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

Dr. Georgel and BMS doctoral student J. Adam Hall co-author chapter

Philippe Georgel, Ph.D.Marshall University doctoral student J. Adam Hall and faculty member Dr. Philippe T. Georgel have collaborated to write a chapter for a new book focusing on RNA processing in animal and plant cells.

Their chapter describes the interaction between RNA splicing and chromatin, and appears in the book “RNA Processing,” which was edited by Paula Grabowski and published in August. The book is freely available online through open access publisher InTech.

In describing their research, Hall explains that RNA, or ribonucleic acid, acts as the “middle man” of molecular biology. DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the carrier of basic genetic information. A cell uses DNA to make RNA, which in turn makes proteins.

Hall says that alterations to RNA can have a significant influence on the type and/or amount of protein produced, creating crucial differences in the identity of the cell and how it functions. The study of these modifications caused by factors outside of the DNA sequence itself is known as “epigenetics.”

“Factors and mechanisms involved in the epigenetic regulation of gene expression and protein production have been linked to a variety of human diseases and developmental disorders,” said Hall. “Furthering the knowledge of these epigenetic processes and the factors involved, including the information we highlighted for this publication, will be a crucial component of translating scientific advances into potential medical breakthroughs down the road.”

Georgel added, “In recent years, a much better understanding of gene regulation has led to many important breakthroughs in the fields of cellular differentiation, development and disease. The specific mechanism of regulation we describe in this chapter has never been reported before in any biological system, so we think it could be an important contribution to the existing body of work.”

J. Adam Hall, Ph.D. studentA native of Crown City, Ohio, Hall received his bachelor’s degree in molecular biology from Marshall in 2005 and started his doctoral studies in 2006. He finished his graduate coursework with a 4.0 grade point average and was awarded the Biomedical Sciences program’s top award for academic performance in 2007 and research performance in 2008. In 2009, Hall became the first Marshall student to receive the prestigious National Institutes of Health Ruth L. Kirschstein Pre-doctoral Fellowship, which provided two years of support totaling more than $70,000. He will complete his Ph.D. in December and plans to continue his scientific career in the field of epigenetics, with a focus on translational research.

Georgel is a professor of biological sciences and director of Marshall’s Cell Differentiation and Development Center. He has been at Marshall since 2002.

The complete chapter is available at http://www.intechopen.com/source/pdfs/18456/InTech-The_worlds_of_splicing_and_chromatin_collide.pdf.

For more information, contact Georgel at georgel@marshall.edu or call 304-696-3965.