Marshall experts to speak at state biosciences summit

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Several Marshall University representatives are among more than 20 life science experts who will share experiences and discuss strategies for successfully growing the state’s bioscience industry during the upcoming West Virginia Bioscience Summit.

Sponsored by the Bioscience Association of West Virginia (BioWV), the summit will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 :30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Marriott Town Center in Charleston. The annual event brings together members of the state’s bioscience community with policy and opinion leaders, economic developers and others who are interested in learning more about how to grow and nurture the industry.

At the summit, Dr. John Maher, Marshall vice president for research, will join representatives from the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia State University, the University of Charleston and West Virginia University on a panel highlighting research being conducted in the state.

“The BioWV Summit is a tremendous opportunity to bring attention to the significant economic development happening via West Virginia’s life sciences community,” said Maher. “At the other end of the pipeline we have a great deal of exciting biotechnology work happening here at Marshall and we are pleased to have this chance to share it with our colleagues and friends from around the state and region.”

Dr. Nader Abraham, vice dean for research at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, is on the program to share information about clinical trials at Marshall, and the assistant director of Marshall’s Technology Transfer Office, Amy Melton, will participate in a panel discussion about commercialization opportunities and recent changes in U.S. patent law.

In addition, representatives of two Marshall spinout companies, Derek Gregg of Vandalia Research and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio of Cordgenics, are scheduled to be on a panel of bioscience company representatives and funders who will discuss the challenges of raising capital and creating an environment for life science growth in the state. Gregg and Claudio both founded their companies on technology they developed in the university’s labs.

A host of industry leaders, policy-makers and other experts also will participate in the conference, including the following:

•           Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (invited);

•           Fritz Bittenbender, Vice President, Alliance Development and State Government Relations, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO);

•           Jeff May, Vice President, Product Strategy, Mylan North America;

•           Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor, West Virginia Higher Education Commission;

•           Jeff Trewhitt, Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

The summit’s keynote speaker will be Dr. David Scholl, who helped grow Athens, Ohio-based Diagnostic Hybrids into a $100 million biotech company. He is now a partner in a regional venture capital firm and is involved with the billion-dollar Ohio Third Frontier program.

Gregg, who serves as the chairman of BioWV, said, “A successful life science industry begins with research, which then leads to discoveries. Those discoveries provide the basis for company development and economic growth for the state. West Virginia is having success but there is much more that can be done to help grow this industry within our borders.

“The bioscience industry is creating new technologies—pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical technologies, chemical processes and more—that not only advance science but provide high-wage jobs to West Virginia residents. This conference will bring people together to highlight what is currently under way and to discuss how we can grow the industry.”

In addition to BioWV, summit sponsors include BIO, PhRMA, Mylan, Pfizer, Fisher Scientific, Amgen, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia Small Business Development Center and TechConnect West Virginia. BioWV also receives funding through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. 

Marshall University is a founding member of BioWV. The purpose of the association is to promote and strengthen the bioscience industry in the state by developing a cohesive community that unites biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and research organizations.

For more information or to register for the summit, visit www.biowv.org.

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Ray awarded the ASBMB Graduate Travel Award

by: Allison Wolf, MU Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate

BMS Ph.D. student Kristeena Ray was awarded The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Graduate Minority Travel Award, which is funded through a grant to the Federation of American Societies. Kristeena will travel to Boston, Massachusetts in April to present her research on the possible role of epigenetics in endometriosis at the 2013 Experimental Biology Conference. 

Kristeena Ray_web

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Kristeena’s mentor, stated, “Not much is known about the etiology of endometriosis. There are recent indications that epigenetics might be playing a role in its etiology. Kristeena’s project will, in the long-term, identify epigenetic markers that can be used as therapeutic targets for the treatment of endometriosis and/or its associated symptoms such as pain.”

Ray is the second BMS student to be notified of receiving a travel award to attend this international research conference. Dr. Santanam is pleased that Kristeena is one of the students selected for the ASBMB travel award and said that this opportunity will allow Kristeena to “meet peers from around the country, as well as listen and interact with expert scientists in basic and biomedical sciences.” 

Congratulations, Kristeena!

Applications being accepted for minority internship program in the biomedical sciences

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Applications are now being accepted for the 2013 Summer Research Internship for Minority Students, available through the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

The program supports minority undergraduate students over a nine-week period. Participants conduct graduate-level research in the field of the biomedical sciences. They receive formal research training through workshops and seminars, mentoring and use of Marshall’s state-of-the-art laboratory facilities. Each student will receive a stipend of $3,000, free room and board, and support for travel.

This program has been conducted at Marshall since 2009 and is funded in part by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Division of Science and Research.

This year’s program runs from May 28 through July 29. The application deadline is Feb. 15. All materials may be submitted online.

For eligibility requirements and application procedures, visit www.marshall.edu/bms/future-students/summer-research-internship. For more information, e-mail srims@marshall.edu or call 304-696-3365.

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Carper selected for ASBMB Graduate Student Travel Award

by: M. Allison Wolf

Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate Miranda Carper was selected for a graduate student travel award to attend the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. ASBMB is one of six participating societies represented at the 2013 Experimental Biology Conference. The conference will run from April 20-24, and will bring together researchers from all over the world. 

Miranda

The conference is a multidisciplinary scientific meeting and researchers will meet to discuss the new strides made in the fields of: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition, and pharmacology.

The research project Miranda plans to present focuses on a target thought to be a player in the cross talk between p53 and pRB. The objective of her current study is to investigate if this target, regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS16), plays a role in pancreatic cancer cell invasion and migration.

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Miranda’s Ph.D. advisor, is proud of his student’s achievement. “Miranda is driven and works hard. I am thrilled that she has the opportunity to share her research and attend an international conference.” Congrats, Miranda!

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio receives award from elementary school

It is probably safe to say that most people do not hear from their elementary schools when they move up the education ladder, but this is not the case for Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor and respected researcher within Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.  

Dr. Claudio recently received an award for his academic achievements from Suor Orsola Benincasa where he attended for his elementary education in Naples, Italy. This is not your traditional school, as it was founded in 1600 by nuns and was re-founded in 1860 by the Princess of Strongoli, Maria Adelaide del Balzo Pignatelli. It is a school that prepares children from pre-school, elementary, middle, high-school, up to disciplines at a university level (in the areas of humanistic, science of communication, law, conservation of cultural goods, restoration, and languages). 

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.When asked if he felt that his elementary school contributed to who he is today, Claudio said, “Absolutely. Suor Orsola Benincasa helped me study, understand how serious it is to study at a younger age. It is a very historical school, and when you study places like this, you breathe it. It makes you really want to advance yourself.”

Dr. Claudio was the first to receive this newly established award, and did so through a  Skype video conference event.

Congratulations to Dr. Claudio!

Research campaign reaches goal of $15M

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013
Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964, www.marshall.edu/murc

Gift for MIIR takes Marshall University
to $15 million ‘Bucks for Brains’ goal

Allied Realty Company contributes $150,000 for research, capital campaign

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University officials today announced that a gift from Allied Realty Company is the final private donation needed to reach the university’s $15 million West Virginia Research Trust Fund fundraising goal.

Allied recently made a $150,000 donation to support the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (MIIR) and the university’s College of Fine Arts. The $100,000 portion of the gift designated for research at MIIR, in addition to other year-end gifts and pledges, is expected to be matched by the state’s trust fund and will allow Marshall to draw down the last of the money allocated to it in the fund. 

The West Virginia Legislature created the trust fund, which is also referred to as the “Bucks for Brains” program, in 2008 with an initial appropriation of $15 million for Marshall and $35 million for West Virginia University. Over the past five years, the universities have been able to tap into the fund to double private gifts that support research initiatives linked to economic development, health care and job growth. With this latest Allied contribution, Marshall has raised its maximum of $15 million in private donations, which, with the match from the trust fund, will result in a $30 million benefit to the university. The program has led to the creation of 16 new research endowments at Marshall and will increase the university’s overall endowment by more than 15 percent.

“It is entirely fitting that Allied Realty Company made the donation that brings us to our goal,” said Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp. “Allied was the first private donor to step forward when the trust fund program was established, and they have been supporting research at Marshall with generous donations ever since. The Polan family and their company are community leaders in every sense. We are fortunate to have their commitment to advancing local and regional economic development through research.” 

He continued, “On behalf of the entire Marshall community, I extend a hearty thank you to all the donors who have made it possible for us to reach this milestone. Their contributions will help ensure funding for research that will advance new discoveries and promote economic development far into the future.

“I also want to express deep gratitude to our state’s leaders, including members of the state legislature and officials at the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, who had the foresight to support the ‘Bucks for Brains’ concept. We hope the success we have had will encourage continued support and reinvestment in this program.”

Allied Realty Company President Rebecca Polan said MIIR’s role of conducting commercially viable bioscience research at the university and facilitating partnerships with outside companies is vital to the future of Huntington and the entire region.

She added, “We are pleased to support organizations that serve Huntington, the state and region. Marshall University makes the Huntington community an excellent place to live, learn and work.” 

Lake Polan, Allied’s chairman of the board and CEO, said, “By helping Marshall University expand its presence as a leading research institute, we are helping our community leverage itself into the knowledge economy.”

Since 2008, Allied has donated a total of $450,000 for research at Marshall. With the match from the state’s trust fund, the total benefit to the university from Allied’s gifts is $900,000.

Dr. Ron Area, Marshall University Foundation CEO, said Allied and other donors like the research trust fund program because they can essentially double their gifts, while making a lasting impact through endowments. 

He said, “Hats off to Allied Realty for this most recent generous gift and for serving as pioneers in the trust fund program. They have helped us show others what a wonderful incentive the trust fund is. Donors like being able to maximize their contributions and, because their gifts are doubled and endowed through this program, they know they will be helping students, faculty and the community for generations. We have gained a good deal of momentum over the past year, and have additional qualifying donations and pledges ready to match if the state allocates more money for the trust fund.”

Dr. John Maher, Marshall vice president for research, added, “The proceeds from these endowments are already impacting research programs across the university—from science to engineering to medicine. Thank you to the donors and the state leaders who helped establish the research trust fund. We look forward to watching these research and economic development initiatives grow and prosper over the coming years.”

Allied Realty Company is the corporate hub for a full-service global logistics business with more than 2.5 million square feet of commercial, manufacturing and distribution holdings in downtown Huntington, Kenova, Nitro and Parkersburg; Paris, Ky.; and Waynesboro and Harrisonburg, Va. The $50,000 portion of Allied’s recent gift designated for Marshall’s College of Fine Arts will support the college’s capital campaign, including renovation of the former Stone and Thomas building in downtown Huntington. The renovated facility will house Marshall’s visual arts and graphic design programs.

MIIR was founded in 2008 to promote economic development and entrepreneurial activity by funding commercially viable bioscience research at Marshall and facilitating partnerships with outside companies.

At Marshall, the West Virginia Research Trust Fund is supporting research in disciplines as diverse as biotechnology, aging and dementia, engineering, chemistry and biology, transportation, obstetrics and gynecology, translational sports medicine, and occupational and environmental health. The program also has helped catalyze public and private support for a number of new research facilities at the university, including an applied engineering complex, translational genomics research institute, sports medicine translational research center, and schools of pharmacy and physical therapy.

For more information about “Bucks for Brains” at Marshall, visit www.marshall.edu/b4b.

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Marshall University receives $2.5 million BrickStreet Foundation gift for research

Brickstreet Marshall $2.5 M

Watch on HerdVideo

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University has received a $2.5 million gift from the BrickStreet Insurance Foundation Inc. to establish a research endowment.

The donation is expected to be matched through the state’s “Bucks for Brains” West Virginia Research Trust Fund, for a total benefit to Marshall of $5 million.

Proceeds from the endowment will be used to support research at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, particularly projects related to occupational and environmental health.

Greg Burton, president and chief executive officer of BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Company, presented the donation to university representatives today at the company’s headquarters in Charleston.

“Through the leadership and vision of our board, BrickStreet has set up a foundation focused on giving back to the community in which we live,” said Burton. “Through this partnership with Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, BrickStreet is proud to support their continued research efforts. Many of our employees are Marshall graduates, so our partnership with the university runs deep and I know this investment will be used to not only strengthen the university’s research efforts in occupational and environmental health, but also to continue to fulfill its mission to improve the health and wellness of our communities.

“As one of the largest workers’ compensation providers in the region, we understand that the graduates of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will be our future partners in continuing to improve occupational health across West Virginia.”

Dr. Stephen J. Kopp, president of Marshall University, thanked BrickStreet for the contribution, saying, “We are very pleased and proud that BrickStreet has chosen to make this gift commitment in support of endowment-based biomedical research focused on some of the most pressing occupational and rural health problems confronting our state and region. The Marshall University School of Medicine is a leader in rural medicine and the support provided by BrickStreet will be amplified by matching support from the West Virginia Research Trust Fund. This research endowment fund offers great promise to help improve the health and wellness of our rural communities.”

Dr. Joseph I. Shapiro, dean of Marshall’s medical school, added, “I couldn’t be more pleased to receive this generous gift from BrickStreet. It will most certainly benefit thousands of West Virginians. With this gift, Marshall researchers will conduct work that will span the spectrum from basic molecular research to practical, workplace-based research, finding both laboratory and clinical answers to help improve the quality of life for those in our state and region. BrickStreet has provided us with the necessary funding to get these projects under way and we can’t wait to get started.”

Last year, BrickStreet donated $300,000 to Marshall to support athletics, academics and research. A portion of that gift was matched by the state’s trust fund.

The state legislature created the West Virginia Research Trust Fund in 2008 with an initial appropriation of $15 million for Marshall. The university can tap into this fund to double private gifts that support specific research initiatives linked to economic development, health care and job growth.


Photo:  From left, Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp; Greg Burton, president and CEO of BrickStreet Mutual Insurance Company; Dr. Ron Area, CEO of the Marshall University Foundation; and Dr. Joseph Shapiro, dean of the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, display an oversized check for $2.5 million presented by BrickStreet Foundation to the Marshall University Foundation today at the BrickStreet office in Charleston. The donation will be used to establish a research endowment at Marshall. Photo by Rick Haye/Marshall University


Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964

Biomedical Sciences professor invited to present at Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., a professor in Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Cancer Biology Research Cluster, was invited to speak at the recent Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference, which was held on December 16th in Pacific Grove, CA. He presented entirely new research, for which he designed most of the experimental procedure, and was performed by Dr. Ata Abbas, a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Philippe Georgel’s laboratory.

The study reports the positive effect of omega-3 fatty acid treatment on various breast cancer cell lines. The omega-3 treatment modified the profile of expression of Human Leukocyte Antigen G (HLA-G), a molecule important in the immune evasion properties displayed by numerous types of cancerous cells. The treated cells display an HLA-G expression profile that resembles that of normal epithelial breast cells as well as a reduced ability to migrate (a property that can be indicative of lower metastatic abilities).

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

 

 

When asked what this research means to “non-scientists,” Georgel good-naturedly responded, “Our research is one additional piece of evidence to support the role of diet in preventing and/or helping find a cure for breast cancer (as well as other cancer types). An increase in omega-3 fatty acid (FA) in our regular diet can be easily achieved by substituting corn oil (rich in omega-6 FA and poor in omega-3 FA) with canola oil (rich in omega-3 FA and low in  omega-6 FA), and also by eating more fish (omega-3-FA-rich).”

This project will be expanded to include the analysis of HLA-G expression profile in tissues from breast cancer patients’ biopsies and a small scale clinical trial involving daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (in collaboration with Dr. Rajesh Sehgal, Medical Oncologist at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center). The results will be used as preliminary material for a submission to the National Institutes of Health and/or the Department of Defense. 

Three Biomedical Graduate Students walk at Winter Commencement 2012

On Sunday, December 16th, Aileen Marcelo, Anne Silvis, and J. Michael Brown walked proudly across stage to be “hooded” by their mentors; a long-awaited and well-deserved honor.

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D. and Mike Brown, Ph.D.

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D. and Mike Brown, Ph.D.

J. Mike Brown, Ph.D. was mentored by Dr. Monica Valentovic, and researched in the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Research Cluster. Dr. Brown is a student at the University of Charleston’s School of Pharmacy. Dissertation title: “A Mechanistic Study of S-Adenosyl-L-methionine Protection Against Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity”.

 

Richard Egleton, Ph.D. and Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D.

Richard Egleton, Ph.D. and Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D.

Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D. was mentored by Dr. Richard Egleton, and researched in the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Research Cluster. Dr. Marcelo is now a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky Sanders-Brown Center on Aging. Dissertation title: “The Role of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor at the Blood-Brain Barrier in Diabetes”.

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. and Anne Silvis, Ph.D.

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. and Anne Silvis, Ph.D.

Anne Silvis, Ph.D. was mentored by Dr. Kelley Kiningham and Dr. Elaine Hardman, and researched in the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Research Cluster. Dr. Silvis is now Research Assistant Professor with Marshall University’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. Dissertation title: “Redox Regulation of Differentiation in Neuroblastoma”.

 

 

Graduates with Mentors

Left to right: Dr. Egleton, Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D., Dr. Valentovic, Mike Brown, Ph.D., Dr. Hardman, and Anne Silvis, Ph.D.

Congratulations to Marshall’s Best and Brightest…
Mike Brown, Ph.D., 
Aileen Marcelo, Ph.D. and
Anne Silvis, Ph.D.!

 

Dr. Silvis celebrating with her son

Dr. Silvis celebrating with her son

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BMS Graduate Student Organization participates in the Jared Box Project

by Saeed Keshavarzian, keshava1@live.marshall.edu

BMS students from left: Brad, Bill, Holly, Miranda, Allison, Johannes, and Saeed

As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded to think about others outside of our busy lives. This year, the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Student Organization (GSO) would like to share with you Jared’s story. He was a special five-year-old boy who, in 1999, was diagnosed with an incurable brainstem tumor; he unfortunately lost his battle with cancer in November 2000. In his short time on Earth, Jared went from doctor appointment to doctor appointment and always carried a backpack filled with his favorite toys and games. Those toys and games brought Jared such joy that, for a brief moment, he was not thinking about his illness, but was just being a child captivated in play.

This is the second year the BMS GSO has participated in the Jared Box Project, an endeavor to share the same joy and relief that toys brought to Jared with other children suffering similar childhood illnesses. Allison Wolf, GSO President and a BMS Ph.D. candidate, along with other BMS students organized the toy drive and a bake sale to contribute to filling Jared boxes.

Miranda and Allison, all smiles, with the toys for the children at Cabell Huntington Hospital

The GSO members delivered the toys to children at Cabell Huntington Hospital and St. Mary’s Medical Center on Friday, December 7th.  Allison said, “We have a wonderful group of students and faculty in our program who make events, such as the Jared Box Project, a success.” Miranda Carper, BMS Ph.D. candidate agreed, and also said that, “this is the second year I have participated and the experience left me feeling happy, humbled, and heart-broken all at the same time. Seeing the children’s faces light up when I handed them a gift warmed my heart, but also left me feeling amazed by their strength and determination.” 

Johannes organizing presents for the children

GSO Vice President, Johannes Fahrmann, who helped organize the Jared Box Project for the second time said that “being a part of this project is a great feeling and instills a sense of unity amongst the organization and the community. It also highlights the warmth that people have in their hearts and highlights one of the main goals, in my opinion, of the GSO which is to give back to those less fortunate.”

For more information on the Jared Box Project, please visit this website: http://www.thejaredbox.com/.

Marshall biomedical professor invited to present her research internationally

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, has been invited to present her research, yet again.

2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy 2012Dr. Santanam will be presenting her research internationally at the International Society of Antioxidants in Nutrition and Health’s (ISANH) 2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy, December 6 – 7, 2012 in Paris, France.

Santanam’s talk is relevant to all with a condition called Endometriosis. Endometriosis is a clinical condition that afflicts 10-15% of women of reproductive age (mainly diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35), posing a major cause for infertility and chronic pain. Since the etiology of this disease is still unknown, very few treatment options are available. Surgery is currently the best treatment; however, due to a high recurrence rate, the disease commonly returns within three to six months post-surgery. The conference provides attendees the opportunity to present and discuss new research relating to the condition. Dr. Santanam’s talk scheduled for Friday, December 7th, is titled “Prostaglandin-Like Lipid Oxidation Products in the peritoneal Fluid of Women with Endometriosis Respond to Antioxidant Therapy.” In addition to her presentation, she also will be co-sharing the meeting on December 7th, 2012. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge the continued collaboration with Dr. Brenda Dawley from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

It is quite an honor to be selected at such a high level in her field, and though Dr. Santanam is not foreign to these invites, she remains humble. This is the second time she has been recognized and invited to present her research in just two months. Dr. Santanam recently presented her research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Los Angeles, California in November. Her talk was titled  “Sex differences in epicardial fat biomarkers,” which highlighted the research she has conducted over the past three years in collaboration with Marshall’s Department of Cardiology and Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. She studied the adipose tissue surrounding the heart and blood vessels in patients with coronary artery disease. 

This epicardial and perivascular fat has unique biomarkers that show differences between Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H. the sexes; she states that with this study, they are “trying to identify biomarkers unique to this particular fat so that we can use it in the future to diagnose or in the treatment of coronary artery disease.”  Additionally, the biomarkers found in the adipose tissue have been correlated to patients with hypertension. This study is part of the West Virginia Appalachian Heart Study; therefore most of the individuals included in this study are Appalachians. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge: Dr. Christopher Adams, Dr. Nepal Chowdhury, Dr. Todd Gress, and Dr. Paulette Wehner.

Dr. Santanam is the chair of the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes research cluster within Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, and is a member of its Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology. 

Congratulations on your continued achievements, Dr. Santanam!

Marshall biomedical sciences’ researchers publish e-book on nutrition and cancer

Cover of "Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology"Researchers at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine have collaborated on an electronic book, “Nutrition and Cancer From Epidemiology to Biology,” recently published by Bentham Science Publishers.

This ebook is one of the latest efforts of researchers at the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center.

A collection of scientific articles written by Marshall faculty members and students, the publication was edited by Dr. Richard M. Niles, professor and chairman of the university’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and director of the McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute.

According to the publisher, various estimates suggest that between 30-40% of all human cancers are related to dietary patterns. Strong epidemiological evidence from studies points to dietary constituents that either contribute or protect against the development of various forms of cancer.

This e-book reviews some traditional and relatively new areas of nutrition and cancer. Epidemiological data is combined with molecular biology research and, where available, clinical trial data. The emerging science of “Nutrigenomics” is discussed with chapters on the biological role of various nutrition components from red wine, peppers, green tea, fish oil, cruciferous vegetables, retinoids; and the intersection of nutrition and epigenetics in hematopoiesis.

The publication will be of interest to researchers in the nutrition and cancer fields, physicians in family and community medicine, internal medicine and oncology, and dieticians providing counseling to cancer patients and cancer survivors.

by Ginny Painter
Director of Communications
Marshall University Research Corporation 
ginny.painter@marshall.edu 
www.marshall.edu/murc  

 

You are invited to enjoy the fall 2012 issue of “We Are…Bridging Medicine and Science”

Marshall University’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program invites you to enjoy reading the Fall 2012 | Issue 2 of We Are…Bridging Medicine and Science!

Click the publication’s front cover below to link to the magazine: 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Marshall WV-INBRE summer research program intern receives ABRCMS travel award

Mardochee Isme, MU WV-INBRE InternMardochee Isme, a senior student at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, and a 2012 participant in West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence’s (WV-INBRE) Summer Research Program at Marshall University, is the winner of a Student Travel Award from the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Isme will attend the 2012 ABRCMS conference located in San Jose, CA, November 7 – 10, 2012 to present her research. The travel award is worth $1,500 and can go toward any travel-related expenses to the conference and/or conference registration fees.

Isme, among other students, performed research at Marshall University with Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall University’s School of Medicine and Coordinator of the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Research Cluster. The abstract for her research is titled, “Epigenetics of endometriosis-associated pain.” Dr. Santanam’s laboratory is interested in the etiology of endometriosis and Mardochee’s research looked at the epigenetics of the disease, which as Dr. Santanam stated, “is a new area of research.”  

Kristeena Ray, a Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Santanam’s laboratory, helped Mardochee with her research and will continue this work as the focus of her own Ph.D. research. Dr. Santanam’s laboratory also has submitted a request for an NIH grant for further research in this field. Dr. Santanam would like to thank Dr. Brenda Dawley from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine for providing samples for this research project.

BMS associate professor plays significant role in heated tobacco debate

by Saeed Keshavarzian, BMS Medical Sciences student

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.Marshall’s Student Government Association (SGA) recently held a meeting to vote on a campus-wide tobacco ban. Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp asked Student Body President Ray Harrell Jr. to form a joint committee to draft a proposal for Marshall University to go tobacco free. The committee drafted the proposal to ban all tobacco products campus-wide.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was asked by Amy Saunders, Director of Student Health Education Programs, to attend the meeting in order to explain the effects of nicotine on the human body, and to answer any questions that the gallery had regarding the ill effects of nicotine. 

Early into the meeting Dr. Dasgupta explained that nicotine “can promote tobacco related diseases,” one of which is lung cancer. She also stated that her lab is performing research on the “ill effects of second hand smoke, even third hand smoke, which is the stuff that sticks to your car, [and] to your clothes when you smoke.” As the gallery was allowed to ask questions and voice concerns, Dr. Dasgupta answered health-related questions that were asked. After two hours of heated debate and testimonials from both the SGA senators and the gallery, the SGA voted 11-7 in favor of the campus-wide tobacco ban.

Dr. Monica Valentovic Endows a Scholarship

The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology, has endowed a scholarship to be awarded to a third or fourth year medical student in the School of Medicine who has financial need and is involved in research. The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship is named for her parents. 

“My parents were hard working individuals,” said Valentovic. “My dad was a foundry engineer and my mom worked in clothing manufacturing. They lived most of their lives in Cleveland, Ohio. I wanted them to be remembered in a way that would have an impact for a long time. I though this scholarship would help future physicians who will have patients similar to my parents, thus perpetuating my parents’ inclination to help others.”

Valentovic considers research to be an important aspect of training medical students. For this reason, first preference for the scholarship will be a student who has done or is currently involved in research with a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, either while a medical student or prior to entering medical school.

Second preference is for a student who has done research while in medical school with a full-time School of Medicine faculty member who is associated with a department other than Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

“Very few students take the time to do research, either prior to starting medical school or while they are in medical school,” said Valentovic. “In order to have a valuable research experience, students must invest time and dedication to a project. I believe this is the first scholarship at the medical school that targets students in this area.

“In my opinion, students doing research are often not recognized,” added Valentovic. “This scholarship is a small way to recognize and reward students who have taken this extra effort. Research is a critical component for the development of new drugs, medical devices and treatments. A research experience emphasizes the approach to answer a question such as the mechanism for a drug interaction, including how to properly design a study as well as the endpoints and analysis. I believe a research experience broadens a student’s approach to answering clinical problems. This scholarship is a way to give them financial assistance and remember my parents.”

Valentovic is well aware of the significant financial investment students have while they are in medical school. “Reducing student debt is important,” she said. “Medicine is a practice that helps other individuals in need. My parents were active in helping others and this scholarship is a long term commitment to help our medical students and, eventually, they will help others.”

This article may be found on page 49 in the 2012 Summer/Fall issue of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Benefactor: http://www.marshall.edu/ucomm/files/2012/10/SOMBenefactor_2012.pdf.

Biomedical sciences doctoral students take top awards at regional conference


Contact: 
Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964, or  Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine & Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two biomedical sciences doctoral students from Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine captured first place in both categories of a research competition held earlier this month in conjunction with the first Appalachian Regional Cell Conference.

They were among more than 40 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from Marshall, West Virginia University, University of Kentucky and Ohio University competing at the conference, which was held Oct. 12 at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine biomedical sciences Ph.D. students Johannes Fahrmann, standing, and Rounak Nande, seated, captured first place in their respective categories at a research competition held earlier this month in conjunction with the first Appalachian Regional Cell Conference. Fahrmann won the oral presentation category and Nande took first place in the poster category.

Marshall biomedical sciences Ph.D. candidate Johannes Fahrmann received first place in the oral presentation category of the competition for a presentation about his research to explore the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in late stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Rounak Nande, who is also a doctoral student in the university’s biomedical sciences program, was awarded first place in the poster category for a poster describing his project to help develop a delivery system for targeted gene therapy to improve the treatment of prostate cancer. 

Fahrmann said the conference was a valuable experience and he hopes to continue his involvement with the event in the future. 

“The conference was aimed at networking, collaborations and showcasing the research being conducted by students at the attending universities,” he added. “I was given the honor and privilege to represent Marshall University through an oral presentation describing my cancer research, and was very pleased to receive the overall award. Neither the award nor the conference itself could have come to fruition without the dedicated work of the organizing committee, which included our own graduate student Allison Wolf.”

He also expressed appreciation to his faculty mentor, Dr. Elaine Hardman, Marshall professor of biochemistry and microbiology. 

Hardman praised Fahrmann’s work, saying, “Johannes is an outstanding senior graduate student who will do well in research. The presentation he made was completely his own work—he developed the idea, wrote a grant, obtained the funding to do the work and has excellent results. His work has clear clinical relevance and, we hope, will apply to enhancing cancer therapy in the near future. He is a leader in the department and an outstanding role model for the younger graduate students. I am delighted with his success and to have him for a student.”

Nande said of the experience, “I, too, felt privileged to take part in the first-ever ARCC conference put together by the four universities. I would like to thank my mentor at Marshall, Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, and my collaborators from the Tri-State Regional Cancer Center in Ashland, Ky., Dr. Michael Gossman and Dr. Jeffrey Lopez, for having confidence in me to present our research.”

Claudio, who is an associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology and director of the McKown Translational Genomics Research Institute, said he was pleased with Nande’s success at the conference and emphasized the potential importance of the student’s research.

“A major challenge for effective gene therapy is the ability to specifically deliver nucleic acids and potentially toxic gene products directly into diseased tissue. This system Ron helped develop in our lab allows for the specific delivery of smart biological drugs to diseased tissues using the blood stream. The advantage of this technique is that the therapeutic viruses are released in a concentrated manner in the diseased tissue, eliciting an enhanced therapeutic effect while minimizing complications,” added Claudio.

Two additional Marshall graduate students, Kristeena Ray and Sarah Mathis, were selected as winners in their categories of the poster competition—Ray for a poster showcasing her research into the role of epigenetics in endometriosis-associated pain and Mathis for a poster describing her work to help develop a test that could make possible individualized chemotherapy treatments. Ray works in the lab of Dr. Nalini Santanam, Marshall professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology. Claudio serves as Mathis’s faculty mentor.

The conference was organized and hosted by the four institutions with the goal of expanding the field of cell biology research and fostering interactions among scientists at the universities in the Ohio Valley/mid-Appalachian region. In addition to the oral and poster presentations, the program featured keynote speaker Dr. Vinay Pathak, a senior investigator in HIV drug resistance at the National Cancer Institute, and networking opportunities for more than 80 students and faculty members who participated in the program. The conference was funded through a grant from the American Society for Cell Biology.

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Photo by Rick Haye/Marshall University

Marshall advances in next generation sequencing and bioinformatics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Friday, Oct. 21, 2011

Contact: Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964, ginny.painter@marshall.edu


Forum to highlight Marshall advances in

next generation sequencing and bioinformatics

Donald Primerano, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Scientific researchers, computer scientists and engineers will gather next week at Marshall University for a forum to focus attention on Marshall’s research capabilities in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics.

The free forum, called “Next Generation Sequencing and Bioinformatics,” will be held Thursday, Oct. 27, from 1 to 4:30 p.m. in room 402 of the Drinko Library on Marshall’s Huntington campus. The program will include presentations about the university’s resources for advanced research in these cutting-edge scientific fields, current research projects under way on campus, and a discussion about what will be necessary to continue to build momentum.

According to event organizers, the scientific fields of molecular biology and genomics have undergone a spectacular transition over the past 20 years due to technological advances. Research studies have evolved from a single gene approach to genome-wide investigations that generate a massive amount of data to analyze. This change has led to development of bioinformatics – a research field that uses computer technology to help understand biological processes.

Over the past several years, Marshall has made a concerted effort to strategically build its capacity for this type of high-tech research. A new high-performance computing cluster has given Marshall students and faculty access to computing power, data and information previously available only to the most prestigious research institutions, and connection to the advanced Internet2® network that links the university with people, equipment and information at partner institutions around the world. Marshall is also the only institution in the state with a next generation sequencer, which allows scientists to sequence a genome faster and at lower cost than was possible with earlier methods.

Dr. Philippe Georgel, a professor of biological sciences in Marshall’s College of Science, will be helping to lead the forum. He said the university has made great strides recently.

“Marshall University is gathering momentum in terms of securing first-class equipment and building intellectual capabilities to develop competitive next generation sequencing capabilities,” Georgel said. “The decoding of the human genome has not only answered multiple biological questions, it has also opened new research avenues aimed at understanding how the expression of these thousands of genes can be coordinated.”

Another forum participant, Dr. Jim Denvir, assistant professor of bioinformatics and biostatistics at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, agreed, adding, “The acquisition of state-of-the-art genomic sequencing technology has positioned Marshall University to play a leading role in emerging avenues of biological research. These new research technologies reveal both exciting possibilities and big challenges across multiple-scientific disciplines.”

Organizers invite anyone with an interest in the topic to attend the forum. For more information or to register online, visit www.marshall.edu/cegas/ngsbf.

The forum is made possible in part by a National Science Foundation grant that funds “Cyberinfrastructure for Transformational Scientific Discovery in West Virginia and Arkansas (CI-TRAIN),” a partnership among eight higher education institutions in West Virginia and Arkansas.

Marshall University biomedical sciences students to co-host conference in Charleston

Thursday, October 11, 2012
Contact: Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy 304-691-1713



National Cancer Institute senior investigator to be guest speaker

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine biomedical sciences students, in collaboration with students from West Virginia University, the University of Kentucky and Ohio University, will host the first Appalachian Regional Cell Conference in an effort to expand the field of cell biology research in the region.

The conference is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. this Friday, Oct. 12, in Charleston at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at Charleston Area Medical Center, and is funded by a grant from the American Society for Cell Biology.

“The goal of this scientific meeting is to foster interactions among students at four universities within the Ohio Valley/mid-Appalachian region: West Virginia University, Marshall University, the University of Kentucky and Ohio University,” said M. Allison Wolf, one of the conference organizers and a graduate student at Marshall. “An annual, regional meeting of students from these peer institutions will generate unique benefits emerging from a larger gathering of students, including stimulating professional networking and discovering common research interests that may lead to future collaborations and sharing of resources.”

Dr. Richard Niles, senior associate dean for research and graduate education, praised the students for their efforts to coordinate the initiative.

“This is an outstanding opportunity for our graduate students to gain valuable experience in organizing and dealing with the logistics of running a scientific conference,” Niles said.  “It will also develop their peer networking skills, which will become important for whatever career path they choose.  I am very proud of Allison for taking on this organizational task despite her demanding Ph.D. research activities.”

The conference will feature keynote speaker Dr. Vinay Pathak, a senior investigator with the National Cancer Institute, whose area of study includes research on projects relating to HIV drug resistance.

For more information contact Allison Wolf at 304-696-3576.

Dr. Nader G. Abraham named vice dean for research at School of Medicine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, Oct. 8, 2012
Contact:
Leah Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713 

Dr. Nader G. Abraham named vice dean for research at School of Medicine
International researcher brings NIH grants and team of researchers to medical school

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. –

Dr. Nader G. AbrahamNader G. Abraham, Ph.D., Dr. H.C., FAHA, an internationally-recognized researcher in the field of obesity and vascular disease, has been named the inaugural vice dean for research at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, President Stephen J. Kopp and Dean Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., announced today.  

Several members of Abraham’s research team will begin their official duties on Nov. 1, with the entire research operation in place in early 2013.

Abraham currently serves as chairman and professor of the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo College Of Medicine. He is also affiliated with New York Medical College in Valhalla, N.Y., The Rockefeller University in New York and University of Catania in Italy.

“Dr. Abraham brings to Marshall University and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine exceptional experience and a proven track record in advancing successful grant-funded research. Put simply, he is a research catalyst,” Kopp said. “He is especially adept in fostering clinical translational research and building successful interdisciplinary research teams, attributes that will be of great benefit to our entire university. He most certainly will complement our efforts to expand applied research activities that yield commercially-viable discoveries.”

“This is a great day for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and Marshall University. Dr. Abraham is one of the preeminent biomedical researchers in the world, and his joining our faculty raises our profile immediately,” Shapiro said.

He continued, “Dr. Abraham has the unique and remarkable ability to energize and inspire others. This is illustrated by the group of scientists that will be coming with him. Recruiting any of these individuals on their own would be considered a terrific accomplishment for our school. I truly believe that Dr. Abraham is a key recruitment that will give Marshall University a significant leap forward toward becoming a premier biomedical research institution.”

Widely recognized for his research on vascular disease, which is a prelude to cardiovascular and metabolic diseases including hypertension, stroke, diabetes and obesity, Abraham and his team of researchers specifically study heme oxygenase, the most potent anti-oxidant gene in the human body. The team’s research also includes ways to speed up the implementation of laboratory findings into clinical therapeutic strategies for patients, i.e., translational medicine.

“I’m very excited about joining the faculty at Marshall University,” Abraham said. “I will be focusing on translational research projects in collaboration with the clinical departments, which will be an exciting experience for our medical students. I very much enjoy working with outstanding clinicians with little basic science experience and seeing them evolve into translational researchers. Truly, Marshall offers a unique opportunity to achieve these goals.”

Abraham is currently the principal investigator on two National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants focusing on stem cells-heme oxygenase, hormonal regulation of blood pressure, obesity and diabetes. Over his 30-year-plus career, Abraham has served as principal investigator or co-investigator on grants or projects totaling more than $17.3 million. As project leader for a program project in pharmacology, he has worked on five grants with total NIH funding of more than $60 million, bringing his total career grant support to more than $77 million.

Several career highlights for Abraham include the following leadership positions:

  • 1996, chairman of the Society of Hematology and Stem Cells;
  • 2000, chairman of the 1st International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, New York;
  • 2002, chairman of the International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, Italy;
  • 2005, chairman of the International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, Japan; and
  • 2007, chairman of the International Conference on Heme Oxygenase, Poland.

Over his career, Abraham has received dozens of awards including the following:

  • National Institute of Health, Research Career Development Award;
  • Dr. David M. Ovitz Lecturer Award, University of Calgary, Canada;
  • Distinguished Professor Award, University of Saskatoon, Canada;
  • Dean’s Distinguished Award for Stem Cell Research, University of Catania, Italy;
  • Honorary doctoral degree in Pharmacy, University of Catania, Italy;      
  • Dean’s Distinguished Award, New York Medical College, New York; and
  • Honored Professorship, Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science. 

He has served as an invited lecturer internationally, including in China, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Japan, Sweden, Copenhagen, Czech Republic and Poland. He is the author or co-author of more than 300 original articles and has mentored numerous postdoctoral and graduate students.  He is a Fellow of the American Heart Association.

Abraham brings to the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine a team of researchers including the following individuals: 

  • G. Drummond, Ph.D., a former associate professor at Rockefeller University and an expert in heme oxygenase who pioneered the use of metalloporphyrins to inhibit bilirubin production, and has more than 20 years of clinical trial experience in preventing jaundice in newborn infants.
  • D. Kim, Ph.D., a researcher in human stem cells;
  • K. Sodhi, M.D., a researcher in hypertension associated with obesity and diabetes;
  • S. Monu, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow who works on the expression of an endogenous antioxidant;
  • M. Maheshwari, a doctoral student; and,            
  • M. Choi, a lab assistant.

Abraham earned his Ph.D. in 1976 from the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He spent his postdoctoral fellowship at The Rockefeller University, where he discovered and isolated the rat and human heme oxygenase gene responsible for the over-production of bilirubin in newborn infants, which manifests as jaundice. In early 1982, he developed inhibiters of heme oxygenase for the prevention of jaundice with his mentor Dr. A. Kappas, former vice president of The Rockefeller University and physician-in-chief.

In 1977, he became an associate scientist at New York Medical College in New York. He initiated the college’s first program project on heme oxygenase in 1985. During his time there, he was promoted to the rank of professor with tenure in medicine in 1993.

Abraham was named a visiting professor of medicine at New York University in 1993, at which time he also continued his affiliation with The Rockefeller University as a visiting scientist.

In 1996, he re-joined New York Medical College as a professor in the departments of pharmacology and medicine and also served as director of the stem cell and gene therapy program.

In 2009, while maintaining affiliations with both the New York Medical College and The Rockefeller University, Abraham was named chairman and professor of the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo College of Medicine.  During his tenure as chair of the department at Toledo, NIH and pharmaceutical support increased from $2.5 million to more than $7 million in less than four years.

Ph.D. program recently graduates three students

This year has been an exceptional year in the BMS program for student graduates. The following students have recently successfully defended their Ph.D. dissertations:

J. Mike Brown, Ph.D.J. Mike Brown, Ph.D. – Mike was mentored by Dr. Monica Valentovic. His dissertation is entitled: “A Mechanistic Study of S-Adenosyl-L-methionine Protection Against Acetaminophen Hepatotoxicity.” He is currently a third-year pharmacy student at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy.

 

 

 


Madhukar Kolli, Ph.D., D.V.M.

Madhukar Kolli, Ph.D., D.V.M. – Dr. Eric Blough mentored Madhukar. His dissertation title is: “The Use of Cerium Oxide and Curcumin Nanoparticles as Therapeutic Agents for the Treatment of Ventricular Hypertrophy Following Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension.” He is currently working as a Veterinarian in Barboursville, W.Va.

 

 

Siva Nalabotu, Ph.D.Siva Krishna Nalabotu, Ph.D., D.V.M. – Siva was mentored by Dr. Eric Blough. His dissertation is entitled: “Evaluation of the role of oxidative stress, inflammation and apoptosis in the pulmonary and the hepatic toxicity induced by cerium oxide nanoparticles following intratracheal instillation in male sprague-dawley rats.” Siva will next be working as an Assistant Veterinarian at Banfield Pet Hospital in Florence, Ky. He says that he will use his research skills to educate his clients about the toxicity of different substances and the precautionary measures that can be taken to avoid toxicity in pets.

In Siva’s own words, “The experience I got from the Ph.D. program was utmost in my life. They were the best days in my life. I had excellent committee members who were very knowledgeable and highly encouraging. My advisor, Dr. Blough, was wonderful in guiding me throughout the program, and his valuable suggestions will be invaluable for my future. I also would like to thank Dr. Valentovic, who was very caring and helpful in advising me regarding the crucial decisions in my career.”

Congratulations, Mike, Madhukar, and Siva!

We have recently had several other students defend dissertations, and we will update you on them as soon as their graduation status is official.

BMS Program celebrates Eighth Annual Biomedical Sciences Research Retreat

Sarah Mathis, Ph.D. candidateOn August 24, the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program hosted is ninth annual research retreat. Every year, faculty, staff, and research students in the program gather to share their research, enjoy a speech by an alumni guest, and present awards for research and service. The event, which was organized by Dr. Beverly Delidow, and took place at the Pullman Plaza Hotel. According to Diana R. Maue, Graduate Recruitment Coordinator for the program, “Every year at this event, we celebrate the Marshall Biomedical Sciences family and biomedical research itself.”

The event kicked off with a luncheon and poster session. This portion of the retreat gives everyone a chance to socialize and catch up on research developments in the program. After the poster session, a member of each research cluster gave a short speech. The alumni guest speaker then presented.

Nathan Head, Ph.D.The alumni guest speaker this year was Nathan Head, Ph.D. Dr. Head currently serves as a Supervisory Special Agent for the FBI Weapons of Mass Destruction Directorate (WMDD). This agency was created in 2006 to coordinate federal resources with the goal of preventing attacks involving radiological, nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. His talk was entitled: “The Road Not Taken: Leaving Academia to Explore an Alternative Career in the Sciences.” His experiences give a stunning example of the possibilities that await for graduates of our program.

The alumni speaker was followed by the awards presentation. The following awards were presented at the retreat:
dsc_0170M. Allison Wolf, President of the BMS Graduate Student Organization (GSO), won the award for Best Overall Performance as a Graduate Student plaque. The award includes a plaque and paid trip to an international meeting (up to $3500). Allison is a Ph.D. Candidate working in Dr. Claudio’s lab.

 

 

 
dsc_0169Johannes Fahrmann, Vice President of the BMS GSO, received the award for Best Research Performance as a Graduate Student. Johannes received a plaque and paid trip to a national meeting (up to $2,000). He is a Ph.D. Candidate in Dr. Hardman’s lab.

 

 

 

 

Saeed Keshavarzian and Richard Niles, Ph.D.

Saeed Keshavarzian was honored for being the Medical Sciences student with the highest first year g.p.a.

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Van Meter and Richard Niles, Ph.D.Stephanie Van Meter was awarded for being the Ph.D. student with the highest first year g.p.a.

 

 

 

 

M. Allison Wolf and Stephen RogersSteven Rogers, who is now a Ph.D. student in Dr. Blough’s lab, won the new GSO M.S. Student Scholarship.

 

 

 

 
dsc_0153_0Miranda Carper, a Ph.D. Candidate in Dr. Claudio’s lab, won the new GSO Ph.D. Student Scholarship.

 

 

 

 

M. Allison Wolf and Margaret McFarlandMargaret McFarland and Connie Berk tied for the GSO Staff Appreciation Award.

 

 

 

 

dsc_0161

Dr. Richard Egleton won the GSO Faculty Appreciation Award.

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to the award winners, and thank you to the participants. We look forward to seeing everyone at the next gathering.

BMS Graduate Program completes orientation week for incoming students

bms-picnic-2012-092The Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program recently welcomed a new group of incoming students. Each year, the program hosts an orientation for students entering the Ph.D., M.S. (Research Option), and M.S. (Medical Sciences) programs.

The program welcomed an impressive group from a wide variety of undergraduate institutions, including:

 

  • California Lutheran University
  • College of The Holy Cross
  • Glenville State College
  • Grambling State University
  • International (China)
  • Marshall University
  • Roanoke College
  • Seton Hill College
  • The Ohio State University
  • University of Kentucky
  • University of TN, Knoxville
  • University of South Florida
  • WV State University
  • West Virginia University

The first day of orientation included a campus tour, Biotechnology Science Center tour, posing for a class picture, lunch with faculty and fellow classmates, and learning about curricula and opportunities for growth. The Ph.D. and Research M.S. students also were introduced to the research within each cluster by respective faculty members, while the Medical Sciences’ students had the welcomed opportunity to meet with Cindy Warren from the medical school. 

bms-picnic-2012-107But, what would orientation be without the annual BMS Picnic! Later that day, incoming students gathered at Rotary Park for the fun and informal opportunity to meet their classmates, interact with current BMS students, and get to know faculty, staff and administrators. There were icebreaker games, as well as others, and great food. Check out the photo gallery to see the fun!

The program congratulates the new students on entering the program, and wishes them good luck in their first year!

To see all of the photos from the picnic, check out our Events Gallery.

JCE School of Medicine Faculty Present Research at the National IDeA Meeting

Every two years the National IDeA Symposium of Biomedical Research Excellence (NISBRE) meeting is held in Washington D.C. to bring together faculty, fellows and students that participate in the National Institutes of Health’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) programs. This year the NISBRE meeting was held June 25-27, 2012 at the Benja Lamyaithong Marshall INBRE studentOmni Shoreham Hotel and was attended by six faculty members from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University in the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) program, three from West Virginia University and one each from Bluefield State College, Concord College, West Virginia State University, West Virginia Wesleyan College and the University of Charleston. Several of the Marshall University faculty presented research during the meeting including Drs. Monica Valentovic, Nalini Santanam Nalini Santanam, Ph.D./M.P.H.and Travis Salisbury from the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology and Dr. Donald Primerano from the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. Also presenting research was Andre Benja Lamyaithong, an undergraduate student at Wheeling Jesuit University, who has been conducting research on antidotes for acetaminophen overdose with Dr. Valentovic for two summers as part of the West Virginia INBRE summer research program. Other JCE School of Medicine faculty members attending the meeting were: Dr. Jim Denvir, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, who co-authored the work with Dr. Primerano; and Dr. Gary Rankin, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, who is a member of the Executive Planning Committee for the NISBRE meeting. 

 

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Dr.Valentovic’s research on how a component of grapes and red wine (resveratrol) can reduce damage to the kidney caused by a commonly used drug (cisplatin) to treat cancer was presented in a regular research session and highlighted in a special session on clinical and translational research. In addition, Dr. Primerano’s research into the genetics of families with high blood cholesterol was highlighted in a special session on cardiovascular disease.

The IDeA program was started in 1993 to help increase the biomedical research competitiveness in states that receive only small amounts of research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The IDeA program is composed of two award programs, one (Centers Of Biomedical Research Excellence; COBRE) that is designed to create centers with a biomedical research focus at larger research schools and a second program (INBRE) designed to build the biomedical research infrastructure at smaller colleges and universities and provide biomedical research training primarily to undergraduate students.Travis Salisbury, Ph.D. Currently, 23 states and Puerto Rico are eligible to compete for COBRE or INBRE grants. Marshall University was awarded an INBRE grant as the lead institution in 2004 with West Virginia University serving as a partner lead institution.  Dr. Gary Rankin, Professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall University is the Principal Investigator for the WV-INBRE program.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta awarded NIH grant for lung cancer research

Piyali Dagupta, Ph.D., and Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Marshall University faculty member has been awarded a three-year, $426,000 grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further her lung cancer research.
 
Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will use the grant to continue her work to determine if the nutritional agent capsaicin—the active ingredient in chili peppers—can improve the anti-cancer activity of the commonly used chemotherapy drug cisplatin in patients with small cell lung cancer.
 
Dasgupta received the funding through the National Cancer Institute’s Academic Research Enhancement Award program. The program supports research projects in the biomedical and behavioral sciences that strengthen the research environment of the institution and expose students to research. Her co-investigator is Dr. Monica Valentovic, a professor in the same department.
 
“Small cell lung cancer is characterized by a high rate of growth, early metastasis and a dismal survival rate,” said Dasgupta. “Although chemotherapy works well initially in these patients, they often relapse quickly and become unresponsive to chemotherapy. Since the preliminary data in our laboratory shows that capsaicin manifests anti-cancer activity in this type of cancer, we are hopeful our studies under this new grant may lead to new treatments.”
 
She continued, “I am thrilled to receive this funding and I am grateful to a lot of people who have been instrumental in our success to this point. My collaborator Dr. Valentovic is a fabulous scientist to work with. I am also grateful to all the members of my lab for their hard work and dedication.”
 
Dasgupta also acknowledged the support of the chairman of her department, Dr. Gary Rankin, and acknowledged Dr. Marcia Harrison and the MU-ADVANCE program, which she says made it possible for undergraduate students to work in her lab. MU-ADVANCE is a National Science Foundation-funded program to help increase the number of female science and engineering faculty at the university.
 
Dasgupta says she believes her proposal was selected for funding at least in part because the grant program’s focus on student research made it a good match for her lab. Undergraduates working in her lab have a track record of receiving research grants, authoring publications and presenting their findings at international conferences.
 
Dr. John M. Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, congratulated the researchers, saying, “NIH grants are extraordinarily competitive, and I applaud Drs. Dasgupta and Valentovic for having a successful application. They are doing vital research that may very well have a positive impact on human health in the not-so-distant future. In addition, the grant will allow them to continue to give students hands-on, meaningful research opportunities in the lab.”
 
In addition to receiving the new NIH funding, Dasgupta recently was notified that her grant from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute has been renewed for an additional two years. The renewal, which extends the original three-year award, makes the total grant worth nearly $550,000. That grant is funding Dasgupta’s study of how nicotine, the active component in cigarette smoke, facilitates the progression of lung cancer. Valentovic is also the co-investigator on that award. 

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Dr. Vincent Sollars serves as guest editor of an ebook on epigenetics with Genetics Research International

Cover image (links to full cover): The Role of Epigenetics in Evlotion

Dr. Vincent E. Sollars of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program recently served as the guest editor of an ebook for Genetics Research International. The ebook is entitled The Role of Epigenetics in Evolution: The Extended Synthesis.

The purpose of the publication is to provide discourse on the ways in which epigenetics, or non-sequence-based changes in DNA, can be incorporated into evolutionary theory.  According to Dr. Sollars, “The traditional dogma of mutational change, leveraged by natural selection, leaves out the advancing field of epigenetics.  This book will assist in incorporating those ideas into evolutionary theory.”

Dr. Sollars is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He researches within two research clusters: Cancer Biology and Infectious and Immunological Diseases.

Genetics Research International publishes articles covering many diverse areas of genetics. It is an open access, peer-reviewed journal featuring review articles, research articles, and clinical studies. The intended audience for this ebook includes researchers in the field of epigenetics and/or evolution.

Digital copies and hard copies can be procured online via the publisher, Hindawi, at the following link:

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/gri/2012/286164/ 

Drs. Claudio and Niles co-edit and publish an ebook on nutrition and cancer featuring BMS professors and students

Cover of "Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology"Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D./Ph.D., and Richard M. Niles, Ph.D., of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program have co-edited and written articles in an ebook entitled “Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology.” This ebook is one of the latest efforts of cancer researchers at the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center, where the role of nutrition in cancer is actively and successfully investigated. The ebook contains a collection of scientific articles, written by researchers and students in the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.  

The purpose of this publication is to educate and inform the public regarding the latest knowledge on nutrition and cancer. It focuses on the role of various nutritional components in cancer prevention, as well their present and future use in cancer therapy. According to Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, “This e-book will be of interest to researchers in the nutrition and cancer field, physicians in family and community medicine, internal medicine and oncology, as well as dieticians providing counseling to cancer patients and cancer survivors.”

Dr. Niles says that the best description of the importance of this book can be found within the foreword, written by Dr. Gary Meadows of Washington State University:

“While we as individuals cannot modify our genetic makeup and may have little control over the multitude of carcinogens in our environment, we have the power to make healthy diet-based choices that can significantly modify cancer risk and progression. The authors have structured this book not only to review the epidemiological studies that support the roles of selected nutrients/phytochemicals in cancer control, but also they review the cellular and molecular pathways involved in their action as well as the clinical data related to their efficacy in cancer treatment. Consequently, this book has wide appeal not only to researchers in the nutrition and cancer field, but also to oncology practitioners, dieticians, as well as cancer survivors, who are interested learning how healthy dietary choices can enhance their quality of life.” 

According to Dr. Niles, editing the book involved reviewing each chapter and making suggestions for improvement of the content handwriting. He also co-wrote a chapter with Dr. Rankin on resveratrol, found in high concentration in red wine, and its ability to inhibit the development or progression of certain types of cancer. Dr. Claudio co-wrote an article with Ph.D. candidate M. Allison Wolf on isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, which his lab found to target carcinogenesis during tumor initiation, promotion, and progression.

The following authors and articles are found within the ebook:

Richard M. Niles, Ph.D. and Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.
Resveratrol, A Phytoalexin with a Multitude of Anti-Cancer Activities

Jamie K. Lau, Kathleen C. Brown, Aaron M. Dom and Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.
Capsaicin: Potential Applications in Cancer Therapy

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids as an Adjuvant to Cancer Therapy

Richard Egleton, Ph.D.
Green Tea Catechins and Cancer

Kinsley Kelley Kiningham, Ph.D., and Anne Silvis
Receptor Independent Effects of Retinoids

Vincent E. Sollars, Ph.D.
Epigenetics as a Mechanism for Dietary Fatty Acids to Affect Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells And Leukemia – Royal Jelly for the Blood

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D. and Nalini Santanam, Ph.D./M.P.H.
Nutrition, Oxidative Stress and Cancer

John Wilkinson IV, Ph.D.
Is there an Etiologic Role for Dietary Iron and Red Meat in Breast Cancer Development?

M. Allison Wolf and Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D./Ph.D.
Isothiocyanates Target Carcinogenesis During Tumor Initiation, Promotion and Progression

The ebook can be ordered directly online through the Bentham Science website at the following link: http://198.247.95.142/ebooks/9781608054473/index.htm

First Annual Appalachian Regional Cell Conference to be held in October

Appalachian Regional Cell Conference Posterby Allison Wolf

A collaborative effort between students at Marshall University, WVU, UK and OU has led to the organization of the first annual Appalachian Regional Cell Conference (ARCC). The goal of this scientific symposium is to foster interaction and future collaboration among students. Miranda Carper, former President of the GSO, calls the event a “a dynamic and interactive opportunity for research students to present their work to their peers.” The conference will host poster and oral presentations.

The event will be held on October 12, 2012 at the Charleston Area Medical Center in Charleston, WV. A grant received from the American Society for Cell Biology will provide the funding.

Dr. Vinay Pathak, who has worked with the National Cancer Institute since 1999 as a Senior Investigator, will deliver the keynote speech. Dr. Pathak’s lab focuses mostly on research projects relating to HIV drug resistance.

According to Graduate Student Organization (GSO) Vice President, Johannes Fahrmann, “one of the biggest advantages to a student run conference is the fact that it takes out some of the intimidation factor that may be involved with a larger scale meeting that is run by mostly established individuals.” GSO secretary Ben Owen adds that, “because this meeting is a smaller conference, as compared to national conferences sponsored by societies, students will have a better chance of networking with others in a more relaxed atmosphere.”

If you would like to receive an application, or have any questions about the ARCC conference, please contact Allison Wolf (teter6@marshall.edu).

Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine features dual-degree program with emphasis on research

Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., Dean of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall UniversityHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Joseph I. Shapiro, dean of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, today announced revitalization of a research-focused dual-degree program at the School of Medicine.

The M.D./Ph.D. program has existed at Marshall since 1992, but operated on an ad hoc basis as students expressed interest.

The revised M.D./Ph.D. program is a seven-year commitment that allows students to graduate with both degrees, preparing them for careers in patient care and medical research.  

“The School of Medicine is positioned to offer students interested in medical research an enriching experience that combines traditional medical education with laboratory research in an effort to develop new treatments for their patients,” Shapiro said.   “The field of biomedical research is exploding with opportunity and we are thrilled to offer this degree option to our students.”

Dr. Richard Niles, senior associate dean for research and graduate education, says most of the students interested in the dual-degree program are interested in careers in academic medicine.

“Students exploring careers in research and medicine have historically found themselves having to choose one field or the other,” he said.  “This option allows them to pursue dual goals, combining their desire to help others through both clinical and research experiences.”

Niles says students interested in pursuing the combined degree will check off the corresponding box on their American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application.  When Marshall receives the applications, they will be flagged for review by a subcommittee consisting of members of the medical school admission committee and the graduate studies committee which, in turn, will make admissions recommendations.

Additional application information is available at www.musom.marshall.edu/md-phd/

Marshall scientist awarded NIH grant for lung cancer research

The following story from the Marshall University Research Corporation highlights two researchers within the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program: Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D., and Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.


Piyali Dagupta, Ph.D., and Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.

 HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Marshall University faculty member has been awarded a three-year, $426,000 grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further her lung cancer research.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will use the grant to continue her work to determine if the nutritional agent capsaicin—the active ingredient in chili peppers—can improve the anti-cancer activity of the commonly used chemotherapy drug cisplatin in patients with small cell lung cancer.

Dasgupta received the funding through the National Cancer Institute’s Academic Research Enhancement Award program. The program supports research projects in the biomedical and behavioral sciences that strengthen the research environment of the institution and expose students to research. Her co-investigator is Dr. Monica Valentovic, a professor in the same department.

“Small cell lung cancer is characterized by a high rate of growth, early metastasis and a dismal survival rate,” said Dasgupta. “Although chemotherapy works well initially in these patients, they often relapse quickly and become unresponsive to chemotherapy. Since the preliminary data in our laboratory shows that capsaicin manifests anti-cancer activity in this type of cancer, we are hopeful our studies under this new grant may lead to new treatments.”

She continued, “I am thrilled to receive this funding and I am grateful to a lot of people who have been instrumental in our success to this point. My collaborator Dr. Valentovic is a fabulous scientist to work with. I am also grateful to all the members of my lab for their hard work and dedication.”

Dasgupta also acknowledged the support of the chairman of her department, Dr. Gary Rankin, and acknowledged Dr. Marcia Harrison and the MU-ADVANCE program, which she says made it possible for undergraduate students to work in her lab. MU-ADVANCE is a National Science Foundation-funded program to help increase the number of female science and engineering faculty at the university.

Dasgupta says she believes her proposal was selected for funding at least in part because the grant program’s focus on student research made it a good match for her lab. Undergraduates working in her lab have a track record of receiving research grants, authoring publications and presenting their findings at international conferences.

Dr. John M. Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, congratulated the researchers, saying, “NIH grants are extraordinarily competitive, and I applaud Drs. Dasgupta and Valentovic for having a successful application. They are doing vital research that may very well have a positive impact on human health in the not-so-distant future. In addition, the grant will allow them to continue to give students hands-on, meaningful research opportunities in the lab.”

In addition to receiving the new NIH funding, Dasgupta recently was notified that her grant from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute has been renewed for an additional two years. The renewal, which extends the original three-year award, makes the total grant worth nearly $550,000. That grant is funding Dasgupta’s study of how nicotine, the active component in cigarette smoke, facilitates the progression of lung cancer. Valentovic is also the co-investigator on that award.


Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964