Ph.D. student to present diabetes research at conference next week

Aileen Marcello, Ph.D. candidateA Marshall University doctoral student will present her diabetes research next week at a conference focusing on the central nervous system.

Aileen Marcelo, a Ph.D. candidate in the university’s biomedical sciences program, will present a poster at the Barriers of the Central Nervous System Gordon Research Conference and will give a talk at the conference’s student seminar. The conference and seminar will be held June 16-22 at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.

The conference will bring together clinical and basic scientists who are at the forefront of research into the system of regulatory interfaces between the blood and brain. This system is essential to brain function and has a major impact on the course and treatment of many neurological conditions, including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.

Although there is considerable scientific evidence implicating diabetes as a major risk factor for many central nervous system diseases, there have been few studies investigating the effects of diabetes on this blood-brain barrier. Marcelo’s research project, “The Role and Regulation of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) at the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) in a Rat Model of Diabetes,” explores this connection.

She works in the lab of Dr. Richard Egleton, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Marcelo recently received one of eight Summer Thesis Research Grant Awards presented to outstanding graduate student researchers at Marshall. Each award provides $500 to cover the cost of expenses associated with thesis research. Award recipients were chosen on the basis of the quality and significance of their thesis research, the likelihood that the research will eventuate in a completed thesis and justification of the need for support. Funding for the awards was provided by the Marshall University Research Corporation.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta to chair a special session at Experimental Biology 2012

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.Dr. Piyali Dasgupta has been invited to chair a special session at the Experimental Biology 2012 conference in San Diego. The minisymposium that she will be leading is entitled “Modeling Cancer: Biological and Therapeutic Implications.”

The invitation to chair the special session came from the Director of the Division of Experimental Pathology for the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). Dr. Dasgupta is a member of the ASIP and has regularly presented at Experimental Biology over the past few years, including several oral seminar presentations. Experimental Biology is an annual meeting that draws almost 14,000 scientists and exhibitors. Scientists attending represent universities, academic institutions, government agencies, private corporations, and non-profit organizations. Participating societies include the ASIP, the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the American Physiological Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), and others.Dr. Dasgupta is Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology, and Toxicology. She was named “Outstanding Graduate Faculty Advisor of 2011” at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Her research examines the effects of nicotine (the active component of cigarettes) in regulating cellular responses, such as programmed cell death and cell growth, in the context of lung cancer.

Being asked to chair a session at such a prestigious conference is quite an honor. Congratulations, Dr. Dasgupta!

Clayton Crabtree receives grant from Sigma Xi to study diabetic retinopathy

Clayton CrabtreeA Marshall University biology student has been awarded a grant to conduct research on diabetic retinopathy, a common eye disease during which excessive growth of blood vessels causes damage to the retina.

Clay M. Crabtree, a senior from Kenova, will receive the $1,800 Grants-in-Aid of Research award from the national science society Sigma Xi. The award will help fund his project to test potential treatments for the disease, which is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans.

According to Crabtree, cigarette smoking is a risk factor for diabetic retinopathy because nicotine promotes the growth of blood vessels.

“Agents that can block the actions of nicotine should be useful for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy,” he continued. “My research involves testing three of these compounds for their ability to block the growth of new vessels in the retina.”

Crabtree’s mentor, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta of Marshall’s Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, said the grant will give Crabtree the opportunity to further his education through hands-on experience conducting research that could have a real impact on the health of people across the region.

“The findings from Clay’s project will be highly relevant to West Virginia because our state has a large number of diabetic patients who are active smokers,” she added. “It is a very commendable achievement to receive one of these grants and I look forward to seeing his project progress.”

Sigma Xi promotes the scientific enterprise and honors scientific achievement. The organization’s Grants-in-Aid of Research program, with funds designated from the National Academy of Sciences, provides undergraduate and graduate students with up to $2,500 for vision-related research.

Students use the funding to pay for travel expenses to and from a research site, or for purchase of laboratory equipment necessary to complete their research project.

According to Sigma Xi, the Grants-in-Aid of Research program is highly competitive and only approximately 20 percent of applicants receive funding.

For more information, contact Dasgupta at (304) 696-3612.