Funding for collaborative medical research announced at Marshall University

Translational research aims to transfer discoveries from the laboratory to the bedside quickly

Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine officials today announced $150,000 in funding for six research grants associated with the school’s translational medicine research program.

The Marshall Health Translational Pilot Grant program, created in 2012, encourages collaborative research between basic scientists and clinical physicians in an effort to speed up the process of laboratory discovery to clinical application for patients.  The grants are funded by Marshall Health.

“We are very pleased that Marshall Health has created this grant program to stimulate research efforts,” said Richard M. Niles, Ph.D., senior associate dean for Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine. “Moving Marshall to the next level of medical research takes vision, commitment and of course, funding.  This grant allows 12 researchers, as well as medical residents and students, the opportunity to explore very diverse areas.”

Marshall Health is the faculty practice plan for the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and supports the clinical, educational, research and services missions of the school.  Beth Hammers, executive director of the organization, says the pilot grant program provides one year of support at $25,000 for each grantee, with additional funding based on progress of the research.

“Medical research is essential to the development of new medical treatments and cures for patients,” Hammers said.  “We are thrilled to help stimulate a robust, viable grant program which pairs basic scientists from Marshall University with School of Medicine physicians to work on projects which will lead to the betterment of our community.”

The investigators and their projects are listed below:

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Anthony Alberico, Department of Neuroscience – “Chemotherapy resistance and sensitivity testing in tumors of the central nervous system”

Dr. Elaine Hardman, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. James Jensen, Department of Surgery – “Feasibility and Safety of Nutritional Supplementation with Omega-3 Fatty Acids to Reduce Prostate Specific Antigen Rise in Men with Biochemical Failure after Prostatectomy or External-Beam Radiotherapy”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Paulette Wehner, Department of Cardiology – “Perivascular Fat Relation to Hypertension—Appalachian Heart Study”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Abid Yaqub, Department of Medicine, Endocrinology Section – “Impact of Technology-based Behavioral Intervention on Molecular and Clinical Parameters in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes”

Dr. Monica Valentovic, Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, and Dr. Brenda Dawley, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology – “Prenatal Exposure to Heavy Metals and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) Alter Umbilical Cord Blood Levels of Thyroid Hormone and Vitamin D”

Dr. Hongwei Yu, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Yoram Elitser, Department of Pediatrics – “Investigate the distribution of segmented filamentous bacteria (SFB) in American children and the presence of SFB with childhood diseases”

Other current translational research under way at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine includes a partnership with the University of Kentucky (UK) as part of the National Institutes of Health’s Clinical and Translational Science Awards program, which also is aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients.

In 2011, UK and its partners received $20 million for the program to support research at UK’s Center for Clinical and Translational Science, making Marshall part of a select national biomedical research network.


Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964, or Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine and Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

Marshall experts to speak at state biosciences summit

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Several Marshall University representatives are among more than 20 life science experts who will share experiences and discuss strategies for successfully growing the state’s bioscience industry during the upcoming West Virginia Bioscience Summit.

Sponsored by the Bioscience Association of West Virginia (BioWV), the summit will take place from 8 a.m. to 4 :30 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Marriott Town Center in Charleston. The annual event brings together members of the state’s bioscience community with policy and opinion leaders, economic developers and others who are interested in learning more about how to grow and nurture the industry.

At the summit, Dr. John Maher, Marshall vice president for research, will join representatives from the Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia State University, the University of Charleston and West Virginia University on a panel highlighting research being conducted in the state.

“The BioWV Summit is a tremendous opportunity to bring attention to the significant economic development happening via West Virginia’s life sciences community,” said Maher. “At the other end of the pipeline we have a great deal of exciting biotechnology work happening here at Marshall and we are pleased to have this chance to share it with our colleagues and friends from around the state and region.”

Dr. Nader Abraham, vice dean for research at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, is on the program to share information about clinical trials at Marshall, and the assistant director of Marshall’s Technology Transfer Office, Amy Melton, will participate in a panel discussion about commercialization opportunities and recent changes in U.S. patent law.

In addition, representatives of two Marshall spinout companies, Derek Gregg of Vandalia Research and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio of Cordgenics, are scheduled to be on a panel of bioscience company representatives and funders who will discuss the challenges of raising capital and creating an environment for life science growth in the state. Gregg and Claudio both founded their companies on technology they developed in the university’s labs.

A host of industry leaders, policy-makers and other experts also will participate in the conference, including the following:

•           Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (invited);

•           Fritz Bittenbender, Vice President, Alliance Development and State Government Relations, Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO);

•           Jeff May, Vice President, Product Strategy, Mylan North America;

•           Dr. Paul Hill, Chancellor, West Virginia Higher Education Commission;

•           Jeff Trewhitt, Senior Director of Communications and Public Affairs, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA).

The summit’s keynote speaker will be Dr. David Scholl, who helped grow Athens, Ohio-based Diagnostic Hybrids into a $100 million biotech company. He is now a partner in a regional venture capital firm and is involved with the billion-dollar Ohio Third Frontier program.

Gregg, who serves as the chairman of BioWV, said, “A successful life science industry begins with research, which then leads to discoveries. Those discoveries provide the basis for company development and economic growth for the state. West Virginia is having success but there is much more that can be done to help grow this industry within our borders.

“The bioscience industry is creating new technologies—pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, medical technologies, chemical processes and more—that not only advance science but provide high-wage jobs to West Virginia residents. This conference will bring people together to highlight what is currently under way and to discuss how we can grow the industry.”

In addition to BioWV, summit sponsors include BIO, PhRMA, Mylan, Pfizer, Fisher Scientific, Amgen, Steptoe & Johnson LLP, Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute, West Virginia Small Business Development Center and TechConnect West Virginia. BioWV also receives funding through a grant from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. 

Marshall University is a founding member of BioWV. The purpose of the association is to promote and strengthen the bioscience industry in the state by developing a cohesive community that unites biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and research organizations.

For more information or to register for the summit, visit www.biowv.org.

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Carper selected for ASBMB Graduate Student Travel Award

by: M. Allison Wolf

Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate Miranda Carper was selected for a graduate student travel award to attend the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. ASBMB is one of six participating societies represented at the 2013 Experimental Biology Conference. The conference will run from April 20-24, and will bring together researchers from all over the world. 

Miranda

The conference is a multidisciplinary scientific meeting and researchers will meet to discuss the new strides made in the fields of: anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition, and pharmacology.

The research project Miranda plans to present focuses on a target thought to be a player in the cross talk between p53 and pRB. The objective of her current study is to investigate if this target, regulator of G-protein signaling (RGS16), plays a role in pancreatic cancer cell invasion and migration.

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, Miranda’s Ph.D. advisor, is proud of his student’s achievement. “Miranda is driven and works hard. I am thrilled that she has the opportunity to share her research and attend an international conference.” Congrats, Miranda!

Marshall biomedical sciences’ researchers publish e-book on nutrition and cancer

Cover of "Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology"Researchers at Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine have collaborated on an electronic book, “Nutrition and Cancer From Epidemiology to Biology,” recently published by Bentham Science Publishers.

This ebook is one of the latest efforts of researchers at the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center.

A collection of scientific articles written by Marshall faculty members and students, the publication was edited by Dr. Richard M. Niles, professor and chairman of the university’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and director of the McKown Translational Genomic Research Institute.

According to the publisher, various estimates suggest that between 30-40% of all human cancers are related to dietary patterns. Strong epidemiological evidence from studies points to dietary constituents that either contribute or protect against the development of various forms of cancer.

This e-book reviews some traditional and relatively new areas of nutrition and cancer. Epidemiological data is combined with molecular biology research and, where available, clinical trial data. The emerging science of “Nutrigenomics” is discussed with chapters on the biological role of various nutrition components from red wine, peppers, green tea, fish oil, cruciferous vegetables, retinoids; and the intersection of nutrition and epigenetics in hematopoiesis.

The publication will be of interest to researchers in the nutrition and cancer fields, physicians in family and community medicine, internal medicine and oncology, and dieticians providing counseling to cancer patients and cancer survivors.

by Ginny Painter
Director of Communications
Marshall University Research Corporation 
ginny.painter@marshall.edu 
www.marshall.edu/murc  

 

Drs. Claudio and Niles co-edit and publish an ebook on nutrition and cancer featuring BMS professors and students

Cover of "Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology"Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D./Ph.D., and Richard M. Niles, Ph.D., of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program have co-edited and written articles in an ebook entitled “Nutrition and Cancer: From Epidemiology to Biology.” This ebook is one of the latest efforts of cancer researchers at the Marshall University Nutrition and Cancer Center, where the role of nutrition in cancer is actively and successfully investigated. The ebook contains a collection of scientific articles, written by researchers and students in the Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program.  

The purpose of this publication is to educate and inform the public regarding the latest knowledge on nutrition and cancer. It focuses on the role of various nutritional components in cancer prevention, as well their present and future use in cancer therapy. According to Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, “This e-book will be of interest to researchers in the nutrition and cancer field, physicians in family and community medicine, internal medicine and oncology, as well as dieticians providing counseling to cancer patients and cancer survivors.”

Dr. Niles says that the best description of the importance of this book can be found within the foreword, written by Dr. Gary Meadows of Washington State University:

“While we as individuals cannot modify our genetic makeup and may have little control over the multitude of carcinogens in our environment, we have the power to make healthy diet-based choices that can significantly modify cancer risk and progression. The authors have structured this book not only to review the epidemiological studies that support the roles of selected nutrients/phytochemicals in cancer control, but also they review the cellular and molecular pathways involved in their action as well as the clinical data related to their efficacy in cancer treatment. Consequently, this book has wide appeal not only to researchers in the nutrition and cancer field, but also to oncology practitioners, dieticians, as well as cancer survivors, who are interested learning how healthy dietary choices can enhance their quality of life.” 

According to Dr. Niles, editing the book involved reviewing each chapter and making suggestions for improvement of the content handwriting. He also co-wrote a chapter with Dr. Rankin on resveratrol, found in high concentration in red wine, and its ability to inhibit the development or progression of certain types of cancer. Dr. Claudio co-wrote an article with Ph.D. candidate M. Allison Wolf on isothiocyanates, phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables, which his lab found to target carcinogenesis during tumor initiation, promotion, and progression.

The following authors and articles are found within the ebook:

Richard M. Niles, Ph.D. and Gary O. Rankin, Ph.D.
Resveratrol, A Phytoalexin with a Multitude of Anti-Cancer Activities

Jamie K. Lau, Kathleen C. Brown, Aaron M. Dom and Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.
Capsaicin: Potential Applications in Cancer Therapy

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids as an Adjuvant to Cancer Therapy

Richard Egleton, Ph.D.
Green Tea Catechins and Cancer

Kinsley Kelley Kiningham, Ph.D., and Anne Silvis
Receptor Independent Effects of Retinoids

Vincent E. Sollars, Ph.D.
Epigenetics as a Mechanism for Dietary Fatty Acids to Affect Hematopoietic Stem/Progenitor Cells And Leukemia – Royal Jelly for the Blood

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D. and Nalini Santanam, Ph.D./M.P.H.
Nutrition, Oxidative Stress and Cancer

John Wilkinson IV, Ph.D.
Is there an Etiologic Role for Dietary Iron and Red Meat in Breast Cancer Development?

M. Allison Wolf and Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D./Ph.D.
Isothiocyanates Target Carcinogenesis During Tumor Initiation, Promotion and Progression

The ebook can be ordered directly online through the Bentham Science website at the following link: http://198.247.95.142/ebooks/9781608054473/index.htm

Progenesis to be featured at international biosciences conference

The following story from the Marshall University Research Corporation (MURC) features Progenesis Technologies, co-founded by Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program professors Dr. Hongwei Yu and Dr. Richard Niles. Progenesis is a research and development company focused on demonstrating the feasibility of manufacturing its genetically-engineered bacterial alginates on an industrial scale. It is one of the “high-tech spinout companies” from Marshall University mentioned in the article.

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Bio International Convention
The largest annual global event for the biotechnology industry, the BIO International Convention attracts an audience of more than 15,000 biotech business leaders, scientists, executives and investors from around the world.

Dr. John Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, says the Bioscience Association of West Virginia (BioWV)—along with the West Virginia Development Office and the Biotech Alliance of the Huntington Area Development Council (HADCO)—is hosting a West Virginia Pavilion at the convention.

Maher, who is also vice-chairman of BioWV, said the Marshall-related companies to be featured at the pavilion include Vandalia Research, Progenesis Technologies and Cordgenics. All three businesses were founded based on technologies developed at Marshall and are headquartered in the state.

“The West Virginia Pavilion will highlight key participants in our state’s life sciences community,” he said. “There is a great deal of very exciting biotechnology work happening here at Marshall and we are pleased to have this opportunity to share it with conference attendees from the rest of the country and around the world.”

Bryan Brown, executive director of BioWV, added, “Not only will the West Virginia Pavilion highlight the outstanding bioscience companies in West Virginia and the excellent biomedical research at our major universities, we will also showcase all the state has to offer in terms of quality of life and increased business competitiveness to our colleagues from the rest of the country and around the world. We hope that participation in this event will help to attract new entrepreneurs, inventors, researchers, investors and businesses to West Virginia.”

BIO International Convention attendees include a mix of biotechnology, pharmaceutical, plant and life science, medical diagnostic, instrumentation and technology companies of all sizes, including the top 10 pharmaceutical companies in the world. Also represented are economic development organizations and businesses that support the industry, including law firms, service providers, investors, and suppliers of laboratory equipment and products. Representatives from more than 200 universities and academic communities also attend for networking, educational sessions and collaboration opportunities. There is a strong international attendance, with participants from approximately 60 countries.

Marshall University is a founding member of the Bioscience Association of West Virginia. The purpose of the association is to promote and strengthen the bioscience industry in the state by developing a cohesive community that unites biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device and research organizations. To advance this mission, BioWV provides educational, networking and commercial opportunities for its members, and serves as an educational and information resource to advance public understanding about the bioscience industry. For more information, visit www.biowv.org.

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. Candidate

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateThis month’s student spotlight focuses on M. Allison Wolf, a Ph.D. candidate in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. Allison currently serves as the President of the Graduate Student Organization and has actively been involved in disseminating her research over the past few years. Allison has been active in the GSO throughout her time as a student in the program.

Allison studies the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates—a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables—on head and neck cancer. Her work shows that the compound both inhibits head and neck metastasis and greatly increases sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers. Allison works in the lab of Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, an associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Allison presented this year at Experimental Biology in San Diego.

Congratulations, Allison, for being our Spotlight Student!

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio explores gene therapy ‘cocktail’ for feline fibrosarcoma

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A team of researchers led by a Marshall University faculty member has found that a gene therapy “cocktail” may hold the key to treating feline fibrosarcoma—an aggressive type of cancer that affects thousands of cats in the U.S. each year. Current therapies for the disease are often ineffective for long-term tumor eradication.

The research was conducted by Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, associate professor in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the Departments of Biochemistry and Microbiology and Surgery at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, and colleagues from the McKown Translational Research Institute at the school of medicine, the university’s Department of Biology, the Martin Veterinary Clinic in Ashland, Ky., and the University of L’Aquila in Italy.

According to Claudio, there are two types of feline fibrosarcomas. The most common type has been linked to the use of vaccines administered to prevent rabies and feline leukemia, and occurs at the site of the injection. The second type appears to occur spontaneously, without any known external cause.

The study at Marshall focused on the more rare, non-vaccination site fibrosarcomas, which have been found to be associated with genetic alterations. It seemed a natural fit for Claudio, whose research focuses on understanding the molecular mechanisms governing the growth of cancers to help develop new strategies for treatment.

“Gene therapy, which we study in my lab, uses genetic and cell-based technologies to treat disease,” he said. “Essentially, we were able to develop a cocktail of adenoviruses carrying functional therapeutic proteins that can be used to eliminate this deadly disease.”

Claudio pointed out that more studies need to be done to determine if his lab’s findings could also be applicable to cases of vaccine-induced fibrosarcomas.

The research was published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE. The full article, “Targeting a newly established spontaneous feline fibrosarcoma cell line by gene transfer,” is available online at http://dx.plos.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037743.

Claudio is in Italy this week to present three invited lectures about his research. He will be speaking at the National Cancer Institute and the CEINGE Institute in Naples, and at the meeting “Fragment of history:  Seminar on the oral medicine of the past and of the future” in Sorrento.

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

CDDC announces 2nd Regional Research Symposium award winners

Madhukar Kolli, BMS Ph.D. CandidateOn March 23, 2012, the Marshall University Cell Differentiation and Development Center (CDDC) held its second annual regional research symposium. The CDDC symposium focused on bioinformatics and the ways in which it is used to study the molecular interactions involved in the regulation of gene expression.

The event involves poster presentations, scientific talks, and awards. The following are the recipients of this year’s awards:

  • Undergraduate winner: Clayton Crabtree (from Dr. Dasgupta’s lab)
  • Graduate winners: M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis (both from Dr. Claudio’s lab)
  • Graduate runners-up: Madhukar Kolli (from Dr. Blough’s lab) and Gargi Bajpayee (a medical student who researched in Dr. Santanam’s lab)

The CDDC was formed in 2007 and seeks to enhance the research environment on the Marshall campus and throughout West Virginia. Although its research interests are diverse, the center focuses on the epigenetic mechanisms linked to cell differentiation and development.

Award winners pictured:

Right: Madhukar Kolli
Directly below (from left to right): M. Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis
Bottom photo: Gargi Bajpayee

Allison Wolf and Sarah Mathis, Ph.D. candidates

Dr. Claudio’s most recent study receives wide press coverage

Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D.Dr. Claudio’s most recent study, “Cadmium Induces p53-Dependent Apoptosis in Human Prostate Epithelial Cells,” has received wide press coverage since its publication. The following sources have highlighted his work:

http://www.wvpubcast.org/newsarticle.aspx?id=24574

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 first link is an excellent interview by WV Pubcast with Dr. Claudio that includes a downloadable mp3.

Congratulations, Dr. Claudio! Refer back to this article over time, as this list is sure to grow.

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.”

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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.

BMS researchers present at international scientific meetings

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University biomedical sciences researchers are presenting their work in the fields of toxicology and cancer biology at international scientific meetings this month and in April.

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Dr. Monica Valentovic, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, presented at last week’s Society of Toxicology Annual Meeting in San Francisco. Her talk focused on her lab’s work to evaluate ways to reduce the side effects of cancer chemotherapeutic drugs.

Mike Brown, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate working in Valentovic’s lab, also presented at the conference. He discussed his research examining ways to reduce liver damage caused by acetaminophen use.

In addition, Valentovic served as chairman of the meeting’s Renal Toxicology Session.

The conference is the largest toxicology meeting and exhibition in the world, with attendance of more than 7,500 scientists from academia, government and industry from around the globe.

Another biomedical sciences doctoral candidate, Johannes Fahrmann, will be presenting his research to explore the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in early stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia at next month’s Experimental Biology conference in San Diego.

W. Elaine Hardman, Ph.D.

Fahrmann works in the lab of Dr. W. Elaine Hardman, a professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology. Valentovic will also be presenting at Experimental Biology. In that talk, she will discuss her work to examine the mechanisms for reducing cancer chemotherapy adverse effects to the kidney. That research was funded by the National Institutes of Health.

Also presenting at Experimental Biology 2012 will be M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate in the lab of Pier Paolo Claudio, M.D., Ph.D. She is disseminating her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates, a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables, on head and neck cancer. Her work shows that isothiocyanates both inhibit head and neck metastasis and greatly increase the sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers.

Nearly 14,000 scientists and exhibitors representing academic institutions, government agencies, non-profit organizations and private corporations attend the annual Experimental Biology meeting to share information about recent developments in anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, pathology, nutrition and pharmacology.

For more information, contact Valentovic at 304-696-7332 or valentov@marshall.edu, or Hardman at 304-696-7339 or hardmanw@marshall.edu.

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MU, WVU, business officials gather for Bioscience Summit

The following article was taken from the website of the Huntington Herald-Dispatch. It highlights the work of many of the professors researching in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program at Marshall University.


Dr. Nalini SantanamCHARLESTON - There is no shortage of exciting research going on in the laboratories at Marshall University. Scientists and technicians from this region and from around the world have converged at Marshall to do research on topics such as heart disease, cancer and many others. Their research might one day save a life, or at least make someone’s life better.Their work might not be easy for the layperson to understand, but university and business officials are working diligently to help ensure the work West Virginia’s scientists are doing also results in three simple words: dollars and cents.

The economic potential for bioscience research in West Virginia is still hard to grasp, but there is a lot happening already and much optimism for the future.

“We are looking at a pipeline of commercial opportunities coming out of research being done in West Virginia,” said John Maher, vice president for research at Marshall University.

Officials from Marshall, West Virginia University and several business related to the bioscience industry gathered last week for the Second Annual West Virginia Bioscience Summit, held Wednesday at the Marriott Hotel in Charleston.

“This conference is a unique opportunity for people interested in the biosciences to get together and get an update on the status of the industry over the last year,” said Derek Gregg, CEO of Vandalia Research here in Huntington and chairman of BioWV.

The summit featured presentations from West Virginia University, Marshall, Mountwest Community & Technical College, Vandalia Research, Protea, TRAX Biodiscovery, and others to talk about what their organizations have accomplished over the past year.

“This also allows new collaborations and partnerships to be developed,” Gregg said. “Additionally, we had substantial representation from out-of-state organizations looking for new partners and opportunities.”

The biosciences in West Virginia are growing rapidly and the state’s credibility is increasing in the United States and around the world, Gregg said.

“We are spinning out new enterprises, and some of those enterprises are raising capital and hiring people,” he said. “Protea was recently recognized world-wide as having one of the top 10 innovations of 2011. They now employee over 50 people.”

Four companies are now being housed and supported at Vandalia Research’s facility in Huntington, including Progenesis, Maven Analytical and Parabon Nanolabs. These companies sell to pharmaceutical, chemical and diagnostic companies around the world, Gregg said.

Marshall has a lot of exciting research under way right now, said Dr. Richard Niles, senior associate dean for Research and Graduate Education at Marshall’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.

Here are some examples:

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta is looking at lung cancer and at how capsaicin, the hot stuff in chili peppers, which inhibits the growth of cancer cells in animals.

Dr. Nalini Santanam is looking at the effects of age and gender on the fat around the heart, and at oxidative stress in endometriosis.

Dr. Eric Blough of the Center for Diagnostic Nanosystems has 16 different projects going on.

Dr. Jingwei Xie is working with glass tubes for bone tissue engineering.

Dr. Hongwei Yu is working on genetic regulation of biofilm formation by pseudomonas aeruginosa, a bacterium that can cause disease in animals.

Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio is doing cancer research that involves gene therapy using microbubbles for delivery of a virus.

Niles is co-founder with Yu on the biotech business Progenesis, which provides natural, biodegradable polymers for industrial and medical applications through genetic engineering of bacteria. He talked about his experience of starting a biotech business at Wednesday’s Summit.

The universities are working to help others make discoveries and translate them into businesses as well. And the state is helping.

Both Marshall and WVU have received state funding for research through the West Virginia Research Trust Fund, providing $35 million to WVU and $15 million to Marshall for research, provided they come up with a match. WVU has reached its goal and Marshall has $9.4 million secured in gifts and pledges and the potential to reach, or go beyond, its goal very shortly, Maher said.

The universities also have attracted a lot of federal grant funding, all of which rolls over in the local economies as it provides high-paying jobs that attract scientists to the community.

Also in Huntington, Mountwest Community and Technical College is hard at work training students to become biological technicians, environmental science and environmental protection technicians, biomedical laboratory technicians and health technicians, said Jean Chappel, dean of Allied Health at MCTC.

It has a state-of-the-art lab where they can learn molecular diagnostics, tissue culturing, electrophoresis and use a digital fluorescent microscope.

MCTC also works on community outreach, not only targeting science teachers but high school and middle school students. It has a camp where “they’re isolating DNA just like they do on CSI,” Chappel said.

Over the course of one week, students’ aspirations might change from working a minimum wage job to becoming a PhD scientist, she said.

The college wants to help the state have “a well-rounded, educated workforce that wants to stay right here,” Chappel said.

It’s great to see several different parties working toward the same goal, said Laura Gibson, deputy director of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center and a professor at WVU.

“The greatest measure of our success is really how we partner,” she said.

Capital formation, attraction and retention of talent, and community development are focus areas for Bio West Virginia in the coming years, Gregg said.

“Incentivizing investment in this area is critical,” he said, “Nearly all of our neighboring states have a program or programs for stimulating investment in high-technology, high-growth, high-RISK businesses to stimulate economic development. West Virginia has had programs in the past that were successful in helping companies raise capital, such as the High Growth Business Investment Tax Credit.

“BioWV is strongly encouraging the renewal of this and other programs that can help companies transition from the campus to the market.”

BMS Graduate Student Organization elects 2011-2012 officers

The GSO, or Graduate Student Organization, of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program has elected new officers for the 2011-2012 academic year. The new officers are Miranda Carper, Allison Wolf, and Johannes Fahrmann.

Miranda Carper, Ph.D. candidateMiranda Carper will serve as the newly-elected President of the GSO. Miranda is a Ph.D. candidate as of November 2010 and is currently researching for the third year in Dr. Claudio’s lab. She is studying in the Cancer Biology Research Cluster within the Biochemistry/Microbiology Department. Miranda says that part of what attracted her to the Biomedical Sciences Program at Marshall University was the warm and welcoming nature of its students. After her second year in the program, she served as Secretary/Treasurer in order to become more involved with the GSO, as she feels it provides a great opportunity for students to collaborate in support of one another. Of her time in this position, she says that it “was a wonderful experience and allowed me to get my feet wet in the various things the GSO is involved in.” She decided to run for president this year with the goal of growing as an invidividual and as a leader. During her time as President, she hopes to live up to the example set by Aileen Marcelo and other predecessors by encouraging students to become more involved in improving the GSO and the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program. In keeping with the GSO’s tradition of service, she also wants to hold a fundraiser to support those in need in Japan due to the earthquake and tsunami.


Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateAllison Wolf, the GSO’s new Vice President, is a second year student and a Ph.D. student. She also researches in the Cancer Biology Cluster in Dr. Claudio’s lab. She applauds the GSO for helping to achieve many positive changes to the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program within the past few years. She wanted to serve in this position, because its duties include serving as a liaison between the faculty and students. She feels that this bridge provides one of the best opportunities available for students to help the program be the best it can be. Of her election to the post, Allison says, “I am really proud to be a member of this organization. Apart from keeping the interests of the students addressed, we really do have a strong volunteer aspect to our organization.” During her year of service, she hopes to help improve the website as a resource for students searching for funding opportunities, to aid in guiding new and incoming students, and to encourage students to give voice to their concerns and ideas for the program.

Johannes Fahrmann, Ph.D. candidateRounding out the list of new officers is Johannes Fahrmann, the new Secretary/Treasurer for the GSO. Johannes is a Ph.D. student in Biochemistry and researches in the Cancer Biology Cluster with an emphasis on Nutrition and Cancer. He researches in Dr. W. Elaine Hardman’s lab. Johannes sought the position to become more involved with the organization and to help give back to the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and its future students. He feels that the GSO is doing an excellent job in its service to the program and hopes to fulfill the functions of the position to his utmost ability. Of his goals for his new position, he says, “I would like to target fundraising by improving or introducing new novel fundraising events so that the organization may be able to expand its capabilities and related events.”

Congratulations to the new officers, and a big thank you to last year’s officers for their service to the GSO!

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