Biomedical sciences researcher to present results of clinical trials on personalized chemotherapy

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, a researcher at the Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, is traveling to Paphos, Cyprus, next month to present his work to personalize chemotherapy for cancer treatment.

Claudio was invited to give the talk at the 5th International Conference on Recent Advances in Health and Medical Sciences, which will be held July 6-12.

He will be discussing the results of clinical trials conducted at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center. The studies tested ChemoID, a cell culture method he developed with colleague Dr. Jagan Valluri to measure the sensitivity of patients’ tumors to chemotherapy treatment for lung, brain/spine and breast cancer.

He says more evaluation of the technology is needed, but preliminary tests on a small number of patients found ChemoID 100 percent accurate in predicting which drug is more effective in treating patients affected by brain cancer if the tumor-initiating cancer stem cells were evaluated.

Claudio“Oncologists every day face many challenges in determining the best course of therapy for an individual cancer patient,” says Claudio. “The basic problem is that patients with similar diagnoses don’t always respond to the same chemotherapy. This technology we have developed could help physicians select the appropriate chemotherapy for an individual patient—giving them an edge in the fight against cancer.”

He says the good news for cancer patients is that ChemoID may make possible personalized treatment by predicting the most effective drug combination to successfully target that specific patient’s cancer—increasing the chance the drugs will work and perhaps reducing side effects by helping the patient avoid unnecessary drugs.

In addition to presenting his own research at the conference, Claudio will be moderating a session, “Advances in Oncology and Anticancer Research. Cancer Pathology.”

Summaries of the research presented at the meeting will be published in the journal Frontiers in Bioscience.

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Contact:  Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964 (o) www.marshall.edu/murc

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

Biomedical Sciences professor invited to present at Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., a professor in Marshall’s Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Cancer Biology Research Cluster, was invited to speak at the recent Asilomar Chromatin and Chromosomes Conference, which was held on December 16th in Pacific Grove, CA. He presented entirely new research, for which he designed most of the experimental procedure, and was performed by Dr. Ata Abbas, a postdoctoral fellow in his laboratory.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D.

Ata Abbas, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow in Dr. Philippe Georgel’s laboratory.

The study reports the positive effect of omega-3 fatty acid treatment on various breast cancer cell lines. The omega-3 treatment modified the profile of expression of Human Leukocyte Antigen G (HLA-G), a molecule important in the immune evasion properties displayed by numerous types of cancerous cells. The treated cells display an HLA-G expression profile that resembles that of normal epithelial breast cells as well as a reduced ability to migrate (a property that can be indicative of lower metastatic abilities).

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D., Professor within the College of Science and Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

 

 

When asked what this research means to “non-scientists,” Georgel good-naturedly responded, “Our research is one additional piece of evidence to support the role of diet in preventing and/or helping find a cure for breast cancer (as well as other cancer types). An increase in omega-3 fatty acid (FA) in our regular diet can be easily achieved by substituting corn oil (rich in omega-6 FA and poor in omega-3 FA) with canola oil (rich in omega-3 FA and low in  omega-6 FA), and also by eating more fish (omega-3-FA-rich).”

This project will be expanded to include the analysis of HLA-G expression profile in tissues from breast cancer patients’ biopsies and a small scale clinical trial involving daily consumption of omega-3 fatty acids (in collaboration with Dr. Rajesh Sehgal, Medical Oncologist at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center). The results will be used as preliminary material for a submission to the National Institutes of Health and/or the Department of Defense. 

Marshall WV-INBRE summer research program intern receives ABRCMS travel award

Mardochee Isme, MU WV-INBRE InternMardochee Isme, a senior student at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, West Virginia, and a 2012 participant in West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence’s (WV-INBRE) Summer Research Program at Marshall University, is the winner of a Student Travel Award from the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students (ABRCMS). Isme will attend the 2012 ABRCMS conference located in San Jose, CA, November 7 – 10, 2012 to present her research. The travel award is worth $1,500 and can go toward any travel-related expenses to the conference and/or conference registration fees.

Isme, among other students, performed research at Marshall University with Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at Marshall University’s School of Medicine and Coordinator of the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Research Cluster. The abstract for her research is titled, “Epigenetics of endometriosis-associated pain.” Dr. Santanam’s laboratory is interested in the etiology of endometriosis and Mardochee’s research looked at the epigenetics of the disease, which as Dr. Santanam stated, “is a new area of research.”  

Kristeena Ray, a Marshall University Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. candidate in Dr. Santanam’s laboratory, helped Mardochee with her research and will continue this work as the focus of her own Ph.D. research. Dr. Santanam’s laboratory also has submitted a request for an NIH grant for further research in this field. Dr. Santanam would like to thank Dr. Brenda Dawley from the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine for providing samples for this research project.

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. Monica Valentovic Endows a Scholarship

The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship

Monica Valentovic, Ph.D.Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology, has endowed a scholarship to be awarded to a third or fourth year medical student in the School of Medicine who has financial need and is involved in research. The Edward and Anne Valentovic Memorial Scholarship is named for her parents. 

“My parents were hard working individuals,” said Valentovic. “My dad was a foundry engineer and my mom worked in clothing manufacturing. They lived most of their lives in Cleveland, Ohio. I wanted them to be remembered in a way that would have an impact for a long time. I though this scholarship would help future physicians who will have patients similar to my parents, thus perpetuating my parents’ inclination to help others.”

Valentovic considers research to be an important aspect of training medical students. For this reason, first preference for the scholarship will be a student who has done or is currently involved in research with a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology, either while a medical student or prior to entering medical school.

Second preference is for a student who has done research while in medical school with a full-time School of Medicine faculty member who is associated with a department other than Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology.

“Very few students take the time to do research, either prior to starting medical school or while they are in medical school,” said Valentovic. “In order to have a valuable research experience, students must invest time and dedication to a project. I believe this is the first scholarship at the medical school that targets students in this area.

“In my opinion, students doing research are often not recognized,” added Valentovic. “This scholarship is a small way to recognize and reward students who have taken this extra effort. Research is a critical component for the development of new drugs, medical devices and treatments. A research experience emphasizes the approach to answer a question such as the mechanism for a drug interaction, including how to properly design a study as well as the endpoints and analysis. I believe a research experience broadens a student’s approach to answering clinical problems. This scholarship is a way to give them financial assistance and remember my parents.”

Valentovic is well aware of the significant financial investment students have while they are in medical school. “Reducing student debt is important,” she said. “Medicine is a practice that helps other individuals in need. My parents were active in helping others and this scholarship is a long term commitment to help our medical students and, eventually, they will help others.”

This article may be found on page 49 in the 2012 Summer/Fall issue of the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Benefactor: http://www.marshall.edu/ucomm/files/2012/10/SOMBenefactor_2012.pdf.

Biomedical sciences doctoral students take top awards at regional conference


Contact: 
Ginny Painter, Communications Director, Marshall University Research Corporation, 304-746-1964, or  Leah C. Payne, Director of Public Affairs, Schools of Medicine & Pharmacy, 304-691-1713

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Two biomedical sciences doctoral students from Marshall University’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine captured first place in both categories of a research competition held earlier this month in conjunction with the first Appalachian Regional Cell Conference.

They were among more than 40 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows from Marshall, West Virginia University, University of Kentucky and Ohio University competing at the conference, which was held Oct. 12 at the Robert C. Byrd Health Sciences Center at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine biomedical sciences Ph.D. students Johannes Fahrmann, standing, and Rounak Nande, seated, captured first place in their respective categories at a research competition held earlier this month in conjunction with the first Appalachian Regional Cell Conference. Fahrmann won the oral presentation category and Nande took first place in the poster category.

Marshall biomedical sciences Ph.D. candidate Johannes Fahrmann received first place in the oral presentation category of the competition for a presentation about his research to explore the effects of omega-3 fatty acids in late stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

Rounak Nande, who is also a doctoral student in the university’s biomedical sciences program, was awarded first place in the poster category for a poster describing his project to help develop a delivery system for targeted gene therapy to improve the treatment of prostate cancer. 

Fahrmann said the conference was a valuable experience and he hopes to continue his involvement with the event in the future. 

“The conference was aimed at networking, collaborations and showcasing the research being conducted by students at the attending universities,” he added. “I was given the honor and privilege to represent Marshall University through an oral presentation describing my cancer research, and was very pleased to receive the overall award. Neither the award nor the conference itself could have come to fruition without the dedicated work of the organizing committee, which included our own graduate student Allison Wolf.”

He also expressed appreciation to his faculty mentor, Dr. Elaine Hardman, Marshall professor of biochemistry and microbiology. 

Hardman praised Fahrmann’s work, saying, “Johannes is an outstanding senior graduate student who will do well in research. The presentation he made was completely his own work—he developed the idea, wrote a grant, obtained the funding to do the work and has excellent results. His work has clear clinical relevance and, we hope, will apply to enhancing cancer therapy in the near future. He is a leader in the department and an outstanding role model for the younger graduate students. I am delighted with his success and to have him for a student.”

Nande said of the experience, “I, too, felt privileged to take part in the first-ever ARCC conference put together by the four universities. I would like to thank my mentor at Marshall, Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio, and my collaborators from the Tri-State Regional Cancer Center in Ashland, Ky., Dr. Michael Gossman and Dr. Jeffrey Lopez, for having confidence in me to present our research.”

Claudio, who is an associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology and director of the McKown Translational Genomics Research Institute, said he was pleased with Nande’s success at the conference and emphasized the potential importance of the student’s research.

“A major challenge for effective gene therapy is the ability to specifically deliver nucleic acids and potentially toxic gene products directly into diseased tissue. This system Ron helped develop in our lab allows for the specific delivery of smart biological drugs to diseased tissues using the blood stream. The advantage of this technique is that the therapeutic viruses are released in a concentrated manner in the diseased tissue, eliciting an enhanced therapeutic effect while minimizing complications,” added Claudio.

Two additional Marshall graduate students, Kristeena Ray and Sarah Mathis, were selected as winners in their categories of the poster competition—Ray for a poster showcasing her research into the role of epigenetics in endometriosis-associated pain and Mathis for a poster describing her work to help develop a test that could make possible individualized chemotherapy treatments. Ray works in the lab of Dr. Nalini Santanam, Marshall professor of pharmacology, physiology and toxicology. Claudio serves as Mathis’s faculty mentor.

The conference was organized and hosted by the four institutions with the goal of expanding the field of cell biology research and fostering interactions among scientists at the universities in the Ohio Valley/mid-Appalachian region. In addition to the oral and poster presentations, the program featured keynote speaker Dr. Vinay Pathak, a senior investigator in HIV drug resistance at the National Cancer Institute, and networking opportunities for more than 80 students and faculty members who participated in the program. The conference was funded through a grant from the American Society for Cell Biology.

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Photo by Rick Haye/Marshall University