Marshall faculty to guide undergrads in conducting biomedical research


Eighteen undergraduate students from nine institutions are spending the summer conducting biomedical research in Marshall University’s laboratories.

The students are participating in nine-week programs offered through the West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE), Marshall’s school of medicine Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS), and the American Heart Association Undergraduate Summer Internship Research (AHA-USIR) program.

Dr. Elsa I. Mangiarua,  a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology at the  Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine  directs the WV-INBRE summer program. She said the programs allow participants to gain valuable, hands-on experience doing graduate-level research in the labs of some of Marshall’s top scientists.

“We are providing in-depth, mentored research opportunities for very talented undergraduates,” she said. “The programs also promote awareness of Marshall’s graduate degree programs and available careers in biomedical research.”

Kelly Carothers, who coordinates the SRIMS program, agreed, adding, “This is a chance for these students to do meaningful laboratory research, network with others in their field and enhance their academic competitiveness for graduate school.”

Dr. Nalini Santanam, a professor in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology and Toxicology will direct the newly funded AHA-USIR program. This program provides an opportunity specifically for Marshall undergraduate students to participate in research related to cardiovascular diseases.

While at Marshall, the interns are working in the university’s state-of-the-art facilities on research projects related to cancer, cardiovascular disease, obesity and diabetes, neuroscience, toxicology, immunological diseases and bioinformatics.

The students will present their research results at a symposium at the end of the summer.

In addition to the formal research training each student receives from his or her Marshall faculty mentors, the interns are taking part in workshops and seminars about a variety of topics in research and graduate education. Students in the programs attend the same seminars and interact socially through a bowling outing, hiking and other special events outside of the laboratory environment.

Students participating in the WV-INBRE summer program include:

  • Ana Maria Peña, University of Charleston (Dr. Philippe Georgel, mentor)
  • Megan Boone, West Virginia Wesleyan College (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Ankita Khunt, University of Charleston (Dr. Richard Egleton, mentor)
  • Seth Deskins, University of Charleston (Dr. Vincent Sollars, mentor)
  • Madison Crank, Concord University (Dr. Travis Salisbury, mentor)
  • Alexandria Carter, University of Charleston (Dr. Hongwei Yu, mentor)
  • Natalia Skilioutovskaya-Lopez, University of Charleston (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Christiana Hess, Shepherd University (Dr. Lawrence Grover, mentor)
  • Jordan Tate, West Virginia Wesleyan College (Dr. Gary Rankin, mentor)
  • Sarah Marshall, Davis and Elkins College (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)

The WV-INBRE program also sponsors summer fellowships for instructors. This year’s fellowship recipient is Dr. Gary Morris, associate professor of biology at Glenville State College, who is working with Dr. Travis Salisbury.

WV-INBRE is funded through a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health. Marshall—in partnership with researchers at West Virginia University—received the award to help build expertise in biomedical research.

Students in this year’s SRIMS program are:

  • Jonique George, University of the Virgin Islands (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Sofia Romero, University of California-Santa Cruz (Dr. Jung Han Kim, mentor)
  • Leslie Fogwe, Delaware State University (Dr. Jiang Liu, mentor)

Support for the SRIMS program comes from the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program and the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s Division of Science and Research.

Students selected from Marshall  for the AHA-USIR program include:

  • Janae Jackson (Dr. Nalini Santanam, mentor)
  • Ibrahim Mohammed (Dr. Subha Arthur, mentor)
  • Reagan Stafford (Dr. Monica Valentovic, mentor)
  • Akhil Gudivada (Dr. Jung Han Kim, mentor)
  • Amber Bryant (Dr. Sandrine Pierre, mentor)