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.

Dr. Monica Valentovic Endows a Scholarship

The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology, has endowed a scholarship to be awarded to a third or fourth year medical student in the School of Medicine who has financial need and is involved in research. The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship is named for her parents. 

“My parents were hard working individuals,” said Valentovic. “My dad was a foundry engineer and my mom worked in clothing manufacturing. They lived most of their lives in Cleveland, Ohio. I wanted them to be remembered in a way that would have an impact for a long time. I though this scholarship would help future physicians who will have patients similar to my parents, thus perpetuating my parents’ inclination to help others.”

Valentovic considers research to be an important aspect of training medical students. For this reason, first preference for the scholarship will be a student who has done or is currently involved in research with a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, either while a medical student or prior to entering medical school.

Second preference is for a student who has done research while in medical school with a full-time School of Medicine faculty member who is associated with a department other than Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

“Very few students take the time to do research, either prior to starting medical school or while they are in medical school,” said Valentovic. “In order to have a valuable research experience, students must invest time and dedication to a project. I believe this is the first scholarship at the medical school that targets students in this area.

“In my opinion, students doing research are often not recognized,” added Valentovic. “This scholarship is a small way to recognize and reward students who have taken this extra effort. Research is a critical component for the development of new drugs, medical devices and treatments. A research experience emphasizes the approach to answer a question such as the mechanism for a drug interaction, including how to properly design a study as well as the endpoints and analysis. I believe a research experience broadens a student’s approach to answering clinical problems. This scholarship is a way to give them financial assistance and remember my parents.”

Valentovic is well aware of the significant financial investment students have while they are in medical school. “Reducing student debt is important,” she said. “Medicine is a practice that helps other individuals in need. My parents were active in helping others and this scholarship is a long term commitment to help our medical students and, eventually, they will help others.”

This article may be found on page 49 in the 2012 Summer/Fall issue of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Benefactor: http://www.marshall.edu/ucomm/files/2012/10/SOMBenefactor_2012.pdf.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta awarded NIH grant for lung cancer research

Piyali Dagupta, Ph.D., and Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Marshall University faculty member has been awarded a three-year, $426,000 grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further her lung cancer research.
 
Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, will use the grant to continue her work to determine if the nutritional agent capsaicin—the active ingredient in chili peppers—can improve the anti-cancer activity of the commonly used chemotherapy drug cisplatin in patients with small cell lung cancer.
 
Dasgupta received the funding through the National Cancer Institute’s Academic Research Enhancement Award program. The program supports research projects in the biomedical and behavioral sciences that strengthen the research environment of the institution and expose students to research. Her co-investigator is Dr. Monica Valentovic, a professor in the same department.
 
“Small cell lung cancer is characterized by a high rate of growth, early metastasis and a dismal survival rate,” said Dasgupta. “Although chemotherapy works well initially in these patients, they often relapse quickly and become unresponsive to chemotherapy. Since the preliminary data in our laboratory shows that capsaicin manifests anti-cancer activity in this type of cancer, we are hopeful our studies under this new grant may lead to new treatments.”
 
She continued, “I am thrilled to receive this funding and I am grateful to a lot of people who have been instrumental in our success to this point. My collaborator Dr. Valentovic is a fabulous scientist to work with. I am also grateful to all the members of my lab for their hard work and dedication.”
 
Dasgupta also acknowledged the support of the chairman of her department, Dr. Gary Rankin, and acknowledged Dr. Marcia Harrison and the MU-ADVANCE program, which she says made it possible for undergraduate students to work in her lab. MU-ADVANCE is a National Science Foundation-funded program to help increase the number of female science and engineering faculty at the university.
 
Dasgupta says she believes her proposal was selected for funding at least in part because the grant program’s focus on student research made it a good match for her lab. Undergraduates working in her lab have a track record of receiving research grants, authoring publications and presenting their findings at international conferences.
 
Dr. John M. Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, congratulated the researchers, saying, “NIH grants are extraordinarily competitive, and I applaud Drs. Dasgupta and Valentovic for having a successful application. They are doing vital research that may very well have a positive impact on human health in the not-so-distant future. In addition, the grant will allow them to continue to give students hands-on, meaningful research opportunities in the lab.”
 
In addition to receiving the new NIH funding, Dasgupta recently was notified that her grant from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute has been renewed for an additional two years. The renewal, which extends the original three-year award, makes the total grant worth nearly $550,000. That grant is funding Dasgupta’s study of how nicotine, the active component in cigarette smoke, facilitates the progression of lung cancer. Valentovic is also the co-investigator on that award. 

###

Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine features dual-degree program with emphasis on research

Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., Dean of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall UniversityHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Joseph I. Shapiro, dean of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine at Marshall University, today announced revitalization of a research-focused dual-degree program at the School of Medicine.

The M.D./Ph.D. program has existed at Marshall since 1992, but operated on an ad hoc basis as students expressed interest.

The revised M.D./Ph.D. program is a seven-year commitment that allows students to graduate with both degrees, preparing them for careers in patient care and medical research.  

“The School of Medicine is positioned to offer students interested in medical research an enriching experience that combines traditional medical education with laboratory research in an effort to develop new treatments for their patients,” Shapiro said.   “The field of biomedical research is exploding with opportunity and we are thrilled to offer this degree option to our students.”

Dr. Richard Niles, senior associate dean for research and graduate education, says most of the students interested in the dual-degree program are interested in careers in academic medicine.

“Students exploring careers in research and medicine have historically found themselves having to choose one field or the other,” he said.  “This option allows them to pursue dual goals, combining their desire to help others through both clinical and research experiences.”

Niles says students interested in pursuing the combined degree will check off the corresponding box on their American Medical College Application Service (AMCAS) application.  When Marshall receives the applications, they will be flagged for review by a subcommittee consisting of members of the medical school admission committee and the graduate studies committee which, in turn, will make admissions recommendations.

Additional application information is available at www.musom.marshall.edu/md-phd/

WV-INBRE-Supported Research Project Awarded Top Prize at the American College of Cardiology National Conference

Christopher Adams, M.D., and Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., M.P.H.Dr. Christopher Adams, first year Cardiology fellow, Marshall University, School of Medicine, Huntington WV, presented and won the top prize for the best poster presentation in both regional and national conferences held by the American College of Cardiology for his work on “Perivascular Fat Biomarkers and Corresponding Echocardiographic Evidence: WV‐Appalachian Heart Study”.

He was one of only twelve Cardiology clinical fellows from all the universities in the United States who was selected to present his work to the Board of Governors of the American College of Cardiology conference, held in Las Vegas, NV in February 2012. Dr. Nalini Santanam, Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology & Toxicology, Marshall University School of Medicine was the PI of this project. The other investigators of this study included Dr. Todd Gress (Department of Internal Medicine), Dr. Paulette Wehner (Department of Cardiology) and Dr. Nepal Chowdhury (Department of Thoracic Surgery) at MUSOM. This study was supported by the supplemental funds from NIH funded WV-INBRE.

Dr. Georgel presents at international scientific conference

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D.

Dr. Philippe Georgel recently traveled to San Antonio to present his research at the 20th International Analytical Ultracentrifugation Conference.

The following Marshall University press release highlights Dr. Philippe Georgel’s recent participation in the 20th International Analytical Ultracentrifugation Conference. In addition to teaching Biological Sciences at the main Marshall campus, Dr. Georgel is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Dr. Georgel researches in two research clusters: Cancer Biology and Neuroscience and Developmental Biology.


Huntington, W.Va.  – Dr. Philippe Georgel, a professor of biological sciences at Marshall University, recently traveled to San Antonio to present his research at the 20th International Analytical Ultracentrifugation Conference.

The biennial conference is focused on research done using a specific laboratory technique to characterize the size, shape and interactions of molecules and macromolecules in solutions. Analytical ultracentrifugation is widely used in molecular biology, biochemistry and polymer science.

Georgel studies the effects of chromatin—the combination of DNA and proteins that make up the contents of the nucleus of a cell—on nuclear functions. His conference presentation focused on his use of a new method called Quantitative Agarose Gel Electrophoresis, or QAGE. QAGE, allows for analysis of structure and composition of nucleo-protein complexes, and is complementary to the use of analytical ultracentrifugation.

The research Georgel presented was a collaborative effort among his group at Marshall; Dr. James Denvir, associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine; and Dr. Stuart Lindsay and Dr. Qiang Fu from Arizona State University.
Georgel has already been invited back to present at the 2014 conference, which will be held in Japan.

For more information, contact Georgel at georgel@marshall.edu or 304-696-3965.

Drs. Xie and Claudio receive grants for orthopedic and lung cancer research

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University scientists have been awarded grants of $25,000 each to advance their research, encourage collaborations and spur innovative approaches to healthcare.

Dr. Jingwei Xie and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio are the recipients of the first grants awarded through the Joint Pilot Research Program set up by Marshall and the University of Kentucky (UK) as part of their Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) partnership. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the CTSA program is aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

A senior scientist at the Marshall Institute for Interdisciplinary Research, Xie will use his award to develop a method that may improve surgical repair of rotator cuff injuries.

Jingwei Xie, Ph.D.Xie, who is an expert in bone growth and development, will be working with Dr. Franklin D. Shuler, associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedics at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Among the most common conditions affecting the shoulder, rotator cuff injuries can occur from falls or repetitive motions like throwing a baseball. Rotator cuff repair is also one of the most common orthopedic surgeries, with approximately 300,000 procedures performed annually in the United States alone.

Xie explains that successful healing from rotator cuff surgery done with current methods has a failure rate that ranges from 20 to 90 percent, due in large part to the manner in which the tendons are reattached to the bone. For this project, he will use a multidisciplinary approach combining principles of engineering and biomedicine to construct a new type of biological device that will better mimic an uninjured tendon-to-bone attachment, and result in improved healing.

“We are pleased to be able to take advantage of this opportunity to combine expertise from two research groups at Marshall,” Xie adds. “My background in tissue engineering and Dr. Shuler’s extensive experience in clinical treatment of rotator cuff injury will allow us to do work that may very well improve the health and quality of life for individuals afflicted with these injuries. This research could also have a significant impact on the treatment of other, similar injuries of soft tissue-to-bone interfaces.”

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.The second grant went to Claudio, associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the medical school, to help develop an assay that will potentially allow the development of personalized treatment for lung cancer. He will collaborate with Dr. Rolf J. Craven of UK’s Department of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology on the project.

According to Claudio, lung cancer patients generally have a poor survival rate, mostly because of the high number of relapses they typically experience. Scientists believe these relapses are due to the presence of a rare population of cancer cells—called cancer stem cells—that have become resistant to conventional treatments.

Claudio’s laboratory in the university’s new McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute at the Edwards Cancer Center has developed an assay (ChemoIDSM) that measures the sensitivity of tumors to chemotherapy drugs. He says the work funded through this grant will provide information about how lung cancer cells respond to specific types, doses and combinations of drug therapies.

Claudio says, “Our model concentrates on recent discoveries that most tumors are derived from a small number of highly resistant cancer cells having stem cell properties, called cancer stem cells. By recognizing the existence of cancer stem cells, we have taken an important step toward understanding this complex disease.

“Once we have identified the cancer stem cells from patient tumor biopsies, we know how to identify most effective chemotherapy drugs that are already part of the standard of care. Our assay technology has particular value because it can help to determine the most effective drug for a patient’s tumor based on results from an in vitro chemo sensitivity assay.”

Currently, Claudio is conducting Phase-I clinical trials on lung, breast and brain cancers.

“We know that patients with the same stage and grade of cancer often vary considerably in their response to chemotherapy,” he adds. “Our research will provide information that may allow development of tailored therapies for lung cancer, resulting in more effective treatment strategies and better clinical outcomes in the very near future.”

Xie and Claudio both intend to use their findings from these awards as springboards to apply for larger federal grants for related research.

Dr. John M. Maher, vice president for research at Marshall, says this “seeding effect” is one of the emphases of this grant program.

“These pilot awards are relatively small from a research funding perspective, but they allow recipients to test their ideas and generate concrete results as the basis for proposals to the National Institutes of Health’s large grant programs,” Maher said. “It’s not unusual for collaborative projects like these to lead to multimillion dollar awards down the road, after the initial results show significant promise.”

The CTSA partnership between Marshall and UK supports scientists in Marshall’s clinical research program, training fellowships and early stage clinical research trials. The collaboration also gives Marshall investigators access to the expertise and resources at UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, and opportunities to apply for significant research grants accessible only through the CTSA program.

5K Race to benefit medical mission trip to Honduras

Mission M-Possible 5K race advertismentMission “M” Possible, a 5K race, is scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12, with proceeds to benefit a medical mission trip to Honduras.

The Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is teaming with Global Medical Brigades to send a group of physicians, nurses and medical students to Honduras in June. All proceeds from the race will go toward funding the trip and medications for patients in Honduras.

The race will begin at the center of Ritter Park, continue on North Boulevard to the Memorial Arch (7th Street West), then come back along the Ritter Park trail and finish in the center of the park. Pre-registration for the event is available at www.tristateracer.com. Race day registration is also available.

The medical mission trip to Honduras has become an annual event for Marshall School of Medicine students thanks to the generosity of Ken and Sharon Ambrose who have financially supported the project in honor of their late son Dr. Paul Ambrose, a 1995 graduate of MUSOM. Dr. Ambrose was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks in the United States.

For more information about the race contact Jacob Kilgore by phone at 304-634-2448 or Brent Kidd by phone at 304-544-4585. Kilgore and Kidd are third-year medical students serving as coordinators for this year’s trip.

Donations for the trip may also be directed to Linda Holmes, Director of Development and Alumni Affairs, who can be reached by phone at 304-691-1711.

###

BBSC dedicates room in honor of Dr. Frederick J. Lotspeich

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. A conference room located in the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center at Marshall University has been named in honor of the late Frederick J. Lotspeich, Ph.D., who was the founding chair of the School of Medicine’s Department of Biochemistry. Lotspeich served as the chair from 1977 until 1991.

For 35 years, Lotspeich served medical education in West Virginia, beginning as an assistant professor of biochemistry at the West Virginia University Medical Center in 1956 and then joining the Marshall faculty in 1977.

Following his death in 1994, the School of Medicine dedicated a reading room at the Robert W. Coon Medical Education Building at the Huntington VA Medical Center in Lotspeich’s honor. Additionally, in memory of Lotspeich, his wife Kay created the Dr. Frederick J. Lotspeich Scholarship in Biomedical Sciences.

This year the scholarship was awarded to Wood County native M. Allison Wolf, a doctoral student working with Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Lotspeich was a native of Keyser. He graduated with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from West Virginia University and completed a doctorate at Purdue University.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLqz3QtwIBU&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

Biomedical Sciences graduate students present at the Annual Research Day

Anne Silves, Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidateThe Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine recently held its 23rd Annual Research Day. This event highlights the basic and clinic research work of basic scientists, medical students, graduate students, physicians, residents, and other interested health professionals. The goal of the Annual Research Day is to involve the community in the ongoing research being performed at the School of Medicine by allowing participants to formally present their research in oral or poster presentations.

Aileen Marcelo, Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. CandidateGraduate Students in the Biomedical Sciences Program at Marshall University had a strong showing at the event. Juliana Akinsete (Ph.D. Candidate), Aaron Dom (M.S. Medical Sciences Student), Meagan Valentine (Ph.D. Student), Anne Silvis (Ph.D. Candidate), and Gabriela Ion, Ph.D. (Post-doctoral Fellow) gave oral presentations. Ben Owen (M.S. Research Student), Siva Nalabotu (Ph.D. Candidate), and Aileen Marcelo (Ph.D. Candidate) presented posters.

One oral presenter and one poster presenter awarded in each of the three categories: clinical vignettes, clinical science, and basic science. In the basic science category, Anne Silvis and Aileen Marcello were the award winners.

24th Annual Research Day hosted at Marshall University School of Medicine

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateOn March 20th, the Marshall University School of Medicine hosted its 24th Annual Medical School Research Day. This medical-school wide event, which also encompasses the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, is one of the few times in the academic year that everyone in the school community gathers to learn about the research taking place at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine (JCESOM).

The event included nearly 80 research presentations and a keynote speech by Dr. William Thies, the Chief Medical and Science Officer for the National Alzheimer’s Organization. The goals of Research Day include giving participants an opportunity to formally present their research, involving the community in the ongoing research being performed at JCESOM, and encouraging Continuing Medical Education in clinical research.

The presenters included professors, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, medical students, and residents. On the ground floor of the Marshall Medical Center, dozens of research projects were presented. According to Dr. Richard Niles, Senior Associate Dean of Research and Graduate Education, the research presented ranged from Vitamin D3 supplementation to chili peppers and small cell lung cancer.

The following members of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program participated:

  • Dr. Piyali Dasgupta
  • Dr. Jung Han Kim
  • Flavia De Carlo, a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Johannes Francois Fahrmann, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Elaine Hardman’s lab
  • Rounak Nande, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Aaron Dom, a medical student and former Medical Sciences Master’s student researching in Dr. Piyali Dasgupta’s lab
  • M. Allison Wolf, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Meagan Valentine, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Simon Collier’s lab
  • Miranda Carper, a Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab
  • Sarah Mathis, a Ph.D. student in Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio’s lab

The event followed an Alzheimer’s Disease Symposium, which took place on March 19th. Dr. Richard Egleton of the BMS Graduate Program was a guest speaker.

A few members of the BMS Graduate Program also received honors for their presentations at Research Day. M. Allison Wolf’s poster, entitled “Benzyl isothiocyanate targets chemoresistant and metastatic head and neck cell carcinoma cells,” won in the Poster Basic Science category. A researcher in Dr. Piyali Dasgupta’s lab, Clayton Crabtree, won in the Oral Basic Science category for his presentation, “Capsaicin induces apoptosis in human small cell lung cancer via the TRPV pathway.”

To learn more about the 24th Annual Research Day, look to the event website: http://musom.marshall.edu/research/. You can also download the following pdf documents directly:

Research Day 2012 Syllabus

Research Day 2012 Winners

Study by Dr. Claudio may lead to new treatments for prostate cancer

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.A recent study conducted at Marshall University may eventually help scientists develop new treatments for prostate cancer, the most common malignancy in American men.

The study, which focused on the effects of cadmium on the prostate, was conducted by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and an international team of colleagues from the University of L’Aquila and the National Cancer Institute in Italy, and the University of Colorado Denver and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States.

An extremely toxic metal found in industrial workplaces, cadmium is commonly used in electroplating and is a key component in batteries and some paints. It is also found in cigarettes and some food supplies.

According to Claudio, scientists believe the prostate may be a target for cancer caused by cadmium, although the underlying mechanisms have been unclear.

“In our study, we investigated the effects of cadmium exposure in normal and in tumor cells derived from human prostate tissue,” he said. “We were able to demonstrate the molecular mechanisms cadmium uses to induce carcinogenesis in the prostate.”

Claudio, who said he has spent the last 15 years conducting research to understand the crosstalk between the factors that contribute to cancer progression versus those that protect from it, says this study is important because once those molecular mechanisms are understood, new therapies can be tailored to treat prostate cancer.

He added, “The focus of work in our laboratory is to understand the molecular mechanisms governing malignant transformation in order to tailor novel therapeutic strategies. To effectively design novel biological drugs, a thorough understanding of the mechanism of cancer pathogenesis is required. Our study will contribute to the body of knowledge available to science and may lead to exciting new treatments for this common cancer.”

###

The research was published today in the journal PLoS ONE. The full article, “Cadmium Induces p53-Dependent Apoptosis in Human Prostate Epithelial Cells,” is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0033647. You can also read more about this story at the following links:

http://www.wowktv.com/story/17210933/marshall-university-study-may-lead-to-advancement-in-prostate-cancer-treatments
http://www.healthcanal.com/cancers/27717-Study-may-lead-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer.html
http://medicalxpress.com/news/2012-03-treatments-prostate-cancer.html
http://www.bio-medicine.org/biology-news-1/Marshall-University-study-may-lead-to-new-treatments-for-prostate-cancer-24237-1/
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/higher-education/cadmium-implicated-in-prostate-tumours/story-e6frgcjx-1226307489399
http://www.sciencenewsline.com/medicine/summary/2012032117500036.html

The study was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

For more information, contact Claudio at claudiop@marshall.edu or (304) 696-3516.

Dr. Maria Serrat awarded faculty fellowship and mini-grant by MU-ADVANCE

Maria Serrat, Ph.D.

The Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine is proud to announce that Dr. Maria Serrat has been awarded an MU-ADVANCE fellowship and mini-grant. Dr. Serrat is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anatomy and Physiology who researches within two biomedical science research clusters: Neuroscience and Developmental Biology and Toxicology and Environmental Health Science. The Marshall University news release below highlights Dr. Serrat and the other award winners. Congratulations, Dr. Serrat!


MU Press Release Contact: Ginny Painter, ginny.painter@marshall.edu

Marshall University’s MU-ADVANCE program has named four faculty fellows and awarded five mini-grants as part of the program to enhance the research and professional development of female faculty members in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.MU-ADVANCE is funded through a National Science Foundation (NSF) initiative called “Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers,” or ADVANCE for short. The national program supports projects, like the one at Marshall, to help institutions transform long-standing practices and academic climate that discourage women from pursuing careers in high-tech fields.

MU-ADVANCE faculty fellowships, intended for tenure-track faculty members, are awarded competitively based on a formal research proposal submitted by each applicant. Each of the four faculty fellows selected this year will receive $15,000 to be used for her research, and $5,000 for a senior research collaborator to help foster her professional development and success while preparing for tenure.

This year’s faculty fellows include Dr. Kristi Fondren, assistant professor in the Department of Sociology, who uses the Appalachian Trail and its hikers to analyze how humans develop relationships with the environment; Dr. Hyoil Han, associate professor in the Department of Computer Science, who is working to develop a system to help biomedical researchers quickly access evidence-based literature regarding breast cancer; Dr. Elizabeth Niese, assistant professor in the Department of Mathematics, who will use her award to further her work in algebraic combinatorics and to provide research opportunities for math students at Marshall; and Dr. Maria Serrat, assistant professor in the Department of Anatomy and Pathology, whose research uses real-time imaging to determine the impact of environmental factors like nutrition, temperature and physical activity on bone elongation.

Serrat said, “The MU-ADVANCE fellowships allowed me to establish and maintain a formal collaboration with a senior faculty mentor from Cornell University, whose expertise in biophysical imaging was critical to the progression of my microscopy research here at Marshall.”

For Serrat, this newest grant is a continuation of the faculty fellowship award she received last year. She is also one of five MU-ADVANCE mini-grant recipients this year.

The mini-grants are awarded in amounts up to $1,000, and fund tuition for professional development courses, registration and travel expenses for national meetings, development of grant proposals, interdisciplinary research efforts and manuscript preparation.

All five of this year’s mini-grant recipients are assistant professors at Marshall and, in addition to Serrat, include Dr. April Fugett-Fuller and Dr. Jennifer Tiano of the Department of Psychology, Dr. Anna Mummert of the Department of Mathematics, and Dr. Bin Wang of the Department of Chemistry.

“The best thing about the fellowships and mini-grants, in addition to the research funding, is that they provide a structure for outlining your professional goals and a means for documenting when and how you will achieve them,” added Serrat. “MU-ADVANCE recognizes that it is hard being a new assistant professor, and their funding opportunities have been invaluable to my professional development by helping me articulate and carry out a research plan alongside my teaching and service commitments.”

According to Dr. Marcia A. Harrison, professor of biological sciences at Marshall and the principal investigator on the MU-ADVANCE grant from NSF, the fellowships and mini-grants complement the recruitment, retention and policy efforts undertaken at the university over the past five years as part of the program.

“MU-ADVANCE’s support of networking has been crucial in enhancing faculty career development,” Harrison said. “The fellowships and mini-grants provide networking opportunities by funding travel to professional conferences and workshops, and laboratory visits to connect faculty members with other professionals worldwide.

“The program also sponsors campus networking events to foster collegiality and collaborations at Marshall, and has brought in experts to teach faculty critical career advancement skills like writing, delegation and time management.”

According to the NSF, women continue to be significantly underrepresented in almost all science and engineering fields. In fact, although 41 percent of all faculty members at Marshall are women, only 27 percent of science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty members are female.

Research indicates that the lack of women’s full participation in science and engineering academic careers is unrelated to their ability, interest and technical skills, but is more often a systemic consequence of the culture and organizational structure at institutions of higher education. Difficulty balancing work and family demands also plays a key role.

The MU-ADVANCE program was established in 2006 with a $1.2 million NSF grant. In 2009, Marshall’s program was awarded funding for an additional two years, funded in part through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

For more information about MU-ADVANCE, contact Harrison at harrison@marshall.edu or visit www.marshall.edu/mu-advance.

Kathleen Brown to present in special session at Experimental Biology 2012

 

Kathleen "Katie" Brown, Ph.D. studentKathleen “Katie” Brown has been selected to present a poster at the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) Annual Meeting at the Experimental Biology 2012 in San Diego. She will present her research at a special session entitled Highlights: Graduate Student Research in Pathology. The session will be held Saturday, April 21st. The ASIP seeks to promote basic and translational research into experimental pathology, and this special session features pathology-focused graduate student research. Sessions such as this allow faculty and students to meet and experience a variety of research interests.

Katie researches in the laboratory of Marshall’s School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences professor and researcher, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta. Her poster is entitled “The alpha7-nicotinic receptor antagonist induces robust apoptosis in human SCLC.” The alpha-7 nicotinic receptor (a7 nAChR) is a subtype of this group of receptors. These receptors can block apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Activation of these nicotinic receptors, such as in exposure to cigarette smoke, in human small cell lung cancer (SCLC) can allow cancerous cells to survive and reproduce. Antagonizing these receptors may allow the body to more adequately eliminate such cancerous cells. These receptors also have been found to be the main type of nicotinic receptor in charge of angiogenesis, or growth of new blood cells. Cancer cannot thrive or spread without an adequate blood supply, making angiogenesis an important issue for cancer treatment.

Congratulations to Katie and Dr. Dagupta’s lab for receiving this honor!

New Translational Genomic Research Institute named in honor of dean

Robert C. Nerhood, Interim DeanThe new Charles H. McKown, Jr., M.D., Translational Genomic Research Institute at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was dedicated in a ceremony yesterday.

The facility was named in honor of McKown, who served as the school’s dean for more than 22 years before becoming Marshall’s vice president for health sciences advancement this summer.

The Marshall University Board of Governors cited McKown’s “extraordinary service to the University” in approving the facility’s naming.

Dr. Robert C. Nerhood, interim dean of the medical school, said McKown’s contributions to the medical school were many.

“His uncanny ability to almost instantaneously perceive convoluted relationships and unintended consequences of simple or complex actions has ideally suited him to be an eminently successful dean of a community-based medical school in West Virginia,” he said. “I am not at all sure that this talent can again be found.”

Nerhood said the genomic research facility is an outgrowth of McKown’s vision and advocacy.

“Dr. McKown foresaw the importance of the new field of translational research in the area of cancer care,” and then worked with philanthropist Joan Edwards and U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd to turn that vision into reality, he said.

Richard Niles, Ph.D.In addition to Nerhood, speakers at the dedication ceremony included Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp; Dr. Richard Niles, senior associate dean for research and graduate education at the medical school, and professor and chair of the university’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology; Edward Seiler, director of the Huntington VA Medical Center; and McKown.

Videotaped greetings were given by U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III and U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall II. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin was represented by Jacqueline Proctor, his director of communications.

A reception and tours of the facility followed the dedication ceremony.

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateThe Charles H. McKown, Jr., M.D., Translational Genomic Research Institute is located on the top floor of the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. Completed this summer, it includes more than 10,000 square feet of research space and has advanced scientific equipment including a “next-generation” genetic sequencer. Several university researchers already are working at the institute.

In addition to naming the facility after McKown, the medical school has established a scholarship in his honor.

Nine former BMS students join the Marshall School of Medicine Class of 2015

Marshall University Medical School White Coat Ceremony 2011On Thursday night at the Keith Albee Performing Arts Center, 71 new medical students entering the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine received their white coats and stethoscopes during the annual White Coat Ceremony. Nine of the new medical students joining the Class of 2015 who were honored that night were once students in the Medical Sciences Program, offered through the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program.

The former BMS Medical Sciences students entering the Class of 2015 include: James T. Buchanan, Jesse R. Chaffin, Carrie E. Cox, Aaron M. Dom, Melinda D. Hodge, Joseph V. Russo, B. Trent Schambach, Sarah P. Sexton, and Brandon S. Shiflett. Diana Maue, Graduate Recruitment and Communication Coordinator for the BMS Graduate Program, is proud of these former students and sees this number as a reflection of the overall success of the program. According to Diana, “Students who are successful in the Medical Sciences Program have displayed an amazing level of determination, something that will serve them well in medical school. These students deserve our recognition.”

Marshall University’s Medical Sciences area of emphasis is a two-year, non-thesis degree in Biomedical Sciences. Students often select the Medical Sciences area of emphasis for its goal of improving the science foundation of students seeking admission into doctoral programs in medicine.

Congratulations to our former BMS students entering the School of Medicine Class of 2015! To learn more about the Medical Sciences area of emphasis, please review the following web page: http://www.marshall.edu/wpmu/bms/future-students/medical-sciences-masters-degree/

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman honored at “Women in Medicine and Science” luncheon

Dr. W. Elaine Hardman of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was honored on February 16 at a luncheon hosted by the Women in Medicine and Science program. The program is hosted about four times a year and features guests who speak to a collective group of women about their achievements. Dr. Hardman is an Associate Professor for the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology.

Dr. Hardman was recognized for her achievements throughout her career and was asked to speak about her success. “She is a very accomplished researcher, not only in the area, but nationally,” said Professor Darshana Shah, the School of Medicine’s Associate Dean for Professional Development in Medical Education. “So I think that it would be a great opportunity for young people to look up to her and to see how she has gone the path she did.” Professor Shah is in charge of the program and said that its purpose was for students to learn by hearing her success story.

Professor Hardman has been working in the area of nutrition and cancer research for about 20 years. Currently, her research on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer has received six externally funded grants, including large grants form the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense. “She has a love of knowledge and she imparts that onto her students,” said Anne Silvis, a graduate student and Ph.D candidate for cancer biology. “She gets them excited about research and excited about the world of science.”

As she spoke to the collective group of women, who were not only graduate students but also professors, she said that she always knew what she wanted to do with her life, and that was science. Professor Hardman completed three years of her undergraduate degree by the time she turned 18 and then married. She raised her family and went back to school to finish her degree and later earned her Master’s. While she was a graduate student, she received her first funding grant and has received funding ever since.

“There is always an overriding importance for what she does and that is always apparent when you are talking to her about anything in her research,” Silvis said.

One of the graduate students in attendance said she found her story to be not only interesting, but also inspiring. “I have three young children myself and had also married young and returned to school,” said Tamara Trout, a graduate student in the Medical Sciences Program. “I always thought ‘How am I going to do it?’ But then you meet someone like Professor Hardman and it shows that you can do it.”

Chrystal Phillips can be contacted at phillips152@marshall.edu. The original story can be read on the website for Marshall University’s Student Newspaper, “The Parthenon.”

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/.