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.

Biomedical Sciences professor invited to present at Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., a professor in Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Cancer Biology Research Cluster, was invited to speak at the recent Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference, which was held on December 16th in Pacific Grove, CA. He presented entirely new research, for which he designed most of the experimental procedure, and was performed by Dr. Ata Abbas, a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Philippe Georgel’s laboratory.

The study reports the positive effect of omega-3 fatty acid treatment on various breast cancer cell lines. The omega-3 treatment modified the profile of expression of Human Leukocyte Antigen G (HLA-G), a molecule important in the immune evasion properties displayed by numerous types of cancerous cells. The treated cells display an HLA-G expression profile that resembles that of normal epithelial breast cells as well as a reduced ability to migrate (a property that can be indicative of lower metastatic abilities).

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

 

 

When asked what this research means to “non-scientists,” Georgel good-naturedly responded, “Our research is one additional piece of evidence to support the role of diet in preventing and/or helping find a cure for breast cancer (as well as other cancer types). An increase in omega-3 fatty acid (FA) in our regular diet can be easily achieved by substituting corn oil (rich in omega-6 FA and poor in omega-3 FA) with canola oil (rich in omega-3 FA and low in  omega-6 FA), and also by eating more fish (omega-3-FA-rich).”

This project will be expanded to include the analysis of HLA-G expression profile in tissues from breast cancer patients’ biopsies and a small scale clinical trial involving daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (in collaboration with Dr. Rajesh Sehgal, Medical Oncologist at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center). The results will be used as preliminary material for a submission to the National Institutes of Health and/or the Department of Defense. 

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

Drs. Xie and Claudio receive grants for orthopedic and lung cancer research

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University scientists have been awarded grants of $25,000 each to advance their research, encourage collaborations and spur innovative approaches to healthcare.

Dr. Jingwei Xie and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio are the recipients of the first grants awarded through the Joint Pilot Research Program set up by Marshall and the University of Kentucky (UK) as part of their Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) partnership. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the CTSA program is aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

A senior scientist at the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, Xie will use his award to develop a method that may improve surgical repair of rotator cuff injuries.

Jingwei Xie, Ph.D.Xie, who is an expert in bone growth and development, will be working with Dr. Franklin D. Shuler, associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Among the most common conditions affecting the shoulder, rotator cuff injuries can occur from falls or repetitive motions like throwing a baseball. Rotator cuff repair is also one of the most common orthopedic surgeries, with approximately 300,000 procedures performed annually in the United States alone.

Xie explains that successful healing from rotator cuff surgery done with current methods has a failure rate that ranges from 20 to 90 percent, due in large part to the manner in which the tendons are reattached to the bone. For this project, he will use a multidisciplinary approach combining principles of engineering and biomedicine to construct a new type of biological device that will better mimic an uninjured tendon-to-bone attachment, and result in improved healing.

“We are pleased to be able to take advantage of this opportunity to combine expertise from two research groups at Marshall,” Xie adds. “My background in tissue engineering and Dr. Shuler’s extensive experience in clinical treatment of rotator cuff injury will allow us to do work that may very well improve the health and quality of life for individuals afflicted with these injuries. This research could also have a significant impact on the treatment of other, similar injuries of soft tissue-to-bone interfaces.”

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.The second grant went to Claudio, associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the medical school, to help develop an assay that will potentially allow the development of personalized treatment for lung cancer. He will collaborate with Dr. Rolf J. Craven of UK’s Department of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology on the project.

According to Claudio, lung cancer patients generally have a poor survival rate, mostly because of the high number of relapses they typically experience. Scientists believe these relapses are due to the presence of a rare population of cancer cells—called cancer stem cells—that have become resistant to conventional treatments.

Claudio’s laboratory in the university’s new McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute at the Edwards Cancer Center has developed an assay (ChemoIDSM) that measures the sensitivity of tumors to chemotherapy drugs. He says the work funded through this grant will provide information about how lung cancer cells respond to specific types, doses and combinations of drug therapies.

Claudio says, “Our model concentrates on recent discoveries that most tumors are derived from a small number of highly resistant cancer cells having stem cell properties, called cancer stem cells. By recognizing the existence of cancer stem cells, we have taken an important step toward understanding this complex disease.

“Once we have identified the cancer stem cells from patient tumor biopsies, we know how to identify most effective chemotherapy drugs that are already part of the standard of care. Our assay technology has particular value because it can help to determine the most effective drug for a patient’s tumor based on results from an in vitro chemo sensitivity assay.”

Currently, Claudio is conducting Phase-I clinical trials on lung, breast and brain cancers.

“We know that patients with the same stage and grade of cancer often vary considerably in their response to chemotherapy,” he adds. “Our research will provide information that may allow development of tailored therapies for lung cancer, resulting in more effective treatment strategies and better clinical outcomes in the very near future.”

Xie and Claudio both intend to use their findings from these awards as springboards to apply for larger federal grants for related research.

Dr. John M. Maher, vice president for research at Marshall, says this “seeding effect” is one of the emphases of this grant program.

“These pilot awards are relatively small from a research funding perspective, but they allow recipients to test their ideas and generate concrete results as the basis for proposals to the National Institutes of Health’s large grant programs,” Maher said. “It’s not unusual for collaborative projects like these to lead to multimillion dollar awards down the road, after the initial results show significant promise.”

The CTSA partnership between Marshall and UK supports scientists in Marshall’s clinical research program, training fellowships and early stage clinical research trials. The collaboration also gives Marshall investigators access to the expertise and resources at UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and opportunities to apply for significant research grants accessible only through the CTSA program.

Drs. Hardman and Georgel highlighted by DoD Breast Cancer Research Program

Dr. Philippe Georgel and Dr. W. Elaine HardmanDr. Philippe Georgel and Dr. W. Elaine Hardman have received considerable publicity in the past few years over their receipt of a grant from the Department of Defense’s Breast Cancer Research Program. Their most recent honor comes in being highlighted in the latest program book for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs’ (CDMRP) Breast Cancer Research Program. Their research, the result of a DoD FY09 Idea Expansion award, is entitled “Maternal Consumption of Omega-3 Fatty Acids May Prevent Breast Cancer in Offspring.”

In 1992, the CDMRP was created after breast cancer advocates were able to bring about congressional appropriation of funds dedicated to breast cancer research. The fund seeks to find a way to stamp out breast cancer through support of research that is innovative and has the potential of great impact in the understanding of breast cancer. The CDMRP has received more than $6.5 billion in appropriations since its creation. Receipt of the award comes after a two-tier review process consisting of participation between breast cancer survivors and research scientists. Award of the grant is based upon the relevance of the research to the goals of the program and the scientific merit of the proposed research.

The research of Drs. Hardman and Georgel is directed toward determining which gene expression changes in mice offspring are brought about by feeding pregnant mice a diet that includes canola oil (which contains omega-3) versus a diet that contains corn oil (a control). They then compare the mammary cancer rates of the offspring groups after they are exposed to a carcinogen. Results from their research already indicate differences in microRNA and epigenetic expression in the offspring, as well as changes in the expression of genes related to mammary tumorigenesis, including NF-kappaB.

Congratulations to Dr. Georgel and Dr. Hardman! To read the spotlight on their research in the CDMRP booklet (see page 19), please download the file through this link: http://cdmrp.army.mil/pubs/pips/bcpip.pdf.

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman publishes in Nutrition and Cancer

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.Dr. W. Elaine Hardman has published an article in the most recent issue of Nutrition and Cancer, entitled “Dietary Walnut Suppressed Mammary Gland Tumorigenesis in the C(3)1 TAg Mouse.” In her study, including walnuts in the diets of mice lowered their incidence of developing cancer by 50%. The mice that did develop cancer presented with 50% less tumors. This is in comparison to control mice whose diet did not include walnut.

What makes the results of the study even more astounding is that Dr. Hardman was working with mice that were genetically predisposed to developing breast cancer. Genetic analysis showed that eating a walnut-containing diet altered the expression of many genes involved in the development of breast cancer, not only in mice, but also in humans. The compounds in walnuts that have been shown to slow cancer progression include antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and phytosterols.

Read the entire article online on the Nutrition and Cancer website. A video story featuring Dr. Hardman is also available on the Marshall University YouTube channel

Dr. Philippe Georgel participates in Era of Hope Conference

Update: The Era of Hope website now contains a link to the Era of Hope Conference press briefing. The first principal investigator interviewed in the briefing is Dr. Georgel. You may listen to the briefing and view the accompanying powerpoint presentation on the Era of Hope Conference multimedia page.

The following story originally ran on EurekAlert!: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/udod-rld080111.php


Era of Hope conference to feature compelling research examining benefits to daughters based on mother’s diet

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D.

Dr. Philippe Georgel recently traveled to San Antonio to present his research at the 20th International Analytical Ultracentrifugation Conference.

ORLANDO, Fla. — August 3, 2011 — During pregnancy, women are counseled to refrain from consuming certain types of foods, beverages and medications in order to avoid jeopardizing the health and development of the fetus. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association has a list of a dozen items they recommend expectant mothers omit from their diets. However, there are some additions, such as folic acid, that, when taken before and/or during pregnancy, can actually reduce the risk of birth defects and other disorders.1 Research presented today at the Era of Hope conference, a scientific meeting hosted by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP), reveals findings suggesting that if an expectant mother increases her consumption of foods high in certain fatty acids or nutrients during her pregnancy, she can potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer in her female offspring.

The research delves into breast cancer risk reductions attributed to the fetus when the mother, while pregnant, increases omega 3 fatty acids within her diet or consumes dietary methyl nutrients (methionine, choline, folate and vitamin B12). Some findings hypothesize that these diet augmentations may even prevent breast cancer from ever developing in the offspring.

“This is exciting and intriguing research,” said Captain Melissa Kaime, M.D., Director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), under which the BCRP is managed. “To be able to reduce the risk and possibly prevent this devastating disease before birth is an incredible notion; the BCRP is proud to support research with such potential.”

Maternal Consumption of Omega 3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk in Offspring
Principal Investigator: Philippe T. Georgel, PhD, Marshall University

Maternal dietary alterations, including increasing the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids, may reduce the risk of breast cancer to the fetus by causing epigenetic changes in utero and later through nursing. These changes may alter gene expression permanently, a change referred to as imprinting. Researchers at Marshall University conducted a study to investigate whether having a diet rich in omega 3s while pregnant would result in changes to fetal mammary gland gene expression, thereby reducing the chance that female offspring would later develop breast cancer.

In this study, there was a reduced incidence of mammary gland cancer observed for the offspring of mice that, while pregnant and nursing, consumed a diet containing canola oil, rich in omega 3, compared with the offspring of mice that, while pregnant and nursing, consumed a diet containing corn oil rich in omega 6 fatty acids. Reviewing the gene expression profiles of both groups showed that many genes related to cancer development differed between the two groups. Significant differences in the patterns of two important epigenetic markers were also observed.

“Pregnant women should be mindful of what they consume since their diet may incite epigenetic changes that could impact the development of their offspring, not just in utero but also for time to come,” said Dr. Philippe Georgel, Marshall University. “Additional research continues, as we seek to elucidate the effect of diet on breast cancer-specific gene expression.”

About the Era of Hope

The Era of Hope (EOH) conference joins scientists, clinicians and breast cancer advocates committed to advancing research on the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. From August 2-5, 2011 in Orlando, Florida, the EOH will feature prominent scientists and clinicians with presentations of recent remarkable advances in breast cancer research funded by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP). This research challenges paradigms and pushes boundaries to identify innovative, high-impact approaches for future breast cancer research and discoveries.

The EOH conference is recognized as one of the premier breast cancer research conferences, and this year marks the sixth conference of its kind. The EOH will bring together more than 1,600 BCRP awardees, advocates, and invited speakers in an atmosphere of collaborative thinking in the fight against breast cancer. The EOH is a unique opportunity for advocates and expert scientists from different fields and research areas to discuss unanswered questions, share ideas, identify promising directions in breast cancer research, and develop collaborative partnerships. The conference will unveil innovative research and discoveries that are essential to ultimately eradicating the disease. For more information about the EOH, please visit https://cdmrpcures.org/ocs/index.php/eoh/eoh2011. Follow the Era of Hope conference on Twitter @EraofHope.

About the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

In the early 1990s, the breast cancer advocacy community launched a grassroots effort to raise public awareness for the crucial need of increased funding in breast cancer research. Beginning in fiscal year 1992 (FY92), Congress appropriated $25 million for breast cancer research to be managed by the Department of Defense. The following year, Congress continued to respond to the advocacy movement and appropriated $210 million for breast cancer research, marking the beginning of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). The CDMRP represents a unique partnership among the public, Congress and the military. Because of continued and expanded advocacy efforts, the CDMRP has grown to encompass multiple targeted programs spanning cancer research, military medical research, and other disease, injury or condition specific research. The CDMRP has received $6.525 billion in appropriations from its inception through FY11 and more than 10,000 awards have been made across 25 different programs through FY10. For more information about the CDMRP, please visit http://www.cdmrp.army.mil

MU professor to present poster on effects of diet on breast cancer

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Philippe T. Georgel, a professor of biological sciences and director of the Cell Differentiation and Development Center at Marshall University, will present a poster on the effects of diet on breast cancer at the Era of Hope 2011 Conference in Orlando, Fla.

The Era of Hope Conference provides a forum for scientists and clinicians from a variety of disciplines to join breast cancer survivors and advocates in learning about the advances made by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP) awardees, to challenge paradigms and push boundaries, and to identify innovative, high-impact approaches for future research.

This year’s conference is Tuesday, Aug. 2, through Friday, Aug. 5 at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Recognized as one of the premiere breast cancer research meetings, the Era of Hope Conference is expected to attract more than 1,600 BCRP awardees, survivors and invited speakers, fostering an atmosphere for collaborative thinking in the fight against breast cancer.

Georgel’s abstract, done in collaboration with Dr. Elaine Hardman and titled Maternal Consumption of Omega 3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk in Offspring, was chosen for the conference by the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

The research project investigates the ability of a maternal diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids (found in fish oil and canola oil, for example) to reduce the incidence of breast cancer and to limit growth of malignant mammary tumors in the female offspring.

The mechanism involved appears to be linked to long-term changes in gene expression mediated by epigenetic events (regulatory events that do not involve DNA mutations).

“The DOD ‘Era of Hope’ selection committee picks projects they believe have a good chance to generate potential applications in the future in terms of prevention of breast cancer,” Georgel said. “This type of study provides a window to the multiple long-term positive effects associated with a balanced diet, not only for the individuals but also for their offspring.”

Georgel has been at Marshall since fall 2002.

Dr. W. Elaine Harman featured in the Parthenon

The Marshall University student newspaper, the Parthenon, has run a feature article on Dr. W. Elaine Hardman in its March 10, 2011 issue. The article highlights Dr. Hardman’s education, research, and life story. The full text of the piece can be found below and on the Parthenon Website.


W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.Elaine Hardman was at Cabell Huntington Hospital one day picking up blood samples to test while carrying a bag of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste.

“What are you doing with that?” asked Theodore Witte, Hardman’s research assistant and part-time doctoral student in the biomedical sciences program at Marshall University.

Witte said she saved them from all the hotels she has stayed at and gives them to the women’s shelter.

“How many people do you see doing that?” Witte said. “She doesn’t even consider herself decent; she just is.”

Hardman is the associate professor for the department of biochemistry and microbiology at Marshall and has been at Marshall for five years.

“We were very fortunate to recruit her to Marshall,” said Richard Niles, senior associate dean for research and graduate programs.

Niles met Hardman when they first worked together a couple years ago in the same study section for the American Institutes for Cancer Research. After working with Hardman, he encouraged her to apply for the open position available at Marshall.

“I knew what I was getting myself into before I applied for the job,” Hardman said.

Philippe Georgel, associate professor for biological sciences, said he met Hardman at her interview. He said she was very professional, but his first impression was that she was very quiet.

“I realized there is a lot of energy under that calm surface,” Georgel said. “She is extremely energetic and I think she is one of those researchers who thinks if there is something that can help and benefit others, she will do her best to include other people in her research and in her success.”

Hardman has been researching the subjects of nutrition and cancer for the past 20 years.

Hardman served six years as a member of the National Institutes of Health study section and spent five years on the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation study section.

Some of her earlier research was on the effects of dietary fiber on colon cancer. Now she is studying the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on various cancers, including lung, prostate, breast and colon.

Hardman said her passion for science began in junior high school. She grew up in a small town in the backwoods area of Dicey County, Fla., and always found some interest in science.

She said she asked her mom and dad for a chemistry set, but instead she received a microscope.

However, there was a dilemma.

“At the time I was growing up, what did a girl who liked science do?” Hardman said. “Maybe I could be a nurse or a science teacher, but I finally realized I wanted to be a researcher and I didn’t have a clue how to get there.”

Hardman said the only thing she thought of was to take all the science she could in high school.

By her junior year, she had taken all the science and math courses her high school provided. She decided to go to junior college and ended up graduating a year early from high school.

Within 15 months at junior college in Florida, Hardman completed her two years and went to the University of Florida. Then, seven months later, she finished her junior year at the university and was 18 years old.

She then married and had a family.

“I always knew I was still going to finish college,” Hardman said.

Hardman said she believes her marriage came at the right time.

“It worked for me,” Hardman said. “It enabled me to focus on raising my children when I was young and had more energy. It has also given me enough time at a later time in my life to get back into science and focus on it.”

The family moved to Montgomery, Ala., at the time her youngest of two children, Don, entered preschool. Hardman said then was the perfect time to go back to school and finish her degree.

Auburn University had just started a clinical laboratory, medical technology course, and Hardman said she was interested in it. She went to the department chair and asked what she should do in the field of science. He suggested she enroll in the new technology course.

She said she realized that, even though it was a delightful experience, she could not stand the idea of doing the same type of work every day for the rest of her career.

Her family moved again to San Antonio, Texas, where Hardman found a part-time job at the Cancer Research Therapy Center as a medical technologist.

“I was working with cancer patients,” Hardman said. “I was reading their blood smears, learning about their cancers and learning about their treatment.”

At the time her oldest child, Sharon, entered college, Hardman said she heard about a full-time position as a research assistant available at the University of Texas Science Center.

Hardman said she was ready for a full-time job and started working hard at it. Two years into the position, she said she practically ran the project the center was working on.

Again, however, Hardman made the decision to go back to school and further her education. This time she applied for graduate school at the University of Texas and finished her doctoral degree in cell biology in two years and three months.

“Most students work at it for five to six years,” Hardman said. “But I had already been working on it in the lab for two years.”

As a graduate student, she received her first grant funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research and a pre-doctoral grant. She has also received funding from the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health for her research throughout the years.

“Things have fallen into place for me,” Hardman said. “Partly because I was ready for the next step and the next step would come at the time I was ready for it.”

Out of the lab, Hardman can be found cross-country skiing, around campus or in the park, according to some of her students.

“Whenever there is enough snow, she will go do that,” said Anne Silvis, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate for cancer biology from Hurricane, W.Va. “She is very adventurous and she is going to do whatever she wants to do and she really doesn’t care what people are going to think. She really enjoys life.”

Hardman said she was once a Girl Scout and likes to help with teaching young girls how to white water raft. She also said she likes to stay active, and her students seem to be a little jealous of that.

“Well despite her age, she is perhaps the most active person I know and would probably put me to shame in terms of physical health, and I consider myself in pretty good shape,” said Johannes Fahrmann, a biomedical sciences doctoral student from Dresden, Germany.

Hardman even plans surprise trips for her students. Witte said Hardman would take her lab members on a boat ride for lab meetings.

“Unbelievably, you think that you’re going into a scary lab meeting and you find that you’re going on a boat ride and she is making upside-down cake,” Witte said. “The trick is that she grandmothers us into performing, so you can’t let her down.”

Many of the students interviewed said she was a wonderful role model to them. Silvis said she is inspired by Hardman’s success in the field of science as a woman who has a family.

“She is very important to me having a family myself,” Silvis said. “It’s very comforting. And I think for women to see that, even though she has a family and kids in graduate school, they can accomplish as much as she has in her professional life and still have a family life.”

Hardman said she hopes she is always directing her students in the right direction but may not think she is necessarily the right leader for the job.

“I have always thought of myself as fairly shy, but other people say that I’m a pretty strong leader,” Hardman said. “I don’t quite see that.”

“Things have fallen into place for me; partly because I was ready for the next step and the next step would come at the time I was ready for it.”

-Elaine Hardman

Dr. Hardman featured by MU-Advance

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.Dr. Elaine Hardman of the Biomedical Sciences Program has been featured by MU-Advance, an organization on campus that seeks to empower, retain, and recruit female faculty members in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The following is the piece the MU-Advance ran on Dr. Hardman:

Education

A.A. (Biology), Lake City Junior College
B.S. (Biology), Auburn University at Montgomery

Ph.D. (Cell Biology), University of Texas Health Science Center

Research

Dr. Hardman recently received a grant from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program to further her studies on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer development. Dr. Hardman, in collaboration with Dr. Philippe Georgel, an associate professor of Biological Sciences, garnered more than $780,000 to conduct the research study. In addition, the National Cancer Institute awarded Dr. Hardman a grant ($266,000 for the fourth year) to study how the maternal diet can significantly reduce the lifetime risk of mammary gland cancer in the female offspring of mice. This particular study focuses on long-chain (20 or 22 carbons) omega-3 fatty acids. Her research has found that consumption of canola oil in the diet, instead of corn oil, may reduce the risk for mammary gland cancer. Also, a grant from the American Institute for Cancer Research allows Dr. Hardman to assess the effects of walnut (a good source of omega-3 fat and various phytosterols) consumption on breast cancer development. Money provided by the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation funds the identification of molecular mechanisms for altered interactions between adipocytes and mammary epithelial cells when omega-3 fats are incorporated into the cells.

Teaching

Dr. Hardman, a School of Medicine professor, currently teaches a Biomedical Sciences graduate course in Lipid Metabolism, and two Medical Biochemistry courses, Lipid Metabolism and Nutrition. Dr. Hardman previously taught Cancer Biology and Prevention.   

Service and Outreach

Dr. Hardman serves as an editorial advisor for the journal Cancer Cell International. She is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research and Women in Cancer Research. Dr. Hardman is also the Treasurer for the International Federation of Cell Biology, serving since 2000. In addition, Dr. Hardman serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the California Walnut Council.

Contact Info

Telephone: (304) 696-7339
E-mail: hardmanw@marshall.edu
News: Marshall researcher receives post-doctoral award from Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation