June 01, 2009

SDSU BioScience Center UpData

By Roberta Gottlieb, M.D.

moderate periodontitis
Moderate Periodontitis

Construction Update

Construction is scheduled to be complete by June 15. Invitations have been sent out for the celebration of the Donald P. Shiley Cardiovascular Research Center which will take place on July 15. We hope it will be a memorable occasion.

What's new in BSC Science?

Periodontal disease and atherosclerosis: We have been awarded ~$1M in NIH funding through the NARCH program (Native American Research Centers in Health) to conduct a study of periodontal disease and atherosclerosis in Native Americans receiving dental care at the Indian Health Council in north county. This project has been in preparation for over two years, and we are looking forward to initiating the project. Funding is expected to start in September and will run for 5 years.

Chagas disease: We hosted a visiting scientist from Argentina this winter, Dr. Patricia Romano; she has now returned to her home institution in Mendoza, and will be continuing the research program she developed while in the BioScience Center. We have recruited a talented investigator to continue the project here in the BSC. Dr. Nikos Gurfield, is a D.V.M. who is entering the SDSU doctoral program this Fall. Dr. Gurfield has served as the County Veterinarian and Director of the Vector Control Agency, and is interested in the mechanism by which parasites gain entry into host cells.

Inflammation research: We are pleased to report that the five immunologists recently hired will be able to move into the BSC on July 1, one month ahead of schedule.

Staphylococcus aureus 50,000x
Staphylococcus aureus

Collaborations with SDSU investigators are already underway, including a plan to develop a vaccine for Staphylococcus aureus, a bacterium that is responsible for life-threatening infections such as toxic shock syndrome, and bacterial endocarditis. Because Staph is so frequently resistant to many antibiotics, a vaccine represents an important therapeutic tool.

Where in the World Are Our BSC Investigators?

No, we haven't misplaced any of them. But they are traveling all over the world, presenting their work, and spreading the reputation of the SDSU BioScience Center.

Roberta Gottlieb, and 3 members of her lab--Raquel Carreira, Cynthia Perry, and Najib Magee--attended the Abcam Symposium on Molecular Regulation of Cardiac Disease held in London May 14-15. Roberta, Raquel, and Cyndi presented research on heart disease and cardioprotection.

Roberta Gottlieb also presented work at the International Society for Heart Research--North American Section, held in Baltimore May 26-29.

Åsa Gustafsson presented her work on heart failure at the Keystone Symposium on Mitochondrial Dynamics in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada in March of this year.

Chengqun Huang, of the Gottlieb lab, will present his work on chemotherapy, stem cells, and heart failure at a conference in China later in June.

What will you be doing for summer vacation?

This is a question that is on the minds of many undergraduates in the late Spring. Three of them will be spending their summer as research interns in labs in the BioScience Center. Elona Brage and Pierce von Buttlar are funded through NIH ARRA (Recovery Act) supplements, and Millie Liao is recipient of an American Heart Association studentship.

Graduates and Career Moves:

Allen Andres and Eric Ratliff received their doctoral degrees in biology in May. Eric and Allen did their doctoral work under the guidance of Dr. Roger Davis (now deceased), the first faculty member to join the BSC. Three master's students also earned their degrees in the Davis lab in 2009: Amelia Chen, Sowbarnika Sachithanantham, and Betty Chau. They are looking for work in the biotech sector in Boston and San Diego. Allen and Eric will be joining the Gottlieb lab as postdoctoral fellows. Simon Hui, who led the Davis lab for the past year, has been awarded an R01 grant and will be moving to UCLA in July, where he will join collaborators to study the role of TXNIP in diabetes and obesity. We wish all of them great success in the next phase of their careers.