Dr. Eric Blough presents research at national pharmacy conference

The following story from the Marshall University Research Corporation Website (MURC) features Dr. Eric Blough of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. He was a part of one of the interdiscplinary teams of researchers mentioned in the article. Dr. Blough researches within the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity and Diabetes research cluster.


Eric Blough, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Interdisciplinary teams of researchers representing four areas at Marshall University have had their abstracts accepted for the July 2012 American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy’s annual meeting in Kissimmee, Fla.

The teams include faculty researchers and students from Marshall’s School of Pharmacy, School of Medicine, Department of Biological Sciences and Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems. Their research includes the following projects:

  • “Assessment of outcomes from use of a standardized behavioral interview within the candidate recruiting process.” Researchers include Robert Stanton, Ph.D.; Kimberly Broedel-Zaugg, Ph.D.; and H. Glenn Anderson, Ph.D. – all three faculty with the School of Pharmacy. The project reviews the validity of faculty scoring that occurs during a standard candidate interview.
  • “Reasons students choose pharmacy as a career.” The research team includes Broedel-Zaugg, and colleagues and students from Ohio Northern University and the University of Louisiana at Monroe. The goal of the research is to identify the factors that motivate students to choose pharmacy as a career and to determine if there are differences in factor choice between groups of students at different universities.
  • “Acetaminophen Reduces Lipid Accumulation and Improves Cardiac Function in Obese Zucker Rat.” The research team includes Eric Blough, Ph.D., faculty-School of Pharmacy; Paulette Wehner, M.D., faculty-School of Medicine; and Nandini Manne, a doctoral fellow in the School of Medicine. Additional team members include Miaozong Wu, Ph.D.; Ravi Arvapalli; Cuifen Wang, Ph.D.; and Satyanarayana Paturi,D.V.M, who are all with the Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems and the Department of Biological Sciences. The project looked at the effect of acetaminophen consumption on obesity-induced cardiac dysfunction.
  • “Protective Effect of Acetaminophen on Renal Dysfunction in Obese Zucker Rat.” Research team includes Wang, Blough, Arvapalli, Paturi, Manne and Wu. The study’s data suggests that chronic acetaminophen ingestion is associated with improved kidney structure and function in the obese Zucker rat.

The meeting is scheduled for July 14-18.

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.

CDDC announces 2nd Regional Research Symposium award winners

Madhukar Kolli, BMS Ph.D. CandidateOn March 23, 2012, the Marshall University Cell Differentiation and Development Center (CDDC) held its second annual regional research symposium. The CDDC symposium focused on bioinformatics and the ways in which it is used to study the molecular interactions involved in the regulation of gene expression.

The event involves poster presentations, scientific talks, and awards. The following are the recipients of this year’s awards:

  • Undergraduate winner: Clayton Crabtree (from Dr. Dasgupta’s lab)
  • Graduate winners: M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis (both from Dr. Claudio’s lab)
  • Graduate runners-up: Madhukar Kolli (from Dr. Blough’s lab) and Gargi Bajpayee (a medical student who researched in Dr. Santanam’s lab)

The CDDC was formed in 2007 and seeks to enhance the research environment on the Marshall campus and throughout West Virginia. Although its research interests are diverse, the center focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms linked to cell differentiation and development.

Award winners pictured:

Right: Madhukar Kolli
Directly below (from left to right): M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis
Bottom photo: Gargi Bajpayee

Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis, Ph.D. candidates

MU, WVU, business officials gather for Bioscience Summit

The following article was taken from the website of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. It highlights the work of many of the professors researching in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at Marshall University.


Dr. Nalini SantanamCHARLESTON - There is no shortage of exciting research going on in the laboratories at Marshall University. Scientists and technicians from this region and from around the world have converged at Marshall to do research on topics such as heart disease, cancer and many others. Their research might one day save a life, or at least make someone’s life better.Their work might not be easy for the layperson to understand, but university and business officials are working diligently to help ensure the work West Virginia’s scientists are doing also results in three simple words: dollars and cents.

The economic potential for bioscience research in West Virginia is still hard to grasp, but there is a lot happening already and much optimism for the future.

“We are looking at a pipeline of commercial opportunities coming out of research being done in West Virginia,” said John Maher, vice president for research at Marshall University.

Officials from Marshall, West Virginia University and several business related to the bioscience industry gathered last week for the Second Annual West Virginia Bioscience Summit, held Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel in Charleston.

“This conference is a unique opportunity for people interested in the biosciences to get together and get an update on the status of the industry over the last year,” said Derek Gregg, CEO of Vandalia Research here in Huntington and chairman of BioWV.

The summit featured presentations from West Virginia University, Marshall, Mountwest Community & Technical College, Vandalia Research, Protea, TRAX Biodiscovery, and others to talk about what their organizations have accomplished over the past year.

“This also allows new collaborations and partnerships to be developed,” Gregg said. “Additionally, we had substantial representation from out-of-state organizations looking for new partners and opportunities.”

The biosciences in West Virginia are growing rapidly and the state’s credibility is increasing in the United States and around the world, Gregg said.

“We are spinning out new enterprises, and some of those enterprises are raising capital and hiring people,” he said. “Protea was recently recognized world-wide as having one of the top 10 innovations of 2011. They now employee over 50 people.”

Four companies are now being housed and supported at Vandalia Research’s facility in Huntington, including Progenesis, Maven Analytical and Parabon Nanolabs. These companies sell to pharmaceutical, chemical and diagnostic companies around the world, Gregg said.

Marshall has a lot of exciting research under way right now, said Dr. Richard Niles, senior associate dean for Research and Graduate Education at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Here are some examples:

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta is looking at lung cancer and at how capsaicin, the hot stuff in chili peppers, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells in animals.

Dr. Nalini Santanam is looking at the effects of age and gender on the fat around the heart, and at oxidative stress in endometriosis.

Dr. Eric Blough of the Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems has 16 different projects going on.

Dr. Jingwei Xie is working with glass tubes for bone tissue engineering.

Dr. Hongwei Yu is working on genetic regulation of biofilm formation by pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that can cause disease in animals.

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio is doing cancer research that involves gene therapy using microbubbles for delivery of a virus.

Niles is co-founder with Yu on the biotech business Progenesis, which provides natural, biodegradable polymers for industrial and medical applications through genetic engineering of bacteria. He talked about his experience of starting a biotech business at Wednesday’s Summit.

The universities are working to help others make discoveries and translate them into businesses as well. And the state is helping.

Both Marshall and WVU have received state funding for research through the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, providing $35 million to WVU and $15 million to Marshall for research, provided they come up with a match. WVU has reached its goal and Marshall has $9.4 million secured in gifts and pledges and the potential to reach, or go beyond, its goal very shortly, Maher said.

The universities also have attracted a lot of federal grant funding, all of which rolls over in the local economies as it provides high-paying jobs that attract scientists to the community.

Also in Huntington, Mountwest Community and Technical College is hard at work training students to become biological technicians, environmental science and environmental protection technicians, biomedical laboratory technicians and health technicians, said Jean Chappel, dean of Allied Health at MCTC.

It has a state-of-the-art lab where they can learn molecular diagnostics, tissue culturing, electrophoresis and use a digital fluorescent microscope.

MCTC also works on community outreach, not only targeting science teachers but high school and middle school students. It has a camp where “they’re isolating DNA just like they do on CSI,” Chappel said.

Over the course of one week, students’ aspirations might change from working a minimum wage job to becoming a PhD scientist, she said.

The college wants to help the state have “a well-rounded, educated workforce that wants to stay right here,” Chappel said.

It’s great to see several different parties working toward the same goal, said Laura Gibson, deputy director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center and a professor at WVU.

“The greatest measure of our success is really how we partner,” she said.

Capital formation, attraction and retention of talent, and community development are focus areas for Bio West Virginia in the coming years, Gregg said.

“Incentivizing investment in this area is critical,” he said, “Nearly all of our neighboring states have a program or programs for stimulating investment in high-technology, high-growth, high-RISK businesses to stimulate economic development. West Virginia has had programs in the past that were successful in helping companies raise capital, such as the High Growth Business Investment Tax Credit.

“BioWV is strongly encouraging the renewal of this and other programs that can help companies transition from the campus to the market.”

BMS Ph.D. candidate publishes in International Journal of Nanomedicine

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011

Contact: Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964

ginny.painter@marshall.edu

Marshall University study shows nanoparticles being used as additives

in diesel fuels can travel from lungs to liver, causing damage

Eric Blough, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Recent studies conducted at Marshall University have demonstrated that nanoparticles of cerium oxide – common diesel fuel additives used to increase the fuel efficiency of automobile engines – can travel from the lungs to the liver and that this process is associated with liver damage.

The data in the study by Dr. Eric R. Blough and his colleagues at Marshall’s Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems indicate there is a dose-dependent increase in the concentration of cerium in the liver of animals that had been exposed to the nanoparticles, which are only about 1/40,000 times as large as the width of a human hair. These increases in cerium were associated with elevations of liver enzymes in the blood and histological evidence consistent with liver damage. The research was published in the Oct. 13 issue of the peer-reviewed research journal International Journal of Nanomedicine.

Cerium oxide is widely used as a polishing agent for glass mirrors, television tubes and ophthalmic lenses. Cerium oxide nanoparticles are used in the automobile industry to increase fuel efficiency and reduce particulate emissions. Some studies have found that cerium oxide nanoparticles may also be capable of acting as antioxidants, leading researchers to suggest these particles may also be useful for the treatment of cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease and radiation-induced tissue damage.

Blough, the center’s director and an associate professor in the university’s Department of Biological Sciences, said, “Given the ever-increasing use of nanomaterials in industry and in the products we buy, it is becoming increasingly important to understand if these substances may be harmful. To our knowledge, this is the first report to evaluate if inhaled cerium oxide nanoparticles exhibit toxic effects in the liver.”

Dr. Siva K. Nalabotu, the study’s lead author and a Ph.D. student in Blough’s lab, said, “The potential effects of nanomaterials on the environment and cellular function is not yet well understood. Interest in nanotoxicity is rapidly growing.

“Our studies show that cerium oxide nanoparticles are capable of entering the liver from the lungs through the circulation, where they show dose-dependent toxic effects on the liver. Our next step is to determine the mechanism of the toxicity.”

The research was supported with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, grant DE-PS02-09ER09-01.

For more information, contact Blough at blough@marshall.edu or 304-696-2708.

Ph.D. candidate Siva Nalabotu presents at seminar series in Charleston

On October 6th, Ph.D. candidate Siva Nalabotu was the guest lecturer at the Research Brown Bag Lecture at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UC SOP). The Research Brown Bag Lecture Series at UC SOP helps pharmacy students to stay abreast of the latest developments in diverse fields of research. Siva learned of the opportunity to speak at the lunch lecture series through Dr. Michelle Herdman, an assistant professor at UC SOP who is an alumnus of the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.

Before this invitation, Siva had only spoken outside of Marshall once, giving a poster presentation at the Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting last March. He says that Dr. Herdman and Dr. Gagan Khuashal were very helpful throughout the experience, and that the faculty and students were very welcoming. Siva highly recommends this speaking opportunity to others. He says the experience encouraged him to give further presentations outside Marshall when given the chance. He would like to express his thanks to Dr. Herdman for arranging this experience and to his audience for being so accommodating. Everyone seemed to appreciate the opportunity to learn about the potential problems of the application of nanotechnology within organisms.

Siva’s presentation, “Nanomaterials and Nanotoxicity: Should we be scared?” discusses both the beneficial and potentially dangerous qualities of nanomaterials. According to Siva, his topic seemed to be of special interest to the pharmacy students, as nanotechonology has tremendous potential to treat various medical conditions. Although pharmacy students may be aware of the applications of nanotechnology, they may not often come across information on toxicity of nanomaterials and the reasons for these toxicities. His presentation draws a clear connection between the good and bad effects of nanomaterials.

Specifically, Siva’s research targets the toxicological effects of cerium oxide nanoparticles. These nanoparticles have been shown to be excellent antioxidants that show promise in treating a variety of medical conditions. In addition, they have industrial applications as an additive in polishes, abrasives, and fuels. Siva’s research evaluates the fates of cerium oxide nanoparticles in rats and the ways in which they interact with various organ systems. Nanomaterials are being used ever more progressively, making it crucial to understand their potential effects on living organisms.

Siva says that he has seen a “tremendous change” in his oral presentation skills since joining the BMS Ph.D. program. He now feels confident when speaking in front of an audience. He also credits the program with preparing him to give effective presentations for both lay and scientific audiences. According to Siva, Dr. Delidow’s Communication Skills class and her interest in teaching effective presentation skills were especially helpful in allowing him to become comfortable speaking in front of an audience. He also singles out his advisor, Dr. Eric Blough, for teaching him how to prepare effective presentation slides and to keep the audience engaged in a presentation. He says that Dr. Blough has been a tremendous help every step of the way in his professional career at Marshall, including being his advisor for his Master’s in Biology before he began pursuing a Ph.D.

Great job representing the Marshall BMS Program, Siva! 

Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems: bridging the translational research gap

Dr. Eric Blough, Director of the Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems

When Dr. Eric Blough established the Laboratory of Molecular Physiology in late 2003, his goal was to one day develop it into a thriving, interdisciplinary laboratory that would help bridge the gap between basic and clinical sciences. Over the ensuing years, the Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems was born.

Research in nanotechnology can involve substances as small as one nanometer, or one billionth of a meter, in size. In the words of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, “Although focused on the very small, nanotechnologies offer tremendous potential benefits. From new cancer therapies to pollution-eating compounds… nanotechnologies are changing the way people think about the future.” This is due to the fact that, as objects diminish in size, they begin to exhibit very different properties. For example, nanoparticles have a high surface area and can be very reactive. Consequently, drugs deployed using nanotechnology can potentially be five to six times as effective as those delivered traditionally. Nanoparticles can also be developed to target specific types of cells, avoiding exposing the rest of the body to a toxic medication, such as in chemotherapy.

A result of an initiative merging participants within the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the Marshall College of Science, the Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems aims to find better ways to diagnose, monitor, and treat chronic illness. As Dr. Blough envisioned, this center is one of a very few that is designed to bring together researchers from distinctly different areas of expertise together to work on common problems. Within the center, there are over a dozen different projects underway. Each project is centered on a research area that is of national importance and all have a high degree of relevance to Appalachia.

Currently, projects include work done in humans, animals, C. elegans, and cell culture. Areas of inquiry include the elucidation of new “biomarkers” for disease (cardiovascular, cancer and pulmonary conditions), the development of new types of sensors for point of care testing, and the effects that nanomaterials may have on cellular function and the environment. In addition, they are also in the process of developing new ways to “package” and deliver drugs using nanotechnological approaches.

Dr. Blough says that he is always looking for new students, new scientists, and new collaborations. He hopes to continue to grow and improve the program through new initiatives. If you would like more information about the groundbreaking research being performed at the Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems at Marshall University, please refer to its website: http://www.marshall.edu/cdn/.