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.

Guo-Zhang Zhu, Ph.D.

Guo-Zhang Zhu, Ph.D.Professor
Department: Biological Sciences (campus)
Research Cluster: Cancer Biology; Neuroscience and Developmental Biology
Office: Science Building 396
Phone: (304) 696-2429 | Fax: (304) 696-7136
E-mail: zhu4@marshall.edu

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John Wilkinson, Ph.D.

John Wilkinson, Ph.D.Assistant Professor
Department: Anatomy and Pathology
Research Cluster: Cancer Biology
Office: BBSC 336-V
Phone: (304) 696-3700
E-mail: wilkinsonj@marshall.edu

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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. 

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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.