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).

Biomedical Sciences graduate students present at the Annual Research Day

Anne Silves, Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidateThe Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine recently held its 23rd Annual Research Day. This event highlights the basic and clinic research work of basic scientists, medical students, graduate students, physicians, residents, and other interested health professionals. The goal of the Annual Research Day is to involve the community in the ongoing research being performed at the School of Medicine by allowing participants to formally present their research in oral or poster presentations.

Aileen Marcelo, Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. CandidateGraduate Students in the Biomedical Sciences Program at Marshall University had a strong showing at the event. Juliana Akinsete (Ph.D. Candidate), Aaron Dom (M.S. Medical Sciences Student), Meagan Valentine (Ph.D. Student), Anne Silvis (Ph.D. Candidate), and Gabriela Ion, Ph.D. (Post-doctoral Fellow) gave oral presentations. Ben Owen (M.S. Research Student), Siva Nalabotu (Ph.D. Candidate), and Aileen Marcelo (Ph.D. Candidate) presented posters.

One oral presenter and one poster presenter awarded in each of the three categories: clinical vignettes, clinical science, and basic science. In the basic science category, Anne Silvis and Aileen Marcello were the award winners.

Graduate student Ben Owen to present at the National Student Research Forum

Benjamin Michael OwenBen Owen, a second-year student in the Biomedical Sciences M.S. program, has been selected to present a poster at the National Student Research Forum. The forum seeks to provide an opportunity for graduate students, medical students, interns, and residents conducting research in the biomedical sciences to assemble and receive recognition and feedback from established scientists. This event takes place yearly at the University of Texas Medical Branch campus in Galveston, TX and is planned and managed by students.

Ben’s project is entitled “Short-Term Activity-Dependent Changes in Axonal Function in Hippocampal CA3 Pyramidal Neurons.” The hippocampus is a region of the brain that is essential for normal memory function. Ben’s study examines how pyramidal neurons in the hippocampus function when they are activated at high frequencies (between 30 and 100 Hertz). This type of high-frequency activity in the neurons is common to normal processes, such as encoding and retrieving memory, as well as pathological processes, including seizures. Although scientists thoroughly understand how neurons create action potentials (the spike in electrical potential that is responsible for communication between neurons), little experimental attention has been given to how high frequency activation affects generation of action potentials. Ben researches within Dr. Larry Grover’s lab in the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center.

Ben says that he is excited to have the chance to share his research with fellow students and scientists on the national level. Congratulations to Ben on being selected for this opportunity!

BMS Program celebrates Seventh Annual Biomedical Sciences Research Retreat

Students attending the research retreatOn August 19, the faculty, staff, and students of the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program gathered together for the Seventh Annual Biomedical Sciences Research Retreat. Held at the Ramada Limited in Huntington, the retreat served as an excellent opportunity to socialize in an informal setting over a tasty lunch, share research projects and advancements, welcome a guest alumni speaker, and present awards for outstanding service and research. Dr. Elsa Mangiarua organized the event, as she does every year. Thanks to her guidance the event, as always, went smoothly and was a great success.

The event began with a buffet lunch, followed by time to mingle and view research posters. After lunch, a lively discussion commenced as research students and faculty members discussed their research projects with each other. Although this is a small group that interacts frequently, events such as this still evoke quite a bit of exchange and interest.

George Kamphaus, Ph.D.The poster presentations were followed by a seminar delivered by Dr. George Kamphaus, a graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program who completed a Post-Doc at Harvard. He delivered a seminar entitled “Fc-Fusion of Clotting Factor IX: Development of a Long-acting Clotting Factor.” Dr. Kamphaus is currently a Senior Scientist working for Syntonix Pharmaceuticals. There is currently only one drug on the market targeted to treated Hemophilia B, and his company is working diligently to change this fact. Currently, Hemophilia B patients must receive injections of this drug twice weekly to treat their disease. The drug that Syntonix is developing is a clotting factor that has a longer duration of action, enabling patients to instead receive weekly injections. According to Dr. Kamphaus, there are patients in India suffering from this condition who must currently travel more than 12 hours to receive their injections; a drug that can be injected once weekly will make a significant difference in the lives of such patients.

During his seminar, Dr. Kamphaus spoke highly of the BMS Ph.D. Program, expressing that it prepared him well for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Unlike more established academic programs that may employ a silo structure, pharmaceutical companies are often smaller start-ups that require researchers to frequently interact. According to Dr. Kamphaus, the interdisciplinary nature of the BMS Program prepared him well for this. He also spoke fondly of the level of concern from BMS Program instructors: “They care about their students, and this really comes across. The individual attention to students is extraordinary, and much different than what you would find in other programs. I think this sets up BMS graduates well for success.”

After the seminar, a representative from each research cluster delivered a short presentation covering current cluster research. Ben Owen, a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Cluster, discussed his research on action potentials; Aileen Marcelo, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Cluster, spoke of her work focusing on VEGF; Johannes Fahrmann, a Ph.D. Student in the Cancer Biology Cluster, discussed the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on downregulating NFkB within early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia; Dr. Gary Rankin of the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Cluster updated the group on his work on genetic polymorphisms and unexpected methodone mortality; and Dr. Wei-ping Zeng of the Infectious and Immunological Diseases Cluster elaborated on his work with CD4 T cell differentiation.

Paula KounsThe cluster updates were followed by the presentation of awards for the 2010-2011 school year. Miranda Carper, President of the BMS GSO, presented the faculty awards. Awards were given to Dr. Travis Salisbury for Faculty Appreciation and Paula Kouns for Staff Appreciation. Dr. Salisbury was lauded for his accessibility to students. A student who nominated Dr. Salisbury remarked, “I appreciate the fact that he talks to me like an equal or a colleague.” In praise of Paula Kouns, another student stated: “Outside of being a genuinely nice and caring person, Paula goes above and beyond as our department secretary.”

 

Dr. Richard Niles presented the graduate student awards. The following students received awards: 

Sunil Kakarla, Ph.D. candidateBest Research Performance (Plaque and a paid trip to a national meeting up to $2,000): Sunil Kakarla

 

 

 

 

Anne Silvis, Ph.D. candidateBest Overall Performance as a Graduate Student (Plaque and a paid trip to an international meeting, up to $3,500): Anne Silvis

 

 

 

 

Highest GPA for a First Year Medical Sciences student (Plaque): Ross DeChant, Brittany Wall

Highest GPA for a First Year Research student (Plaque): Steven Rogers

Lotspeich Award ($1,000): Jesse Thornton

Best Creative Title for the Inaugural Issue of the BMS Magazine ($100): Miranda Carper

Thank you to our participants, speakers and award-winners. Also, a big thank you goes out to Dr. Mangiarua for doing such a great job in organizing the event! We look forward to seeing everyone at the gathering again next year.

BMS graduate student Ben Owen debriefs on National Student Research Forum

Ben Owen, Ph.D. candidateA few months ago, we announced that Ben Owen, a BMS graduate student, would be attending the National Student Research Forum in Galveston, Texas. Ben has since attended and returned from this event, and I sat down with him recently to discuss his experience.

This was Ben’s first time presenting outside of Marshall, and he feels that it was a great experience. His greatest hope for this conference was to get a sense of what to expect at the Society for Neuroscience National Meeting, taking place in November. As described in the last article, the National Student Research Forum provides an opportunity for graduate students, medical students, interns, and residents conducting research in the biomedical sciences to assemble and receive recognition and feedback from established scientists. This event takes place yearly at the University of Texas Medical Branch campus in Galveston, TX and is planned and managed by students.

While at the conference, Ben met a lot of other presenters, who he was surprised to find were mostly medical students. In addition to being able to mingle and discuss their projects, they were able to have a bit of free time fun as well. About sixty students were in attendance by Ben’s count. He says that he would recommend the conference highly, especially to medical students. To him, the forum has many benefits to graduate and medical students alike. It’s not a lengthy event that takes a lot out of one’s work time, it’s small and somewhat laidback, and it offers an opportunity to discuss one’s research with people who are studying very similar topics. For example, Ben was able to interact with researchers studying the hippocampus, and he was able to recommend Dr. Egleton’s work to a student researching the blood brain barrier. Mostly, the event offers an opportunity to break through one’s first-time anxiety at a smaller conference and prepare for the larger events in one’s area of research.

Ben’s project is entitled “Short-Term Activity-Dependent Changes in Axonal Function in Hippocampal CA3 Pyramidal Neurons,” and he researches in Dr. Larry Grover’s lab. To learn more about Dr. Grover’s research and his lab, navigate to his faculty page.