FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Marshall senior wins statewide award for research
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Marshall University senior has won a statewide award for her research.
Megan Neal, a 21-year-old biology major from Shreve, Ohio, was named Best Undergrad Researcher during the recent STAR Symposium in Morgantown for her presentation examining the effects of acetaminophen on microRNA expression in the aging heart.
Neal’s data indicates that chronic, low-dose acetaminophen ingestion may be very beneficial in reducing the incidence of age-associated cardiac dysfunction. In particular, her findings suggest that the over-the-counter drug may decrease the incidence of cardiac arrhythmias.
“This award is an outstanding accomplishment for everyone involved,” said Marshall University President Stephen J. Kopp. “It is an achievement that is exceptional and makes our entire university community proud. Clearly any research that produces findings that can prevent or reduce cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, and improve quality of life is a major accomplishment and we are very proud of Megan and her fellow researchers for their hard work.”
Neal’s research is an extension of a study being conducted by the university in the molecular physiology lab at the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Center for McNeil Consumer & Specialty Pharmaceuticals, the makers of Tylenol. In all, nine researchers are working on the project including Neal’s lab partner, Jackie Decker, a doctoral student in the biomedical sciences program.
“This finding may be quite important to West Virginia, Appalachia and to our elderly because cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of individuals in the developed world,” Neal said. “Arrhythmias cause half of these deaths and often without warning. In our research, we are seeing positive effects in our lab models. There are indications that it is cardio-protective.”
Neal’s work was supported by several grants, the department of biological sciences and in particular the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) program. She won $1,200 for her award at the symposium.
The STAR (Science, Technology, and Research) Symposium is West Virginia’s forum for science and technology enterprise. The symposium was held this year at the Waterfront Place Hotel in Morgantown and was sponsored by the West Virginia Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research. WV EPSCoR’s mission is to build research competitiveness within institutions, individual researchers, research teams and collaborations among institutions throughout the Mountain State.
Marshall also had undergraduate finalists in the poster category. They are Camden Clutter, Brad Fitzwater, Thomas Hagerman, Sarah Kelly, William Kelly and Mary Teter. Graduate finalists in the poster category include Nicholas Adkins, Lora Chetel, Timothy Dotson, J. Adam Hall, Sunil Kakarla, Sarath Meduru and Sriram Mupparaju.