WVU Medicine Cabinet News Stories

HSTA program receives Benedum grant

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Health Sciences and Technology Academy (HSTA) at West Virginia University has received a $125,000 grant from the Benedum Foundation to evaluate the student influence on healthy living in their families and community.  The goal is to improve health literacy related to obesity and its complications in the highly motivated, college bound HSTA students. “The kids will be doing projects all over the state focusing on obesity and prevention of all the repercussions of obesity. They are going to be doing all kinds of intervention, and they have developed a lifestyle characteristics survey,” Ann Chester, Ph.D., HSTA program director and assistant vice president for social justice at the WVU Health Sciences Center, said. HSTA was established in 1994 as a ninth through 12th grade math and science program for minority, underrepresented and rural students in West Virginia. During the school year, students throughout the state work on community-based projects led by their public school math and science teachers. Every summer, WVU faculty lead the students through laboratory and clinical experiences. The goal of the program is to encourage these students to attend college and consider health and science careers. “The grant is wonderful for HSTA because it’ll bring the leadership from all across the state together to one location to brainstorm and create a strategic plan to really capture the power of the HSTA infrastructure for community-based, participatory research,” Dr. Chester said. “Given their interest, energy and focus, if anybody can help change the health statistics of West Virginia, these kids can by focusing on prevention.” HSTA rising 11th graders will be on the WVU Health Sciences campus July 10-22 participating in the annual Biomedical Summer Institute. Together with WVU faculty and staff, HSTA students and teachers will be working on various community-based participatory research projects focusing on metabolic syndrome and related diseases. After the inquiry experiences and research projects of the Biomedical Institute, students will take their new knowledge back to their families and communities through lifestyle interventions designed to improve health literacy and biomedical science education.   [...]

Text to support Rosenbaum Family House

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – There’s no place like home, but to adult patients and their families traveling to West Virginia University Hospitals for medical care, Rosenbaum Family House comes close, offering a soft pillow, comfy bed, hot meals and a warm welcome. Giving to support this much-needed service is now as easy as a few taps of the thumb, thanks to the Family House’s Text2Give initiative. [...]

Bonnie’s Bus offers mammograms in Belle, Miami and Sissonville

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Kanawha County, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be parked beside Riverside High School in Belle from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Wednesday, July 6. On Tuesday, July 19, it will be located at the Cabin Creek Administration Building in Miami from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Bus will also be at Sissonville Health Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, July 29.   [...]

Research links carbon nanotubes to lung cancer risk

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two recent studies — both taking different scientific paths — have each linked a popular new manmade material with the development of cancerous cells. The research projects were conducted by scientists at West Virginia University and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH). Carbon nanotubes, first created about 20 years ago, are tiny, fibrous materials 50,000 times thinner than a human hair with walls a single molecule thick. They are strong and long-lasting. Their physical and chemical properties have excited researchers and engineers, who are working around the world to discover new applications in supercapacitors, batteries, the automotive and aerospace industries, electronics, pharmaceutics, bio-engineering, medical devices and biomedicine. However, the rush to exploit this new material has created a concern among scientists that widespread manufacturing and distribution of nanotubes may expose both workers and consumers to unknown risks. Both new studies, published in online journals, note the similarity of the nanotube structure to the naturally-occurring structure of asbestos fibers that have been implicated in health consequences for a large number of manufacturing and construction workers. Lan Guo, Ph.D., of WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, along with several other WVU and NIOSH researchers, found a relationship between introduction of carbon nanotubes into the lungs of lab mice and the production of gene biomarkers which are known to change dramatically when lung cancer develops. The genes showed changes similar to those in human patients with lung cancer Yon Rojanasakul, Ph.D., of the WVU School of Pharmacy, and his colleagues exposed human lung cells to carbon nanotubes in a laboratory. The cells developed malignant transformations similar to the early signs of lung cancer. They then injected these cells into lab mice, which developed tumors.  “Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT) are similar in structure to asbestos, a known human carcinogen that causes lung cancer and mesothelioma,” Dr. Guo said. “In previous studies, our collaborators at NIOSH demonstrated that MWCNT exposure rapidly produces significant pulmonary inflammation, damage and fibrosis. Several studies have pointed to fibrosis as a precursor to lung cancer.” Guo’s team analyzed a set of 63 lung cancer biomarker genes, most of which are known to change dramatically when lung cancer develops. Of the 63 genes analyzed, 14 changed dramatically at either seven days or 56 days following exposure and four of the 14 stayed abnormal during both time intervals. “I want to be cautious about these findings,” Guo said. “So far there has been no direct evidence to declare that exposures to multi-walled carbon nanotubes induce or cause cancer. However, our study of lung disease development in an animal model indicates there are harmful effects to some genes known to be associated with lung cancer progression in humans.” She added that these results could be used for the medical surveillance of people who work in occupations in which they are exposed to multi-walled carbon nanotubes. Dr. Rojanasakul’s research focused on a related material, single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNT). He and his research team, which also included NIOSH and Cancer Center researchers, first introduced the nanotubes into human lung epithelial cells which had been grown in laboratory cultures. Over 12 to 24 weeks of observation, the cells displayed many of the same changes observed in cancer cells. “Carcinogenesis is a multistep process requiring long-term exposure to the carcinogens,” Rojanasakul said.  “We have developed a chronic exposure model in which human lung cells were continuously exposed to a low dose of SWCNT in culture over a prolonged time period.” The transformed human cells were then injected into mice, which developed easily visible tumors at the injection sites. Control mice, which were injected with human lung cells that had not been exposed to carbon nanotubes, did not develop tumors. The Guo study was published online May 23 in the journal “Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology.” Co-authors are Maricica Pacurari, Ph.D., Ying-Wooi Wan and Dajie Luo of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center; and Yong Qian, Ph.D., Dale Porter, Ph.D., Michael Wolfarth, Min Ding, Ph.D., and Vincent Castranova, Ph.D., of NIOSH. To view the study online go to http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.taap.2011.05.012. The Rojanasakul study was posted online in early June in “NANO Letters,” a publication of the American Chemical Society. Co-authors are Liying Wang, Ph.D., and Vincent Castranova, Ph.D., of NIOSH; Yongju Lu, Sudjit Luanpitpong, and Varisa Pongrakhananon, Ph.D., of the WVU School of Pharmacy; and William Tse, M.D., of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center. To view the study online go to http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/nl2011214.   [...]

WVU School of Public Health plan moves forward

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – West Virginia University Health Sciences will create five academic departments to lead the pre-accreditation phase of development for its new School of Public Health. [...]

WVU Healthcare’s Penny Wars collects more than a million pennies to benefit cancer patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – WVU Healthcare’s fourth annual Penny Wars to benefit patients at the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center (MBRCC) raised $11,868.70 – or 1,186,870 pennies – exceeding its goal to collect 1 million pennies – or $10,000 – in eight weeks. During the campaign, coin collection containers were set up at area businesses and around WVU, including the WVU Health Sciences Center cafeteria, WVUH Friends Gift Shop, Black Bear Burritos, Boston Beanery, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cool Ridge, Texas Roadhouse and the WVU Barnes and Noble Bookstore. The WVU Health Sciences Center collected the most pennies followed by the WVU Barnes and Noble Bookstore and Buffalo Wild Wings. “There are so many worthy causes to support these days, yet folks in our community always manage to dig a little deeper into their pockets to help cancer patients by donating to Penny Wars,” Jame Abraham, M.D., chief of Hematology/Oncology at WVU and the Bonnie Wells Wilson Distinguished Professor and Eminent Scholar in Breast Cancer Research, said. “Their kindness and generosity will mean so much to patients and families dealing with a cancer diagnosis.” The Clarion Hotel Morgan joined the campaign this year by hosting a Kentucky Derby Party on May 7. Guests watched the horse race, while enjoying dinner, mint juleps, raffle prizes and a hat contest. The party raised $6,500 for Penny Wars. Proceeds from Penny Wars benefit the MBRCC Comfort Fund that was established to provide temporary, short-term financial assistance for patients being treated at the Cancer Center until they can be linked with appropriate community, state or national resources. Penny Wars has raised more than $49,000 since it began four years ago.   [...]

Study examines relationship between mountaintop mining and birth defects

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A new study co-authored by researchers at West Virginia University found significantly higher prevalence rates for birth defects in mountaintop mining areas compared to other mining areas and non-mining areas. The team studied more than 1.8 million birth records in West Virginia and surrounding states in central Appalachia.  They compared the prevalence of birth defects in mountaintop coal mining areas compared with other coal mining areas and with non-mining areas for two periods of time: 1996-1999 and 2000-2003. “We found that birth defects were significantly higher in mountaintop mining areas versus non-mining areas for six of seven types of defects: circulatory/respiratory, central nervous system, musculoskeletal, gastrointestinal, urogenital and ‘other,’” Michael Hendryx, Ph.D., co-author of the study in the WVU Department of Community Medicine, said. “Overall, the prevalence rate for any defect was significant in both periods but was higher in the more recent period. In the earlier period the rate of birth defects was 13 percent higher in mountaintop mining areas and increased to 42 percent higher in the later period.” Researchers used secondary data to study all live birth outcomes for the years 1996 through 2003. They determined the mother’s residence relative to county mining type (mountaintop mining, other mining, no mining) and controlled for birth-defect risks including mother’s age, race/ethnic origin, education, smoking and drinking during pregnancy, diabetes, metro/non-metro location, infant gender and low prenatal care. Dr. Hendryx added that mountaintop mining in one county may contribute to birth-defect prevalence rates in surrounding counties. “Elevated birth defect rates are partly a function of socioeconomic disadvantage but remain elevated after controlling for those risks, suggesting that environmental influences in mountaintop mining areas may be contributing factors to elevated birth defect rates,” he said. “A growing body of studies have found significant associations between coal-mining areas and a variety of chronic disease problems for adults, after controlling for other disease risk factors. Research related to infants has found that mothers residing in coal mining areas are more likely to have a low birth weight infant. This study extends that research, showing that mountaintop mining areas are associated with elevated levels of birth defect prevalence rates." The study was led by Melissa Ahern, a health economist at Washington State University. In addition to Hendryx, WVU co-authors of the study include Alan Ducatman, M.D., and Keith Zullig, Ph.D., of the Department of Community Medicine and Jamison Conley and Evan Fedorko of the Department of Geology and Geography. It was published online and will appear in an upcoming issue of “Environmental Research: A Multidisciplinary Journal of Environmental Sciences, Ecology and Public Health.” It can be viewed at www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0013935111001484.   [...]

Bonnie’s Bus offers mammograms June 28 in Wayne

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Bonnie’s Bus, a digital mammography center on wheels, will visit Wayne County, offering digital mammograms and breast care education to women. A service of WVU Healthcare, Bonnie’s Bus will be at the Wayne County Health Department in Wayne from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, June 28.  The mammograms are billed to insurance, Medicaid or Medicare if available.  Mammograms for women who do not have insurance will be covered by the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program or through special grant funds. A physician’s order is needed for a mammogram. For a Bonnie’s Bus appointment call 304-523-6483.   Last year, Bonnie’s Bus made 65 visits in 30 counties throughout West Virginia providing mammography screening to nearly 800 women. About half of those screened were medically underserved and from challenged socio-economic backgrounds and qualified for screening through the Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program. The goal for this year is to screen at least 1,200 women. Bonnie’s Bus works in collaboration with a statewide partnership of women’s groups, clinicians, public health professionals and other community leaders working to help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer in West Virginia.  Made possible by a generous gift from West Virginia natives Jo and Ben Statler to WVU’s Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, Bonnie’s Bus is operated by WVU Hospitals. The bus is named after Mrs. Statler's late mother, Bonnie Wells Wilson. For information on Bonnie’s Bus, see www.wvucancer.org/bonnie. Attention reporters and editors: If you are interested in covering Bonnie’s Bus when it visits your area, please call the HSC News Service in Morgantown at 304-293-7087 in advance. Out of respect for patient privacy, please do not show up at the location without scheduling an appropriate time for interviews and/or photos.   [...]

WVU pharmacy students showcase talents to bring comfort to cancer patients

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Students from the West Virginia University School of Pharmacy showcased their creativity and raised $1,432 for the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center (MBRCC) Comfort Fund. The Kappa Psi and the Academy of Student Pharmacists student organizations hosted the Third Annual School of Pharmacy Variety Show, which included a dance routine and several musical numbers by bands, duets and solo vocalists. “This is the third year that we have hosted the show, and the number of pharmacy students involved grows each year,” Justin Williams, Pharm.D., member of the WVU School of Pharmacy Class of 2011, said. “It’s really nice to see so many talented, caring students getting involved to help raise funds for a great cause.” The MBRCC Comfort Fund was established to provide temporary, short-term financial assistance for patients being treated at the Cancer Center until they can be linked with appropriate community, state or national resources.   Dr. Williams first became involved with the Variety Show as a third-year student when he coordinated the event in 2010. He coordinated this year’s event with the assistance of fellow student pharmacists Matthew Bailey, Leah Comis and Brian Dye. “The School of Pharmacy Variety Show is a different way for pharmacy students to show our support for the Comfort Fund and all that is does to help patients and their loved ones,” Williams said. “I really enjoy this event because we can come together for a fun evening, raise awareness about the Comfort Fund and help raise funds for it as well.” [...]