Santanam receives federal grant

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., F.A.H.A., has received funding from the National Institute on Aging to further her investigations into heart disease related to obesity and aging. Congratulations Dr. S.! Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Full story:

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in the department of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, has been awarded a federal grant to continue her work on obesity and aging with regard to heart disease.

The $356,946 grant was announced last week by the U. S. Health and Human Services’ National Institute on Aging.

“Dr. Santanam is working very hard to address medical issues that are relevant to West Virginians and others in central Appalachia,” said Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., dean of the school of medicine. “This federal award is very important to her research program as well as our entire university.”

In congratulating Santanam on her work, Marshall University Interim President Gary White described her as one of Marshall’s finest researchers.

“Her work is indicative of the quality of faculty we have at Marshall,” White said. “Dr. Santanam’s investigations into these common health issues could very well have a significant impact on human health—both right here in our communities and around the world.”

The risk of developing obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease (cardiometabolic risk) increases with age. And, according to Santanam, though the mechanisms are still unclear, these diseases are directly linked to adipose (fat) tissue dysfunction which increases with age.

“This study will investigate the role of epigenetic regulators and RNA regulatory mechanisms in adipose dysfunction with aging,” Santanam said. “Our findings will shed light on the mechanisms that lead to age-related diseases and identify targets to treat them.”

Santanam joined the school of medicine in 2006.

In addition to her appointment in the department of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology, she also is an adjunct professor in the department of cardiology.

Link to original story: http://www.marshall.edu/ucomm/2015/08/25/4006/.

Five recent biomedical students received white coats

Amos, Michael_whitecoat2015The Biomedical Sciences M.S., Medical Sciences program had another successful year with several students admitted to the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

White-Coat-Ceremony2015_Krauss,-AAmanda Krauss, Michael Amos, and Trevor Roston began the Med. Sci. program in 2014. Ms. Krauss noted that, “[she is] super excited to start medical school and thankful for the support and confidence the [biomedical sciences] BMS program gave me.”

John Hurley and Cathryn Stevenson matriculated into the Med. Sci. program in 2013 and received their M.S. degrees this spring.

As an inspiring start to their medical school careers, all of the first year students receive white coats.

School of Medicine marks annual White Coat Ceremony

 

Multi-million dollar federal grant renewed for Marshall researchers and statewide collaborators

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Gary Rankin with the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and co-investigators at institutions around West Virginia, including West Virginia University, have received a five-year renewal grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) totaling more than $17 million for the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE).

Rankin, who is chairman of the department of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology, serves as the grant’s principal investigator.

Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.“We are really happy to be able to continue the work of the WV-INBRE program across our state,” Rankin said. “These funds will provide much-needed support for investigators at West Virginia colleges and universities to develop biomedical research programs and receive critical new equipment for their research activities.”

Rankin explained that researchers with the WV-INBRE research network are already studying many important health issues germane to West Virginia including cancer and cardiovascular disease, and the grant allows for expansion in those areas.

“The grant will also allow us to continue providing biomedical research opportunities for undergraduate students and faculty in all parts of West Virginia and help us train the state’s future workforce in science and technology,” Rankin said.

WV-INBRE is part of NIH’s Institutional Development Award (IDeA) program housed in the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at NIH. The goals of the IDeA programs are to enhance biomedical research capacity, expand and strengthen the research capabilities of biomedical faculty, and, for INBREs, provide access to biomedical resources for promising undergraduate students throughout the 23 eligible states and Puerto Rico in the IDeA program.

“Our INBRE puts the IDeA approach into action by enhancing the state’s research infrastructure through support of a statewide system of institutions with a multidisciplinary, thematic scientific focus,” Rankin said. “For WV-INBRE this focus is cellular and molecular biology, with a particular emphasis on chronic diseases. We have also started an initiative to support natural products research in the areas of cancer and infectious disease research.”

Rankin said the research goals are accomplished through mentoring and administrative support provided by both Marshall University and West Virginia University.

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Contact: Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

Biomedical sciences researcher to present results of clinical trials on personalized chemotherapy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, a researcher at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, is traveling to Paphos, Cyprus, next month to present his work to personalize chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Claudio was invited to give the talk at the 5th International Conference on Recent Advances in Health and Medical Sciences, which will be held July 6-12.

He will be discussing the results of clinical trials conducted at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. The studies tested ChemoID, a cell culture method he developed with colleague Dr. Jagan Valluri to measure the sensitivity of patients’ tumors to chemotherapy treatment for lung, brain/spine and breast cancer.

He says more evaluation of the technology is needed, but preliminary tests on a small number of patients found ChemoID 100 percent accurate in predicting which drug is more effective in treating patients affected by brain cancer if the tumor-initiating cancer stem cells were evaluated.

Claudio“Oncologists every day face many challenges in determining the best course of therapy for an individual cancer patient,” says Claudio. “The basic problem is that patients with similar diagnoses don’t always respond to the same chemotherapy. This technology we have developed could help physicians select the appropriate chemotherapy for an individual patient—giving them an edge in the fight against cancer.”

He says the good news for cancer patients is that ChemoID may make possible personalized treatment by predicting the most effective drug combination to successfully target that specific patient’s cancer—increasing the chance the drugs will work and perhaps reducing side effects by helping the patient avoid unnecessary drugs.

In addition to presenting his own research at the conference, Claudio will be moderating a session, “Advances in Oncology and Anticancer Research. Cancer Pathology.”

Summaries of the research presented at the meeting will be published in the journal Frontiers in Bioscience.

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Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964 (o) www.marshall.edu/murc

Grant to fund MU’s new cancer research

HUNTINGTON — A new concept in cancer treatment will be future explored at Marshall University thanks to a grant from the National Cancer Institute.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) National Cancer Institute awarded a $432,369 three-year Academic Research Enhancement Award to the Marshall Vincent-Sollars-2012University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine to launch a cancer biology research project in “epigenetics,” a relatively new concept in cancer therapies, according to a press release from Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va.

The concept deals with a new chemotheraputic target in cancer treatment, said Dr. Vincent E. Sollars, an associate professor of biochemistry and biology at Marshall.

“It’s a great way for me and the students to get involved in some research I’ve wanted to do for some time,” Sollars said. “We’re targeting leukemia specifically with this grant, but the this could have ramifications on all types of cancers.”

Over the course of the three-year project, Marshall University anticipates involving eight students from undergraduate, master’s and doctoral academic programs, as well as students enrolled in the med school.

Sollars said the medical school also will hire a full time technician through the grant.

Marshall biomedical professor invited to present her research internationally

Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H., professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, has been invited to present her research, yet again.

2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy 2012Dr. Santanam will be presenting her research internationally at the International Society of Antioxidants in Nutrition and Health’s (ISANH) 2nd World Congress on Fertility and Antioxidants Therapy, December 6 – 7, 2012 in Paris, France.

Santanam’s talk is relevant to all with a condition called Endometriosis. Endometriosis is a clinical condition that afflicts 10-15% of women of reproductive age (mainly diagnosed between the ages of 25 and 35), posing a major cause for infertility and chronic pain. Since the etiology of this disease is still unknown, very few treatment options are available. Surgery is currently the best treatment; however, due to a high recurrence rate, the disease commonly returns within three to six months post-surgery. The conference provides attendees the opportunity to present and discuss new research relating to the condition. Dr. Santanam’s talk scheduled for Friday, December 7th, is titled “Prostaglandin-Like Lipid Oxidation Products in the peritoneal Fluid of Women with Endometriosis Respond to Antioxidant Therapy.” In addition to her presentation, she also will be co-sharing the meeting on December 7th, 2012. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge the continued collaboration with Dr. Brenda Dawley from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. 

It is quite an honor to be selected at such a high level in her field, and though Dr. Santanam is not foreign to these invites, she remains humble. This is the second time she has been recognized and invited to present her research in just two months. Dr. Santanam recently presented her research at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions in Los Angeles, California in November. Her talk was titled  “Sex differences in epicardial fat biomarkers,” which highlighted the research she has conducted over the past three years in collaboration with Marshall’s Department of Cardiology and Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery. She studied the adipose tissue surrounding the heart and blood vessels in patients with coronary artery disease. 

This epicardial and perivascular fat has unique biomarkers that show differences between Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H. the sexes; she states that with this study, they are “trying to identify biomarkers unique to this particular fat so that we can use it in the future to diagnose or in the treatment of coronary artery disease.”  Additionally, the biomarkers found in the adipose tissue have been correlated to patients with hypertension. This study is part of the West Virginia Appalachian Heart Study; therefore most of the individuals included in this study are Appalachians. Dr. Santanam would like to acknowledge: Dr. Christopher Adams, Dr. Nepal Chowdhury, Dr. Todd Gress, and Dr. Paulette Wehner.

Dr. Santanam is the chair of the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes research cluster within Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, and is a member of its Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology. 

Congratulations on your continued achievements, Dr. Santanam!

BMS associate professor plays significant role in heated tobacco debate

by Saeed Keshavarzian, BMS Medical Sciences student

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.Marshall’s Student Government Association (SGA) recently held a meeting to vote on a campus-wide tobacco ban. Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp asked Student Body President Ray Harrell Jr. to form a joint committee to draft a proposal for Marshall University to go tobacco free. The committee drafted the proposal to ban all tobacco products campus-wide.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was asked by Amy Saunders, Director of Student Health Education Programs, to attend the meeting in order to explain the effects of nicotine on the human body, and to answer any questions that the gallery had regarding the ill effects of nicotine. 

Early into the meeting Dr. Dasgupta explained that nicotine “can promote tobacco related diseases,” one of which is lung cancer. She also stated that her lab is performing research on the “ill effects of second hand smoke, even third hand smoke, which is the stuff that sticks to your car, [and] to your clothes when you smoke.” As the gallery was allowed to ask questions and voice concerns, Dr. Dasgupta answered health-related questions that were asked. After two hours of heated debate and testimonials from both the SGA senators and the gallery, the SGA voted 11-7 in favor of the campus-wide tobacco ban.