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!