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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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

Marshall investigators to help lead Research Challenge Fund projects for energy, cancer studies

The following story from the Marshall University Research Corporation highlights the cancer research of two professors from the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program, Dr. Richard Niles and Dr. Donald Primerano. It also provides a spotlight on the WV Cancer Genomics Network,  which these two faculty members helped launch as Principal Investigators.


HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Researchers at Marshall University are among the lead investigators on two projects to be funded through the state’s Research Challenge Fund, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission announced today.

Photo of Dr. Thomas WilsonMarshall faculty members Drs. Thomas Wilson, Richard Niles and Donald Primerano will help direct the projects—one to develop better electronics and the other to learn more about cancers affecting West Virginians. The projects began this month and will be conducted in cooperation with researchers at West Virginia University (WVU). Each project will receive a total of $1,350,000 over the next five years.

The Research Challenge Fund was established by the state legislature in 2002 to provide seed money for new research. Projects funded through the program support the creation of research centers and start-up businesses, and foster economic development and work force advancement.

Announcing the awards, Dr. Paul L. Hill, the commission’s chancellor, said, “The primary goal of the Research Challenge Fund is to sponsor innovative research at our colleges and universities while improving the institutions’ ability to compete for federal and private funding on the national level.”

Dr. John M. Maher, Marshall’s vice president for research, said, “Marshall University is pleased to have been selected to receive funding through this important program. The Research Challenge Fund is one of the state’s largest investments in research and innovation, and the application process is always quite competitive. The fact that our investigators are integral to two of the projects announced today speaks volumes about the quality of research being done at Marshall. I look forward to watching these projects develop over the coming years.”

The funding to create a Center for Energy Efficient Electronics at Marshall and WVU will be used to investigate and develop devices that will lead to next-generation electronics that are smaller, faster and more energy efficient than current technology allows. The principal investigators on the project are Wilson, who is a professor of physics at Marshall; Dr. David Lederman, a professor of physics at WVU; and Drs. Alan Bristow, Mikel Holcomb and Tudor Stanescu, associate professors of physics at WVU.

According to the investigators, there is strong interest in the research community in the concepts of spintronics and magnonics, where spin degrees of freedom and magnetic excitations are used for information storage and processing. Spintronics and magnonics are expected to result in electronic devices that are faster and use substantially less power than current electronics because spin and magnetic excitation currents do not dissipate nearly as much energy as charge currents.

“In my lab at Marshall, I will be probing the effects of applying uniaxial stress to the magnonic devices to adjust their frequencies,” said Wilson. “This proof-of-concept experiment will permit us to determine whether it is feasible to use strain to fabricate THz magnonic devices for ultrafast communication applications.”

The second research project will further develop and expand the West Virginia Cancer Genomics Network to involve Marshall, WVU and Charleston Area Medical Center. Network partners will develop a genetic database for cancers with a higher incidence in West Virginia. Researchers will use the data in studies and clinical trials funded by federal and/or private grants and to help develop start-up biotechnology companies. Principal investigators for this study are Niles, who is a professor and chairman of Marshall’s Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology; Primerano, who is a professor of biochemistry and microbiology at Marshall and the director of the university’s Genomics Core Facility; Dr. William Petros, a professor of biochemistry at WVU; and Dr. Todd Kuenstner, the director of pathology at Charleston Area Medical Center.

Photo of Dr. Richard Niles

Niles said, “We started the Cancer Genomics Network several years ago with money from the federal stimulus, to collect genetic information about cancers that have a high prevalence in West Virginia—namely lung, colorectal and ovarian cancers, and acute myeloid leukemia. Through this award, along with our network partners at WVU and CAMC, we’ll be working to identify new diagnostic/prognostic markers and new targets for cancer therapy.”

 

Primerano added, “At our Genomics Core Facility, we will be sequencing and analyzing the tissue samples collected through the network, allowing us to gain information critical to understanding, preventing and treating cancer in future patients.”

Photo of Dr. Donald Primerano

The grants announced today are the third round of Research Challenge Fund awards made since the program began. According to the Higher Education Policy Commission, the first round—a state investment of $8.4 million—produced more than $20 million in external funding, helped create five startup companies and led to 10 patent applications. Results from the second round of grants, awarded in 2007, are being analyzed and will be reported to the governor and legislature by the end of the year.

More information about the Research Challenge Fund program and other research initiatives is available at www.wvresearch.org.


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

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.

Progenesis bioengineering company bringing ideas to Huntington

Dr. Niles and Dr. Yu (both pictured right) are the founders of ProgenesisHUNTINGTON Hongwei Yu, chief science officer and co-founder of Progenesis Technologies, is in the market for new business cards after the company hosted a grand opening in its new Huntington office and lab in the Red Cross Building.

As West Virginia’s only locally owned and operated genetic engineering company, Progenesis recently changed its address from South Charleston to Huntington, a move that was celebrated during a grand opening at the new office Friday.

The company has long had ties to Huntington, as it is a spin-off of sorts from Marshall University, where Yu is a professor.

The company, which was founded in 2008, had been operating out of South Charleston until moving into the Red Cross Building and beginning renovations in January.

Most of the Progenesis work force lives in Huntington, so Friday’s grand opening had been eagerly anticipated, Yu said.

“We are very excited to get to work so close to home,” Yu said. “It will make a big difference between shuttling back and forth. We work with the Biotechnology Center at Marshall, so this will allow us to come in anytime we want to or need to and be able to do our work more efficiently.”

Progenesis is a research and development company, which is focused on demonstrating the feasibility of manufacturing its genetically-engineered bacterial alginates on an industrial scale.

Bacterial alginates absorb water quickly, which makes them useful in everything from the agricultural and food industries to the cosmetic and drug markets.

In addition to the new office space, Progenesis’ new digs include a bigger, brighter lab space for employees to do their work in, said Richard Niles, CEO of Progenesis.

“It really is going to be a wonderful place to work,” Niles said. “We are on an upward curve of developing our product and the company, and these new facilities are part of the attraction of significant revenue that will allow us to add more employees, which is what we need to continue to produce and test the product of this company.”

While the company is the only one of its kind in the state, Niles said he sees a bright future for biotechnology in Huntington.

“We are part of a new group of companies, which, locally, includes Vandalia, in biotechnology, which is a growing field. It’s one that is going to diversify the economy in Huntington,” Niles said. “Anyone who is curious about what we do is welcome to come and look at what it is we’re doing. All it takes is giving us a call setting up a time to visit.” 

Marshall University co-sponsors Appalachian Health Summit

Marshall University is partnering with the Center for Clinical and Translational Science at the University of Kentucky (UK) to present a one-day conference, “Appalachian Health Summit – Neurological Disorders: Quality of Life and Potential for Recovery,” on Thursday, March 29, at the Lexington Convention Center.

According to Dr. Richard M. Niles, senior associate dean for research and graduate education at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine, a number of university researchers, including faculty, students and medical school residents, will present their work at the conference, while others will participate in the conference’s scientific sessions.

“This summit is an excellent opportunity for our faculty and students to share their work with colleagues from other institutions around the region,” he said. “We have at least eight Marshall researchers who will be traveling to Lexington to present the results of their studies in a variety of areas, including cancer and chemotherapy, endometriosis, diabetes and drug development.”

Niles said that although the summit is a scientific-based conference targeted at faculty and research personnel, anyone interested in improving the health status of citizens across the region is encouraged to attend the free program. He added that there will also be representatives from government agencies, private foundations and community organizations.

The summit will feature a keynote address by Dr. V. Reggie Edgerton, distinguished professor, Departments of Integrative Biology and Physiology, Neurobiology and Neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles. Other sessions will focus on therapies for stroke; chronic pain and substance abuse; new paradigms in drug delivery and development; quality of life following neurotrauma; risk-related behaviors; and research funding opportunities from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The summit is a program of the Appalachian Translational Research Network, whose mission is to enhance research collaborations among partner institutions, and to establish a platform for interaction and sharing best practices among academic institutions, healthcare providers and community organizations.

In addition to Marshall and UK, network partners include the Appalachian Regional Commission, Morehead State University, Ohio University, Ohio State University, University of Pikeville, University of Cincinnati, and the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute.

Marshall and UK also are partnering as part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutional Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program aimed at speeding the time for laboratory discoveries to benefit patients. The funding supports scientists in Marshall’s clinical research program, training fellowships and early stage clinical research trials.