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.

Marshall hosting students from eight institutions for biomedical research internships

Ashlea and Dr. YuHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Twelve undergraduate students from eight institutions are spending their summer doing biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories. The students are participating in nine-week programs sponsored by the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) and the university’s Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) program.

Dr. Elsa I. Mangiarua, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, directs the WV-INBRE summer program. She said both programs give participants the opportunity to do meaningful research and much more.

“Over the summer, these students will gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s finest scientists,” she said. “We also teach them how to share their findings at a scientific meeting and to network, all of which helps them build academic competitiveness for graduate school.”

Diana R. Maue, who coordinates the SRIMS program, agreed, adding, “It’s exciting that we are able to provide these in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates, and it’s equally important that these programs promote awareness of graduate degree programs and careers in biomedical research. We are helping to develop a pipeline for training tomorrow’s scientists.”

Manny (front) and Hajer (back)While at Marshall, the interns are working in state-of-the-art facilities on research projects related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, neuroscience, toxicology and environmental health, infectious diseases and bioinformatics. The students will present their research results at a symposium on July 29 at the university’s Memorial Student Center.

In addition to the formal research training they each receive from their Marshall faculty mentors, the interns are taking part in workshops and seminars about a variety of topics related to research and graduate education. Students in the two programs attend many of the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, ice cream socials and other special events intended to help them get to know one another outside of the laboratory environment. 

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include: 

  • Jaya Ale, University of Charleston (Dr. Eric Blough, mentor)
  • Joshua Easterling, University of Charleston (Dr. Elaine Hardman, mentor)
  • Bishnu Kafley, Berea College (Dr. Travis Salisbury and Dr. Jim Denvir, mentors)
  • Rebecca Martin, Davis and Elkins College (Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, mentor)
  • Hajer Mazagri, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Noah Mitchell, Bluefield State College (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Rishi Reddy, West Virginia State University (Dr. Larry Grover, mentor)
  • Anthony Schnelle, Wheeling Jesuit University (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Linh Vu, University of Charleston (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)

The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipients are science teacher Olivia Boskovic of Huntington High School and Dr. Sobha Goraguntula, an assistant professor of chemistry at Alderson-Broaddus College. Boskovic is working in the lab of Dr. Emine Koc. Goraguntula’s mentor is Dr. Travis Salisbury.

WV-INBRE is funded through a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Marshall—in partnership with researchers at West Virginia University—received the award to help build expertise in biomedical research. 

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Annesha King, University of the Virgin Islands (Dr. Emine Koc, mentor)
  • Ashlea Hendrickson, Oakwood University (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Emmanuel Rosas, University of Texas at Brownsville (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)

Support for the SRIMS program comes from the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research.

Each student receives a stipend. Depending on the program in which they are participating, they may also receive room and board, lab fees, and reimbursement for travel to and from Marshall.

For more information about the WV-INBRE program, visit www.wv-inbre.org or contact Mangiarua at mangiaru@marshall.edu or 304-696-6211. For more information about the SRIMS program, visit www.marshall.edu/bms/future-students/summer-research-internship or contact Maue at maue1@marshall.edu or 304-696-3365.