Marshall School of Medicine researcher receives grant to continue musculoskeletal research

HUNTINGTON, W.Va.—Maria A. Serrat, Ph.D, assistant professor in the department of anatomy and pathology at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and a team of multidisciplinary researchers from several institutions have received federal grant funds totaling $383,000 to continue research into the effects of temperature on bone elongation.

Serrat says the three-year award from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases is an extension of work initially funded from a bridge grant from the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

“We hope our results will facilitate the design of heat-based, drug-targeting approaches to enhance bone length using noninvasive techniques such as warm temperature serrat pixapplications,” Serrat said. “This work is significant because it has the potential to produce transformative findings that link heat, bone lengthening and vascular access to the growing skeleton which could lead to better clinical therapies for children in particular.”

Serrat’s team of collaborators include Marshall graduate and medical students as well as faculty researchers from Cornell University, Mayo Clinic, the University of Kentucky and Ohio University.

“We are in the basic science stage of research and over the course of the three-year funding period hope to collect enough data to support a larger scale translational medicine project leading to a potential clinical trial with help from our collaborators at Mayo Clinic,” Serrat said.

“Dr. Serrat is accomplishing great work in her laboratory which has the potential to have a tremendous clinical impact in the future,” said Joseph I. Shapiro, M.D., dean of the Marshall School of Medicine. “Marshall is continuing to build its research footprint and investigators like Maria Serrat are an integral part of our success.”

Serrat graduated from Miami University in 1999 with a bachelor’s degree in anthropology. She then earned her master’s degree in anthropology from Kent State University and followed with a doctorate in biological anthropology from Kent State University in 2007. She joined the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine in 2009.

PHOTO CUTLINE: Maria A. Serrat, Ph.D., middle, and her team – Holly Tamski, a Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student, and Dr. Gabriela Ion, Research Instructor – have received federal grant funds totaling $383,000 to continue musculoskeletal research.

Photo by Rick Lee

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

Marshall School of Medicine researchers and students

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Researchers with the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine will present their findings at the national Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) meeting in New Orleans that began Saturday.

Maria Serrat, Ph.D.Dr. Maria A. Serrat, assistant professor in the department of anatomy at the school of medicine and a clinical assistant professor in the department of orthopaedics, will present her team’s research model on the effects of temperature on the acceleration of bone growth in mice.

“We developed a model to study how the application of heat on the body’s surface can stimulate bone elongation,” Serrat said.  “By validating this model, we are looking at future possible clinical treatments to lengthen bones in children with growth issues or orthopaedic trauma using non-invasive methods.”

Serrat’s team includes Dr. Franklin D. Shuler, a professor in the department of orthopaedics, vice chair of research for the department of orthopaedics, and medical director for the Senior Fracture Program at Cabell Huntington Hospital. He says the opportunity to present on this national platform speaks highly of Marshall’s program.

“To have a podium presentation at this high-level meeting truly indicates that the faculty at Marshall are participating in leading-edge musculoskeletal research that has the capability of transforming patient care,” Shuler said.

Along with Serrat and Shuler, the following students participated in the research:

  • Justin M. Godby, first-year medical studentHolly Tamski, Ph.D. student
  • Thomas J. Schlierf, fourth-year medical student
  • Laura M. Stanko, second-year medical student
  • Holly L. Tamski, biomedical sciences doctoral student

Morgan L. Efaw, former biomedical sciences student at Marshall, also was a member of the team.

Also presenting a poster at the ORS meeting is third-year medical student Alexander H. Slocum, Jr., Ph.D. who, along with collaborators from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will showcase their findings, “Enhancing Orthopaedic Joint Lubrication using Synovial Fluid Impregnated Super-Wetting Porous Coatings,” an investigation reviewing ways of improving the use of prosthetic implants.

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Dr. Maria Serrat also was selected as the featured researcher in Marshall University’s School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences magazine, We Are…Bridging Medicine and Science.