National Institutes of Health posts displayed by tag

Latest Issue of ‘Connective Issues’ Newsletter is Online

The December 2017 issue of the Connective Issues newsletter from the Health Sciences and Human Services Library (HS/HSL) is now available.

The topics in this issue include:

  • Why All the Kerfuffle About ResearchGate and SciHub?
  • HS/HSL Partners With the NIH All of Us Research Program
  • 3D-Print Your Holiday Ornaments!
  • HS/HSL Cancels Web of Science
  • Graphic Medicine Collection
  • Collection Realignment Process
  • Bioinformatics and Data Science Workstation
  • HS/HSL Maker Expo – March 6, 2018 – Save the Date!
  • UMB Entrepreneur Toolkit
  • Library Genie 2017 Survey Results
  • Collaborative Learning Room Now Available!
  • Gender Neutral Bathroom
  • “Unmasking the Trauma of War” Luncheon and Guest Speaker
Everly Brown Collaboration, Community Service, Education, People, Research, Technology, University LifeDecember 5, 20170 comments
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Engaging Hepatitis C Patients to Improve Research Methods

When I joined the School of Pharmacy in 2014, my primary focus was on teaching pharmacy management and developing research skills in the area of economic evaluation. As a faculty member in the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science (PPS), I enrolled in the PhD in Pharmaceutical Health Services Research (PHSR) program at the school to become a pharmacoeconomist and build cost-effectiveness studies. However, I enrolled into the program at a time when the culture in research was beginning to shift, primarily because of extraordinary PHSR professors who knew that researchers could do a much better job systematically including the patient voice in our work.

Evaluating cost-effectiveness of hepatitis C treatments

Like any other graduate student, I dove into the literature around the new treatments for the hepatitis C virus (HCV). With help from Julia Slejko, PhD, assistant professor in PHSR, and C. Daniel Mullins, PhD, professor and chair of PHSR, I developed my first cost-effectiveness study for HCV treatments, but I fell into the trap of focusing on traditional methods that did not include patients.1 Although it was good experience for me to gain while learning this field, I knew there was much more to do.

Engaging patients to improve methods

After submitting my economic model, I spoke informally with Susan dosReis, BSPharm, PhD, and Eleanor Perfetto, PhD, MS, both professors in PHSR, about the lack of patient input in all of the HCV cost-effectiveness studies that I had reviewed. Without hesitation, Perfetto smiled and said, “There is your next paper.” So, we went to work. We systematically reviewed economic studies for HCV treatments and found that the inclusion of the patient voice has been limited in this area, to say the least.2

Submission to PCORI: It takes a village

One of the key lessons that I’ve learned over the past year is that most good research proposals require a team effort, and all researchers are influenced by the company they keep. With several faculty in the department having success with their contract submissions to the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) – facilitated, in part, by the creation of the PATIENTS Program – a culture of authentic, patient-centered research has weaved throughout the school.

I recently had an opportunity to become the director of operations with the PATIENTS team, where I learned firsthand what it meant to “continuously engage” patients in every step of the research process.3 The natural progression for me was to submit a Pipeline to Proposal (P2P) Tier A award to PCORI, which would fund the work necessary to build relationships with patients in the West Baltimore community where the School of Pharmacy is located. I pitched an idea to leverage the Community Engagement Center at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) to work with underserved patients as advisors to our research to Shyamasundaran Kottilil, MD, PhD, professor of medicine and renowned HCV clinician and researcher at the School of Medicine’s Institute of Human Virology (IHV). He immediately came on board.

With the support of Kottilil; Ashley Valis, executive director for strategic initiatives and community engagement at UMB; and Mullins, as director of the PATIENTS Program, our proposal was created and, fortunately, won over the reviewers at PCORI.

Now the real work begins

In our P2P, we aim to engage underserved HCV patients to inform and improve comparative effectiveness research for HCV interventions. We also plan to develop a blog that will target patients and researchers to disseminate our work in a way that is meaningful to both audiences. We want to bring patients, clinicians, and researchers to the same table to discuss research questions related to HCV treatment that matter most to patients. This multi-stakeholder approach will help us develop another research proposal that might be of interest to funding agencies such as PCORI, the National Institutes of Health, or the Food and Drug Administration. We’re excited to get started and can’t wait to see how the results of our work might impact future studies.

Joey Mattingly, PharmD, MBA, assistant professor in PPS and PHSR graduate student

References

1 Mattingly TJ, Slejko JF, Mullins CD. Hepatitis C Treatment Regimens Are Cost-Effective: But Compared With What? Ann Pharmacother. 2017; online: July 1, 2017. doi:10.1177/1060028017722007.

2 Mattingly TJ, Perfetto EM, Johnson S. Engaging hepatitis C infected patients in cost-effectiveness analyses: A literature review. Hepatology. August 2017. doi:10.1002/hep.29482.

3 Mullins CD, Abdulhalim AM, Lavallee DC. Continuous Patient Engagement in Comparative Effectiveness Research. JAMA. 2012;307(15):1587-1588.

Joey Mattingly ResearchOctober 18, 20170 comments
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A Metabolic Pathway that Feeds Liver Cancer

A little-studied gene may explain how some liver cancer cells obtain the nutrition they need to proliferate, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The results of this research were published as an Editors’ Pick in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Because they multiply quickly and spread throughout the body, cancer cells require more energy than normal cells. One approach to treating cancer, therefore, is targeting the pathways that cancer cells have adapted to meet these energy needs, thus “starving” the cancer. The laboratory of Hongbing Wang, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was interested in how this principle applied to cancers of the liver.

“The liver is one of the most busy, active organs in the body,” Wang said, so the healthy liver already needs a lot of energy. In addition, Wang said, liver cancer appears to be one of the few cancers of which incidences seem to be on the rise, possibly in association with the rise of metabolism-related conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

When looking for genes that might play important roles in the metabolism of healthy and cancerous liver cells, Wang and his colleagues became interested in a gene called SLC13A5, which produces a protein that transports citrate into cells. SLC13A5 is expressed mainly in the liver, but its role is relatively understudied.

“If you search for SLC13A5 in PubMed — I searched this morning — there are 54 publications, which is not a whole lot,” Wang said. Nearly half of these studies were published in the last two years. Research on SLC13A5 has focused on its role in obesity and diabetes; knocking out the SLC13A5 gene in mice prevents high-fat diet-induced obesity. If this gene plays a role in energy homeostasis and energy balance in the context of obesity, Wang reasoned, perhaps it could play a role in the energy requirements of liver cancer cells.

Zhihui Li, a postdoctoral fellow in Wang’s lab, performed experiments in which he used a technique called RNA interference to suppress (but not completely eliminate) the production of the SLC13A5 protein. He carried out these experiments in cultures of two human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines. Suppressing SLC13A5 resulted in liver cancer cells that did not die but had significantly slower growth and division. Similarly, when these cells were injected into mice, the cells in which SLC13A5 was suppressed formed barely discernable tumors compared to the unmanipulated cancer cells.

Wang hypothesizes that the extracellular citrate taken up by the SLC13A5 protein is required by the liver cancer cells for fatty acid synthesis. Because prostate cancer does not express SLC13A5, the growth of prostate cancer cells was unaffected by suppressing SLC13A5 expression. The fact that prostate cancer grew independently of the presence of SLC13A5 supports the idea that different cancers use different methods to meet their high energy requirements.

Wang points out that the current findings are preliminary and that comparing SLC13A5 activity in healthy and cancerous human liver tissue will be necessary before studies of this pathway as a cancer drug target should be contemplated. But understanding the involvement of the citrate transport pathway in the growth of liver cancer marks a step forward in understanding energy use in cancer.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Read the paper.

About the Journal of Biological Chemistry

JBC is a weekly peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes research “motivated by biology, enabled by chemistry” across all areas of biochemistry and molecular biology.

About the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The society’s student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions. For more information, the ASBMB website.

Alexandra Mushegian Research, UMB NewsAugust 25, 20170 comments
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Feng

Research Professor Wins Entrepreneurial Award

In 2007, Hanping Feng, PhD, then a research assistant professor at Tufts University Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, decided to transition from basic research to translational research. “I wanted to do something that had a direct impact on human health,” he says.

A decade later, he hasn’t changed his mind. Now a professor in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry (UMSOD), he is a co-founder of Fzata, Inc., an antibody technology startup company, which in June was named “Best Life Sciences Company” at the Maryland Incubator Company of the Year awards ceremony. Now in its 16th year, the honor is presented annually by a committee of regional leaders and early-stage investors in recognition of promising fledgling technology companies in Maryland.

Feng’s research is focused on the development of novel diagnostics, vaccines, and antibody-based immunotherapies for Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). More than 29,000 deaths in the United States are caused annually by antibiotic-resistant C. difficile; globally the infection is considered an urgent public health threat.

“It’s a huge problem particularly in westernized countries,” says Feng. “It develops frequently in hospitals where antibiotics are administered. Patients expose spores and then develop an infection. The problem is that currently there’s no prevention nor good treatment strategy.”

Feng’s team has developed a highly innovative and multi-specific antitoxin antibody that has been shown to be effective in neutralizing both clostridial toxins and blocking the disease. Based on this research, Feng and FZata team is developing two candidate drug products: an intravenous, fully humanized, tetra-specific, antibody product (FZ001) designed to treat ongoing infection and to prevent recurrence, and an oral, probiotic, yeast product (FZ002) that secretes the antitoxin at the site of infection.

Both drug candidates have been evaluated in animal models of human infection and reveal superior efficacy against the infection than competitors.

In 2015, Feng and co-founder Zhiyong Yang, PhD, a former research scientist, formed FZata to fast track drug candidates by creating a viable pathway toward clinical trials, and ultimately commercial production. “There’s a big gap between University bench work and clinical study for biologics,” Feng says. “The process is expensive and the large pharmaceutical companies don’t want to invest at an early stage because it’s risky.”

The early success of Fzata gives Feng hope that his model can be successful. “We’ve been able to get support because it’s innovative, and it’s centered on a major public health issue.”

Since 2011, when he came to UMSOD from Tufts University, Feng’s research has been supported by 14 grants or contracts totaling $15 million. Most recently, FZata received a $5.6 million National Institutes of Health grant to enable development of lead therapeutics against CDI.

Scott Hesel Bulletin Board, Contests, People, Research, TechnologyJuly 24, 20170 comments
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public health roundtable

Exploring Careers in Public Health Pharmacy

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on Inside SOP, the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy’s blog. It is reprinted here with permission.

Can you imagine yourself working as a pharmacist in a prison, on a Native American reservation, or in a housing facility for immigrants seeking asylum within the United States? These are just some of the interesting career options discussed during the Public Health Roundtable sponsored by the School of Pharmacy’s Student Government Association (SGA) and Student Section of the Maryland Public Health Association (SMdPHA) in May.

A Chance to Gain New Insights

The Public Health Roundtable is an event that students look forward to each spring. In fact, in recent years, the School has had at least one graduating Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) student enter the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) as a commissioned officer. This year, more than 30 students and eight officers from the PHS participated in the successful program held at the School of Pharmacy’s satellite campus at the Universities at Shady Grove.

The PHS officers, many of whom were graduates of the School, shared their career trajectory, described their unique experiences serving in the Corps, and provided advice about future career opportunities in the fields of pharmacy and public health. Among other topics, students had the opportunity to learn about careers in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Indian Health Service, and the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

An Enjoyable Evening for All

Students from the Baltimore and Shady Grove campuses alike enjoyed this year’s experience, and are looking forward to planning next year’s event. Feedback from PHS officers was also very positive, with two officers offering the following kind words:

“The Public Health Roundtable was a great experience, and I found it incredibly inspiring to hear about where the students would like their professional careers to go. Best of luck to everyone and thank you again for the opportunity,” said LCDR Christine Corser, PharmD, RAC, health science policy analyst in the Office of Prescription Drug Promotion at the FDA.

“Thank you kindly for the opportunity. It was my pleasure to attend this lovely event and speak with students,” added LT Zakiya Chambers, PharmD, MPH, BCPS, recruitment specialist for the Office of the Surgeon General.

The School of Pharmacy continues to be committed to introducing students to opportunities in public health pharmacy, and looks forward to supporting more SMdPHA events in the future.

Robert Beardsley Education, University Life, USGAJune 14, 20170 comments
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Center for Vaccine Development

Volunteers Needed for Reproductive Health Study

In conjunction with the National Institutes of Health, the University of Maryland Center for Vaccine Development is currently conducting a research study to collect samples to test an investigational rapid laboratory test to screen for two common sexually transmitted infections (STIs), Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) and Neisseria gonorrhoeae. We are in need of healthy, male and female volunteers, ages 18 – 49 for participation in this research study. The research study involves one 30-60 minute visit for which you will be compensated $75 for your time. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Recruiting Office at the Center for Vaccine Development at 410-706-6156 between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Jennifer Courneya Bulletin Board, Community Service, Education, People, Research, University LifeMarch 2, 20170 comments
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Krantz and Das

Dentistry-led Anthrax Study in Prestiguous Journal

The University of Maryland School of Dentistry’s research team achieved an unprecedented breakthrough with the acceptance of a recent manuscript into the publication Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS). ‌

This manuscript, “Peptide and Proton Driven Allosteric Clamps Catalyze Anthrax Toxin Translocation across Membranes,” is the first such paper to be accepted into this prestigious journal in the history of UMSOD. The paper was co-authored by Bryan Krantz, PhD, associate professor, and Debasis Das, PhD, a postdoctorate fellow, both in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis (pictured).

The primary focus of the research centered on the components of the anthrax toxin protein. The anthrax toxin contains three components. One component forms a channel – or pore – in the cell membrane. The other component goes through that pore into the cell. Once that second component (referred to as the ‘substrate’) makes it into the cell, it carries out reactions that disrupts the cell’s functions.

Working from a foundation provided by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, Das and Krantz discovered evidence that this translocation mechanism is under allosteric control. Allosteric regulation is a process wherein proteins transmit the effect of binding at one site to another, often at a location other than the enzyme’s active site. In the case of the Anthrax toxin, when the pore part of the protein binds, the substrate part that is disrupting the cell binds tighter as well, despite being at a different location.

“This tells us how the anthrax pore functions,” said Krantz, “there are huge implications because this is an entirely new way of thinking about the translocation mechanism.”

Previously, there had been no documented evidence showing that the mechanism of translation carried out by the pore protein was under allosteric control. The importance of this discovery is a major reason why the manuscript was accepted into PNAS, according to Krantz.

“This is a landmark discovery that may find its way into textbooks,” said Patrik Bavoil, PhD, professor and chair in the Department of Microbial Pathogenesis, “this is a model for how all proteins, not just the anthrax toxin, translocate across membranes.”

This accomplishment caps off a successful two months for UMSOD research efforts. On May 29, Vineet Dhar, PhD, in the Department of Pediatrics won the Paul P. Taylor award from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) for his paper evaluating the evidence of effectiveness of interventions for Early Childhood Carries (ECC).

For Krantz and Das, the next steps will include additional research into their discovery through grants awarded by the National Institutes of Health.

Scott Hesel ResearchJuly 22, 20160 comments
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Shakespeare Exhibit at HS/HSL

Shakespeare Exhibit Now at HS/HSL

An exhibition developed and produced by the Exhibition Program at the National Library of Medicine and the Folger Shakespeare Library will be displayed in the HS/HSL Weise Gallery now through May 14, 2016.

“And there’s the humor of it”: Shakespeare and the Four Humors explores the role played by the four humors in several of Shakespeare’s most beloved plays through beautiful imagery and rare books from both the National Library of Medicine and the Folger Shakespeare Library, and examines more modern interpretations of the four humors in contemporary medicine.

Ryan HarrisBulletin Board, Education, People, Research, UMB News, University LifeApril 7, 20161 comment
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