Marshall biomedical professor invited to present her research internationally

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, has been invited to present her research, yet again.

2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy 2012Dr. Santanam will be presenting her research internationally at the International Society of Antioxidants in Nutrition and Health’s (ISANH) 2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy, December 6 – 7, 2012 in Paris, France.

Santanam’s talk is relevant to all with a condition called Endometriosis. Endometriosis is a clinical condition that afflicts 10-15% of women of reproductive age (mainly diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35), posing a major cause for infertility and chronic pain. Since the etiology of this disease is still unknown, very few treatment options are available. Surgery is currently the best treatment; however, due to a high recurrence rate, the disease commonly returns within three to six months post-surgery. The conference provides attendees the opportunity to present and discuss new research relating to the condition. Dr. Santanam’s talk scheduled for Friday, December 7th, is titled “Prostaglandin-Like Lipid Oxidation Products in the peritoneal Fluid of Women with Endometriosis Respond to Antioxidant Therapy.” In addition to her presentation, she also will be co-sharing the meeting on December 7th, 2012. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge the continued collaboration with Dr. Brenda Dawley from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

It is quite an honor to be selected at such a high level in her field, and though Dr. Santanam is not foreign to these invites, she remains humble. This is the second time she has been recognized and invited to present her research in just two months. Dr. Santanam recently presented her research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Los Angeles, California in November. Her talk was titled  “Sex differences in epicardial fat biomarkers,” which highlighted the research she has conducted over the past three years in collaboration with Marshall’s Department of Cardiology and Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. She studied the adipose tissue surrounding the heart and blood vessels in patients with coronary artery disease. 

This epicardial and perivascular fat has unique biomarkers that show differences between Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H. the sexes; she states that with this study, they are “trying to identify biomarkers unique to this particular fat so that we can use it in the future to diagnose or in the treatment of coronary artery disease.”  Additionally, the biomarkers found in the adipose tissue have been correlated to patients with hypertension. This study is part of the West Virginia Appalachian Heart Study; therefore most of the individuals included in this study are Appalachians. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge: Dr. Christopher Adams, Dr. Nepal Chowdhury, Dr. Todd Gress, and Dr. Paulette Wehner.

Dr. Santanam is the chair of the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes research cluster within Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, and is a member of its Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology. 

Congratulations on your continued achievements, Dr. Santanam!

Dr. Eric Blough publishes a study on metabolic syndrome and skeletal muscle

Dr. Eric Blough of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program recently collaborated with another Marshall University researcher on a study published in Science & Sports. Dr. Blough researches within the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity and Diabetes research cluster.


Eric Blough, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Collaboration between two Marshall University associate professors resulted in findings that were published in Science & Sports, a publication of the French Society of Sports Medicine. The research was about the effects of metabolic syndrome on skeletal muscle adaptation.

Dr. Eric Arnold, from Marshall’s School of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Eric Blough, from the School of Pharmacy, worked together on the project.

Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome, is one of the fastest growing health problems in the United States with more than one of every three adults suffering from the disorder, according to Arnold and Blough.

They also said that over the next two decades, the incidence of metabolic syndrome is projected to increase to epidemic levels in both the industrialized and developing worlds. Patients with metabolic syndrome typically are obese, suffer from insulin resistance and exhibit elevations in blood sugar and lipid levels.

“It’s important to assemble a team of experts from various health professions and scientific disciplines, to address the complexity of type 2 diabetes,” Arnold said. “That’s what it is all about, working together to research and discover an optimal therapeutic strategy for this chronic disease. Collaboration is important.”

Marshall’s researchers have been using the obese Zucker rat (Leprfa) which models many of the characteristic features of metabolic syndrome seen in humans to examine how the disorder may affect the ability of their skeletal muscles to adapt to an exercise stimulus.

“Because exercise is almost always prescribed as a treatment modality for these patients, we need to understand how skeletal muscles of someone with metabolic syndrome may respond to exercise if we ever want to optimize the therapeutic treatment of this disease,” Arnold said.

Their research, titled “Insulin resistance does not inhibit the ability of the mechanical overload to induce hypertrophy in the Obese Zucker Rat (Leprfa) plantaris muscle,” was published in April.

Significant findings provided evidence that metabolic syndrome did not impair the ability of the rat fast twitch plantaris muscle to experience hypertrophy when exposed to muscle overload as reflected by increases in myofibrillar protein content and increases in muscle fiber cross-sectional area.

“This finding is pretty interesting given that previous work by our group has shown the muscle adaptation in the slow twitch soleus muscle is impaired with metabolic syndrome,” Blough said. “This study, along with our other work, suggests that metabolic syndrome may affect different muscle types differently. This adds a level of complexity that I don’t think others have shown in the past and may have important implications in the design of exercise intervention programs.”

For more information, call Arnold at 304-696-5615 or Blough at 304-696-2708.

2011 SRIMS participant wins travel award to present at national conference

Rebecca Furby, 2011 SRIMS studentRebecca Furby, a participant of the 2011 SRIMS program at Marshall University, has won an award from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, or FASEB, to present at a national conference. The FASEB Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC) program’s mission statement is to “achieve greater participation in the biomedical and behavioral research enterprise of this country by individuals from underrepresented minority groups.” Underrepresented minority undergraduate and graduate students, post-baccalaureates, postdoctorates, junior faculty, and faculty scientists in the behavioral and biomedical sciences are eligible to apply for the award.

The MARC program reimburses students for meeting registration and travel-related expenses, including lodging and transportation. Rebecca Furby will be using her award to attend the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS) 2011 meeting in St. Louis, MO, November 9-12. According to its website, the ABRCMS meeting is the largest professional conference for biomedical and behavioral science students and attracts over 3,300 participants from more than 350 U.S. colleges and universities. In addition to poster and oral presentations, students have the opportunity to network with representatives from graduate schools, summer research internships, government agencies, and professional scientific societies.

Rebecca researched in Dr. Nalini Santanam’s lab over the summer. Dr. Santanam, a professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, studies obesity, cardiovascular disease, and reproductive endocrinology within the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes research cluster.

Congratulations, Rebecca, on winning the FASEB MARC award!

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