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    Monday, July 29, 2013

    Yon Rojanasakul, Ph.D., co-leader of the Sara Crile Allen and James Frederick Allen Comprehensive Lung Cancer Program at the WVU Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center has been selected to join a global task force focused on the complexity of cancer. Rojanasakul and other cancer scientists from 31 countries are part of a collaborative international initiative called The Halifax Project led by Getting to Know Cancer — a non-governmental organization based in Canada. “I am happy to be part of a global effort to better understand what causes cancer, so that we can ultimately develop better ways to treat the disease,” said Rojanasakul, who is also a professor in the WVU School of Pharmacy’s Department of Basic Pharmaceutical Sciences. Rojanasakul and his colleagues are writing articles on various aspects of cancer, including cause and treatment methods. He is focusing on the role of apoptosis in cancer development. Apoptosis, commonly referred to as programmed cell death, is a method the body uses to get rid of unneeded or abnormal cells. This process is defective in cancer cells. “In my research, I look at what causes cancer cells to be resistant to apoptotic cell death and ways to overcome the resistance,” he said. The task force members will spend the next year reviewing what they know about cancer’s complexity and will study the risks associated with everyday exposures to mixtures of commonly encountered chemicals, such as pesticides and food additives, to determine what role they may play in cancer causation. “The goal of this group is to develop a collection of information on the causes and treatment of cancer,” Rojanasakul said. “This is an educational project that will hopefully benefit the scientific community and most importantly, the general public.”


    Monday, July 22, 2013

    MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – From studying how the nanoparticles we breathe could affect the heart to determining the effects of stress on the mind and body, graduate students at the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center are ushering in the next generation of researchers. Fourteen HSC graduate students have captured external and internal fellowship grants. American Heart Association pre-doctoral fellowships WVU School of Medicine graduate students Cody Nichols and Shyla Stanley earned individual pre-doctoral fellowship grants from the American Heart Association (AHA). These awards, which have become exceptionally competitive in the current funding climate, will support Stanley and Nichols over the next two years. Nichols, who hails from Williamstown, W.Va., is a Ph.D. trainee working with John Hollander, Ph.D., an associate professor in the WVU Department of Exercise Physiology's graduate program. The title of Nichols’ new AHA grant is “Effect of Engineered Nanomaterial Inhalation on Cardiac Mitochondria.” “I am studying nanoparticles that people breathe in and how they might affect the heart,” Nichols explained. “I am focusing mainly on titanium dioxide, which is commonly used in sunscreen, paint and air filters. This may help determine ways to prevent against damage in the future.” Stanley is a Ph.D. trainee working with Professor Jefferson Frisbee, Ph.D., in the Cellular and Integrative Physiology graduate program, and her grant is titled “Chronic Stress, Depression and Vascular Dysfunction: The Protective Effect of Gender.” The Cumming, Ga., native is using animals to explore how stress may cause behavioral changes and depression. “The effects of depressive symptoms and vascular dysfunction differ between genders,” Stanley said. “While females suffer more severe depression, they are protected from the vascular dysfunction. In males, they suffer less severe depressive symptoms but a greater degree of vascular disease. Our goal is to determine why this is the case.” National Science Foundation Integrative Graduate Education and Research Training (IGERT) program Thanks to a grant from the National Science Foundation’s IGERT program to WVU, four HSC students were recently named IGERT fellows for 2013. They are WVU School of Pharmacy Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences program Ph.D. students Christopher Bostick, Emily Despeaux and Katherine Dunnick, and Cellular and Integrative Physiology program Ph.D. student Valerie Minarchick. The IGERT program takes an interdisciplinary approach to educating U.S. Ph.D. scientists, engineers and educators by honing their deep knowledge in their chosen disciplines while drawing on their technical, professional and personal skills. With the goal of developing career leaders and creative agents, the IGERT program is intended to catalyze a cultural change in graduate education for students, faculty and institutions by establishing innovative new models. NanoSAFE West Virginia’s initiative for nanoscale science, engineering and education, NanoSAFE at WVU, is funded by the NSF EPSCoR Research Infrastructure Improvement Cooperative Agreement, West Virginia EPSCoR and WVU Research Corporation. NanoSAFE provides the infrastructure necessary to stimulate innovative research in the area of nano-enabled science, engineering and medicine while integrating education, workforce development and outreach programs. Providing research and education experiences for a diverse group, including graduate students, NanoSAFE enhances the prosperity of the nation by preparing citizens for an increasingly knowledge-based economy. The following received 2013 NanoSAFE fellowships: Katherine Hickey, Ka Hong, Amy Mihalchik and Alysia Salva, all Ph.D. students in the Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences program, and Kyle Mandler, a Ph.D. student in the Exercise Physiology program. WVU-Novo Nordisk Health Outcomes Research Fellowship WVU-Novo Nordisk Health Outcomes Research fellows are selected from a national pool of applicants who have a professional degree or graduate degree in public health, economics, healthcare administration, epidemiology, sociology or related disciplines. The fellowship also includes a summer internship at Novo Nordisk headquarters in Princeton, N.J., assisting the Health Economics and Market Access Strategy staff on research projects to gain hands-on experience with clinical, economic and humanistic data in supporting the development and marketing of pharmaceuticals. Elvonna Atkins, a Ph.D. student in the Pharmacological and Pharmaceutical Sciences program, Health Services and Outcomes pathway, is the recipient of this fellowship. West Virginia STEM Mountains of Excellence Fellowship The West Virginia STEM Mountains of Excellence fellowships are supported by a grant to WVU from the West Virginia Research Challenge Fund. Fellowships are competitively awarded to incoming doctoral students. Awardees must be planning to engage in research in one of the following Mountains of Excellence areas: achieving international leadership in radio astronomy, utilizing shale gas, promoting stewardship of water resources, improving STEM education and scientific literacy and eliminating health disparities in Appalachia. Awardees are Evan DeVallance, who will start his graduate education this fall as a Ph.D. student in the Interdisciplinary Graduate Programs in the Biomedical Sciences, and Rachel Stone, a Ph.D. student in the WVU School of Public Health’s Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Public Health Sciences, Social and Behavioral Sciences track.


    Monday, June 10, 2013

    The West Virginia United Health System (WVUHS) Board of Directors has selected Christopher C. Colenda, M.D., M.P.H., to be the next President and CEO of the System. Colenda is currently the Chancellor for Health Sciences at West Virginia University. He’ll assume the new role in January 2014.   WVU President James P. Clements is the chair of the WVUHS Board. He said that Dr. Colenda is uniquely suited for the role of health system CEO.   “Dr. Colenda has been a practitioner, a faculty chair, a dean, avice president for clinical affairs, and currently a chancellor responsible forfive colleges and numerous allied health programs and clinical operations. I am pleased he will continue to serve West Virginia and the healthcare system,”President Clements said.   Colenda has been chancellor since 2009. Under his leadership, the School of Public Health was created, as was the NIH-funded West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI). Colenda also led the efforts to unite thefaculty medical practice and hospitals in a joint operating agreement to form WVU Healthcare. His leadership has also reenergized positive and collaborative relationships between the Health Sciences and the University community.   “I am honored to take this position; it’s a great opportunity to lead the System into the future,” Colenda said. “This is a unique institution that has the potential to transform the lives of tens of thousands of West Virginians by combining the strength of our community hospitals throughout the state with the resources at our flagship academic medical center, Ruby Memorial Hospital, in Morgantown.”   Colenda will be only the third person at the helm of WVUHS sinceit was founded in 1996. He will succeed J. Thomas Jones, president and CEO since 2002, who announced earlier this year that he would retire at the end of 2013.   “We are extremely appreciative of the accomplishments the Systemhas achieved under Tom’s leadership,” Clements said. The West Virginia United Health System is not-for-profit and isthe largest healthcare network in the state, employing nearly 12,000 people andcaring for nearly one-quarter of all hospital patients in West Virginia. It includes WVU Hospitals’ Ruby Memorial in Morgantown, Berkeley Medical Center in Martinsburg and Jefferson Medical Center in Ranson; United Hospital Center in Clarksburg; and Camden ClarkMedical Center operated on two hospital campuses in Parkersburg. The System also includes United Physicians Care and the Health Partners Network.   Clements said a search for Dr. Colenda’s successor at Health Sciences will be announced in the near future.


    Thursday, May 23, 2013

    As states take measures to keep drivers from texting and talking while driving, a new report from researchers at the West Virginia University School of Public Health concludes that the laws probably aren't having much impact on the number of injuries caused by distracted driving. "Keeping an Eye on Distracted Driving,” appears in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). The paper was co-authored by Jeffrey H. Cohen, M.D., interim dean of the WVU School of Public Health, and Motao Zhu, M.D., Ph.D. Both study public health and safety topics through WV U’s Injury Control Research Center.


    Friday, April 5, 2013

    Congratulations to the following individuals on their achievements!


    Thursday, January 10, 2013

    WVU researchers have received a nearly $200,000 grant to study the impact of laws designed to curb teens’ use of cell-phones while driving. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, DW.Va, and Sen. Joe Manchin, D- W. Va., announced Wednesday the $182,000 grant from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. WVU Assistant Professor in the Department of Epidemiology Motao Zhu will serve as the primary researcher. He said that 42 states, and the District of Columbia, have some type of law that restricts cellphone use for drivers under 21 years old. It can range from total bans to texting bans for those under 18. Punishments and rules on when a citation can be issued vary by state, Zhu said. Researchers will look at data from three public databases during the study, Zhu said. One is fatality traffic records and another is results from a teen survey about behaviors. The third is a sampling of people assigned to watch traffic and count the instances they see of cellphone use. The data will be used to determine the effects the new laws have in deterring cell phone use among young drivers, Zhu said. Starting in July, any driver in West Virginia can be pulled over and cited for using a handheld cellphone. In announcing the gift, Rockefeller said, “Distracted driving hurts the driver, passengers, and everyone on the road, and we must do everything we can to prevent it. I’m very proud West Virginia University has been awarded this grant, which could have a real impact on current and future efforts to reduce injuries and deaths on the road due to distracted driving.” Manchin added, “West Virginia University’s research facilities are truly some of the best in this nation and this grant opportunity allows the university to become a leader in studying vehicle safety. I have no doubt that the research team’s thorough examination on cellphone use while driving can impact future laws that will help us make sure our roads we travel on every day are safe.”  Source:  The Dominion Post


    Friday, December 21, 2012

    Morgantown, W.V.- The 2012 Research Induction Ceremony came to a successful close on the evening of November 30th, and students were already talking about their futures in research.   Dr. Glenn Dillon, Ph.D, opened the ceremony. He discussed the Ph.D. programs at the Health Sciences Center, and the movement of the students into the research laboratory. Students will work with their mentors to advance their research and learn scientific technique, critical thinking skills, and the construct of a hypothesis.   Dr. Christopher Colenda MD, MPH, followed Dr. Dillon and elaborated on his comments. He described research as a vital element to engage in discovery and furthering work for the service of others.   Student comments echoed what Dr. Dillon and Dr. Colenda said, and offered thoughts on their futures.   Chris Bauer, a Neuroscience student interested in the medical imaging field commented on his future. “I am excited about my work and making a difference.”   Ami Vyas works in Health Outcomes Research with a focus on breast cancer. Looking ahead she said, ‘tomorrow, we get back to work. We work 24/7 and when something new comes up, we get right into it.”   As for her future Vyas said, “in a year I would like to be working with a pharmaceutical company.”   Working with a mentor is a critical component of the education which Bauer describes as a “solid scientific education that provides experience in the field.”   Though WVU Alumnus Dr. Darryle Schoepp Ph.D. was unable to attend, he offered comments that echoed what Dr. Dillon and Dr. Colenda said earlier. “There is no substitute for passion in what you do combined with hard work and smart effort,” said Schoepp.   Regarding the responsibilities that Dr. Schoepp would like to impress upon students, he said, “as a scientist you have the opportunity to make a real difference in the world. Think about where these challenges exist and go for it.”   Vera Barton-Caro, a student of Cardiology with a concentration in nursing, has over 20 years of clinical work experience. She is on track to graduate in May.   When asked about her future in research Barton said, “I hope to ultimately continue research. I have a passion for the treatment of heart failure. Research has been more fulfilling than I expected and I am interested in pursuing a career in academia.”   Students spent the evening noting the amount of work and years of education ahead of them, but took time to enjoy the event.   “It’s nice that they recognize us in a special way,” said Neuroscience student Emily Reilly.   The Ph.D. program opens many doors in federal research labs. A variety of Ph.D. programs at the Health Sciences Center offer offer career options that make positive contributions to science.   Describing students, Dr. Dillon commented during the ceremony, “They come to us, they’re bright, enthusiastic, wet behind the ears, but they’re ready to go.”


    Thursday, December 20, 2012

    Morgantown, W.Va.- From June 11th, 2013 through August 9th, 2013, the INTRO MS1 Summer Research program will offer a summer research internship for first year M.D. students.  This program includes a stipend of $3,500.   Ten Students will be chosen with priority on those who have made initial contact with the Principal Investigator with whom they would like to work.   With the assistance of the Principal Investigator, complete the Summer Research form and return to Holly Legleiter at 2267 HSS, P.O. Box 9104.   Application submissions are due by February 22nd.   The program offers students an opportunity to work with a faculty member in the research environment. Students in the 2013 summer internship will present their work at the 2014 Annual E.J. Van Liere Memorial Convocation  and Health Sciences Center Research Day.   For more information visit the summer program website   For more information on the 2013 edition of the E.J. Van Liere Memorial Convocation and Health Sciences Center Research Day, which features students who participated in the 2012 summer internship, visit the website


    Monday, December 10, 2012

    Amoebic colitis, an intestinal infection caused by a water-borne pathogen, affects 50 million people worldwide each year. Most are able to shed the bug on their own, but about 100,000 individuals develop life-threatening complications that can only be resolved by medication.


    Monday, November 12, 2012

    Sometimes, the link between microbes and disease is obvious. The presence of a certain bacteria in the gut, for instance, is thought to protect against an inflammatory gastrointestinal disease. But researchers studying the microbiome – the system of microbes living in and on the human body -- are finding that bacteria residing in one place in the body can also affect organs in another location. Studies in recent years that have linked heart attack risk to certain oral microbes are a good example.