Dr. Philippe Georgel participates in Era of Hope Conference

Update: The Era of Hope website now contains a link to the Era of Hope Conference press briefing. The first principal investigator interviewed in the briefing is Dr. Georgel. You may listen to the briefing and view the accompanying PowerPoint presentation on the Era of Hope Conference multimedia page.

The following story originally ran on EurekAlert!: http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2011-08/udod-rld080111.php


Era of Hope conference to feature compelling research examining benefits to daughters based on mother’s diet

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D.

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

ORLANDO, Fla. — August 3, 2011 — During pregnancy, women are counseled to refrain from consuming certain types of foods, beverages and medications in order to avoid jeopardizing the health and development of the fetus. In fact, the American Pregnancy Association has a list of a dozen items they recommend expectant mothers omit from their diets. However, there are some additions, such as folic acid, that, when taken before and/or during pregnancy, can actually reduce the risk of birth defects and other disorders.1 Research presented today at the Era of Hope conference, a scientific meeting hosted by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP), reveals findings suggesting that if an expectant mother increases her consumption of foods high in certain fatty acids or nutrients during her pregnancy, she can potentially reduce the risk of breast cancer in her female offspring.

The research delves into breast cancer risk reductions attributed to the fetus when the mother, while pregnant, increases omega 3 fatty acids within her diet or consumes dietary methyl nutrients (methionine, choline, folate and vitamin B12). Some findings hypothesize that these diet augmentations may even prevent breast cancer from ever developing in the offspring.

“This is exciting and intriguing research,” said Captain Melissa Kaime, M.D., Director of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), under which the BCRP is managed. “To be able to reduce the risk and possibly prevent this devastating disease before birth is an incredible notion; the BCRP is proud to support research with such potential.”

Maternal Consumption of Omega 3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk in Offspring
Principal Investigator: Philippe T. Georgel, PhD, Marshall University

Maternal dietary alterations, including increasing the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids, may reduce the risk of breast cancer to the fetus by causing epigenetic changes in utero and later through nursing. These changes may alter gene expression permanently, a change referred to as imprinting. Researchers at Marshall University conducted a study to investigate whether having a diet rich in omega 3s while pregnant would result in changes to fetal mammary gland gene expression, thereby reducing the chance that female offspring would later develop breast cancer.

In this study, there was a reduced incidence of mammary gland cancer observed for the offspring of mice that, while pregnant and nursing, consumed a diet containing canola oil, rich in omega 3, compared with the offspring of mice that, while pregnant and nursing, consumed a diet containing corn oil rich in omega 6 fatty acids. Reviewing the gene expression profiles of both groups showed that many genes related to cancer development differed between the two groups. Significant differences in the patterns of two important epigenetic markers were also observed.

“Pregnant women should be mindful of what they consume since their diet may incite epigenetic changes that could impact the development of their offspring, not just in utero but also for time to come,” said Dr. Philippe Georgel, Marshall University. “Additional research continues, as we seek to elucidate the effect of diet on breast cancer-specific gene expression.”

About the Era of Hope

The Era of Hope (EOH) conference joins scientists, clinicians and breast cancer advocates committed to advancing research on the prevention, detection, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. From August 2-5, 2011 in Orlando, Florida, the EOH will feature prominent scientists and clinicians with presentations of recent remarkable advances in breast cancer research funded by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program (BCRP). This research challenges paradigms and pushes boundaries to identify innovative, high-impact approaches for future breast cancer research and discoveries.

The EOH conference is recognized as one of the premier breast cancer research conferences, and this year marks the sixth conference of its kind. The EOH will bring together more than 1,600 BCRP awardees, advocates, and invited speakers in an atmosphere of collaborative thinking in the fight against breast cancer. The EOH is a unique opportunity for advocates and expert scientists from different fields and research areas to discuss unanswered questions, share ideas, identify promising directions in breast cancer research, and develop collaborative partnerships. The conference will unveil innovative research and discoveries that are essential to ultimately eradicating the disease.

About the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs

In the early 1990s, the breast cancer advocacy community launched a grassroots effort to raise public awareness for the crucial need of increased funding in breast cancer research. Beginning in fiscal year 1992 (FY92), Congress appropriated $25 million for breast cancer research to be managed by the Department of Defense. The following year, Congress continued to respond to the advocacy movement and appropriated $210 million for breast cancer research, marking the beginning of the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs (CDMRP). The CDMRP represents a unique partnership among the public, Congress and the military. Because of continued and expanded advocacy efforts, the CDMRP has grown to encompass multiple targeted programs spanning cancer research, military medical research, and other disease, injury or condition specific research. The CDMRP has received $6.525 billion in appropriations from its inception through FY11 and more than 10,000 awards have been made across 25 different programs through FY10. For more information about the CDMRP, please visit http://www.cdmrp.army.mil

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.”

Dr. Hardman featured by MU-Advance

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.Dr. Elaine Hardman of the Biomedical Sciences Program has been featured by MU-Advance, an organization on campus that seeks to empower, retain, and recruit female faculty members in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The following is the piece the MU-Advance ran on Dr. Hardman:

Education

A.A. (Biology), Lake City Junior College
B.S. (Biology), Auburn University at Montgomery

Ph.D. (Cell Biology), University of Texas Health Science Center

Research

Dr. Hardman recently received a grant from the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program to further her studies on the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on breast cancer development. Dr. Hardman, in collaboration with Dr. Philippe Georgel, an associate professor of Biological Sciences, garnered more than $780,000 to conduct the research study. In addition, the National Cancer Institute awarded Dr. Hardman a grant ($266,000 for the fourth year) to study how the maternal diet can significantly reduce the lifetime risk of mammary gland cancer in the female offspring of mice. This particular study focuses on long-chain (20 or 22 carbons) omega-3 fatty acids. Her research has found that consumption of canola oil in the diet, instead of corn oil, may reduce the risk for mammary gland cancer. Also, a grant from the American Institute for Cancer Research allows Dr. Hardman to assess the effects of walnut (a good source of omega-3 fat and various phytosterols) consumption on breast cancer development. Money provided by the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation funds the identification of molecular mechanisms for altered interactions between adipocytes and mammary epithelial cells when omega-3 fats are incorporated into the cells.

Teaching

Dr. Hardman, a School of Medicine professor, currently teaches a Biomedical Sciences graduate course in Lipid Metabolism, and two Medical Biochemistry courses, Lipid Metabolism and Nutrition. Dr. Hardman previously taught Cancer Biology and Prevention.   

Service and Outreach

Dr. Hardman serves as an editorial advisor for the journal Cancer Cell International. She is an active member of the American Association for Cancer Research and Women in Cancer Research. Dr. Hardman is also the Treasurer for the International Federation of Cell Biology, serving since 2000. In addition, Dr. Hardman serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the California Walnut Council.

Contact Info

Telephone: (304) 696-7339
E-mail: hardmanw@marshall.edu
News: Marshall researcher receives post-doctoral award from Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation