Researcher receives $432,000 grant to study progression of cancer, involve students

The following news story provides different information about Dr. Sollars’ research than the previous one posted on our News page.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Vincent E. Sollars, an associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, has received a $432,000 grant from the National Cancer Institute to research a cutting edge concept to fight cancer.

The Academic Research Enhancement Award (AREA) will fund a three-year project in “epigenetics,” a relatively new concept in cancer therapies that has shown great promise.

“The basic question we are trying to answer is ‘What are the processes that enable a normal cell to start misbehaving and become cancer cells?’” says Sollars.

As he explains, the process that cells undergo to become cancer cells ultimately produces a cell that stops listening and cooperating with neighboring cells. That communication, however, is necessary for the complex mixture of cells our bodies contain.

He says, “This grant will investigate a process known as ‘canalization.’ Much like a canal for water directs the flow of water, canalization directs a cell as it matures into the specific type of cell needed by the body. Disrupting the canalization process can cause a cell to change and lose its direction, potentially pushing it down paths that lead to cancer.”

Sollars said his team will be testing the role of Vincent-Sollars-2012canalization in the process of maturing cells and cancer development. They will be targeting leukemia specifically with this grant but the results of their study can apply to all types of cancers.

“We think our work can have a great impact on science’s understanding of  how cancer progresses and will even help develop new treatments for most cancers,” he added.

This particular award is specifically designed to give students practical opportunities to participate in cutting-edge academic research. Over the course of the project, Sollars anticipates involving eight students from Marshall’s undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as students from the medical school. The grant also will fund a full-time technician.

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, is the federal government’s principal agency for cancer research and training.

Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964 (o) or 304-552-1287 (c), www.marshall.edu/murc

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Grant to fund MU’s new cancer research

HUNTINGTON — A new concept in cancer treatment will be future explored at Marshall University thanks to a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Cancer Institute awarded a $432,369 three-year Academic Research Enhancement Award to the Marshall Vincent-Sollars-2012University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine to launch a cancer biology research project in “epigenetics,” a relatively new concept in cancer therapies, according to a press release from Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

The concept deals with a new chemotheraputic target in cancer treatment, said Dr. Vincent E. Sollars, an associate professor of biochemistry and biology at Marshall.

“It’s a great way for me and the students to get involved in some research I’ve wanted to do for some time,” Sollars said. “We’re targeting leukemia specifically with this grant, but the this could have ramifications on all types of cancers.”

Over the course of the three-year project, Marshall University anticipates involving eight students from undergraduate, master’s and doctoral academic programs, as well as students enrolled in the med school.

Sollars said the medical school also will hire a full time technician through the grant.

BMS Ph.D. student and advisor selected for podium presentations, and received notable award recognitions at national science conference

Holly Tamski, a second year Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student, was selected as a finalist in the American Association of Anatomists (AAA) Langman Graduate Student Platform Presentation Award competition held by the AAA at the recent Experimental Biology (EB) national conference. Her abstract was blindly pre-judged and the top six highest scores were selected to compete in this award.

Holly Tamski, Ph.D. student, on left in blue lab coat

Holly Tamski, Ph.D. student, on left

Tamski said, “The award session included six graduate students selected from 230 submissions, so just being selected as a finalist for this was a huge deal and a great honor.”

She presented her talk “Validation of a Unilateral Heating Model to Increase Hindlimb Length in Growing Mice” in the graduate student platform award session. She presented the same talk again in an Anatomy special symposium on the topic of Vascularization and Bone Regeneration just three days later at the EB Conference. Only six presenters were chosen to give this oral presentation, and Holly was the only graduate student.

Dr. Maria Serrat, Tamski’s faculty advisor, was also selected to speak in the same bone Maria Serrat, Ph.D.symposium. Her talk was titled “Hindlimb Heating Increases Vascular Access of Large Molecules to Murine Tibial Growth Plates Measured by In Vivo Multiphoton Imaging.”

Serrat was selected, based on blind abstract judging, to receive a $500 Young Faculty Travel Award from the American Association of Anatomists.

Congratulations to both Dr. Serrat, and Holly Tamski for their outstanding research, and for receiving national recognition!

 

Marshall biomedical researchers to present at the World Congress on Endometriosis in Brazil

Biomedical Sciences Doctoral candidate receives prestigious travel grant

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two investigators from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University will be traveling later this month to Sao Paolo to present their research at the World Congress on Endometriosis.

The congress is held every three years and brings together scientists, clinicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals involved in research or treatment of endometriosis—a chronic, inflammatory condition that affects young women and adversely impacts their fertility and quality of life.

Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and doctoral student Kristeena Ray said they are looking forward to participating in the conference, which is being held April 30-May 3.

Santanam“Though 10 to 15 percent of young women suffer from endometriosis and almost two-thirds of these women suffer from chronic pain, the exact nature of this disease is not very well understood. My laboratory has a long-standing interest in understanding why some women get endometriosis and have pain,” said Santanam. “We are very honored that our abstracts were chosen for presentation at this meeting. The most exciting part was to find out that Kristeena was selected to give an oral presentation and was one of only six investigators selected to receive the Rodolphe Maheux Travel Grant.”

The Rodolphe Maheux Travel Grants are awarded by the World Endometriosis Society to help young researchers attend scientific meetings. The program is named in honor of the society’s co-founder.

The balance of Ray’s travel expenses are being funded by the university’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

Ray said, “I was not sure if I had any chance of receiving the travel grant, since any young Kristeena Ray Spring 2014researcher including faculty and fellows under 40 years of age were eligible to compete. I was surprised that I was selected and am thrilled to go to Brazil to present my findings.”

Ray is a third-year Ph.D. candidate. She works in Santanam’s laboratory studying the epigenetics of pain in endometriosis—the changes caused to DNA and genes by environment and lifestyle. Last summer, she was selected for the university’s Chancellor’s Scholar Program, an initiative to help ensure the academic success of underrepresented minority doctoral students.

Their research is partially funded through Marshall’s partnership with the University of Kentucky and the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards program aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

The researchers expressed their appreciation to Dr. Robert Nerhood and Dr. David Jude, the past and present chairmen of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology for their support and acknowledged Sandy White and Carla Cook for coordinating the clinical study.

Santanam added, “This study would not have been possible without the collaboration and intellectual contributions of Dr. Brenda Mitchell, who is a professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. We express special thanks to Dr. Mitchell.”

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BMS associate professor invited to chair at international meeting

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta has been invited to chair a minisymposium entitled “Lung Cancer” at the Experimental Biology (EB) 2014 conference in San Diego. The invitation to chair the special session came from the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP).

When asked to comment on being selected for this position, Dr. Dasgupta replied: “The ‘chair’ is selected based on their research and publications in the field of lung cancer. So, we feel thrilled that our work is being noticed by other researchers at an international level.”

piyali_dasguptaDr. Dasgupta is a member of the ASIP and has regularly presented at Experimental Biology over the past few years, including several oral seminar presentations. In 2012, she was invited to chair a special session at the EB 2012 entitled “Modeling Cancer: Biological and Therapeutic Implications.”

Experimental Biology is an annual meeting that draws almost 14,000 scientists and exhibitors. Scientists attending represent universities, academic institutions, government agencies, private corporations, and non-profit organizations. Participating societies include the ASIP, the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the American Physiological Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and others.

Dr. Dasgupta is Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology, and Toxicology. She received the “Dean’s award for Excellence in Basic Research, 2013” at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, Marshall University. Her research examines the effects of nicotine (the active component of cigarettes) in regulating cellular responses, such as programmed cell death and cell growth, in the context of lung cancer. Dr. Dasgupta will have the opportunity to share her research by giving an oral presentation in addition to serving as chair of the Lung Cancer minisymposium.

Being asked to chair a session at such a prestigious conference is quite an honor. Congratulations to Dr. Piyali Dasgupta!

For more information, please visit: https://www.asip.org/meetings/2014/minisymposia.cfm.

School of Medicine Research Day Winners

Congratulations to School of Medicine Research Day award recipients, Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student Caroline Hunter and Ph.D. candidate Allison Wolf!

CarolineandKoc13

Caroline (on left) with her mentor, Emine Koc, Ph.D.

Best Poster Presentation in the Basic Science Category
BMS Ph.D. student Caroline A. Hunter – Mitochondrial Elongation Factor Tu:  Translational Regulation by Phosphorylation
Mentor: Emine Koc, Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

Allison_W_2014_OralWinner

Allison (on left) receiving award from Mr. Bailey

Best Oral Presentation in the Basic Science Category
BMS Ph.D. candidate M. Allison Wolf – – Benzyl Isothiocyanate Sensitizes Hnscc Cells To Cisplatin, And Inhibits Hnscc Cell Migration And Invasion
Mentor: Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D./Ph.D.

 

 

 

There were many clinical categories in addition to the two basic science categories. Those winners are listed below.

Research Day winners announced

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The 26th annual Research Day at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine wrapped up earlier this week with awards presented to eight students and medical residents.

The two-day event showcases the work of medical students, graduate students, residents and postdoctoral fellows, and includes both poster and oral presentation competitions. This year’s entries included projects that focused on heart disease, children and physical activity, lung and other cancers, drug abuse during pregnancy, and many other areas of biomedical and clinical research.

The winners were:

POSTER PRESENTATIONS

Basic Science Category
Caroline A. Hunter – Mitochondrial Elongation Factor Tu:  Translational Regulation by Phosphorylation
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology

Clinical Case Study Category (Student)
Jill Goodwin – Posterior Tibial Tendon Dislocation:  A Case Report
Department of Orthopaedics

Clinical Case Study Category (Resident)
M. Adeel Mahmood – An Atypical Presentation of Adrenal Insufficiency in Pregnancy as Recurrent Abdominal Pain
Department of Internal Medicine

Clinical Science Category (Student)
Laura G. Wilson – Withdrawing into Society: Characteristics of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome on Final Day of Admission
Department of Pediatrics

Clinical Science Category (Resident)
Heidi Michael – Retrospective analysis of patients entering the Maternal Addiction and Recovery Center (MARC) program evaluating pregnancy and neonatal outcomes
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

ORAL PRESENTATIONS

Basic Science Category
M. Allison Wolf – Benzyl Isothiocyanate Sensitizes Hnscc Cells To Cisplatin, And Inhibits Hnscc Cell Migration And Invasion
Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology

Clinical Science Category (Student)
Rebecca M. Hayes – Development of Phone Application for Congestive Heart Failure Patients in a Rural Setting
Department of Internal Medicine

Clinical Science Category (Resident)
Jodi Pitsenbarger – Total Postnatal Opiate Exposure Using Two Different Weaning Methods in Infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome
Department of Pediatrics

Dr. Richard M. Niles, vice dean for biomedical sciences at the school of medicine, congratulated all the winners, saying, “We had more than 80 presentations this year and the competition was outstanding. It is quite exciting to see all the fascinating research being done at our medical school and to know these students will be making a real difference in the lives and health of those who live in our communities.”

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

Marshall School of Medicine researchers and students

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Researchers with the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will present their findings at the national Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) meeting in New Orleans that began Saturday.

Maria Serrat, Ph.D.Dr. Maria A. Serrat, assistant professor in the department of anatomy at the school of medicine and a clinical assistant professor in the department of orthopaedics, will present her team’s research model on the effects of temperature on the acceleration of bone growth in mice.

“We developed a model to study how the application of heat on the body’s surface can stimulate bone elongation,” Serrat said.  “By validating this model, we are looking at future possible clinical treatments to lengthen bones in children with growth issues or orthopaedic trauma using non-invasive methods.”

Serrat’s team includes Dr. Franklin D. Shuler, a professor in the department of orthopaedics, vice chair of research for the department of orthopaedics, and medical director for the Senior Fracture Program at Cabell Huntington Hospital. He says the opportunity to present on this national platform speaks highly of Marshall’s program.

“To have a podium presentation at this high-level meeting truly indicates that the faculty at Marshall are participating in leading-edge musculoskeletal research that has the capability of transforming patient care,” Shuler said.

Along with Serrat and Shuler, the following students participated in the research:

  • Justin M. Godby, first-year medical studentHolly Tamski, Ph.D. student
  • Thomas J. Schlierf, fourth-year medical student
  • Laura M. Stanko, second-year medical student
  • Holly L. Tamski, biomedical sciences doctoral student

Morgan L. Efaw, former biomedical sciences student at Marshall, also was a member of the team.

Also presenting a poster at the ORS meeting is third-year medical student Alexander H. Slocum, Jr., Ph.D. who, along with collaborators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will showcase their findings, “Enhancing Orthopaedic Joint Lubrication using Synovial Fluid Impregnated Super-Wetting Porous Coatings,” an investigation reviewing ways of improving the use of prosthetic implants.

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Dr. Maria Serrat also was selected as the featured researcher in Marshall University’s School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences magazine, We Are…Bridging Medicine and Science.