Graduate student Ben Owen to present at the National Student Research Forum

Benjamin Michael OwenBen Owen, a second-year student in the Biomedical Sciences M.S. program, has been selected to present a poster at the National Student Research Forum. The forum seeks to provide an opportunity for graduate students, medical students, interns, and residents conducting research in the biomedical sciences to assemble and receive recognition and feedback from established scientists. This event takes place yearly at the University of Texas Medical Branch campus in Galveston, TX and is planned and managed by students.

Ben’s project is entitled “Short-Term Activity-Dependent Changes in Axonal Function in Hippocampal CA3 Pyramidal Neurons.” The hippocampus is a region of the brain that is essential for normal memory function. Ben’s study examines how pyramidal neurons in the hippocampus function when they are activated at high frequencies (between 30 and 100 Hertz). This type of high-frequency activity in the neurons is common to normal processes, such as encoding and retrieving memory, as well as pathological processes, including seizures. Although scientists thoroughly understand how neurons create action potentials (the spike in electrical potential that is responsible for communication between neurons), little experimental attention has been given to how high frequency activation affects generation of action potentials. Ben researches within Dr. Larry Grover’s lab in the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center.

Ben says that he is excited to have the chance to share his research with fellow students and scientists on the national level. Congratulations to Ben on being selected for this opportunity!

BMS graduate student Ben Owen debriefs on National Student Research Forum

Ben Owen, Ph.D. candidateA few months ago, we announced that Ben Owen, a BMS graduate student, would be attending the National Student Research Forum in Galveston, Texas. Ben has since attended and returned from this event, and I sat down with him recently to discuss his experience.

This was Ben’s first time presenting outside of Marshall, and he feels that it was a great experience. His greatest hope for this conference was to get a sense of what to expect at the Society for Neuroscience National Meeting, taking place in November. As described in the last article, the National Student Research Forum provides an opportunity for graduate students, medical students, interns, and residents conducting research in the biomedical sciences to assemble and receive recognition and feedback from established scientists. This event takes place yearly at the University of Texas Medical Branch campus in Galveston, TX and is planned and managed by students.

While at the conference, Ben met a lot of other presenters, who he was surprised to find were mostly medical students. In addition to being able to mingle and discuss their projects, they were able to have a bit of free time fun as well. About sixty students were in attendance by Ben’s count. He says that he would recommend the conference highly, especially to medical students. To him, the forum has many benefits to graduate and medical students alike. It’s not a lengthy event that takes a lot out of one’s work time, it’s small and somewhat laidback, and it offers an opportunity to discuss one’s research with people who are studying very similar topics. For example, Ben was able to interact with researchers studying the hippocampus, and he was able to recommend Dr. Egleton’s work to a student researching the blood brain barrier. Mostly, the event offers an opportunity to break through one’s first-time anxiety at a smaller conference and prepare for the larger events in one’s area of research.

Ben’s project is entitled “Short-Term Activity-Dependent Changes in Axonal Function in Hippocampal CA3 Pyramidal Neurons,” and he researches in Dr. Larry Grover’s lab. To learn more about Dr. Grover’s research and his lab, navigate to his faculty page.

Marshall receives 17.8-million-dollar NIH grant for research

Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.Congratulations to Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D. and his WV-INBRE team for receiving the National Institutes of Health (NIH) competitive renewal grant of 17.8 million dollars! The grant will be for five years and will help continue a multidisciplinary research network with a scientific focus that will build and strengthen the lead and partner institutions (primarily undergraduate institutions) across West Virginia. “(This money) establishes research in colleges and universities around this state where research was never happening,” Dr. Rankin said. “It will lead to more dollars going to these universities, which will create new jobs.”

The WV-INBRE phase I was of great assistance to these WV institutions and the biomedical research infrastructure and network as a whole. Institutions have been able to purchase much needed research equipment, to be more competitive for funding, and to initiate more research projects. Additionally, when asked if he thought phase one of WV-INBRE was successful, Dr. Rankin noted “I think we have made quite a bit of progress. We have seen a cultural change; the value of research has been recognized. There is a greater appreciation for research as part of faculty career development and it is included when evaluating faculty for promotion and tenure.” With the newly awarded NIH funds for WV-INBRE phase II, these experiences will continue and enhance the science and technology knowledge of the state’s workforce.

Another benefit of WV-INBRE is the highly successful summer research experience that takes place at the lead institution, Marshall University, and the partner lead institution, West Virginia University. This nine-week summer research experience is designed to provide research opportunities for undergraduate students and help serve as a pipeline for undergraduate students to continue health-related research careers.

Ten interns are currently conducting research with their mentors at Marshall University and nineteen are participating in the WV-INBRE program at West Virginia University. At Marshall University,
Dr. Elsa Mangiarua coordinates a schedule for the students to augment their research experience. The students attend workshops concerning: biosafety, chemical safety, animal care, radiation safety, biomedical career opportunities, scientific communication, and graduate school. At the end of the experience the interns will present their research findings at a research symposium, to be held at Marshall and WVU on alternate years.

Below is a list of Marshall’s WV-INBRE participants and their laboratories. To learn more about the ongoing research in these labs, please click the links provided on Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences website faculty directory.

Don Bertolotti from WV State University – Dr. Larry Grover
Amanda Cochran from Bluefield State University – Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio
Elisa Evans from University of Charleston – Dr. Richard M. Niles
Kayla Fazio from Bluefield State University – Dr. Elaine Hardman
Brittany Greene from University of Charleston – Dr. Gary Rankin
Amelia Lloyd from University of Charleston – Dr. Hongwei Yu
Sumanth Manohar from WV State University – Dr. Maiyon Park
Kayanna Sayre from University of Charleston – Dr. Eric Blough
Donald Weller from University of Charleston – Dr. Piyali Dasgupta
Andrew White from University of Charleston – Dr. Philippe Georgel