Maximize your workout with Protein 101 at the Culinary Corner

Are you interested in being leaner, building muscle or looking your best for the lake? If you answered yes to any one of these questions, you are probably on a strict diet and exercise regimen. With all the talk about increased protein for athletes and active individuals, the options out there are endless. Protein shakes, supplements, diet pills and special foods – which one does the trick? More importantly- are these healthy and will they work for your body?

Maximize your workout with Protein 101 at the Culinary Corner

At the Culinary Corner, located in the Wellness Center, we believe that a huge part of wellness is nutritionally based. To answer your questions and help you get started on a healthy workout and lifestyle, the Culinary Corner is hosting "Protein 101", a series of classes held Thursdays in July. At just $7 per person, these classes offer a variety of tips and suggestions and teach you to make all your favorite foods with healthy alternatives that are rich in proteins. Eat the food you love. Reach the goals you crave.  Attend three classes and get the fourth class free.

Sept. 18: UND Host-Pathogen Interactions CoBRE Symposium


You are invited to attend the Annual Host-Pathogen CoBRE Symposium to be held at the University of North Dakota Gorecki Alumni Center on Monday, Sept. 18, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Breakfast will be served from 7 to 8:30 a.m. This event will bring together experts studying cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying host responses in acute infections and chronic disease conditions. Confirmed speakers include:

- Elaine Tuomanen (St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital): "Expanding bacterial signaling vocabulary from inflammation to neuroproliferation"

- Anjana Rao (La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology): "Epigenetic and transcriptional responses driven by the calcium-calcineurin-NFAT pathway in T cells"

- Nadeem Khan (University of North Dakota): "A double edge of host type 17 immunity in pneumococcal infections"

- Ali Divan (University of North Dakota):  "Neurocognitive and behavioral changes in a mouse model of neuroborreliosis"

- Matthew Nilles (University of North Dakota):  "Utilization of a type III secretion system needle protein to improve the acellular pertussis vaccine"

- Atul Sharma (University of North Dakota):  "Modulation of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps (NETs): Therapeutic Intervention"

In addition, investigators from UND will present their research related to infection and immunity in the afternoon poster session. This event aims to promote interaction and collaboration among researchers in the area and provide opportunities for learning about cutting-edge tools, approaches, and resources to advance their research in broad areas of infection and inflammation as it applies to human disease. The symposium is organized by the Center for Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) for Host-Pathogen Interactions, UND.

Aug. 3: Doctoral examination for Travis Alvine, Microbiology


The doctoral examination for Travis Alvine, a candidate for the Ph.D. degree with a major in Microbiology, is set for 10 a.m. Aug. 3 in room W201, School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The dissertation title is:  Characterization of the Immune Stimulating Properties of Type III Secretion System Needle Protein BscF from Bordetella Pertussis: Towards the Development of a New Acellular Pertussis Vaccine. David Bradley (Microbiology) is the committee chair. The public is invited to attend. Grant McGimpsey, Dean, School of Graduate Studies.

*** Please Note: Guests for this event may use the pay-as-you-go option in the Parking Ramp (corner of 2nd Ave N and Columbia Road), or a Metered Zone.  Parking in any other parking lot on campus requires a parking pass which can be purchased online or directly through UND Parking Services, Transportation Building, 3925 Campus Rd. (8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Monday – Friday).

May 10: Epigenetics seminar focuses on cluster-filtered networks


Mark Grimes, DBS, an associate professor at the University of Montana–Missoula, will present "Unravelling Hairballs: Biological Pathways From Protein Modification Cluster-Filtered Networks" at noon on Wednesday May 10, in Room E101, the Charles H. Fee, MD, Auditorium at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences in Grand Forks. Grimes’s presentation is cosponsored by the Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) for Epigenomics and the Department of Biomedical Sciences. All are invited to attend.

Jyotika Sharma to chair session at annual meeting of American Association of Immunologists

Jyotika Sharma to chair session at annual meeting of American Association of Immunologists


Jyotika Sharma, associate professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the School of Medicine and Health Sciences, has been invited to chair a block symposium tentatively titled "Innate Immune Signaling" at the worldwide gathering of immunologists: Immunology 2017, the annual meeting of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI), in Washington D.C., May 12–16.  The AAI is one of the oldest (founded in 1913) and most prestigious scientific societies of immunologists with 25 Nobel Laureates as past or present members. Sharma has been a member since 2005. The association has recognized the work done in her lab with several awards, including a fellowship to her graduate student Christopher Jondle for his studies on C-type lectin receptor MGL-1.

This is the second consecutive year that the AAI has invited her to chair one of the sessions at its annual meeting along with an oral presentation from one of her lab members. Atul Sharma (who is not related), a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Sharma, has been selected to give an oral presentation at this meeting. He received his Master of Technology in Biotechnology from Rajiv Gandhi Technical University in Bhopal, India. He earned his PhD in Molecular Medicine from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India, before joining Sharma’s lab as a postdoctoral fellow to work on the mechanism of Mincle-mediated neutrophil extracellular trap (NET) formation in pneumonia and COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), one of the many projects in her lab.

Atul Sharma’s presentation is titled "Mincle regulates autophagy to control neutrophil extracellular trap formation." It stems from a paper by Sharma’s group, with Atul as the first author. The paper recently was accepted for publication in the Journal of Infectious Diseases, which is among the top five journals publishing research on infectious disease.  This paper will soon be available online at the journal’s Advance Access. Their study describes, for the first time, how a host protein called Mincle modulates a specific function of neutrophils, that is, the formation of NETs. Neutrophils make NETs to trap and kill infectious agents. Conversely, too much NET formation can cause excessive inflammation, which is now recognized as a cause of many autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and even Alzheimer’s.

"Our study of Mincle and its downstream signaling in regulation of NET formation provides a unique opportunity to harness the beneficial function of NETs—effective antimicrobial resistance—while minimizing excessive tissue damage, a goal that has been elusive so far," said Jyotika Sharma. They believe that their study opens up novel therapeutic options in a wide spectrum of inflammatory diseases, where too little or too much NET formation is the cause of disease development. Jyotika Sharma’s research focuses on host-pathogen interaction and regulation of inflammation in acute and chronic inflammatory diseases including pneumonia, sepsis and COPD; she is internationally recognized for her research on sepsis, a life-threatening medical condition that results from a systemic inflammatory response by the body to fend off a severe infection or to recover from a traumatic injury.

There are currently no therapies for this condition. Since joining UND in 2011, her work on this area of research has been continuously funded by grants from the American Heart Association and by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest biomedical research agency in the world. In November 2015, the NIH granted $1.7 million to Sharma to examine neutrophils, which are the first responders for combatting bacterial infections like pneumonia. The five-year R01 grant is the highest level of research supported by the NIH. She is also a Project Leader 1 for the $10.7 million COBRE award to the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences from the NIH to research host-pathogen interactions.

NIH funds Milavetz's study of early formation of cancer-causing viruses


The list is long. From the common cold and influenza to HIV and measles and from Zika to some cancers, all are caused by viruses—tiny packages of either DNA or RNA that wear a protein coat. They shouldn’t be confused with bacteria. Viruses aren’t technically "alive." They are parasites that need a host—that means you and me—to "live" in and reproduce. To do that, viruses are hijackers. They infect human cells with a simple and sometimes deadly message: make more viruses.

A particular virus called simian virus 40 or SV40, a virus found in monkeys that can cause cancer in certain other animals and is closely related to a number of similar human viruses, is the focus of a $139,000 National Institutes of Health grant to University of North Dakota Associate Vice President for Research and Economic Development Barry Milavetz so he can continue his research on SV40. Milavetz is interested in how SV40 duplicates itself in an infected cell. In particular, how the cell environment around the virus, or the cell’s epigenetics, modifies SV40 to become a virus particle. The purpose of the NIH grant is to identify the mechanisms that cause the modifications in epigenetic structure during the formation of a virus particle. "We are particularly interested in the epigenetic changes occurring during the very first stage of an infection," said Milavetz, "since this is the time that the infection is most easily treatable."

Milavetz, who is also a professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at the UND School of Medicine and Health Sciences, and Meera Ajeet Kumar, working as a technician, expect to identify all of the epigenetic changes occurring during the formation of an SV40 virus particle and determine the factors that are responsible for the changes and how the factors function. "A number of drugs are in various stages of development that target factors involved in epigenetic regulation," Milavetz said.  "Our results may be useful for identifying drug targets that can be exploited for treating infections by this group of viruses." "Our research on epigenetic regulation of SV40 infections will advance our knowledge of how viruses infect cells and cause cancer and also yield insight with respect to epigenetic regulation of our own genes."

NIH funds $1.5 million UND study of transgenerational threat from amphetamines


If your mother or father were addicted to amphetamines, does that increase your risk of becoming addicted? An answer to that question is a focus of a $1.5 million, five-year grant to the School of Medicine and Health Sciences from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Drug Abuse. The study, titled "Amphetamine Causes Transgenerational Effects," will be led by Associate Professor Lucia Carvelli in the Department of Biomedical Sciences. "Although addictions show no clear pattern of inheritance, family history represents one of the greatest risk factors for drug addiction," Carvelli said. "Numerous family, adoption and twin studies have shown that an individual’s risk to develop addiction tends to be proportional to the degree of genetic relationship to an addicted relative. In other words, parents with a history of addiction are more likely to have kids that will develop an addiction as well."

Although social studies support that addiction can be inherited, no one knows what the mechanisms are that cause this inheritance. "A common characteristic among all addictive drugs is that they directly or indirectly increase the activity of dopamine in the brain," Carvelli said. "Dopamine is one of the main chemicals promoting neural signaling in those areas of the brain that are responsible for the reward system. In animals, including humans, the reward system is activated every time we perform an action that is important for our own survival, such as eating or sex." However, Carvelli said that amphetamines and other drugs of abuse "hijack the function of dopamine in the reward system and promote positive-reinforcing behaviors directed toward the intake of the drugs. The pleasure we experience when we eat our favorite dish is replaced by a much stronger pleasure produced by the drugs."

For years, Carvelli has studied how amphetamines affect specific proteins of the reward system. Her research relies on the study of a tiny creature with a long scientific name: Caenorhabditis elegans or C. elegans. C. elegans is a nematode, a transparent soil-dwelling roundworm that is about 1 millimeter in length, the width of the sharpened tip on a No. 2 yellow pencil. Most importantly, it shares a common ancestor with humans, which means that many of the same genes that guide development and disease in C. elegans are the same as those found in humans. Scientists take advantage of the worm’s relatively simple genome (its genetic material), its short life span, the ease of manipulating its genetics, and the complete map of what genes affect the fate of every cell. C. elegans is a model research organism whose use has led scientists to significant discoveries about human cancer, kidney disease, neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, and neurodevelopmental disabilities as well as how aging affects these processes.

"In our preliminary work, we found that in C. elegans chronic amphetamine treatment during development generated adults that are hypersensitive to amphetamine," Carvelli said. "Remarkably, we found that this hypersensitivity to amphetamine was inherited in progeny. This result represents the first evidence supporting the hypothesis that drugs of abuse such as amphetamine can induce transgenerational effects. That is, chronic use of amphetamine during development induces physiological changes that persist during the adult stage of an individual and can be passed down to future generations."

This discovery raised a lot of interest at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. When Carvelli applied for funding from the NIDA, the NIH institute approved her current project after the first grant submission. Only a small percentage of researchers are funded by the NIH after their first grant application. "The long-term goal of this grant is to investigate the potential role that regulation of gene expression plays in mediating drug-induced behaviors and the inherited predisposition to addiction," Carvelli said. "Thus our data collected on amphetamines might be useful to understand how other drugs of abuse, such as cocaine and alcohol, generate their long-term effects." Carvelli noted that the mechanisms that control gene expression are reversible and can be modified by drugs that are commercially available. "Our project also includes a set of experiments designed to test whether pharmacological intervention prevents the long-term and transgenerational effects caused by chronic use of amphetamine during development."

NIH funds Basson’s study of treatment to alleviate effects from starvation or intestinal surgery


When children or adults either undergo prolonged fasting or have much of their small intestine removed because of disease, they are often initially unable to eat enough to survive. Without sufficient intestinal adaptation, they may be condemned to permanent intravenous feedings, with a substantial impact on quality and length of life, or require small bowel transplantation, which has its own complications. "Current medical treatment for this condition has limited efficacy," said Marc D. Basson, MD, PhD, MBA, FACS, the associate dean for medicine and professor of surgery and of biomedical sciences at the School of Medicine & Health Sciences. "We have identified a novel protein that turns on the function of the cells that line the small intestine and may offer a new approach to the management of this condition."

The National Institutes of Health has granted over $860,000 to Basson to continue research he initiated at Michigan State University in 2012. Basson’s unique approach is called Schlafen mediation of intestinal epithelial differentiation. "We hope to trace the pathway that causes the small intestinal epithelial lining cells to differentiate," Basson said, "The pathway may offer new targets that can be used to develop new therapies to help children and adults who have what is known as short bowel syndrome, which usually results from surgical removal of a large portion of the small intestine."

Other researchers from the SMHS working with Basson in his study are Lakshmi Chaturvedi, PhD, research associate professor in the Departments of Surgery, Biomedical Sciences and Pathology; Emilie DeKrey, PhD, research assistant professor in the Department of Surgery; and Luis Garcia, MD, Sanford Health System, and clinical associate professor in the Department of Surgery at the SMHS. In addition, Basson will continue the research partnership he forged with Leslie Kuhn, PhD, professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Michigan State University. "We hope this research leads to pharmacologic interventions targeted at the mechanisms that we are tracing," he said. "And we will study how treating this pathway may be adapted to weight-loss surgery to make such surgery more effective." Also of note, Basson was named editor in chief this month of the Journal of Investigative Surgery, which publishes peer-reviewed scientific articles for the advancement of surgery.

Thursday, Aug. 11: Undergraduate students showcase summer research


Fifteen undergraduates from across the country and one North Dakota tribal college instructor will present the results of their research this summer at the Interdisciplinary Renewable and Environmental Chemistry (IREC) Summer Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) poster session from 9 to 10 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, on the second floor of Abbott Hall. Light snacks and beverages will be served in the morning and ice cream in the afternoon. The poster session is the culmination of the students’ summer-long research and gives them a chance to explain their work to the public in an informal setting. The program participants, who have come to UND from all over the United States, have spent the past 10 weeks being mentored by interdisciplinary teams of faculty in UND’s Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biology, and Atmospheric Sciences departments, working together in their laboratories and at community outreach events.

Funding for the students and summer program activities was provided by the National Science Foundation through grants supporting the IREC REU, the Dakota Bioprocessing Consortium, and the Center for Regional Climate Studies; by the U.S. Department of Education through a Mathematics and Science Partnerships (MSP) program grant from the ND Department of Public Instruction, and by the UND Departments of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Research projects targeted development of renewable chemicals from lignin and lignocellulose, organic synthesis, measurement and modeling of atmospheric processes, modeling proteins for epigenetic gene regulation, evaluation of middle school STEM outreach, and performance of renewable fuel combustion systems. As a part of the program, students also received weekly training in science communication, community outreach, and research ethics. This year’s talented participants and their home institutions are the following:

- Zakiya Barnes, Savannah State University
- Tyson Berg, UND
- Brandon Bush, UND
- Logan Davis, Turtle Mountain Community College
- Matthew Galazzo, Cal Poly Pomona
- Clayton Geib, College of Wooster
- Armo Hayrabidian, Cal Poly Pomona
- Taylor Hennessy, Cal Poly Pomona
- Nicholas Hollister, UND
- Marianne Hull, King University
- Jasmine Kreft, UND
- Audrey LaVallie, Turtle Mountain Community College
- Toby Morken-Simmers, UND
- Sara Streed, St. Olaf College
- Ellen Walstad, UND
- Natallia Yeudakimenka, UND

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