WV Undergraduate Research Day at the Capitol 2014

Image for WVURD14

Following the poster presentations, a luncheon was held to honor the student researchers, their mentors, and to formally recognize the winners of grants awarded by The Higher Education Policy Commission’s (HEPC) Division of Science and Research.

The luncheon was sponsored by the WV HEPC Division of Science and Research; Expansion of STEM Doctoral Education Program, Marshall University; Marshall Health; and WVU’s Office of Graduate Education and Life.

Norton_WVURD_grant'14One of the award recipients is one of Marshall’s own, Dr. Michael Norton. Norton received a Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Grant for $210,000.

Congratulations!

 

 

MU biomedical students showcase research

BILL ROSENBERGER
The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON — Medical research that has an opportunity to affect the health and well-being of the general population should be celebrated, which is one of the reasons for the showcase at Pullman Plaza Hotel.

More than a dozen projects by Marshall University biomedical science graduate students and faculty members showcased their work as part of the ninth annual Biomedical Sciences Retreat. The event gives graduate students in the university’s biomedical sciences program an opportunity to share their research, including projects to study the effects of drugs on the kidney, obesity and type 2 diabetes, and how neurons respond to different patterns of neural activity.

Elsa Mangiarua, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, said Ph.D. students get to share their work with each other, while newly admitted Ph.D. students get to see some of the research they will be getting into.

“There are a lot of good projects with positive results in translational research,” said Rachel Murphy, who is a first-year student from Kansas. “It sets the bar high to help medical science advance to the next step. It’s definitely inspiring.”

Marcus_Terneus2013That was also the observation from Marcus Terneus, senior manager of global EH&S occupational toxicology at Mylan Pharmaceuticals. He is a 2006 graduate of the Marshall Ph.D. program and served as the afternoon’s keynote speaker.

“I’m very proud. It’s exciting to see the growth and what projects are going on,” Terneus said. “I keep close eyes on what students are doing.”

He also told the group that the education and research opportunities he received prepared him for what he’s seen during the past seven years.

“It’s given me what I needed to succeed,” he said.

The research also was noted as impressive because of how groundbreaking the results could be. Second-year student Justin Tomblin’s project centered on the link between obesity and breast cancer and how to block the growth of abnormal tissue.

In West Virginia, which has high obesity rates, that kind of research could help quite a few folks, he said.

“It definitely feels like you are doing something that may help friends or relatives,” Tomblin said.

John Maher, the vice president for research at Marshall and executive director of the Marshall University Research Corporation, said after hearing some presentations that Marshall has a very strong biomedical sciences program. He also noted that they are working on relevant and important problems pertaining to regional health care.

WV-INBRE summer research program wraps up with annual symposium

Undergraduate college students, the majority from West Virginia, showcased their summer research projects at Marshall University in July as part of the 12th Annual West Virginia IDeA Network for Biomedical Research (WV-INBRE) Summer Research Symposium.  MU INBRE and SRIMS Group Photo 2013The projects, which were researched under the direction of faculty mentors during an intensive 9-week period, included studies on the treatment of chronic low back pain, treatment and prevention of obesity, the pathophysiology of infectious diseases, the harmful effects of diabetes on brain and cardiac function among others.

WV-INBRE, which is designed to support biomedical research in the state, is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to Marshall University, in cooperation with West Virginia University and eleven other colleges and universities in the state.  The program allows students at undergraduate institutions research opportunities in labs at both Marshall and WVU.  In addition to the formal research Brandon Kirby, WV-INBRE intern from Bluefield State Collegetraining they receive, students attended workshops and seminars aimed at helping them understand the research process and graduate education.

This year’s summer research symposium featured keynote speaker, Brad Goodner, Ph.D., professor of Biology at Hiram College in Ohio.

Students in this year’s WV-INBRE program at Marshall University included Jaya Ale, University of Charleston; Joshua Easterling, University of Charleston; Bishnu Kafley, Berea College; Rebecca Martin, Davis and Elkins College; Hajer Mazagri, University of Charleston; Noah Mitchell, Bluefield State College;  Rishi Reddy, West Virginia State University; Anthony Schnelle, Wheeling Jesuit University; and Linh Vu, University of Charleston.

Annesha_King and Dr. Koc_3Also participating in this year’s symposium where three students with the university’s Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) who worked closely with WV-INBRE interns.  They included Emmanuel “Manny” Rosas, University of Texas at Brownsville, Annesha King, University of the Virgin Islands and Ashlea Hendrickson, Oakwood University.

In addition to the participants listed above, students and faculty associated with WV-INBRE through other programs were selected to present their research findings in an oral presentation.  They are:

  • Jessica Allen, Concord University
  • Cara Halldin, Ph.D., an alumnus of the WV-INBRE program and currently an epidemiologist with the Centers for the Disease Control and PreventionMahavadi_2013
  • Kathy Loughman, John Marshall High School (WV-INBRE high school component)
  • Rebecca Martin, Davis & Elkins College
  • Sricharan Mahavadi, Shepherd University
  • Jennifer Franko, Ph.D., Biology Department, Bethany College

Applications for next year’s WV-INBRE internship will be available after January 1 at http://www.wv-inbre.net/.

Students interested in applying to the SRIMS program may find the application information at http://www.marshall.edu/wpmu/bms/future-students/summer-research-internship/.

Biomedical sciences student selected for Chancellor’s Scholar Program

Marshall University biomedical sciences graduate student Kristeena L. Ray has been selected for the university’s Chancellor’s Scholar Program, an initiative to help ensure the academic success of underrepresented minority doctoral students.

The program will provide Ray with a stipend of $10,000 per semester. In addition, she will receive mentoring and research opportunities through the university, networking opportunities through the Southern Regional Education Board doctoral scholars program, and financial support for her dissertation and thesis work.

A native of Glen Allen, Va., Ray received her bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Duke University in 2009. She worked as a research assistant at Duke and as a process development engineer at Talecris Biotherapeutics in Clayton, N.C. She has been a graduate student at Marshall since 2011.

“Kristeena is a truly outstanding graduate student and we are thrilled to present her with our first award from the new Chancellor’s Scholar Program,” said Dr. Shari Clarke, vice president for multicultural affairs. “The ideal candidate, she is dedicated, well-rounded and committed to her research.”

Kristeena Ray_webRay said, “Being part of this program is such a gift and an honor. The stipend lightens the burden of locating funding and allows me to really focus on my research. I am also excited to take advantage of the additional benefits, including networking opportunities and membership in key organizations in my field.”

Ray works in the lab of Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Her research is focused on endometriosis and the pain caused by the disease, which is characterized by cells normally present in the uterus migrating outside the organ and attaching to other places in the pelvis. At least one in seven women suffers from the condition.

Specifically, Ray is investigating the epigenetics of pain in endometriosis—the changes caused to DNA and genes by environment and lifestyle.

She said, “We’re looking at epigenetic markers in patients with endometriosis. We believe that our continuing research in this area will help us better understand what leads to endometriosis in some women and find alternate treatment options for its symptoms.

“Long-term, I am interested in the research and development behind drugs and therapies, such as one that may benefit women with endometriosis.”

In April, she presented her research at the annual meeting of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, which was held in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference in Boston.

Ray serves as president of the Graduate Student Organization, is a member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and volunteers with the March of Dimes and the Tri-State Literacy Council.

The Chancellor’s Scholar Program at Marshall is funded through the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

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BMS Professor Receives Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award

Congratulations to Dr. Monica A. Valentovic, for receiving Marshall University’s 2013 Distinguished Artists and Scholars Award!

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.

The award is given annually to recognize distinction in the fields of artistic and scholarly activity on the part of the Marshall faculty. Dr. Valentovic, a professor of biomedical sciences and in the Marshall School of Medicine’s Department of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Toxicology, was the senior recipient for Sciences and Technology. In addition to the honor, she received $2,000.

When asked about receiving this praiseworthy award, Dr. Valentovic responded: “Receiving the Marshall University Distinguished Scholars and Artists Award is a very special honor that was quite unexpected. There are many individuals committed to research at the medical school who are very deserving. This award has motivated me to work toward increasing research opportunities for graduate students, medical students, undergraduates as well as residents.”

Congratulations, Dr. Valentovic!

To learn more about Dr. Valentovic and her accomplishments, please visit her webpage.

 

Marshall hosting students from eight institutions for biomedical research internships

Ashlea and Dr. YuHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Twelve undergraduate students from eight institutions are spending their summer doing biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories. The students are participating in nine-week programs sponsored by the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) and the university’s Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) program.

Dr. Elsa I. Mangiarua, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, directs the WV-INBRE summer program. She said both programs give participants the opportunity to do meaningful research and much more.

“Over the summer, these students will gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s finest scientists,” she said. “We also teach them how to share their findings at a scientific meeting and to network, all of which helps them build academic competitiveness for graduate school.”

Diana R. Maue, who coordinates the SRIMS program, agreed, adding, “It’s exciting that we are able to provide these in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates, and it’s equally important that these programs promote awareness of graduate degree programs and careers in biomedical research. We are helping to develop a pipeline for training tomorrow’s scientists.”

Manny (front) and Hajer (back)While at Marshall, the interns are working in state-of-the-art facilities on research projects related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, neuroscience, toxicology and environmental health, infectious diseases and bioinformatics. The students will present their research results at a symposium on July 29 at the university’s Memorial Student Center.

In addition to the formal research training they each receive from their Marshall faculty mentors, the interns are taking part in workshops and seminars about a variety of topics related to research and graduate education. Students in the two programs attend many of the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, ice cream socials and other special events intended to help them get to know one another outside of the laboratory environment. 

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include: 

  • Jaya Ale, University of Charleston (Dr. Eric Blough, mentor)
  • Joshua Easterling, University of Charleston (Dr. Elaine Hardman, mentor)
  • Bishnu Kafley, Berea College (Dr. Travis Salisbury and Dr. Jim Denvir, mentors)
  • Rebecca Martin, Davis and Elkins College (Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, mentor)
  • Hajer Mazagri, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Noah Mitchell, Bluefield State College (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Rishi Reddy, West Virginia State University (Dr. Larry Grover, mentor)
  • Anthony Schnelle, Wheeling Jesuit University (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Linh Vu, University of Charleston (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)

The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipients are science teacher Olivia Boskovic of Huntington High School and Dr. Sobha Goraguntula, an assistant professor of chemistry at Alderson-Broaddus College. Boskovic is working in the lab of Dr. Emine Koc. Goraguntula’s mentor is Dr. Travis Salisbury.

WV-INBRE is funded through a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Marshall—in partnership with researchers at West Virginia University—received the award to help build expertise in biomedical research. 

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Annesha King, University of the Virgin Islands (Dr. Emine Koc, mentor)
  • Ashlea Hendrickson, Oakwood University (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Emmanuel Rosas, University of Texas at Brownsville (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)

Support for the SRIMS program comes from the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research.

Each student receives a stipend. Depending on the program in which they are participating, they may also receive room and board, lab fees, and reimbursement for travel to and from Marshall.

For more information about the WV-INBRE program, visit www.wv-inbre.org or contact Mangiarua at mangiaru@marshall.edu or 304-696-6211. For more information about the SRIMS program, visit www.marshall.edu/bms/future-students/summer-research-internship or contact Maue at maue1@marshall.edu or 304-696-3365.

 

Marshall Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program is well represented at Experimental Biology Meeting

Allison, Miranda, Kristeena

BMS Ph.D. students, Allison, Miranda, and Kristeena, take a time out from research to enjoy a Boston Red Sox game!

Marshall University’s Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program was well represented at the Experimental Biology Meeting that recently took place in Boston, MA. The annual national meeting involves over 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing fields of study ranging from anatomy, physiology, pathology, and biochemistry to epigenetics, nutrition, cancer biology, and pharmacology. Some Marshall School of Medicine faculty and students were invited to give oral presentations of their research, while others were able to present their research during the poster sessions. The list of attendees is given below.

Oral presentations by:

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D. -
Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Nicotine increases the expression of alpha7-nicotinic receptors (alpha7-nAChRs) in human squamous cell lung cancer cells via Sp1/GATA pathway”

 

 

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “What Comes First: The Food or the Nutrient?” – Title: “Whole foods or their bioactive components? Potential of walnuts in cancer prevention and treatment.” 

 

 

Maria Serrat, Ph.D.

Maria Serrat, Ph.D. – Invited speaker for special session “Bone Physiology under Environmental Stress” – Title: “Temperature effects on the growth plate and its vasculature”

 

 

 

Allison Wolf, Ph.D. CandidateM. Allison Wolf, BMS Ph.D. Candidate – Invited speaker for special session – Title: “Benzyl isothiocyanate enhances chemosensitivity and inhibits migration and invasion of head and neck squamous cell carcinoma”

 

 

 

 

Katie_Brown_EB

Katie Brown, M.S. – Invited speaker for special session “Molecular Biology of Lung Malignancy” – Title: “Inhibition of cholinergic signaling causes apoptosis in human bronchioalveloar carcinoma”

 

 

Ron, Miranda, Allison, Johannes, Kristeena_EB

Poster presentations by:
Miranda Carper, BMS Ph.D. Candidate
Johannes Fahrmann, BMS Ph.D. Candidate Christopher McNees, MU student 
Rounake Nande, BMS Ph.D. Student
Chris Racine, BMS Ph.D. Student
Kristeena Ray, BMS Ph.D. Student
Cody Stover, MU student
Brent Thornhill, MU graduate
Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ Research Cluster Coordinator
Gary Rankin, Ph.D., Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences’ 
Research Cluster

Dr. Maria Serrat, Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Pathology and researcher within the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Research Cluster, had the opportunity to give an oral presentation as well as participate in a focus group that evaluated anatomy education material for a publisher. 

Johannes at Poster

Serrat said she was happy to see Marshall well represented at the meeting and that “the large number of Marshall attendees says a lot about the expanding research emphasis of our institution.”

Kristeena at Poster

Carper at Poster

 

 

Marshall’s BMS students recognized at the national level

Marshall’s BMS students recognized on a NATIONAL level for their recent Young Adult Science Café! The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology posted a press release on their Public Outreach website. Check it out: www.asbmb.org/PublicOutreach/Templates/PubOutreachDefault.aspx?id=40020

Dr. Gary Rankin receives alumni award from Ole Miss

Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.Dr. Gary O. Rankin, professor and chair of the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, was recently honored by the Department of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Mississippi School of Pharmacy with its Joseph Sam Distinguished Alumni Award.

Rankin, who graduated with his doctorate from “Ole Miss” in 1976, joined the Marshall University faculty in 1978 after completing postdoctoral work at the Medical College of Ohio, now the University of Toledo. Rankin serves as principal investigator for the National Institutes of Health-funded West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) program. He has authored or coauthored more than 100 peer-reviewed manuscripts, eight review articles, 13 book chapters and nearly 200 research presentations at local, regional, national and international meetings.

Rankin was honored in March during a ceremony in Oxford, Miss.

This article was published in this week’s edition of the We Are…Marshall newsletter. (http://www.marshall.edu/wamnewsletter/2013/04/16/dr-gary-rankin-receives-alumni-award-from-ole-miss/

Racine attends the Society of Toxicology General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas

by M. Allison Wolf

Chris Racine, Ph.D. student, on far leftBiomedical Sciences Ph.D. student Chris Racine recently presented his research at the Society of Toxicology (SOT) General Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The study Chris presented at this meeting was entitled “Role of renal cytochrome p450 isozymes in the bioactivation of 3,5-dichloroaniline in vitro.” The long term goal of this project is “to determine the biotransformation of 3,5-dichloroaniline (3,5-DCA), mechanisms for bioactivation of 3,5-DCA to nephrotoxic species by the kidney, and if gender differences exist in the susceptibility of the kidney to the toxic effects of 3,5-DCA.”   

The SOT conference, which was held from March 10-14, is the largest toxicology meeting in the world and it brings together scientist in academia, government, and industry from various countries. Dr. Gary Rankin, Chris Racine’s Ph.D. advisor said that, “It is important for students to experience the scientific exchange that happens at a national research conference. There is no substitute for attending such a meeting in person. The meeting also gives the advisor the opportunity to introduce the students to other top scientists and students in their field, and the feedback received at a national presentation can be very helpful for the student’s research projects.”

Congratulations, Chris!

Study focuses on potential lung cancer therapies

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Scientists from Marshall University, Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.along with colleagues at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, have completed a study that may eventually help lead to the development of new treatments for lung cancer.

Their results were published in the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer Research, the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world.

At Marshall, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, worked on the study with her research team of Jamie Lau, Kathleen Brown and Brent Thornhill, and undergraduate students Cody Stover and Christopher McNees.

Researchers in Dasgupta’s lab explore how the various components of tobacco, especially nicotine, advance the progression of lung cancer.                                       

Dasgupta said this study focused on a specific type of lung cancer called bronchioalveolar carcinomas, or BACs, which are known to be associated with smoking. She and the other scientists working on the project looked at the cellular pathways through which nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—promotes the growth and survival of BACs. 

According to Dasgupta, nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, but studies have shown it can induce the growth and metastasis of lung cancers. It can also protect lung cancer cells against the beneficial effects of chemotherapy.

She said, “In this study, we found that nicotine raised the levels of specific neurotransmitters, or ‘chemical messengers,’ in human BACs. When we used a drug, vesamicol, to interrupt the neurotransmitters’ pathways, the nicotine-induced growth of these carcinomas was significantly suppressed. Our findings are important because they indicate that agents like vesamicol may be useful in the treatment of human lung cancers.” 

More information about the research is available online at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/73/4/1328.abstract?sid=c29c4530-21a3-4652-a977-23b25019258a.

The study was funded in part by a Young Clinical Scientist Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

For more information, contact Dasgupta at dasgupta@marshall.edu or 304-696-3612.

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Funding for collaborative medical research announced at Marshall University

Translational research aims to transfer discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside quickly

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine officials today announced $150,000 in funding for six research grants associated with the school’s translational medicine research program.

The Marshall Health Translational Pilot Grant program, created in 2012, encourages collaborative research between basic scientists and clinical physicians in an effort to speed up the process of laboratory discovery to clinical application for patients.  The grants are funded by Marshall Health.

“We are very pleased that Marshall Health has created this grant program to stimulate research efforts,” said Richard M. Niles, Ph.D., senior associate dean for Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine. “Moving Marshall to the next level of medical research takes vision, commitment and of course, funding.  This grant allows 12 researchers, as well as medical residents and students, the opportunity to explore very diverse areas.”

Marshall Health is the faculty practice plan for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and supports the clinical, educational, research and services missions of the school.  Beth Hammers, executive director of the organization, says the pilot grant program provides one year of support at $25,000 for each grantee, with additional funding based on progress of the research.

“Medical research is essential to the development of new medical treatments and cures for patients,” Hammers said.  “We are thrilled to help stimulate a robust, viable grant program which pairs basic scientists from Marshall University with School of Medicine physicians to work on projects which will lead to the betterment of our community.”

The investigators and their projects are listed below:

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Anthony Alberico, Department of Neuroscience – “Chemotherapy resistance and sensitivity testing in tumors of the central nervous system”

Dr. Elaine Hardman, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. James Jensen, Department of Surgery – “Feasibility and Safety of Nutritional Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Prostate Specific Antigen Rise in Men with Biochemical Failure after Prostatectomy or External-Beam Radiotherapy”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Paulette Wehner, Department of Cardiology – “Perivascular Fat Relation to Hypertension—Appalachian Heart Study”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Abid Yaqub, Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Section – “Impact of Technology-based Behavioral Intervention on Molecular and Clinical Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes”

Dr. Monica Valentovic, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Brenda Dawley, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – “Prenatal Exposure to Heavy Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) Alter Umbilical Cord Blood Levels of Thyroid Hormone and Vitamin D”

Dr. Hongwei Yu, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Yoram Elitser, Department of Pediatrics – “Investigate the distribution of segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) in American children and the presence of SFB with childhood diseases”

Other current translational research under way at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine includes a partnership with the University of Kentucky (UK) as part of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, which also is aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

In 2011, UK and its partners received $20 million for the program to support research at UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, making Marshall part of a select national biomedical research network.


Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964, or Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

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 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

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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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).

Marshall professor to share kidney research in China

Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Marshall University professor will be in Beijing this week to present his research at BIT’s 5 World Cancer Congress and to meet with colleagues at a leading university.

Dr. Gary O. Rankin, professor and chairman of the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will be at the conference to give a talk about his work to study how a substance found naturally in red wine can reduce some of the harmful effects of a commonly used anti-cancer drug.

According to Rankin’s study conducted in cooperation with colleague Dr. Monica A. Valentovic, resveratrol, a natural component of red wine, grapes, blueberries and peanuts, can reduce toxicity to the kidney caused by the chemotherapy drug cisplatin. The work is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health.

“Dr. Valentovic and I are using a human kidney cell line to look into the protective effects of resveratrol,” said Rankin. “We have found that the compound’s powerful antioxidant properties may be important in helping to protect the kidney from cisplatin’s harmful effects.”

Also at the conference, Rankin will help lead a scientific session, “Cancer rehabilitation, nutrition and management of cancer related complications.”

Before the meeting in Beijing, Rankin has been invited to visit the School of Biosystems Engineering and Food Science at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, to give a seminar about his work in the field of chemical-induced injury to the kidney. He will describe how an agricultural fungicide, dimetachlone, which was developed in Japan and manufactured in China, causes kidney damage. He also will be presenting some of the work he and Valentovic have done on the protective effects of resveratrol on cisplatin toxicity.

Rankin will be accompanied on the trip by Dr. Yi Charlie Chen, an associate professor of biology at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi.

Both Rankin and Chen are lead researchers in the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence—a federally funded program to help build biomedical research expertise across the state. Rankin is the principal investigator of the project and Chen is on the steering committee.

For more information, contact Rankin at 304-696-7313 or rankin@marshall.edu.

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Dr. Maria Serrat featured in the Neuron for MU-Advance fellowship

Maria Serrat, Ph.D.Dr. Maria Serrat has been featured in the Spring 2012 issue of the Neuron, the West Virginia Journal of Science and Research. She was featured for being named one of this year’s faculty fellows and mini-grant recipients by MU-ADVANCE. Dr. Serrat is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology and studies the impact of environmental factors on bone elongation through real-time imaging.

The Neuron is a quarterly journal of science and research that contains features about research, researchers, and science-related news from West Virginia.

MU-ADVANCE, funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), seeks to support the research and professional development of female faculty in STEM disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).

To read the story (featured on page four of the issue), download the pdf of the Spring 2012 issue of the Neuron:
http://www.wvresearch.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Spring-Neuron-2012.pdf.

To learn more about MU-ADVANCE, consult: http://www.marshall.edu/muadvance.

CDDC announces 2nd Regional Research Symposium award winners

Madhukar Kolli, BMS Ph.D. CandidateOn March 23, 2012, the Marshall University Cell Differentiation and Development Center (CDDC) held its second annual regional research symposium. The CDDC symposium focused on bioinformatics and the ways in which it is used to study the molecular interactions involved in the regulation of gene expression.

The event involves poster presentations, scientific talks, and awards. The following are the recipients of this year’s awards:

  • Undergraduate winner: Clayton Crabtree (from Dr. Dasgupta’s lab)
  • Graduate winners: M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis (both from Dr. Claudio’s lab)
  • Graduate runners-up: Madhukar Kolli (from Dr. Blough’s lab) and Gargi Bajpayee (a medical student who researched in Dr. Santanam’s lab)

The CDDC was formed in 2007 and seeks to enhance the research environment on the Marshall campus and throughout West Virginia. Although its research interests are diverse, the center focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms linked to cell differentiation and development.

Award winners pictured:

Right: Madhukar Kolli
Directly below (from left to right): M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis
Bottom photo: Gargi Bajpayee

Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis, Ph.D. candidates

BMS researchers present at international scientific meetings

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University biomedical sciences researchers are presenting their work in the fields of toxicology and cancer biology at international scientific meetings this month and in April.

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Dr. Monica Valentovic, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, presented at last week’s Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Her talk focused on her lab’s work to evaluate ways to reduce the side effects of cancer chemotherapeutic drugs.

Mike Brown, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate working in Valentovic’s lab, also presented at the conference. He discussed his research examining ways to reduce liver damage caused by acetaminophen use.

In addition, Valentovic served as chairman of the meeting’s Renal Toxicology Session.

The conference is the largest toxicology meeting and exhibition in the world, with attendance of more than 7,500 scientists from academia, government and industry from around the globe.

Another biomedical sciences doctoral candidate, Johannes Fahrmann, will be presenting his research to explore the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in early stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia at next month’s Experimental Biology conference in San Diego.

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.

Fahrmann works in the lab of Dr. W. Elaine Hardman, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. Valentovic will also be presenting at Experimental Biology. In that talk, she will discuss her work to examine the mechanisms for reducing cancer chemotherapy adverse effects to the kidney. That research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Also presenting at Experimental Biology 2012 will be M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate in the lab of Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D. She is disseminating her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates, a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables, on head and neck cancer. Her work shows that isothiocyanates both inhibit head and neck metastasis and greatly increase the sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers.

Nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations attend the annual Experimental Biology meeting to share information about recent developments in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology.

For more information, contact Valentovic at 304-696-7332 or valentov@marshall.edu, or Hardman at 304-696-7339 or hardmanw@marshall.edu.

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BMS Ph.D. candidate publishes in International Journal of Nanomedicine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011

Contact: Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964

ginny.painter@marshall.edu

Marshall University study shows nanoparticles being used as additives

in diesel fuels can travel from lungs to liver, causing damage

Eric Blough, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Recent studies conducted at Marshall University have demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide – common diesel fuel additives used to increase the fuel efficiency of automobile engines – can travel from the lungs to the liver and that this process is associated with liver damage.

The data in the study by Dr. Eric R. Blough and his colleagues at Marshall’s Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems indicate there is a dose-dependent increase in the concentration of cerium in the liver of animals that had been exposed to the nanoparticles, which are only about 1/40,000 times as large as the width of a human hair. These increases in cerium were associated with elevations of liver enzymes in the blood and histological evidence consistent with liver damage. The research was published in the Oct. 13 issue of the peer-reviewed research journal International Journal of Nanomedicine.

Cerium oxide is widely used as a polishing agent for glass mirrors, television tubes and ophthalmic lenses. Cerium oxide nanoparticles are used in the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency and reduce particulate emissions. Some studies have found that cerium oxide nanoparticles may also be capable of acting as antioxidants, leading researchers to suggest these particles may also be useful for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and radiation-induced tissue damage.

Blough, the center’s director and an associate professor in the university’s Department of Biological Sciences, said, “Given the ever-increasing use of nanomaterials in industry and in the products we buy, it is becoming increasingly important to understand if these substances may be harmful. To our knowledge, this is the first report to evaluate if inhaled cerium oxide nanoparticles exhibit toxic effects in the liver.”

Dr. Siva K. Nalabotu, the study’s lead author and a Ph.D. student in Blough’s lab, said, “The potential effects of nanomaterials on the environment and cellular function is not yet well understood. Interest in nanotoxicity is rapidly growing.

“Our studies show that cerium oxide nanoparticles are capable of entering the liver from the lungs through the circulation, where they show dose-dependent toxic effects on the liver. Our next step is to determine the mechanism of the toxicity.”

The research was supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, grant DE-PS02-09ER09-01.

For more information, contact Blough at blough@marshall.edu or 304-696-2708.

Ph.D. candidate Siva Nalabotu presents at seminar series in Charleston

On October 6th, Ph.D. candidate Siva Nalabotu was the guest lecturer at the Research Brown Bag Lecture at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UC SOP). The Research Brown Bag Lecture Series at UC SOP helps pharmacy students to stay abreast of the latest developments in diverse fields of research. Siva learned of the opportunity to speak at the lunch lecture series through Dr. Michelle Herdman, an assistant professor at UC SOP who is an alumnus of the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

Before this invitation, Siva had only spoken outside of Marshall once, giving a poster presentation at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting last March. He says that Dr. Herdman and Dr. Gagan Khuashal were very helpful throughout the experience, and that the faculty and students were very welcoming. Siva highly recommends this speaking opportunity to others. He says the experience encouraged him to give further presentations outside Marshall when given the chance. He would like to express his thanks to Dr. Herdman for arranging this experience and to his audience for being so accommodating. Everyone seemed to appreciate the opportunity to learn about the potential problems of the application of nanotechnology within organisms.

Siva’s presentation, “Nanomaterials and Nanotoxicity: Should we be scared?” discusses both the beneficial and potentially dangerous qualities of nanomaterials. According to Siva, his topic seemed to be of special interest to the pharmacy students, as nanotechonology has tremendous potential to treat various medical conditions. Although pharmacy students may be aware of the applications of nanotechnology, they may not often come across information on toxicity of nanomaterials and the reasons for these toxicities. His presentation draws a clear connection between the good and bad effects of nanomaterials.

Specifically, Siva’s research targets the toxicological effects of cerium oxide nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have been shown to be excellent antioxidants that show promise in treating a variety of medical conditions. In addition, they have industrial applications as an additive in polishes, abrasives, and fuels. Siva’s research evaluates the fates of cerium oxide nanoparticles in rats and the ways in which they interact with various organ systems. Nanomaterials are being used ever more progressively, making it crucial to understand their potential effects on living organisms.

Siva says that he has seen a “tremendous change” in his oral presentation skills since joining the BMS Ph.D. program. He now feels confident when speaking in front of an audience. He also credits the program with preparing him to give effective presentations for both lay and scientific audiences. According to Siva, Dr. Delidow’s Communication Skills class and her interest in teaching effective presentation skills were especially helpful in allowing him to become comfortable speaking in front of an audience. He also singles out his advisor, Dr. Eric Blough, for teaching him how to prepare effective presentation slides and to keep the audience engaged in a presentation. He says that Dr. Blough has been a tremendous help every step of the way in his professional career at Marshall, including being his advisor for his Master’s in Biology before he began pursuing a Ph.D.

Great job representing the Marshall BMS Program, Siva! 

BMS Ph.D. candidate Mike Brown presents paper at symposium in Ireland

Mike Brown, Ph.D. candidateMike Brown, a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, recently presented at the Lipid Biology and Lipotoxicity Symposium in Kerry, Ireland. The meeting was organized in collaboration with the Science Foundation of Ireland. The symposium focused on metabolic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, conditions of high prevalence in West Virginia.

Mike’s paper is entitled “S-Adenosyl-L-methionine Attenuation of Lipid Peroxidation Markers Following Acetaminophen Toxicity.” Acetaminophen toxicity induces cellular changes that generate a reactive substance called 4-hydroxynonenal (4-HNE). 4-HNE can become adducted to proteins through lipid peroxidation, which is the free radical break down of lipids. According to Mike, before this study, no one had studied exactly how this by-product binds to proteins. S-Adenosyl-L-methionine (SAMe) has many important functions in the liver and serves as the body’s main defense mechanism against oxidative stress. It helps to replenish the cellular supply of glutathione, an important antioxidant that is depleted by acetaminophen poisoning. Mike prepared this paper in coordination with research technician John G. Ball, and his mentor, Dr. Monica Valentovic. His research is part of an ongoing collaboration with the University of Arizona that has been in existence for five years.

Although Mike has been to many conferences, this was his first time attending a Keystone Symposium. Keystone is a non-profit organization that, according to its mission statement, “is dedicated to connecting the scientific community for the benefit of the world community and accelerating life science discovery.” Mike calls the event an “immersive experience” that spanned seven days and included a plethora of oral presentations on cutting-edge science. Attendees came from across Europe and from as far as Asia, and Mike valued the opportunity to interact with people from such diverse places. In addition, Mike was able to see much of Southwest Ireland, as the meeting allowed plenty of unstructured time for participants to engage in local tourism. Mike’s travels included Blarney Castle, home of the famous Blarney Stone of St. Patrick’s Day lore. He also had the opportunity to travel to the town of Killorglin to participate in the King Puck festival, one of Ireland’s oldest celebrations, in which a wild goat is caught and crowned king.

In order to qualify to attend and present at the conference, Mike was required to submit an abstract of his research, which had to withstand a selection process. He recommends the conference highly, as it provided an intimate setting of only a few hundred participants. Mike has attended conferences with thousands of attendees, and he appreciated the opportunity to have more one-on-one time to discuss his poster.

Mike’s travel to the conference was funded for by the Biomedical Science Graduate Program’s Best Overall Performance Award of 2010. Each year, this award is given to a BMS Graduate Student with the best overall combination of academic achievement, research achievement, and service to the BMS Graduate Program. It provides $3500 toward attendance at an international research meeting. The award covers airfare, accommodations, and conference fees.

For Mike, the greatest benefit of the conference was the opportunity to gain valuable résumé-building experience. “The opportunity to attend an international conference is invaluable,” he says, “and this is something that Marshall makes a good push to get students to do.” Mike was even approached with a post-doctoral opportunity, proof of the amazing networking opportunities such a conference brings.

To learn more about the Lipid Biology and Lipotoxicity Symposium, you can review Keystone Symposia’s Lipid Biology and Lipotoxicity Symposium website.