Marshall University research team publishes study in prestigious Science Advances

Researchers with the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the Marshall University Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (MIIR) have identified a mechanism for blocking the signal by which the cellular sodium-potassium pump amplifies oxidants (reactive oxygen species).  These oxidants lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome.

Their research, “pNaKtide Inhibits Na/K-ATPase Reactive Oxygen Species Amplification and Attenuates Adipogenesis,” was published Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.JosephShapiro

Dr. Joseph I. Shapiro, dean of the school of medicine and the study’s senior author, says the study is a true collaborative effort.

“I am extremely proud of this work, as the studies were conceived of, performed and analyzed entirely at Marshall University,” Shapiro said. “This work was based on two important components. We employed a peptide, pNaKtide, which was derived from the novel hypothesis developed by Marshall’s MIIR director, Dr. Zijian Xie.

Zijian Xie, Ph.D.Specifically, Dr. Xie has shown that in addition to its well-described role as an ion transporter, the sodium pump also regulates signal transduction and oxidant amplification. We also exploited work from Marshall’s SOM vice-dean for research, Dr. Nader Abraham, who has demonstrated a key role for oxidant stress in adipocytes in the development of obesity. The studies, which address a critical problem in the Appalachian population we serve, were performed entirely by our research staff at Marshall University.”

First author Dr. Komal Sodhi, assistant professor of surgery and pharmacology  at Marshall, says the research examined a peptide (pNaKtide) designed to block the sodium potassium Na/K-ATPase signaling  cascade, which altered the phenotype oKSohdif adipocytes (fat cells) in a cell culture system.“We found this decreased the development of obesity and metabolic syndrome in mice subjected to a high-fat diet, “Sodhi said. “The studies performed strongly supported this idea and suggest that if this is confirmed in humans, the Na/K-ATPase might ultimately be a therapeutic target for clinical conditions like obesity and metabolic syndrome, which are particularly relevant to West Virginia where more than a third of the population is currently obese.”Shapiro said while there are years of work ahead for researchers to determine the impact on humans, they believe they have hit on a feasible strategy for treating obesity and metabolic syndrome.“The bottom line is that we’ve identified a novel mechanism by which to address oxidant stress and, through this mechanism, treat obesity,” Shapiro said. “Our work opens up a new target for intervention in this disease as well as possibly other diseases characterized by oxidant stress.”
In addition to Shapiro and Sodhi, Marshall’s team of researchers includes Kyle Maxwell; Yanling Yan, Ph.D.; Jiang Liu, M.D., Ph.D.; Muhammad A. Chaudhry, M.A.; Morghan Getty; Zijian Xie, Ph.D.; and Nader G. Abraham, Ph.D.Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health, BrickStreet Foundation, and the Huntington Foundation Inc.


Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine

The Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is a community-based, Veterans Affairs-affiliated medical school dedicated to providing high-quality medical education and postgraduate training programs to foster a skilled physician workforce to meet the unique health care needs of West Virginia and Central Appalachia. The school seeks to develop centers of excellence in clinical care, including primary care in rural underserved areas, focused and responsive programs of biomedical science graduate study, biomedical and clinical science research, academic scholarship and public service outreach. For more information, visit


Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research

MIIR is Marshall University’s key vehicle for advancing regional economic development. The institute’s scientists are developing a focused program of biotechnology research dedicated to exploring new treatments for cancer and heart and kidney disease, producing patentable scientific breakthroughs and creating new businesses based on those discoveries. Learn more at



Dr. Rankin elected president

Gary O. Rankin, PhD, has been elected the President of the Division of Toxicology of the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) for 2015-2016. The Division of Toxicology serves national and international members involved with neurotoxicology, teratology, molecular and cellular mechanisms of drug and chemical toxicity, immunotoxicology, organ toxicities, risk assessment, environmental toxicology, models of toxic injury, toxic intermediates, and mechanisms of chemical interactions.

Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.

This leadership position is a great opportunity to showcase Marshall University, Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and the excellent toxicology research conducted in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

Racine Rankin

Dr. Rankin noted, “I will have the opportunity to influence programming in toxicology for the national American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics meeting within the Experimental Biology Meeting for 2017, oversee awards to deserving graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and toxicology researchers at various stages of their career, and promote toxicology as a discipline within the pharmacology community.”

BMS alumnus research published

Nandini Manne, PhD, is first author on “Therapeutic Potential of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles for the Treatment of Peritonitis Induced by Polymicrobial Insult in Sprague-Dawley RatsNandini-Manne_Alumni” to be published in Critical Care Medicine. Please see the full article below.

Manne earned his PhD in Biomedical Sciences in 2014 under the mentorship of Eric Blough, PhD. He currently teaches courses for Marshall’s Master of Science in Public Health (MPH) program, and also conducts post-doctorate research in treating disease with nanoparticles.





From Marshall University Communications News:

Research into treatment for sepsis, one of the world’s major health problems, is underway at Marshall University.

An article on the study, “Therapeutic Potential of Cerium Oxide Nanoparticles for the Treatment of Peritonitis Induced by Polymicrobial Insult in Sprague-Dawley Rats,” will appear in a future issue of Critical Care Medicine.

It is available online now at

Peritonitis, an infection of the abdominal cavity, sometimes leads to sepsis, also known as blood poisoning.  Sepsis kills more people on an annual basis than prostate cancer, breast cancer, and AIDS combined and is the number one of killer of critically ill patients and infants.

The research studies at Marshall have demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide, widely used as a polishing agent and as an additive to increase fuel efficiency, may be useful for the treatment of sepsis. The data in the study by Eric R. Blough, Ph.D., Nandini D.P.K. Manne, Ph.D. and colleagues at Marshall’s Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems indicate that cerium oxide nanoparticles improve animal survivability following a severe polymicrobial episode in the laboratory rat.

Some studies have found that cerium oxide nanoparticles may also be capable of acting as antioxidants and as anti-inflammatory agents, leading researchers to investigate the potential applications of these nanoparticles for biomedical purposes.

Blough, a professor at Marshall’s School of Pharmacy, said the study could potentially lead to development of novel therapeutic agents for the treatment of sepsis.

Lead author Manne, who is the senior postdoctoral scientist on the project, says the particles may have widespread application for use in the third world or for military use because of their stability in diverse environments.

“The particles are likely to be quite stable at a wide range of temperatures and do not require any special handling or storage,” Manne said.  “Because they appear to function by decreasing the release of cytokines and chemokines from the liver, we are hoping that they could be used to prevent the shock and organ injury seen with several types of infectious agents, severe trauma, burns, radiation and spinal injury. Our next step is to determine the precise mechanism of action to see if this approach could ever be a viable treatment for use in human patients.”

The research was supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, grant DE-PS02-09ER09-01.  For more information, contact Eric Blough at or 304-696-2708.

Biomedical Research Retreat 2015

The eleventh Annual Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Research Retreat at the Pullman Plaza Hotel was a wonderful cap to the previous year and a great way to get ready for the upcoming semester.

Retreat Organizer, Elsa Mangiarua, Ph.D., said, “The BMS Research Retreat is a Mangiarua,-E_Retreat2015wonderful opportunity for students and faculty to present and discuss the work being done in their labs. I’m impressed every year by the quality of the projects and the enthusiasm of the participants, and each year it seems to get even better.  One of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of the retreat is visiting with one of our former students who comes to give the keynote speech. This year, it was great to have Sean Thatcher, Ph.D., and hear of his success as a basic science researcher at the University of Kentucky. When you ask the retreat participants what they enjoyed at the event, one of the most common responses is that they loved the opportunity to meet and interact with the research community in our program. We enjoy each other’s company and this is one of the few times in which all of us get together in a relaxed atmosphere to talk science and celebrate our accomplishments.”

All research faculty, staff, students, and supporters enjoyed a luncheon followed by poster presentations featuring the latest laboratory projects.Kutz,-L-and-Tamski,-H_Retreat2015    Chaudry,-_Retreat2015

The featured speaker, Sean Thatcher, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Nutritional Sciences at the Cardiovascular Research Center, University of Kentucky, is a graduate of Marshall University’s Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program.


He presented “Possibilities and Pitfalls: Stories of an Early Career Investigator.” In addition to discussing his current research, he offered some “real-world” advice to students about how to manage their careers.

Attendees also heard from two BMS Faculty.


Richard Egleton, Ph.D., Co-Director of BMS, detailed the work on Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) that is studied by several researchers in the areas of neuroscience and developmental biology research.







The various investigations performed by infectious and immunological disease researchers were summarized by Tim Long, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy.





Awards for excellence within the program were also part of the Retreat. Todd Green, Ph.D., Co-Director of Biomedical Sciences, had the honor of making the following announcements:

The Goran Boskovic, Ph.D. Best Academic Performance for a First Year BMS Medical Sciences Student went to Amanda Krauss.

Krauss,-A-and-Green,-T_Retreat2015Roy Al Ahmar, Ph.D. student was the winner of the Goran Boskovic, Ph.D. Award for Best Academic Performance for a First Year Research Student.
Al Ahamar, R and Green, T_Retreat2015

The award for Best Research Performance This Year, which includes funds to attend a national research conference, was given to Chris Racine, Ph.D. Candidate.


Kristeena Wright, Ph.D. Candidate, was awarded Best Overall Performance as a Graduate Student and will receive funds to attend an international research meeting.Wright,-K-and-Green,-T_Retreat2015

The Graduate Student Organization (GSO) President, Rachel Murphy, presented awards for:


Best Faculty: Richard Egleton, Ph.D.







Best Staff: Kelly Carothers, Assistant Graduate Recruiter and Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) Coordinator





GSO Scholarship, Ph.D.: Taha Ahmad, Ph.D. Candidate   Amad,-T-and-Murphy,-R_Retreat2015   11_MedSci_Preeya_Shah

                                          GSO Scholarship, Medical SciencesPreeya Shah, M.S.

Congratulations to all of the award winners and a big thank you to the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program for hosting this important event.

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

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


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

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