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. Eric Blough publishes a study on metabolic syndrome and skeletal muscle

Dr. Eric Blough of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program recently collaborated with another Marshall University researcher on a study published in Science & Sports. Dr. Blough researches within the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity and Diabetes research cluster.


Eric Blough, Ph.D.HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Collaboration between two Marshall University associate professors resulted in findings that were published in Science & Sports, a publication of the French Society of Sports Medicine. The research was about the effects of metabolic syndrome on skeletal muscle adaptation.

Dr. Eric Arnold, from Marshall’s School of Physical Therapy, and Dr. Eric Blough, from the School of Pharmacy, worked together on the project.

Metabolic syndrome, also known as syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome, is one of the fastest growing health problems in the United States with more than one of every three adults suffering from the disorder, according to Arnold and Blough.

They also said that over the next two decades, the incidence of metabolic syndrome is projected to increase to epidemic levels in both the industrialized and developing worlds. Patients with metabolic syndrome typically are obese, suffer from insulin resistance and exhibit elevations in blood sugar and lipid levels.

“It’s important to assemble a team of experts from various health professions and scientific disciplines, to address the complexity of type 2 diabetes,” Arnold said. “That’s what it is all about, working together to research and discover an optimal therapeutic strategy for this chronic disease. Collaboration is important.”

Marshall’s researchers have been using the obese Zucker rat (Leprfa) which models many of the characteristic features of metabolic syndrome seen in humans to examine how the disorder may affect the ability of their skeletal muscles to adapt to an exercise stimulus.

“Because exercise is almost always prescribed as a treatment modality for these patients, we need to understand how skeletal muscles of someone with metabolic syndrome may respond to exercise if we ever want to optimize the therapeutic treatment of this disease,” Arnold said.

Their research, titled “Insulin resistance does not inhibit the ability of the mechanical overload to induce hypertrophy in the Obese Zucker Rat (Leprfa) plantaris muscle,” was published in April.

Significant findings provided evidence that metabolic syndrome did not impair the ability of the rat fast twitch plantaris muscle to experience hypertrophy when exposed to muscle overload as reflected by increases in myofibrillar protein content and increases in muscle fiber cross-sectional area.

“This finding is pretty interesting given that previous work by our group has shown the muscle adaptation in the slow twitch soleus muscle is impaired with metabolic syndrome,” Blough said. “This study, along with our other work, suggests that metabolic syndrome may affect different muscle types differently. This adds a level of complexity that I don’t think others have shown in the past and may have important implications in the design of exercise intervention programs.”

For more information, call Arnold at 304-696-5615 or Blough at 304-696-2708.