Study focuses on potential lung cancer therapies

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Scientists from Marshall University, Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.along with colleagues at Alderson-Broaddus College in Philippi, have completed a study that may eventually help lead to the development of new treatments for lung cancer.

Their results were published in the Feb. 15 issue of Cancer Research, the most frequently cited cancer journal in the world.

At Marshall, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, associate professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, worked on the study with her research team of Jamie Lau, Kathleen Brown and Brent Thornhill, and undergraduate students Cody Stover and Christopher McNees.

Researchers in Dasgupta’s lab explore how the various components of tobacco, especially nicotine, advance the progression of lung cancer.                                       

Dasgupta said this study focused on a specific type of lung cancer called bronchioalveolar carcinomas, or BACs, which are known to be associated with smoking. She and the other scientists working on the project looked at the cellular pathways through which nicotine—the addictive component in cigarettes—promotes the growth and survival of BACs. 

According to Dasgupta, nicotine itself is not a carcinogen, but studies have shown it can induce the growth and metastasis of lung cancers. It can also protect lung cancer cells against the beneficial effects of chemotherapy.

She said, “In this study, we found that nicotine raised the levels of specific neurotransmitters, or ‘chemical messengers,’ in human BACs. When we used a drug, vesamicol, to interrupt the neurotransmitters’ pathways, the nicotine-induced growth of these carcinomas was significantly suppressed. Our findings are important because they indicate that agents like vesamicol may be useful in the treatment of human lung cancers.” 

More information about the research is available online at http://cancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/73/4/1328.abstract?sid=c29c4530-21a3-4652-a977-23b25019258a.

The study was funded in part by a Young Clinical Scientist Award from the Flight Attendant Medical Research Institute.

For more information, contact Dasgupta at dasgupta@marshall.edu or 304-696-3612.

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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  

 

BMS associate professor plays significant role in heated tobacco debate

by Saeed Keshavarzian, BMS Medical Sciences student

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.Marshall’s Student Government Association (SGA) recently held a meeting to vote on a campus-wide tobacco ban. Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp asked Student Body President Ray Harrell Jr. to form a joint committee to draft a proposal for Marshall University to go tobacco free. The committee drafted the proposal to ban all tobacco products campus-wide.

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, Associate Professor of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology in the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine was asked by Amy Saunders, Director of Student Health Education Programs, to attend the meeting in order to explain the effects of nicotine on the human body, and to answer any questions that the gallery had regarding the ill effects of nicotine. 

Early into the meeting Dr. Dasgupta explained that nicotine “can promote tobacco related diseases,” one of which is lung cancer. She also stated that her lab is performing research on the “ill effects of second hand smoke, even third hand smoke, which is the stuff that sticks to your car, [and] to your clothes when you smoke.” As the gallery was allowed to ask questions and voice concerns, Dr. Dasgupta answered health-related questions that were asked. After two hours of heated debate and testimonials from both the SGA senators and the gallery, the SGA voted 11-7 in favor of the campus-wide tobacco ban.

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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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

Marshall scientist awarded NIH grant for lung cancer research

The following story from the Marshall University Research Corporation highlights two researchers within the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program: Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D., and Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.


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.


Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304.746.1964

Faculty Spotlight: Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.This month’s faculty spotlight is on Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D. Dr. Dasgupta has had a great year at the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, including being promoted to Associate Professor. She instructs within the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

She has attended many conferences over the past year, including co-chairing a minisymposium at Experimental Biology 2012.

Dr. Dasgupta’s research examines how the components of tobacco can promote the progression of lung cancer. She researches within the Cancer Biology research cluster.

In 2011, she was recognized with the university’s “John and Frances Rucker Graduate Advisor Award.”

Congratulations, Dr. Dasgupta!

Biomedical Sciences students recognized at international science meeting

M. Allison Wolf, Ph.D. candidateHUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two Marshall University students received special recognition for their research at this year’s international Experimental Biology conference held April 21-25 in San Diego.
 
M. Allison Wolf, a biomedical sciences doctoral candidate from Parkersburg, received first place in her group in a poster competition held as part of the conference’s Diet and Cancer mini-symposium. The mini-symposium was funded by the American Society of Nutrition.
 
Wolf’s presentation focused on her research on the anticancer effects of isothiocyanates—a natural compound extracted from cruciferous vegetables—on head and neck cancer. Her work shows the compound both inhibits head and neck metastasis and greatly increases sensitivity to chemotherapy in therapy-resistant head and neck cancers. Wolf 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.
 
Wolfe said she gained a great deal from the experience of attending the program and presenting her work.
 
“I really enjoyed this conference, particularly the Nutrition and Cancer Research Interest group, because it allowed me to be surrounded by people in my field,” she said. “Discussing my research with others also interested in or working on isothiocyanates gave me some promising future directions to pursue.”
 
Aaron Dom, a first-year MUSOM student and graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate ProgramIn addition, Aaron M. Dom, a first-year medical school student from Wellersburg, Pa., was invited to do a special oral “blitz” presentation about his research on how a synthetic drug called MG624 can prevent new blood vessel growth in small cell lung cancer and could potentially serve as a therapy for the disease. Dom was invited to present by the Blood Vessel Club of the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). ASIP held its annual meeting in conjunction with the Experimental Biology conference. The club sponsors the short oral presentations to present exciting new vascular biology research and to give audience members an opportunity to provide feedback and suggestions about the research.
 
Dom, who is the president of the medical school’s Class of 2015, did the research in the lab of Dr. Piyali Dasgupta, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology and Toxicology.
 
He said of the experience, “Our lab is honored that I was selected to present at this special session, and we were excited to share some of the work that we are doing here at the medical school. Experiences like these—in both helping with this research and in presenting at and attending a conference of this size—have helped me gain a greater appreciation for research in medicine.”
 
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.

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

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

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.”

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta to chair a special session at Experimental Biology 2012

Piyali Dasgupta, Ph.D.Dr. Piyali Dasgupta has been invited to chair a special session at the Experimental Biology 2012 conference in San Diego. The minisymposium that she will be leading is entitled “Modeling Cancer: Biological and Therapeutic Implications.”

The invitation to chair the special session came from the Director of the Division of Experimental Pathology for the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). Dr. Dasgupta is a member of the ASIP and has regularly presented at Experimental Biology over the past few years, including several oral seminar presentations. Experimental Biology is an annual meeting that draws almost 14,000 scientists and exhibitors. Scientists attending represent universities, academic institutions, government agencies, private corporations, and non-profit organizations. Participating societies include the ASIP, the American Association of Anatomists (AAA), the American Physiological Society (APS), the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB), and others.Dr. Dasgupta is Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacol­ogy, Physiology, and Toxicology. She was named “Outstanding Graduate Faculty Advisor of 2011” at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Her research examines the effects of nicotine (the active component of cigarettes) in regulating cellular responses, such as programmed cell death and cell growth, in the context of lung cancer.

Being asked to chair a session at such a prestigious conference is quite an honor. Congratulations, Dr. Dasgupta!

Clayton Crabtree receives grant from Sigma Xi to study diabetic retinopathy

Clayton CrabtreeA Marshall University biology student has been awarded a grant to conduct research on diabetic retinopathy, a common eye disease during which excessive growth of blood vessels causes damage to the retina.

Clay M. Crabtree, a senior from Kenova, will receive the $1,800 Grants-in-Aid of Research award from the national science society Sigma Xi. The award will help fund his project to test potential treatments for the disease, which is the leading cause of blindness among working-age Americans.

According to Crabtree, cigarette smoking is a risk factor for diabetic retinopathy because nicotine promotes the growth of blood vessels.

“Agents that can block the actions of nicotine should be useful for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy,” he continued. “My research involves testing three of these compounds for their ability to block the growth of new vessels in the retina.”

Crabtree’s mentor, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta of Marshall’s Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, said the grant will give Crabtree the opportunity to further his education through hands-on experience conducting research that could have a real impact on the health of people across the region.

“The findings from Clay’s project will be highly relevant to West Virginia because our state has a large number of diabetic patients who are active smokers,” she added. “It is a very commendable achievement to receive one of these grants and I look forward to seeing his project progress.”

Sigma Xi promotes the scientific enterprise and honors scientific achievement. The organization’s Grants-in-Aid of Research program, with funds designated from the National Academy of Sciences, provides undergraduate and graduate students with up to $2,500 for vision-related research.

Students use the funding to pay for travel expenses to and from a research site, or for purchase of laboratory equipment necessary to complete their research project.

According to Sigma Xi, the Grants-in-Aid of Research program is highly competitive and only approximately 20 percent of applicants receive funding.

For more information, contact Dasgupta at (304) 696-3612.

Kathleen Brown to present in special session at Experimental Biology 2012

 

Kathleen "Katie" Brown, Ph.D. studentKathleen “Katie” Brown has been selected to present a poster at the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP) Annual Meeting at the Experimental Biology 2012 in San Diego. She will present her research at a special session entitled Highlights: Graduate Student Research in Pathology. The session will be held Saturday, April 21st. The ASIP seeks to promote basic and translational research into experimental pathology, and this special session features pathology-focused graduate student research. Sessions such as this allow faculty and students to meet and experience a variety of research interests.

Katie researches in the laboratory of Marshall’s School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences professor and researcher, Dr. Piyali Dasgupta. Her poster is entitled “The alpha7-nicotinic receptor antagonist induces robust apoptosis in human SCLC.” The alpha-7 nicotinic receptor (a7 nAChR) is a subtype of this group of receptors. These receptors can block apoptosis, or programmed cell death. Activation of these nicotinic receptors, such as in exposure to cigarette smoke, in human small cell lung cancer (SCLC) can allow cancerous cells to survive and reproduce. Antagonizing these receptors may allow the body to more adequately eliminate such cancerous cells. These receptors also have been found to be the main type of nicotinic receptor in charge of angiogenesis, or growth of new blood cells. Cancer cannot thrive or spread without an adequate blood supply, making angiogenesis an important issue for cancer treatment.

Congratulations to Katie and Dr. Dagupta’s lab for receiving this honor!

Dr. Piyali Dasgupta receives John & Frances Rucker Graduate Advisor Award

The Biomedical Sciences Program is proud to announce that Dr. Piyali Dasgupta has been awarded Marshall University’s John and Frances Rucker Graduate Advisor Award. Each year, this distinction recognizes the efforts of outstanding graduate advisors and is awarded to one graduate faculty member from each campus (Huntington and South Charleston) who has not received the award in the past five years. Of winning the award, Dr. Dasgupta says, “I am very honored. I was nominated by the students in my laboratory for being an ‘Outstanding Graduate Advisor,’ which to me is the highest of honors.” The South Charleston winner this year was Dr. Mike Cunningham.

Dr. Dasgupta is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology & Toxicology. She was first informed of the honor earlier this month by Dr. Tracy Christofero, Chair of the Graduate Council. The Graduate Council Credentialing Committee selects recipients based upon the quality of the content of letters of recommendation received in response to a request for recommendations. All graduate students, graduate alumni, and faculty may submit recommendations, and the award is open to faculty members of all graduate programs. According to Dr. Christofero, what seems to stand out to the committee are student stories expressing how professors have personally helped them. Of Dr. Dasgupta, Dr. Christofero says, “She really came out ahead of the pack. We are honored to have a fine faculty, and she has done a great job according to her students.”

At least three students who have worked with Dr. Dasgupta — Brandon Shiflett, Aaron Dom, and Katie Brown — decided to nominate her after reading the online call for submissions, and each student reports sending in a glowing letter of recommendation. As Brandon Shiflett stated without reserve in his letter of support, “Piyali’s dedication to academia and her students is evident in and out of the classroom, and she is without a doubt one of Marshall University’s greatest research assets.” In his letter, Aaron Dom says, “I could not have asked for a better mentor and boss, and I think choosing to work in her lab was one of the best decisions I have ever made.” With such enthusiastic support, it is easy to see why Dr. Dasgupta was chosen. The list of reasons students gave for nominating her is lengthy and includes her accessibility and enthusiasm as a professor, her willingness to support student research, the quality of her instruction in the lab and classroom, and the successes that she has helped her students to garner.

Dr. Dasgupta would like to express her thankfulness to the students who nominated her, of whom she says, “I am lucky to have an outstanding team of researchers working with me.” To learn more about Dr. Piyali Dasgupta and her research, please visit her faculty directory page.

BMS Graduate Student Brandon Shiflett invited to special session by ASIP

Brandon ShiflettBiomedical Sciences Graduate Student Brandon Shiflett has been selected for a special honor by the American Society for Investigative Pathology (ASIP). Brandon is only one of eighteen students who have been chosen to present their research projects at a special session of the ASIP Annual Meeting at Experimental Biology 2011 in Washington, DC. The session is entitled “Highlights: Graduate Student Research in Pathology.” According to the ASIP, it is considered an honor to be invited to this special session. More about the ASIP, its annual meeting, and this special session can be found on the ASIP website.

Brandon’s abstract is entitled “MG624, an α-7nicotinic receptor antagonist suppresses the growth of human SCLC.” SCLC, or Small Cell Lung Cancer, is a rapidly-progressing disease that metastasizes early and has very low survival rates. Interestingly, nearly 90% of all reported SCLC cases have been correlated to smoking, which suggests that nicotine and other tobacco components may contribute to the disease’s pathophysiology. The data Brandon will present shows that long-term nicotine exposure stimulates the growth of human SCLCs. Nicotine stimulates nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), causing these cells to proliferate. By isolating and disabling a specific subunit of a nicotinic acetylcholine receptor, α7-nAChR, Brandon and others on his project were able to suppress nicotine’s stimulatory effects. This indicates that the α7-nAChR subtype is important in the proliferation of human SCLCs, and that antagonizing it could be a possible treatment for the condition. One such antagonist, called MG624, was shown in Brandon’s study to not only induce apoptosis, or cell death, in human SCLC cells, but also suppress the nicotine-induced growth of these cells. The data from his study suggests that MG624 may have potential for treating human SCLCs.

Brandon Shiflett works in the laboratory of Dr. Piyali Dasgupta at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. He is currently completing his second year as a Medical Sciences student in the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences Program at Marshall. He will join the medical school in the fall as a first-year student.

Congratulations to Brandon Shiflett, Dr. Dasgupta, and all others who participated in this project!

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