Professor and Research Cluster Coordinator
Department: Biochemistry and Microbiology; Pediatrics
Research Cluster: Infectious and Immunological Diseases
Office: BBSC 336-S | Laboratories: BBSC 315 and 331
Phone: (304) 696-7356 | Fax: (304) 696-7207
A Marshall University doctoral student will present her diabetes research next week at a conference focusing on the central nervous system.
Aileen Marcelo, a Ph.D. candidate in the university’s biomedical sciences program, will present a poster at the Barriers of the Central Nervous System Gordon Research Conference and will give a talk at the conference’s student seminar. The conference and seminar will be held June 16-22 at Colby-Sawyer College in New London, N.H.
The conference will bring together clinical and basic scientists who are at the forefront of research into the system of regulatory interfaces between the blood and brain. This system is essential to brain function and has a major impact on the course and treatment of many neurological conditions, including stroke, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy.
Although there is considerable scientific evidence implicating diabetes as a major risk factor for many central nervous system diseases, there have been few studies investigating the effects of diabetes on this blood-brain barrier. Marcelo’s research project, “The Role and Regulation of Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) at the Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) in a Rat Model of Diabetes,” explores this connection.
She works in the lab of Dr. Richard Egleton, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the university’s Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine.
Marcelo recently received one of eight Summer Thesis Research Grant Awards presented to outstanding graduate student researchers at Marshall. Each award provides $500 to cover the cost of expenses associated with thesis research. Award recipients were chosen on the basis of the quality and significance of their thesis research, the likelihood that the research will eventuate in a completed thesis and justification of the need for support. Funding for the awards was provided by the Marshall University Research Corporation.
On August 19, the faculty, staff, and students of the Biomedical Sciences (BMS) Graduate Program gathered together for the Seventh Annual Biomedical Sciences Research Retreat. Held at the Ramada Limited in Huntington, the retreat served as an excellent opportunity to socialize in an informal setting over a tasty lunch, share research projects and advancements, welcome a guest alumni speaker, and present awards for outstanding service and research. Dr. Elsa Mangiarua organized the event, as she does every year. Thanks to her guidance the event, as always, went smoothly and was a great success.
The event began with a buffet lunch, followed by time to mingle and view research posters. After lunch, a lively discussion commenced as research students and faculty members discussed their research projects with each other. Although this is a small group that interacts frequently, events such as this still evoke quite a bit of exchange and interest.
The poster presentations were followed by a seminar delivered by Dr. George Kamphaus, a graduate of the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. Program who completed a Post-Doc at Harvard. He delivered a seminar entitled “Fc-Fusion of Clotting Factor IX: Development of a Long-acting Clotting Factor.” Dr. Kamphaus is currently a Senior Scientist working for Syntonix Pharmaceuticals. There is currently only one drug on the market targeted to treated Hemophilia B, and his company is working diligently to change this fact. Currently, Hemophilia B patients must receive injections of this drug twice weekly to treat their disease. The drug that Syntonix is developing is a clotting factor that has a longer duration of action, enabling patients to instead receive weekly injections. According to Dr. Kamphaus, there are patients in India suffering from this condition who must currently travel more than 12 hours to receive their injections; a drug that can be injected once weekly will make a significant difference in the lives of such patients.
During his seminar, Dr. Kamphaus spoke highly of the BMS Ph.D. Program, expressing that it prepared him well for a career in the pharmaceutical industry. Unlike more established academic programs that may employ a silo structure, pharmaceutical companies are often smaller start-ups that require researchers to frequently interact. According to Dr. Kamphaus, the interdisciplinary nature of the BMS Program prepared him well for this. He also spoke fondly of the level of concern from BMS Program instructors: “They care about their students, and this really comes across. The individual attention to students is extraordinary, and much different than what you would find in other programs. I think this sets up BMS graduates well for success.”
After the seminar, a representative from each research cluster delivered a short presentation covering current cluster research. Ben Owen, a Ph.D. student in the Neuroscience and Developmental Biology Cluster, discussed his research on action potentials; Aileen Marcelo, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Cardiovascular Disease, Obesity, and Diabetes Cluster, spoke of her work focusing on VEGF; Johannes Fahrmann, a Ph.D. Student in the Cancer Biology Cluster, discussed the effects of omega-3 fatty acids on downregulating NFkB within early-stage chronic lymphocytic leukemia; Dr. Gary Rankin of the Toxicology and Environmental Health Sciences Cluster updated the group on his work on genetic polymorphisms and unexpected methodone mortality; and Dr. Wei-ping Zeng of the Infectious and Immunological Diseases Cluster elaborated on his work with CD4 T cell differentiation.
The cluster updates were followed by the presentation of awards for the 2010-2011 school year. Miranda Carper, President of the BMS GSO, presented the faculty awards. Awards were given to Dr. Travis Salisbury for Faculty Appreciation and Paula Kouns for Staff Appreciation. Dr. Salisbury was lauded for his accessibility to students. A student who nominated Dr. Salisbury remarked, “I appreciate the fact that he talks to me like an equal or a colleague.” In praise of Paula Kouns, another student stated: “Outside of being a genuinely nice and caring person, Paula goes above and beyond as our department secretary.”
Dr. Richard Niles presented the graduate student awards. The following students received awards:
Best Research Performance (Plaque and a paid trip to a national meeting up to $2,000): Sunil Kakarla
Best Overall Performance as a Graduate Student (Plaque and a paid trip to an international meeting, up to $3,500): Anne Silvis
Highest GPA for a First Year Medical Sciences student (Plaque): Ross DeChant, Brittany Wall
Highest GPA for a First Year Research student (Plaque): Steven Rogers
Lotspeich Award ($1,000): Jesse Thornton
Best Creative Title for the Inaugural Issue of the BMS Magazine ($100): Miranda Carper
Thank you to our participants, speakers and award-winners. Also, a big thank you goes out to Dr. Mangiarua for doing such a great job in organizing the event! We look forward to seeing everyone at the gathering again next year.
Aileen Marcello, a Ph.D. graduate student in the Biomedical Sciences Program at Marshall University, has been invited to present a poster at the International Symposium in Cerebral Blood Flow, Metabolism, and Function in Barcelona, Spain. She will present her research project entitled “Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF) Signaling and Its Potential Role at the Blood Brain Barrier in Diabetes.” This is Aileen’s first time attending an international conference, which she learned of from Dr. Egleton, who has previously attended. You can download Aileen’s research abstract at this link.
I recently interviewed Aileen to get her thoughts on attending, and the following is a transcript of that exchange.
Question: How did you learn about the conference, and what is its significance in your field?
Answer: I heard about the conference from Dr. Egleton, as he has been to this conference before. It is my first international conference so obviously I’m very excited. I will probably meet some familiar faces in Barcelona, as some of the experts in the blood brain barrier field will be there. Hence, this conference is significant in my field because of the blood brain barrier connection, but also it will give me an opportunity to see what other scientists are doing in the area of cerebrovascular research. This is especially important since I am a senior graduate student, and I’m sort of “testing the waters” as to where I may go when I “retire” from being a graduate student.
Question: What was the application process like?
Answer: The application process is fairly similar to other conferences. I had to submit an abstract, signifying that I was interested in attending the conference. The abstracts are pooled together and the committee will select abstracts to be included in the conference. So, acceptance of your abstract is an invitation to register for the conference, as not all abstracts are accepted. Upon registration, you have to submit a letter from the head of the department (Dr. Rankin) to show evidence that you are indeed a graduate student. After that, you can book your hotel through the conference website.
Question: How do you feel about being accepted and being able to travel to this conference?
Answer: It’s an honor to be accepted to such a prestigous conference. I think this is one of the important conferences to attend in my area of research, and to go as a graduate student is exciting because it will surely give me avenues to think about when I pursue my career outside of graduate school.
Question: Will you be able to stay the full four days?
Answer: I will be gone all week!!! I leave on May 23 and arrive in Barcelona on the 24th. So that gives me a couple of hours to relax and enjoy the scenery. I believe I present on the 26th (have to double check on that) so I hope to experience more of Barcelona and enjoy some tapas.
Question: Will you be able to do any travel activities outside of the conference?
Answer: As in sight seeing? I hope so. I’ve been to Barcelona before so my plan is to go to the places I didn’t have a chance to see. Picasso Museum!!!
Question: What are you hoping to bring back to Marshall from this experience?
Answer: I hope to get some fresh ideas on which direction to take my research.
Question: Is there anything else you’d like to say about this opportunity?
Answer: I AM TOTALLY EXCITED TO BE LEAVING THE AREA FOR A WEEK!!!