Biomedical symposium begins at Marshall University

More than 150 people traveled to Marshall University Thursday to take part in the statewide Biomedical Research Symposium.

HUNTINGTON  Undergraduate students from Marshall and West Virginia University participated in a Biomedical Research Symposium Thursday.

A $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health was awarded to the Marshall and West Virginia University researchers for the program.

Officials with the program said the program advances the students by interaction with others in the field. “It gives them a chance to interact with faculty and students who help shape their career as they go forward in the health sciences,” said organizer Dr. Gary Rankin.

Students spent Thursday evening in a poster session.

The original story can be read on the WOWK website: http://wowktv.com/story.cfm?func=viewstory&storyid=104268

Dr. W. Elaine Harman featured in the Parthenon

The Marshall University student newspaper, the Parthenon, has run a feature article on Dr. W. Elaine Hardman in its March 10, 2011 issue. The article highlights Dr. Hardman’s education, research, and life story. The full text of the piece can be found below and on the Parthenon Website.


W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.Elaine Hardman was at Cabell Huntington Hospital one day picking up blood samples to test while carrying a bag of toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste.

“What are you doing with that?” asked Theodore Witte, Hardman’s research assistant and part-time doctoral student in the biomedical sciences program at Marshall University.

Witte said she saved them from all the hotels she has stayed at and gives them to the women’s shelter.

“How many people do you see doing that?” Witte said. “She doesn’t even consider herself decent; she just is.”

Hardman is the associate professor for the department of biochemistry and microbiology at Marshall and has been at Marshall for five years.

“We were very fortunate to recruit her to Marshall,” said Richard Niles, senior associate dean for research and graduate programs.

Niles met Hardman when they first worked together a couple years ago in the same study section for the American Institutes for Cancer Research. After working with Hardman, he encouraged her to apply for the open position available at Marshall.

“I knew what I was getting myself into before I applied for the job,” Hardman said.

Philippe Georgel, associate professor for biological sciences, said he met Hardman at her interview. He said she was very professional, but his first impression was that she was very quiet.

“I realized there is a lot of energy under that calm surface,” Georgel said. “She is extremely energetic and I think she is one of those researchers who thinks if there is something that can help and benefit others, she will do her best to include other people in her research and in her success.”

Hardman has been researching the subjects of nutrition and cancer for the past 20 years.

Hardman served six years as a member of the National Institutes of Health study section and spent five years on the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation study section.

Some of her earlier research was on the effects of dietary fiber on colon cancer. Now she is studying the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on various cancers, including lung, prostate, breast and colon.

Hardman said her passion for science began in junior high school. She grew up in a small town in the backwoods area of Dicey County, Fla., and always found some interest in science.

She said she asked her mom and dad for a chemistry set, but instead she received a microscope.

However, there was a dilemma.

“At the time I was growing up, what did a girl who liked science do?” Hardman said. “Maybe I could be a nurse or a science teacher, but I finally realized I wanted to be a researcher and I didn’t have a clue how to get there.”

Hardman said the only thing she thought of was to take all the science she could in high school.

By her junior year, she had taken all the science and math courses her high school provided. She decided to go to junior college and ended up graduating a year early from high school.

Within 15 months at junior college in Florida, Hardman completed her two years and went to the University of Florida. Then, seven months later, she finished her junior year at the university and was 18 years old.

She then married and had a family.

“I always knew I was still going to finish college,” Hardman said.

Hardman said she believes her marriage came at the right time.

“It worked for me,” Hardman said. “It enabled me to focus on raising my children when I was young and had more energy. It has also given me enough time at a later time in my life to get back into science and focus on it.”

The family moved to Montgomery, Ala., at the time her youngest of two children, Don, entered preschool. Hardman said then was the perfect time to go back to school and finish her degree.

Auburn University had just started a clinical laboratory, medical technology course, and Hardman said she was interested in it. She went to the department chair and asked what she should do in the field of science. He suggested she enroll in the new technology course.

She said she realized that, even though it was a delightful experience, she could not stand the idea of doing the same type of work every day for the rest of her career.

Her family moved again to San Antonio, Texas, where Hardman found a part-time job at the Cancer Research Therapy Center as a medical technologist.

“I was working with cancer patients,” Hardman said. “I was reading their blood smears, learning about their cancers and learning about their treatment.”

At the time her oldest child, Sharon, entered college, Hardman said she heard about a full-time position as a research assistant available at the University of Texas Science Center.

Hardman said she was ready for a full-time job and started working hard at it. Two years into the position, she said she practically ran the project the center was working on.

Again, however, Hardman made the decision to go back to school and further her education. This time she applied for graduate school at the University of Texas and finished her doctoral degree in cell biology in two years and three months.

“Most students work at it for five to six years,” Hardman said. “But I had already been working on it in the lab for two years.”

As a graduate student, she received her first grant funded by the American Institute for Cancer Research and a pre-doctoral grant. She has also received funding from the Department of Defense and the National Institutes of Health for her research throughout the years.

“Things have fallen into place for me,” Hardman said. “Partly because I was ready for the next step and the next step would come at the time I was ready for it.”

Out of the lab, Hardman can be found cross-country skiing, around campus or in the park, according to some of her students.

“Whenever there is enough snow, she will go do that,” said Anne Silvis, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate for cancer biology from Hurricane, W.Va. “She is very adventurous and she is going to do whatever she wants to do and she really doesn’t care what people are going to think. She really enjoys life.”

Hardman said she was once a Girl Scout and likes to help with teaching young girls how to white water raft. She also said she likes to stay active, and her students seem to be a little jealous of that.

“Well despite her age, she is perhaps the most active person I know and would probably put me to shame in terms of physical health, and I consider myself in pretty good shape,” said Johannes Fahrmann, a biomedical sciences doctoral student from Dresden, Germany.

Hardman even plans surprise trips for her students. Witte said Hardman would take her lab members on a boat ride for lab meetings.

“Unbelievably, you think that you’re going into a scary lab meeting and you find that you’re going on a boat ride and she is making upside-down cake,” Witte said. “The trick is that she grandmothers us into performing, so you can’t let her down.”

Many of the students interviewed said she was a wonderful role model to them. Silvis said she is inspired by Hardman’s success in the field of science as a woman who has a family.

“She is very important to me having a family myself,” Silvis said. “It’s very comforting. And I think for women to see that, even though she has a family and kids in graduate school, they can accomplish as much as she has in her professional life and still have a family life.”

Hardman said she hopes she is always directing her students in the right direction but may not think she is necessarily the right leader for the job.

“I have always thought of myself as fairly shy, but other people say that I’m a pretty strong leader,” Hardman said. “I don’t quite see that.”

“Things have fallen into place for me; partly because I was ready for the next step and the next step would come at the time I was ready for it.”

-Elaine Hardman

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.”

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