2015 West Virginia Research Symposium

The 2015 West Virginia Research Symposium took place at Marshall University this year.

Romero, Sofia_posterUndergraduate students participating in the WV-Idea Network for Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) program at both Marshall University and West Virginia University, Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS), American Heart Association Undergraduate Summer Internship Research (AHA-USIR), Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) and summer researchers from several West Virginia universities and colleges presented posters detailing their summer research. Also included were WV-INBRE Fellows (high school and college faculty.)2015Symposium_Tate, J & S.-Lopez, N

2015Symposium_Stafford, R







Marshall hosted WV-INBRE, SRIMS and AHA-USIR members in our graduate biomedical research laboratories for nine weeks. In addition to their experiments, students had social networking opportunities and workshops on topics from laboratory safety to career and graduate school preparation.


We were pleased to welcome so many talented people to Huntington and our campus. The quality of work, evident in the laboratories and presentations, and the enthusiasm for research resulted in a very rewarding and energetic symposium. Thank you to all the planners, participants, faculty and staff who make this possible each year!

BMS Program celebrates Seventh Annual Biomedical Sciences Research Retreat

Students attending the research retreatOn August 19, the faculty, staff, and students of the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program gathered together for the Seventh Annual Biomedical Sciences Research Retreat. Held at the Ramada Limited in Huntington, the retreat served as an excellent opportunity to socialize in an informal setting over a tasty lunch, share research projects and advancements, welcome a guest alumni speaker, and present awards for outstanding service and research. Dr. Elsa Mangiarua organized the event, as she does every year. Thanks to her guidance the event, as always, went smoothly and was a great success.

The event began with a buffet lunch, followed by time to mingle and view research posters. After lunch, a lively discussion commenced as research students and faculty members discussed their research projects with each other. Although this is a small group that interacts frequently, events such as this still evoke quite a bit of exchange and interest.

George Kamphaus, Ph.D.The poster presentations were followed by a seminar delivered by Dr. George Kamphaus, a graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program who completed a Post-Doc at Harvard. He delivered a seminar entitled “Fc-Fusion of Clotting Factor IX: Development of a Long-acting Clotting Factor.” Dr. Kamphaus is currently a Senior Scientist working for Syntonix Pharmaceuticals. There is currently only one drug on the market targeted to treated Hemophilia B, and his company is working diligently to change this fact. Currently, Hemophilia B patients must receive injections of this drug twice weekly to treat their disease. The drug that Syntonix is developing is a clotting factor that has a longer duration of action, enabling patients to instead receive weekly injections. According to Dr. Kamphaus, there are patients in India suffering from this condition who must currently travel more than 12 hours to receive their injections; a drug that can be injected once weekly will make a significant difference in the lives of such patients.

During his seminar, Dr. Kamphaus spoke highly of the BMS Ph.D. Program, expressing that it prepared him well for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Unlike more established academic programs that may employ a silo structure, pharmaceutical companies are often smaller start-ups that require researchers to frequently interact. According to Dr. Kamphaus, the interdisciplinary nature of the BMS Program prepared him well for this. He also spoke fondly of the level of concern from BMS Program instructors: “They care about their students, and this really comes across. The individual attention to students is extraordinary, and much different than what you would find in other programs. I think this sets up BMS graduates well for success.”

After the seminar, a representative from each research cluster delivered a short presentation covering current cluster research. Ben Owen, a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Cluster, discussed his research on action potentials; Aileen Marcelo, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Cluster, spoke of her work focusing on VEGF; Johannes Fahrmann, a Ph.D. Student in the Cancer Biology Cluster, discussed the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on downregulating NFkB within early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia; Dr. Gary Rankin of the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Cluster updated the group on his work on genetic polymorphisms and unexpected methodone mortality; and Dr. Wei-ping Zeng of the Infectious and Immunological Diseases Cluster elaborated on his work with CD4 T cell differentiation.

Paula KounsThe cluster updates were followed by the presentation of awards for the 2010-2011 school year. Miranda Carper, President of the BMS GSO, presented the faculty awards. Awards were given to Dr. Travis Salisbury for Faculty Appreciation and Paula Kouns for Staff Appreciation. Dr. Salisbury was lauded for his accessibility to students. A student who nominated Dr. Salisbury remarked, “I appreciate the fact that he talks to me like an equal or a colleague.” In praise of Paula Kouns, another student stated: “Outside of being a genuinely nice and caring person, Paula goes above and beyond as our department secretary.”


Dr. Richard Niles presented the graduate student awards. The following students received awards: 

Sunil Kakarla, Ph.D. candidateBest Research Performance (Plaque and a paid trip to a national meeting up to $2,000): Sunil Kakarla





Anne Silvis, Ph.D. candidateBest Overall Performance as a Graduate Student (Plaque and a paid trip to an international meeting, up to $3,500): Anne Silvis





Highest GPA for a First Year Medical Sciences student (Plaque): Ross DeChant, Brittany Wall

Highest GPA for a First Year Research student (Plaque): Steven Rogers

Lotspeich Award ($1,000): Jesse Thornton

Best Creative Title for the Inaugural Issue of the BMS Magazine ($100): Miranda Carper

Thank you to our participants, speakers and award-winners. Also, a big thank you goes out to Dr. Mangiarua for doing such a great job in organizing the event! We look forward to seeing everyone at the gathering again next year.

Summer undergraduate researchers present their work

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – More than 40 undergraduate students from 17 institutions have been hard at work in Marshall University laboratories this summer and will have an opportunity to share their research at presentations in the coming weeks.

Each of the students is participating in one of the five intensive undergraduate summer research programs on Marshall’s campus. The nine- and 10-week programs allow undergraduate students to gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s top scientists, mathematicians and engineers.

This summer’s research programs at Marshall include:

  • Biomedical Sciences Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS) Program sponsored by Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology/ Minority Access to Research Careers program;
  • Interdisciplinary Training for Undergraduates in Biological and Mathematical Sciences (UBM) Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation;
  • Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) Program sponsored by the National Science Foundation;
  • Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) Program sponsored by the West Virginia Research Challenge Fund; and
  • West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) Summer Research Program sponsored by WV-INBRE and the National Institutes of Health.

While at Marshall, the students have been working on research projects related to a variety of topics, including biomedicine (cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, toxicology and environmental health, and infectious diseases), mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and computer science. In addition to the formal, hands-on research training they each receive from Marshall faculty members, the students are taking part in group classroom activities, workshops and seminars, and social activities.

The WV-INBRE and SRIMS student researchers will present their work in poster format and oral presentations on Thursday, July 28, in the Don Morris Room of the Memorial Student Center (oral presentations beginning at 9:15 a.m. and poster session from 1-2:30 p.m.). On Friday, July 29, the SURE and UBM students will present on the fourth floor of the Science Building (poster session from 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m. and oral presentations beginning at 1 p.m.). And on Thursday, Aug. 11, the REU and UBM students will present on the second floor of the Science Building (poster session from 1-3:30 p.m.).

“We are proud to offer these research experiences for undergraduate students. Our summer programs provide important training and education that help make students highly competitive in math, science and engineering research,” said Dr. Charles Somerville, dean of Marshall’s College of Science. “As the culmination of weeks of work they have done this summer, the poster sessions provide an opportunity for students to practice presenting their findings—a necessary skill if they plan to pursue a career in research.”

Dr. Elsa Mangiarua, a professor in Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and director of the WV-INBRE Summer Research Program, added, “We are providing in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates,” she said. “The programs also promote awareness of graduate degree programs and careers in research.”

Somerville and Mangiarua said that many of the students will continue their research projects during the coming academic year, and some will go on to present their results at professional conferences.

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.

For more information, contact one of the following summer research program coordinators: Diana Maue at maue1@marshall.edu or 304-696-3365, or visit http://bms.marshall.edu/srims (SRIMS); Dr. Marcia Harrison at harrison@marshall.edu or 304-696-4867, or visit www.marshall.edu/cellcentral/biom2/index.asp (UBM); Dr. Howard Richards at MarshallREU@gmail.com or 304-696-6466, or visit www.marshall.edu/reu/description.html (REU); Dr. Michael Norton at norton@marshall.edu or 304-696-6627, or visit www.marshall.edu/sure/2011participants.html (SURE); or Dr. Elsa Mangiarua at mangiaru@marshall.edu or 304-696-6211, or visit www.wv-inbre.net/summerprogram (WV-INBRE).


Media Note: The July 28 session is the statewide WV-INBRE Summer Research Symposium. In addition to WV-INBRE and SRIMS students who have been doing research this summer at Marshall, that session will include undergraduate students and faculty fellows who have been conducting research at other colleges and universities around the state, as well as high school science teachers participating in the Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) program. More than 150 people are expected to attend, including research faculty from institutions across the state.

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