Marshall biomedical sciences’ researchers publish e-book on nutrition and cancer

Cover of "Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology"Researchers at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine have collaborated on an electronic book, “Nutrition and Cancer From Epidemiology to Biology,” recently published by Bentham Science Publishers.

This ebook is one of the latest efforts of researchers at the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center.

A collection of scientific articles written by Marshall faculty members and students, the publication was edited by Dr. Richard M. Niles, professor and chairman of the university’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and director of the McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute.

According to the publisher, various estimates suggest that between 30-40% of all human cancers are related to dietary patterns. Strong epidemiological evidence from studies points to dietary constituents that either contribute or protect against the development of various forms of cancer.

This e-book reviews some traditional and relatively new areas of nutrition and cancer. Epidemiological data is combined with molecular biology research and, where available, clinical trial data. The emerging science of “Nutrigenomics” is discussed with chapters on the biological role of various nutrition components from red wine, peppers, green tea, fish oil, cruciferous vegetables, retinoids; and the intersection of nutrition and epigenetics in hematopoiesis.

The publication will be of interest to researchers in the nutrition and cancer fields, physicians in family and community medicine, internal medicine and oncology, and dieticians providing counseling to cancer patients and cancer survivors.

by Ginny Painter
Director of Communications
Marshall University Research Corporation 
ginny.painter@marshall.edu 
www.marshall.edu/murc  

 

Biomedical sciences doctoral students take top awards at regional conference


Contact: 
Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964, or  Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine & Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two biomedical sciences doctoral students from Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine captured first place in both categories of a research competition held earlier this month in conjunction with the first Appalachian Regional Cell Conference.

They were among more than 40 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from Marshall, West Virginia University, University of Kentucky and Ohio University competing at the conference, which was held Oct. 12 at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine biomedical sciences Ph.D. students Johannes Fahrmann, standing, and Rounak Nande, seated, captured first place in their respective categories at a research competition held earlier this month in conjunction with the first Appalachian Regional Cell Conference. Fahrmann won the oral presentation category and Nande took first place in the poster category.

Marshall biomedical sciences Ph.D. candidate Johannes Fahrmann received first place in the oral presentation category of the competition for a presentation about his research to explore the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in late stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Rounak Nande, who is also a doctoral student in the university’s biomedical sciences program, was awarded first place in the poster category for a poster describing his project to help develop a delivery system for targeted gene therapy to improve the treatment of prostate cancer. 

Fahrmann said the conference was a valuable experience and he hopes to continue his involvement with the event in the future. 

“The conference was aimed at networking, collaborations and showcasing the research being conducted by students at the attending universities,” he added. “I was given the honor and privilege to represent Marshall University through an oral presentation describing my cancer research, and was very pleased to receive the overall award. Neither the award nor the conference itself could have come to fruition without the dedicated work of the organizing committee, which included our own graduate student Allison Wolf.”

He also expressed appreciation to his faculty mentor, Dr. Elaine Hardman, Marshall professor of biochemistry and microbiology. 

Hardman praised Fahrmann’s work, saying, “Johannes is an outstanding senior graduate student who will do well in research. The presentation he made was completely his own work—he developed the idea, wrote a grant, obtained the funding to do the work and has excellent results. His work has clear clinical relevance and, we hope, will apply to enhancing cancer therapy in the near future. He is a leader in the department and an outstanding role model for the younger graduate students. I am delighted with his success and to have him for a student.”

Nande said of the experience, “I, too, felt privileged to take part in the first-ever ARCC conference put together by the four universities. I would like to thank my mentor at Marshall, Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, and my collaborators from the Tri-State Regional Cancer Center in Ashland, Ky., Dr. Michael Gossman and Dr. Jeffrey Lopez, for having confidence in me to present our research.”

Claudio, who is an associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology and director of the McKown Translational Genomics Research Institute, said he was pleased with Nande’s success at the conference and emphasized the potential importance of the student’s research.

“A major challenge for effective gene therapy is the ability to specifically deliver nucleic acids and potentially toxic gene products directly into diseased tissue. This system Ron helped develop in our lab allows for the specific delivery of smart biological drugs to diseased tissues using the blood stream. The advantage of this technique is that the therapeutic viruses are released in a concentrated manner in the diseased tissue, eliciting an enhanced therapeutic effect while minimizing complications,” added Claudio.

Two additional Marshall graduate students, Kristeena Ray and Sarah Mathis, were selected as winners in their categories of the poster competition—Ray for a poster showcasing her research into the role of epigenetics in endometriosis-associated pain and Mathis for a poster describing her work to help develop a test that could make possible individualized chemotherapy treatments. Ray works in the lab of Dr. Nalini Santanam, Marshall professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology. Claudio serves as Mathis’s faculty mentor.

The conference was organized and hosted by the four institutions with the goal of expanding the field of cell biology research and fostering interactions among scientists at the universities in the Ohio Valley/mid-Appalachian region. In addition to the oral and poster presentations, the program featured keynote speaker Dr. Vinay Pathak, a senior investigator in HIV drug resistance at the National Cancer Institute, and networking opportunities for more than 80 students and faculty members who participated in the program. The conference was funded through a grant from the American Society for Cell Biology.

 ###

Photo by Rick Haye/Marshall University

Dr. Vincent Sollars serves as guest editor of an ebook on epigenetics with Genetics Research International

Cover image (links to full cover): The Role of Epigenetics in Evlotion

Dr. Vincent E. Sollars of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program recently served as the guest editor of an ebook for Genetics Research International. The ebook is entitled The Role of Epigenetics in Evolution: The Extended Synthesis.

The purpose of the publication is to provide discourse on the ways in which epigenetics, or non-sequence-based changes in DNA, can be incorporated into evolutionary theory.  According to Dr. Sollars, “The traditional dogma of mutational change, leveraged by natural selection, leaves out the advancing field of epigenetics.  This book will assist in incorporating those ideas into evolutionary theory.”

Dr. Sollars is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. He researches within two research clusters: Cancer Biology and Infectious and Immunological Diseases.

Genetics Research International publishes articles covering many diverse areas of genetics. It is an open access, peer-reviewed journal featuring review articles, research articles, and clinical studies. The intended audience for this ebook includes researchers in the field of epigenetics and/or evolution.

Digital copies and hard copies can be procured online via the publisher, Hindawi, at the following link:

http://www.hindawi.com/journals/gri/2012/286164/ 

Marshall investigators to help lead Research Challenge Fund projects for energy, cancer studies

The following story from the Marshall University Research Corporation highlights the cancer research of two professors from the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, Dr. Richard Niles and Dr. Donald Primerano. It also provides a spotlight on the WV Cancer Genomics Network,  which these two faculty members helped launch as Principal Investigators.


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Researchers at Marshall University are among the lead investigators on two projects to be funded through the state’s Research Challenge Fund, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission announced today.

Photo of Dr. Thomas WilsonMarshall faculty members Drs. Thomas Wilson, Richard Niles and Donald Primerano will help direct the projects—one to develop better electronics and the other to learn more about cancers affecting West Virginians. The projects began this month and will be conducted in cooperation with researchers at West Virginia University (WVU). Each project will receive a total of $1,350,000 over the next five years.

The Research Challenge Fund was established by the state legislature in 2002 to provide seed money for new research. Projects funded through the program support the creation of research centers and start-up businesses, and foster economic development and work force advancement.

Announcing the awards, Dr. Paul L. Hill, the commission’s chancellor, said, “The primary goal of the Research Challenge Fund is to sponsor innovative research at our colleges and universities while improving the institutions’ ability to compete for federal and private funding on the national level.”

Dr. John M. Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, said, “Marshall University is pleased to have been selected to receive funding through this important program. The Research Challenge Fund is one of the state’s largest investments in research and innovation, and the application process is always quite competitive. The fact that our investigators are integral to two of the projects announced today speaks volumes about the quality of research being done at Marshall. I look forward to watching these projects develop over the coming years.”

The funding to create a Center for Energy Efficient Electronics at Marshall and WVU will be used to investigate and develop devices that will lead to next-generation electronics that are smaller, faster and more energy efficient than current technology allows. The principal investigators on the project are Wilson, who is a professor of physics at Marshall; Dr. David Lederman, a professor of physics at WVU; and Drs. Alan Bristow, Mikel Holcomb and Tudor Stanescu, associate professors of physics at WVU.

According to the investigators, there is strong interest in the research community in the concepts of spintronics and magnonics, where spin degrees of freedom and magnetic excitations are used for information storage and processing. Spintronics and magnonics are expected to result in electronic devices that are faster and use substantially less power than current electronics because spin and magnetic excitation currents do not dissipate nearly as much energy as charge currents.

“In my lab at Marshall, I will be probing the effects of applying uniaxial stress to the magnonic devices to adjust their frequencies,” said Wilson. “This proof-of-concept experiment will permit us to determine whether it is feasible to use strain to fabricate THz magnonic devices for ultrafast communication applications.”

The second research project will further develop and expand the West Virginia Cancer Genomics Network to involve Marshall, WVU and Charleston Area Medical Center. Network partners will develop a genetic database for cancers with a higher incidence in West Virginia. Researchers will use the data in studies and clinical trials funded by federal and/or private grants and to help develop start-up biotechnology companies. Principal investigators for this study are Niles, who is a professor and chairman of Marshall’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology; Primerano, who is a professor of biochemistry and microbiology at Marshall and the director of the university’s Genomics Core Facility; Dr. William Petros, a professor of biochemistry at WVU; and Dr. Todd Kuenstner, the director of pathology at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Photo of Dr. Richard Niles

Niles said, “We started the Cancer Genomics Network several years ago with money from the federal stimulus, to collect genetic information about cancers that have a high prevalence in West Virginia—namely lung, colorectal and ovarian cancers, and acute myeloid leukemia. Through this award, along with our network partners at WVU and CAMC, we’ll be working to identify new diagnostic/prognostic markers and new targets for cancer therapy.”

 

Primerano added, “At our Genomics Core Facility, we will be sequencing and analyzing the tissue samples collected through the network, allowing us to gain information critical to understanding, preventing and treating cancer in future patients.”

Photo of Dr. Donald Primerano

The grants announced today are the third round of Research Challenge Fund awards made since the program began. According to the Higher Education Policy Commission, the first round—a state investment of $8.4 million—produced more than $20 million in external funding, helped create five startup companies and led to 10 patent applications. Results from the second round of grants, awarded in 2007, are being analyzed and will be reported to the governor and legislature by the end of the year.

More information about the Research Challenge Fund program and other research initiatives is available at www.wvresearch.org.


Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964

Dr. Georgel presents at international scientific conference

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D.

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

The following Marshall University press release highlights Dr. Philippe Georgel’s recent participation in the 20th International Analytical Ultracentrifugation Conference. In addition to teaching Biological Sciences at the main Marshall campus, Dr. Georgel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Dr. Georgel researches in two research clusters: Cancer Biology and Neuroscience and Developmental Biology.


Huntington, W.Va.  – Dr. Philippe Georgel, a professor of biological sciences at Marshall University, recently traveled to San Antonio to present his research at the 20th International Analytical Ultracentrifugation Conference.

The biennial conference is focused on research done using a specific laboratory technique to characterize the size, shape and interactions of molecules and macromolecules in solutions. Analytical ultracentrifugation is widely used in molecular biology, biochemistry and polymer science.

Georgel studies the effects of chromatin—the combination of DNA and proteins that make up the contents of the nucleus of a cell—on nuclear functions. His conference presentation focused on his use of a new method called Quantitative Agarose Gel Electrophoresis, or QAGE. QAGE, allows for analysis of structure and composition of nucleo-protein complexes, and is complementary to the use of analytical ultracentrifugation.

The research Georgel presented was a collaborative effort among his group at Marshall; Dr. James Denvir, associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine; and Dr. Stuart Lindsay and Dr. Qiang Fu from Arizona State University.
Georgel has already been invited back to present at the 2014 conference, which will be held in Japan.

For more information, contact Georgel at georgel@marshall.edu or 304-696-3965.

Biomedical Sciences students recognized at international science meeting

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University students received special recognition for their research at this year’s international Experimental Biology conference held April 21-25 in San Diego.
 
M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate from Parkersburg, received first place in her group in a poster competition held as part of the conference’s Diet and Cancer mini-symposium. The mini-symposium was funded by the American Society of Nutrition.
 
Wolf’s presentation focused on her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates—a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables—on head and neck cancer. Her work shows the compound both inhibits head and neck metastasis and greatly increases sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers. Wolf works in the lab of Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.
 
Wolfe said she gained a great deal from the experience of attending the program and presenting her work.
 
“I really enjoyed this conference, particularly the Nutrition and Cancer Research Interest group, because it allowed me to be surrounded by people in my field,” she said. “Discussing my research with others also interested in or working on isothiocyanates gave me some promising future directions to pursue.”
 
Aaron Dom, a first-year MUSOM student and graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate ProgramIn addition, Aaron M. Dom, a first-year medical school student from Wellersburg, Pa., was invited to do a special oral “blitz” presentation about his research on how a synthetic drug called MG624 can prevent new blood vessel growth in small cell lung cancer and could potentially serve as a therapy for the disease. Dom was invited to present by the Blood Vessel Club of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). ASIP held its annual meeting in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference. The club sponsors the short oral presentations to present exciting new vascular biology research and to give audience members an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions about the research.
 
Dom, who is the president of the medical school’s Class of 2015, did the research in the lab of Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology and Toxicology.
 
He said of the experience, “Our lab is honored that I was selected to present at this special session, and we were excited to share some of the work that we are doing here at the medical school. Experiences like these—in both helping with this research and in presenting at and attending a conference of this size—have helped me gain a greater appreciation for research in medicine.”
 
Nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations attend the annual Experimental Biology meeting to share information about recent developments in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology.

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.

Biomedical Sciences students recognized at international science meeting

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University students received special recognition for their research at this year’s international Experimental Biology conference held April 21-25 in San Diego.

M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate from Parkersburg, received first place in her group in a poster competition held as part of the conference’s Diet and Cancer mini-symposium. The mini-symposium was funded by the American Society of Nutrition.

Wolf’s presentation focused on her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates—a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables—on head and neck cancer. Her work shows the compound both inhibits head and neck metastasis and greatly increases sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers. Wolf works in the lab of Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Wolfe said she gained a great deal from the experience of attending the program and presenting her work.

“I really enjoyed this conference, particularly the Nutrition and Cancer Research Interest group, because it allowed me to be surrounded by people in my field,” she said. “Discussing my research with others also interested in or working on isothiocyanates gave me some promising future directions to pursue.”

Aaron Dom, a first-year MUSOM student and graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate ProgramIn addition, Aaron M. Dom, a first-year medical school student from Wellersburg, Pa., was invited to do a special oral “blitz” presentation about his research on how a synthetic drug called MG624 can prevent new blood vessel growth in small cell lung cancer and could potentially serve as a therapy for the disease. Dom was invited to present by the Blood Vessel Club of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). ASIP held its annual meeting in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference. The club sponsors the short oral presentations to present exciting new vascular biology research and to give audience members an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions about the research.

Dom, who is the president of the medical school’s Class of 2015, did the research in the lab of Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology and Toxicology.

He said of the experience, “Our lab is honored that I was selected to present at this special session, and we were excited to share some of the work that we are doing here at the medical school. Experiences like these—in both helping with this research and in presenting at and attending a conference of this size—have helped me gain a greater appreciation for research in medicine.”

Nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations attend the annual Experimental Biology meeting to share information about recent developments in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology.

Dr. Hardman to be featured in an NIH newsletter

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.A study by Dr. W. Elaine Hardman has been selected to be featured in Nutrition Frontiers, a quarterly publication of the Nutritional Science Research Group (NSRG) of the Division of Cancer Prevention at the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The NCI is a subsection of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The electronic newsletter presents research that links diet to tumor behavior and cancer prevention. Each issue highlights two feature publications, chosen on the basis of innovation, scientific merit, and potential impact on public health. Feature studies have also been funded at least in part by the NSRG.

Dr. Hardman is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and researches within the Cancer Biology research cluster. Her study is entitled “Dietary Walnut Suppressed Mammary Gland Tumorigenesis in the C(3)1 Tag Mouse.” This study was published last year in  Nutrition and Cancer.

Congratulations, Dr. Hardman!

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio explores gene therapy ‘cocktail’ for feline fibrosarcoma

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A team of researchers led by a Marshall University faculty member has found that a gene therapy “cocktail” may hold the key to treating feline fibrosarcoma—an aggressive type of cancer that affects thousands of cats in the U.S. each year. Current therapies for the disease are often ineffective for long-term tumor eradication.

The research was conducted by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and colleagues from the McKown Translational Research Institute at the school of medicine, the university’s Department of Biology, the Martin Veterinary Clinic in Ashland, Ky., and the University of L’Aquila in Italy.

According to Claudio, there are two types of feline fibrosarcomas. The most common type has been linked to the use of vaccines administered to prevent rabies and feline leukemia, and occurs at the site of the injection. The second type appears to occur spontaneously, without any known external cause.

The study at Marshall focused on the more rare, non-vaccination site fibrosarcomas, which have been found to be associated with genetic alterations. It seemed a natural fit for Claudio, whose research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms governing the growth of cancers to help develop new strategies for treatment.

“Gene therapy, which we study in my lab, uses genetic and cell-based technologies to treat disease,” he said. “Essentially, we were able to develop a cocktail of adenoviruses carrying functional therapeutic proteins that can be used to eliminate this deadly disease.”

Claudio pointed out that more studies need to be done to determine if his lab’s findings could also be applicable to cases of vaccine-induced fibrosarcomas.

The research was published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE. The full article, “Targeting a newly established spontaneous feline fibrosarcoma cell line by gene transfer,” is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037743.

Claudio is in Italy this week to present three invited lectures about his research. He will be speaking at the National Cancer Institute and the CEINGE Institute in Naples, and at the meeting “Fragment of history:  Seminar on the oral medicine of the past and of the future” in Sorrento.

For more information, contact Claudio at claudiop@marshall.edu or 304-696-3516.

BBSC dedicates room in honor of Dr. Frederick J. Lotspeich

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. A conference room located in the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center at Marshall University has been named in honor of the late Frederick J. Lotspeich, Ph.D., who was the founding chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry. Lotspeich served as the chair from 1977 until 1991.

For 35 years, Lotspeich served medical education in West Virginia, beginning as an assistant professor of biochemistry at the West Virginia University Medical Center in 1956 and then joining the Marshall faculty in 1977.

Following his death in 1994, the School of Medicine dedicated a reading room at the Robert W. Coon Medical Education Building at the Huntington VA Medical Center in Lotspeich’s honor. Additionally, in memory of Lotspeich, his wife Kay created the Dr. Frederick J. Lotspeich Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences.

This year the scholarship was awarded to Wood County native M. Allison Wolf, a doctoral student working with Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Lotspeich was a native of Keyser. He graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Virginia University and completed a doctorate at Purdue University.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLqz3QtwIBU&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Meet the new faculty: Dr. Emine Koc

Dr. Emine Koc, Associate Professor, Biochemistry and MicrobiologyDr. Emine Koc Associate Professor, Biochemistry and Microbiology

Education B.S. (Chemistry/Biochemistry), Ege University, Turkey M.S. (Biochemistry), Ege University, Turkey Ph.D. (Chemistry/Biochemistry), New Mexico State UniversityResearchDr. Koc’s research examines the role mitochondria play in aging, heart disease, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders, obesity, and cancer. Because of their central role in energy metabolism, it is becoming more apparent that mitochondria are contributing factors in these processes/diseases. In mammals, mitochondria are responsible for providing over 90% of the energy in the form of ATP, which is generated by the process of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Mitochondria have their own 16.5 kb circular genome and translation machinery/ribosomes essential for the synthesis of 13 essential proteins of the OXPHOS complexes. The mammalian mitochondrial ribosome (55S) is composed of ~80 mitochondrial ribosomal proteins (MRPs), about half of which have homologs in bacterial ribosomes. Although many of the maternally-inherited mitochondrial disorders result from mutations in mitochondrial DNA, alterations in expression levels and mutations of MRPs also affect mitochondrial protein synthesis and cell growth. Indeed, there is growing evidence suggesting the involvement of MRPs in various disease states, apoptosis, and cancer. Clearly, changes in the expression of MRPs influence mitochondrial metabolism and alter the balance between apoptosis and tumor formation due to the changes in energy production.

Dr. Koc’s multidisciplinary research takes advantage of biochemical, molecular and cell biological, and mass spectrometry-based proteomics technologies. Using this “systems biology” approach, her laboratory has paved the way to study mitochondrial translation by identifying all the protein components of the ribosome and translation initiation factor 3 (mtIF3) in mammalian mitochondria. More recently, they have determined the modification of MRPs by phosphorylation and acetylation at steady-state levels using mass spectrometry-based proteomics. Based on these observations, they have postulated that the mitochondrial translation machinery is regulated by post-translational modifications (PTMs) as NAD+ and ATP levels regulate the activities of many other mitochondrial enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation.

Dr. Koc’s current research interests are all integrative and are aimed at determining how components of mitochondrial translation/ribosomes affect oxidative phosphorylation and apoptosis in normal and disease conditions. As her research unveils more about the regulatory roles of MRPs and their PTMs, new strategies will be devised to manipulate mitochondrial function/dysfunction in metabolic diseases, cancer, and aging.

Teaching

In Fall 2012, Dr. Koc will team-teach Molecular Basis of Medicine and Foundations of Biomedical Science.

Service

Dr. Koc serves as an ad hoc grant reviewer for the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the U.S. Army Research Office. She also serves as a manuscript reviewer for several journals, including Biochemistry, the EMBO Journal (European Molecular Biology Organization), EMBO Reports, Experimental Cell Research, Human Molecular Genetics, Mitochondrion, PLoS (Public Library of Science) Biology, Plant Biology, Plant Cell, and Plant Physiology.

Dr. Koc is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, the American Society for Mass Spectrometry, and the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

Contact Info

Telephone: (304) 696-3680
Email: koce@marshall.edu

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation funds Marshall research

Ginny Painter with the Marshall University Research Corporation (MURC) released the following article. It may be found below and at http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-03/murc-cff032811.php.

Hongwei D. Yu, Ph.D.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has awarded a Marshall University scientist a two-year, $194,400 grant.

The grant to Dr. Hongwei Yu, professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will help further his lab’s work to explore the factors that control the overproduction of mucus in the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients.

According to Yu, chronic bronchial pneumonia caused by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a life-threatening condition for patients with CF.

“During these infections in CF patients, the bacterium is capable of producing copious amounts of alginate—a thick, sugar-like polymer that plugs the airways, making breathing difficult,” he said. “The alginate also helps form a thick, slimy ‘biofilm’ around the colonies of bacteria, protecting them from the body’s immune defense mechanisms and making antibiotic treatment less effective.”

Yu said the long-range goal of his research is to better understand the mechanisms of how this bacterium regulates production of the alginate biofilms in order to develop a more effective treatment option to inhibit or suppress the formation of alginate biofilms in the lungs of CF patients.

“For this project, we will be accessing the relevance of two newly identified proteins that act as alginate regulators. Once the mechanisms controlling alginate production are fully understood, it may be possible to improve treatment of these bacterial infections in CF patients by modulating or suppressing that production,” he added.

Dr. John Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, congratulated Yu and praised him and his team for obtaining the grant.

“Dr. Yu’s work is an excellent example of the vital research here at Marshall University that can affect the health and welfare of people everywhere. Research in his lab has the potential to have a real impact on the quality of life for people with cystic fibrosis,” said Maher.

Maher also noted that Yu’s research has had a regional economic development impact, saying his work has led to a patent and the development of Progenesis Technologies LLC, a West Virginia-based biotech research and development company. A second patent is pending.

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Prior to joining Marshall in 1999, Yu was on the research faculty of the University of Michigan Medical School. In addition to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, his work has been funded by NASA, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the West Virginia NASA Space Grant Consortium.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world’s leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. The foundation funds more CF research than any other organization, and nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of foundation support. Based in Bethesda, Md., the foundation also supports and accredits a national care center network that has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a model of care for a chronic disease. The CF Foundation is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. For more information, go to www.cff.org

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman honored at “Women in Medicine and Science” luncheon

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was honored on February 16 at a luncheon hosted by the Women in Medicine and Science program. The program is hosted about four times a year and features guests who speak to a collective group of women about their achievements. Dr. Hardman is an Associate Professor for the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Dr. Hardman was recognized for her achievements throughout her career and was asked to speak about her success. “She is a very accomplished researcher, not only in the area, but nationally,” said Professor Darshana Shah, the School of Medicine’s Associate Dean for Professional Development in Medical Education. “So I think that it would be a great opportunity for young people to look up to her and to see how she has gone the path she did.” Professor Shah is in charge of the program and said that its purpose was for students to learn by hearing her success story.

Professor Hardman has been working in the area of nutrition and cancer research for about 20 years. Currently, her research on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer has received six externally funded grants, including large grants form the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. “She has a love of knowledge and she imparts that onto her students,” said Anne Silvis, a graduate student and Ph.D candidate for cancer biology. “She gets them excited about research and excited about the world of science.”

As she spoke to the collective group of women, who were not only graduate students but also professors, she said that she always knew what she wanted to do with her life, and that was science. Professor Hardman completed three years of her undergraduate degree by the time she turned 18 and then married. She raised her family and went back to school to finish her degree and later earned her Master’s. While she was a graduate student, she received her first funding grant and has received funding ever since.

“There is always an overriding importance for what she does and that is always apparent when you are talking to her about anything in her research,” Silvis said.

One of the graduate students in attendance said she found her story to be not only interesting, but also inspiring. “I have three young children myself and had also married young and returned to school,” said Tamara Trout, a graduate student in the Medical Sciences Program. “I always thought ‘How am I going to do it?’ But then you meet someone like Professor Hardman and it shows that you can do it.”

Chrystal Phillips can be contacted at phillips152@marshall.edu. The original story can be read on the website for Marshall University’s Student Newspaper, “The Parthenon.”

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

Dr. Sollars and Jasjeet Bhullar to be published in Immunogenetics

A paper by Dr. Vincent Sollars and Ph.D. candidate Jasjeet Bullar of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program will be published in an upcoming edition of Immunogenetics. This journal spotlights research concerning the genetic control of the immune system, including immune response and susceptibility to disease. More about the journal can be found at the Immunogenetics website.

The paper is entitled “YB-1 expression and function in early hematopoiesis.” YB-1 is a gene that encodes for a “cold shock” protein that is a part of the stress response system. It is expressed broadly during development and serves as a cell survival factor, regulating the transcription and/or translation of numerous genes controlling cellular growth and death. According to their research, YB-1 is already known to be involved in the progression of cancers, and he is investigating its possible role in leukemia. His research specifically focuses on the characterization of the expression pattern and role of the YB-1 gene in early hematopoiesis and leukemia. YB-1 and Hsp90, another gene studied by Dr. Sollars, comprise a new arena of cancer therapeutic targets that offer aJasjeet Bhullar, Ph.D. candidate lot of promise. Jasjeet Bhullar was the primary author of the paper.

To learn more about the exciting biomedical research being performed by Dr. Sollars and other professors at the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, please visit the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center website.