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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

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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.
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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.

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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:

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Best Faculty: Richard Egleton, Ph.D.

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

2015 West Virginia Research Symposium

The 2015 West Virginia Research Symposium took place at Marshall University this year.

Romero, Sofia_posterUndergraduate students participating in the WV-Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) program at both Marshall University and West Virginia University, Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS), American Heart Association Undergraduate Summer Internship Research (AHA-USIR), Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) and summer researchers from several West Virginia universities and colleges presented posters detailing their summer research. Also included were WV-INBRE Fellows (high school and college faculty.)2015Symposium_Tate, J & S.-Lopez, N

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Marshall hosted WV-INBRE, SRIMS and AHA-USIR members in our graduate biomedical research laboratories for nine weeks. In addition to their experiments, students had social networking opportunities and workshops on topics from laboratory safety to career and graduate school preparation.

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We were pleased to welcome so many talented people to Huntington and our campus. The quality of work, evident in the laboratories and presentations, and the enthusiasm for research resulted in a very rewarding and energetic symposium. Thank you to all the planners, participants, faculty and staff who make this possible each year!

American Heart Association speaker at Marshall University

Cynthia-Keely.7Cynthia Keely, Mission: Lifeline Director for the local affiliate of the American Heart Association (AHA), recently spoke to summer interns, graduate students, and laboratory personnel. She detailed the AHA’s current initiatives and why their work is important in the region. Heart disease is one of the largest causes of death, and related issues such as stroke and diabetes are endemic in West Virginia. A current goal of the Association is to increase heart healthiness by 20% by the year 2020.

Ms. Keely reviewed some of the ways that her organization is assisting in the treatment of the worst forms of heart attacks through creation and improvement of care systems including Emergency Services, Referral Centers, and Receiving Centers. She also shared information about their multicultural initiatives to transform community health environments, Hands-Only CPR courses, fundraising events, and other awareness activities.

As future biomedical researchers and/or physicians, it was beneficial for the summer interns to learn about some of the strategies that are currently utilized to combat heart health-related challenges and to imagine how their education and work will contribute to those efforts.

Marshall University School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program received a grant from the Great Rivers Affiliate of the AHA to sponsor five undergraduate summer research internships related to cardiovascular issues. Please contact AHA-USIR Director, Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.H.A., for further information on this program.

For additional material about AHA’s work, please see www.heart.org/missionlifeline.

Second Annual BMS International Food Festival a success

Yum!

GSOBMSGroupThe 2nd Annual Biomedical Sciences (BMS) International Food Festival was recently held at the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center’s second floor lounge. Sponsored by the Graduate Student Organization (GSO), students in Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine BMS Program along with some of its faculty, provided delicious appetizers, entrees and desserts to delight those lucky (and early) enough to enjoy.

Group at FoodMost cooks brought a favorite childhood dish or an offering that represents their ethnic background. Touring the world with freshly mashed guacamole and corn tortillas to Nepalese dumplings and other Asian favorites, on to Europe with sausage rolls, fettuccine, and fabulous desserts, and finally back to the Caribbean featuring spicy jerk chicken and Bahamian beans and rice, diners were treated to a fabulous journey.

Sean PiwarskiDr. Piyali Dasgupta loves different international cuisines and is happy to support the Student Organization, so she was excited to attend the Food Festival. GSO Historian, Rachel Murphy, agreed, saying, “the food is bangin’.”

Taha AhmadAlthough scheduled to run until 2pm, the lunch line had to close early since the tasty food disappeared so quickly. Taha Ahmad, GSO President, was pleased with the outcome. “The donations that we receive for this festival go to the scholarships that we provide. The more money that we can bring in with events like this, the more that we can support the people in our program with additional funding to attend scientific workshops, conferences, and other educational needs.”

Great cause, great conversation, great food. Yum!

Jennifer Minigh, BMS Ph.D. alumnus, discusses careers in medical and scientific writing

Jennifer Minigh, Ph.D., Senior Manager Global Regulatory Writing for Amgen, recently spoke to the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate community. Dr. Minigh earned her Ph.D. in Biomedical Sciences from Marshall, and was welcomed back as a part of the BMS Transforming Interdisciplinary Graduate Research and Education (TIGRE) Program featuring career speakers in non-academic roles.

The medical writing field is growing with opportunities to contribute to newsletters, continuing medical education topics, journals, books, databases and regulatory Minigh, Jennifer_TIGRE Speaker fall 2014submissions. According to Minigh, this lucrative work often can be performed from home, offering flexibility for family obligations and the opportunity to live anywhere. Her current, and favorite, focus is Regulatory Writing for the pharmaceutical industry. What makes this different, she says, from other medical writing, is that it is template-driven, with more predictability and few creative components due to the highly regulated nature of the work.

Minigh says that her interdisciplinary education in the BMS doctorate program gave her the background needed to research effectively any writing topic from basic science to clinical trials and therapies.

Biomedical Sciences research graduate has work on fatty acids published

Recent MU Biomedical Sciences Research M.S. graduate, William L. Patterson III, “Billy”, has authored a review on the relationship between omega-3 Fatty Acids (FA), inflammation and cancer with his graduate advisor, Dr. Philippe Georgel (Biomedical Science Graduate Program faculty in the Cancer Biology research cluster.)

Billy Patterson_news2014Mr. Patterson submitted a manuscript which reviewed the various pathways affected by omega-3 Fatty Acids related to cancer. The international journal, Biochemistry and Cell Biology (BCB), accepted this article for publication in May, and it appeared in a special edition of the BCB in July. This topic is highly relevant to the public interest regarding diet and health. It includes details of the biochemical processes that can be affected by the daily consumption of omega-3 Fatty Acids in the form of canola oil or fish products.

Dr. Georgel indicated that Mr. Patterson had performed the research for this analysis as a part of his thesis, and expressed the excitement that he always feels when a student’s work is recognized.

Since graduation, Billy continues to conduct research, but with Dr. Michael Norton (Biomedical Sciences Graduate Faculty, Neuroscience and Developmental Biology research cluster) on Marshall’s Huntington Campus.

For further information, please view the abstract for Patterson’s article.

Marshall Professors Create Groundbreaking New Test In Fight Against Cancer

Marshall Professors Create Groundbreaking New Test In Fight Against Cancer
Reported by: Kennie Bass
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Also Contributing: Larry Clark

It’s called ChemoID, and it could represent a big step forward in cancer care.

Nearly a decade ago, two Marshall University professors met on this bridge, which connects the Science Building and the Byrd Biotechnology Center. That moment of serendipity, of blind chance bringing two people together, was the beginning of a relationship which led to combining research and work leading to revolutionary new way to fight cancer.

ChemoID_VideoIt’s a new paradigm in cancer treatment,” Dr. Jagan Valluri, Marshall University professor said. “Simply because this particular assay that we developed is simply going to deliver great results in improving clinical outcomes. And more importantly there is a lessening of the financial burden on patients because the assay is going to select the right chemotherapy for that particular patient.

“A particular patient will respond to a certain drug better than another patient,” Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Marshall University professor said. “Why is that? Because those cancers are, although they look the same, they are really different. You and I, we are different genetically, so is cancer. And so, therefore the different response is due to that. So our test is a functional test that is able to find, select correct drugs, more useful drugs for that individual patient. And deselect those that are not useful that would cause more harm than benefit.

Identifying the best treatment for cancer has long been the subject of comprehensive research. The Marshall professors developed their second-level test, which subjects cancer stem cells to a multitude of different medicines.

Claudio says clinical tests show ChemoID is very effective and accurate in predicting which chemotherapy drugs or combination of drugs work best in individual cancer patients.

Let me illustrate how ChemoID works using this deck of cards. Let’s say each card is a federally-approved chemotherapy treatment against cancer and let’s say you’re diagnosed with lung cancer. So, your doctor picks a card. First generation testing is right about 60 to 70 percent of the time in choosing the right chemotherapy to deal with a general type of cancer. So, your oncologist picks this type of chemotherapy and it proves to be effective. But then another person is diagnosed with the exact same type of cancer. Their oncologist also prescribes this form of chemotherapy but it doesn’t work on them. So the oncologist is forced to go to a second type, this drug which is a little bit more effective. What the ChemoID researchers say is that their second generation test finds the correct medication to deal specifically with your type of cancer. They say that ChemoID will save money, it will save time and most importantly it will save lives.

“We have introduced a novel part to this test which is testing the cancer stem cell population,” Claudio said. “Which are the seeds of cancer, the roots of cancer. Just like normal tissue have stem cells, also cancer has stem cells. However, those are evil stem cells able to regrow and repair cancer following a failed chemotherapy. So if we leave those bad boys behind what happens is that cancer will recur. Our ability with this test is to select those cancer stem cells and grow them up so that we have material now to make a test and predict against cancer stem cells which chemotherapy will be more effective for selected patients, for individual patients.

Link to ChemoID interview“People have been trying to personalize chemotherapy,” Valluri said. “Because chemotherapy, when you provide chemotherapy to a patient it is generally based on clinical trials on generalized populations. It’s never specific to a patient group or subset of people. And so, what our process does is we minimize the trial and error by truly personalizing the chemotherapy and going after what we call the seeds of the cancer, the cancer stem cells. And so, the seeds of the cancer, if we can effectively target them and lower the load of the cancer stem cells there there is a greater clinical outcome.”

Finding the best chemotherapy option for each individual cancer patient could save time and avoid the harsh side effects of chemo treatments which aren’t most effective.

“Every person is different,” Claudio said. “So because every person is different, although every single card could be a good play to be played, drugs that may work better, we can find the drugs that can work better for that particular patient and therefore play that card instead of a different card.”

Clinical trials at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center showed very positive results. ChemoID has been used to help dozens of patients during the testing period. One patient is celebrating six years of treatments. That’s six years longer than they were expected to live.

“By using the correct drug and by impacting more the cancer than the patient will in the end, prolong life and provide a better quality of life for patients,” Claudio said.

ChemoID is not a cure for cancer. But, for people with lung, brain, spine and breast cancer, it represents finding their best chance at making their disease chronic instead of fatal.

Claudio says an additional benefit is that ChemoID could save money. He and his partner recently talked with Senator Joe Manchin about their research and how it could cut Medicaid costs if its implemented on a wide basis.

“First of all, the quality of life, the ability to extend a person’s life that might be terminal,” Manchin said. “But the other thing is the amount of money that would be saved from treating so many different things that doesn’t have an effect.and being able to pinpoint what will be effective.”

The researchers say your oncologist, your doctor, will still have the final say as to which medicine they want to use to treat your cancer.

However, ChemoID is an additional tool which could give both doctors and patients more information about the best path to take and could provide an additional edge leading to longer and better quality lives.

“It’s gonna have an impact worldwide,” Valluri said. “Because when you think about in the U.S. alone we spend 30 billion dollars on chemotherapy drugs. The cost of cancer in this country alone is over 210 billion and it is a tremendous financial burden on patients. What this assay does is truly personalizes the chemotherapy selection. You’re not only reducing toxicity improving patient outcomes and reducing costs. So, there’s many facets to this technology.”

“By using this test,” Claudio said. “Oncologists can have a new pair of glasses that magnifies drugs that are working for that particular patient and can provide a benefit to the patient better than other drugs that wouldn’t.

Cabell-Huntington Hospital is planning to implement the new ChemoID cancer screening this fall.

The test’s creators say they hope to share the ChemoID technology with the hospitals across West Virginia, the nation and eventually the world.