPH, FAHA, mentors Ms. Amos who conducts research on the effect of exercise on metabolic diseases.  Her poster will be presented on April 2.

There will be further updates regarding this important conference and participants in the coming days.

Research Day Winners

Congratulations to the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) students who were winners at the 28th Annual Research Day 2016 at the Marshall University Health Science Center.

Taha Ahmad and Justin K. Tomblin were winners in Oral, Basic Science. ARCC2015_Ahmed,-T-and-Egelston,-RPhD candidate Ahmad presented The Significance of CYP2B6 Genetic Polymorphisms in Unexpected Fatalities of Methadone Users in Caucasians of WV and KY Appalachia Region, which detailed research that she has completed under the guidance of Gary Rankin, PhD. TomblinJ.Cabell-Research-DayTomblin, also a PhD Candidate, offered 2,3,7,8_tetrachlorodibenzo_p_dioxin (TCDD)/Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor (AHR) Regulation of Large Neutral Amino Acid Transporter 1 (LAT1) in Breast Cancer Cells. He conducts research in the lab of Travis Salisbury, PhD.

piwarskiS.Cabell-research-daySean Piwarski, PhD Candidate, won in the category for Poster, Basic Science. Piwarski is also mentored by Travis Salisbury, PhD with his work on Exploring the Mechanism by Which 2,3,7,8_tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD) Regulates Jagged_1 via the Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor.

For the full list of winners, see

28th Annual Research Day

2016-syllabus-Health-Science-Research-Day-1Marshall University recently held the 28th Annual Health Science Research Day which showcased the research of MU faculty, residents and students through poster and oral presentations. A highlight of the day was the Richard. J. Stevens, MD Memorial Lecture featuring the Invited Speaker, Naji Abumrad, MD, Chairman Emeritus, Department of Surgery, John L. Sawyers Professor of Surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

Please see additional information: and



New publication for Shapiro’s lab

Yanling Yan, PhD, is the first author, along with the Dean of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Joseph I. Shapiro, MD, FAHA, FACP, FASN, on a recent publication in Current Opinion in Pharmacology. Their research focuses on the Na/K-ATPase enzyme.Yanling-Yan According to Yan, “The Na/K-ATPase enzyme is commonly referred to as the sodium pump because it pumps sodium out of cells. This pumping process is vital to controlling normal functions of most cells. Besides this pumping function, our group has discovered that the sodium pump also regulates signal transduction and oxidant amplification. This review focuses on the recently discovered oxidant amplification function of the Na/K-ATPase in cardiovascular diseases. Exploitation of this understanding could open up a new therapeutic target for the many clinical conditions characterized by oxidant stress.

Dr.Yan has worked with Dr. Shapiro while obtaining her PhD and then for post-doctoral work. She has been at Marshall for about eight years and was recently promoted to Assistant Professor.

See the full article: The physiological and clinical importance of sodium potassium ATPase in cardiovascular disease.

Game night fun!

Students from the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) graduate programs and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, recently gathered at the Erma Ora Byrd Clinical Center to enjoy an evening of appetizers and games.

Each semester, the two groups come together for a mixer to encourage networking and the development of a peer group across both clinical and research areas.

Several folks participated in a spirited game of Cranium.


Teams answered trivia questions and identified objects through drawing (sometimes with their eyes closed!) and sculpting with Play-doh. The BMS students congratulate,sadly (only kidding, of course), the winning team of medical students.