Dr. Jamie Sturgill Leads Discovery Dialogue on New Pathways to Controlling Asthma

11x16 Brandbar HeaderJamie Sturgill, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of Biobehavioral Laboratory Services for the VCU School of Nursing, led a Discovery Dialogues presentation in the Main Hospital’s Learning Center on Monday, April 11 to a mixed audience of VCU researchers, health care professionals and staff.

In her presentation titled, “A Breath of Fresh Air – Discovering New Pathways to Control Asthma,” Sturgill reviewed the immune response in allergic asthma, such as airway hyperreactivity, eosinophil infiltration, and mucus hypersecretion, in addition to the current treatment options. 

“At this time there is no way to prevent asthma, only control or treat it,” Sturgill said. “This is largely due to the fact that asthma is a large umbrella term and it’s difficult to characterize every type of allergy people have.”

The residents of Richmond, Virginia experience, first hand, the adverse side effects of spring allergies. Last year, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America’s yearly Asthma Capitals report listed Richmond as the second most challenging city to live in with asthma.

Sturgill explains this as Richmond being a ‘perfect storm’ for asthma triggers and cited diesel exhaust from Interstate 64 and Interstate 95, mold in the James River, a large population of dust mites due to the city’s hot and humid temperature, and an urban environment as just a few of the contributing factors.

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First image up top: Jamie Sturgill, Ph.D., assistant professor and director of Biobehavioral Laboratory Services for the VCU School of Nursing

Pamela Dillon Presents Two Abstracts at National ACTS Conference

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Congratulations to Pamela Dillon, Pharm.D., research liaison for the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR), who presented two abstracts on behalf of the CCTR at last week’s Association of Clinical and Translational Science (ACTS) conference in Washington, D.C.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  
In her first presentation titled, “Pilot Funding: An Evaluation of Return on Investment,” Dillon discussed the return on investment (ROI) realized through the CCTR Endowment Fund program. Since the development of the draft abstract, it has been determined that the ROI calculation is $13.74, meaning that for every $1 of CCTR Endowment Fund awarded, Virginia Commonwealth University sees $13.74 in extramural grant funds from this particular group of investigators.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The second presentation focused on the research speed networking event co-hosted by the CCTR and Tompkins-McCaw Library this past January. The speed networking event took place in conjunction with more than 40 activities that made up “Ready, Set, Grant!“, a four-day event aimed at helping researchers learn competitive grant writing skills. …………………………………….
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Pamela Dillon presents her pilot funding abstract at ACTS

VCU Faculty Make the Case for Authentic Engagement of Community in Research

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Photo Credit: Nathan Mitchell and Health Affairs
Photo Credit: Nathan Mitchell and Health Affairs

Steven H. Woolf, M.D., M.P.H., director of the VCU Center on Society and Health and co-director of the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research’s (CCTR) Community Engagement Core, collaborated with his team to publish an article on “authentic” engagement in the April 2016 theme issue of Health Affairs focused on patients’ use of evidence.

In conjunction with the article’s publication, Woolf was invited to present his research at a release event hosted by Health Affairs on Thursday, April 7 in Washington, D.C.

“Researchers often wonder how to engage the community in their trials, but we should turn the question 180 degrees,” said Woolf. “The question is not how to engage the community in our research but how to get researchers engaged in the community’s work to improve population health.”

The article discusses two examples from studies conducted by VCU researchers that cite the benefits of engaging patients and the public as full stakeholders in the design and conduct of research. One of these studies was conducted, in part, by the Center on Society and Health’s Engaging Richmond team, a community-academic partnership funded by the CCTR’s Center for Translational Science Award (No. UL1TR000058).

Click here to read the full article.

Citation:

Steven H. Woolf, Emily Zimmerman, Amber Haley and Alex H. Krist
Authentic Engagement Of Patients And Communities Can Transform Research, Practice, And Policy
Health Affairs 35, no.4 (2016):590-594
doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2015.1512

Press release below:

Health Affairs Press Release_4 5 16-page-001 Health Affairs Press Release_4 5 16-page-002

New Four-Part Brown Bag Seminar Series Kicks Off With BIC

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The C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) held the first in a series of four BIC Brown Bag Lunch seminars on Wednesday, March 23 at the Main Hospital’s Learning Center. 

Tim Aro, information systems manager for the CCTR’s Biomedical Informatics Core (BIC), led a presentation on the various tools and services the BIC has available to help the VCU community improve and expand data management processes.

“All of us here today have different experiences and expertise and I really think we can learn a lot from one another through collaboration,” Aro said. “The Biomedical Informatics Core is continuously growing and looking for feedback on the way you use our tools and services.”

The presentation covered an overview of the many tools and services offered by BIC, including electronic data capture (e.g. REDCap), cohort discovery (i2b2 and other new initiatives), and Clinical Trial Management System (CTMS) support and training (OnCore).

To download Tim’s full presentation slides, click here.

The next BIC Brown Bag Lunch seminar will take place Friday, April 29. Michael Tran, information technology specialist for the CCTR’s Biomedical Informatics Core, will break down REDCap (Research Electronic Data Capture), the IRB approved/recommended site that allows users to build secure web-based databases and surveys, export data to common data analysis packages, and much more. 

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First image up top: Tim Aro, information systems manager for the CCTR’s Biomedical Informatics Core

Dr. Carmen Sato-Bigbee Hosts “F Grant F.A.Q.”

11x16 Brandbar HeaderThe C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) proudly hosted Carmen Sato-Bigbee, Ph.D., associate professor for the VCU Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, and NIH NRSA Fellowship reviewer, who recently led an informal discussion on submitting Individual Research Fellowships (F) grant applications. 

The event, titled “F Grant F.A.Q.,” took place Tuesday, March 8 in the Richmond Academy of Medicine’s main conference room. With over nine years experience as an F grant reviewer, Sato-Bigbee spoke to a room full of mixed-level students on the importance of identifying relevant sponsors, collaborators and consultants, and indicating clear career goals.

“Dr. Sato-Bigbee brings the reviewer perspective in order to demystify the F30/F31 grant application for the student,” said Teraya Donaldson, Ph.D., assistant director of education programs for the CCTR’s Education Core, who organized the event. “Tips from this perspective are extremely valuable in helping the student craft a stronger proposal.”

Sato-Bigbee not only gave the students the opportunity to hear from a grant reviewer’s perspective, but she also provided participants with copies of the very same forms used by reviewers during proposal evaluations.

“Each reviewer will read through one to two grant proposals a day, so it’s important to stand out and make it easier for them to select you,” said Sato-Bigbee to her student audience. “One way to do this is by telling the reviewer what to write. You already know what the score sheets ask, so make sure your answers tell the reviewer exactly what they need to know to give you good marks.”

The event was open to all students interested in submitting an F grant or currently in the writing process for one. Due to the informal nature of the discussion, students were encourage to bring in their own questions and receive answers tailored to their specific proposal or research area.

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First image up top: Carmen Sato-Bigbee (far left), Ph.D., associate professor for the VCU Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

APSA Science Symposium Brings Yale School of Medicine and Duke Health Researchers to VCU

On Thursday, March 3, the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) sponsored a symposium titled, “Science in the Service of Human Health.” A brain child of the VCU chapter of the American Physician Scientist Association (APSA), the symposium brought together Clara Abraham, MD, associate professor of medicine (digestive diseases) for Yale School of Medicine, and Stuart J. Knechtle, MD, liver transplant specialist and pediatric liver transplant specialist for Duke Health.

An internationally recognized investigator, Abraham presented on “Perturbations of Intestinal Immune Homeostasis in Inflammatory Bowel Disease,” in Sanger Hall, Room 1-044. Simultaneously, Knechtle, whose research laboratory has been NIH-funded since 1992, presented his seminar titled, “Training Surgeon-Scientists,” in the Molecular Medicine Research Building, Room 1009.

After a brief lunch recess, Abraham and Knechtle came together for an intimate discussion on careers in translational research and their own pathways to discoveries.

Knechtle reflected on his experiences mentoring young students and seeing them mature into successful researchers.

“The research field and the funding associated with it are becoming lean,” Knechtle said. “It’s more important than ever that researchers be driven and motivated.”

Abraham stressed the importance of reevaluating research questions and what direction one’s findings are taking them.

She quoted Warren Buffett who once said, “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

Using this quote, Abraham encouraged audience members to be persistent in their research and understand that rejection is a part of the research process.

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Clara Abraham, MD, associate professor of medicine (digestive diseases) for Yale School of Medicine
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Stuart J. Knechtle, MD, liver transplant specialist and pediatric liver transplant specialist for Duke Health
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Clara Abraham, MD (left) stands with Stuart J. Knechtle, MD (right) during the “Careers in Translational Research and Recent Findings” lecture.
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Sahar Lotfi-Emran, vice president of APSA and a student in the VCU School of Medicine’s M.D.-Ph.D. Program, poses questions about the investigator career path during the joint panel.