Marshall graduate student conducting research in Italy
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – A Marshall University graduate student is in Italy this semester to conduct research under an international exchange agreement between Marshall’s medical school and the Council for National Research (CNR), an institution similar to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in Italy.
Sarah Kelly, a master’s degree student in biology, is the first scholar to participate in the exchange program between the department of Biochemistry and Microbiology at the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine and the department of Medicine at the Council for National Research in Rome. Marshall President Stephen J. Kopp signed an agreement last summer that allows graduate students and faculty of the two organizations to travel, visit and participate in research conducted at the two institutions.
This is the first international exchange agreement for Marshall involving its graduate programs.
Kelly has been conducting research under the direction of Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio in his laboratory at Marshall. According to Kelly, her research has focused on cancer stem cells, a type of master cancer cells that are today known as being responsible for cancer recurrence following therapy cessation.
In Italy, she is learning to use electromagnetic field equipment developed by Italian researcher Dr. Settimio Grimaldi, with whom she is working to study the effects of electromagnetism on human cells. The CNR in Italy maintains laboratories at the Universities of Siena, Rome and Naples to which Dr. Claudio has many ties, making it possible for the research to be a collaboration between the two labs, involving Grimaldi and Dr. Caterina Cinti in Italy, and Claudio at Marshall.
“Among other things, Sarah has developed a novel method of selecting and proliferating normal adult stem cells as well as cancer stem cells in my laboratory,” said Claudio. “I am sure she is the perfect candidate for this research enterprise abroad. She is working in a laboratory directed by a colleague who had been with the National Institutes of Health for 12 years before moving back to Italy.”
“I haven’t used their equipment, I’m going there to learn to use it and I’ll be bringing that knowledge back,” Kelly said before leaving for Italy. “I’ve been working with making stem cells grow quickly and they have been working with stem cells and magnetic fields, so we’ll be putting the two pieces of information together to study the effects of electromagnetism on human cells.”
Kelly, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, received an undergraduate degree from Marshall in biology and is currently working on an M.S. in biology. She will be working in Italy until early April.
“This is an excellent opportunity for me,” Kelly said. “I am extremely excited about the knowledge I’ll be gaining while I’m there. I’m pleased that Marshall has given me these opportunities. Ever since I came to Marshall it’s been one good opportunity after another. I’ve had the best mentors ever, including Dr. Jagan Valluri and Dr. Pier Paolo Claudio.”
Claudio, who holds both an M.D. and a Ph.D., is an associate professor of biochemistry and microbiology as well as a faculty member in the Department of Surgery at Marshall University.
In 2007, he traveled to Italy where he received the Sebetia-Ter Award, which is given annually to internationally renowned scientists and other professionals in the fields of architecture, aeronautics, medicine, biotechnology, engineering, politics, military science, literature, music and philosophy.