Researchers Participate in Speed Networking Event

11x16 Brandbar HeaderOn Thursday, Jan. 14, the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) at VCU and Tompkins-McCaw Library co-hosted a research speed networking lunch event.

This program was just one of the more than 40 activities that made up “Ready, Set, Grant!,” a four-day event aimed at helping researchers learn competitive grant writing skills.

More than twenty individuals from across a variety of VCU disciplines attended the event. Representation included the CCTR, the School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing, School of Dentistry, VCU Life Sciences, the Department of Physiology and Biophysics, and the Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, among many others.

Participants were assigned a designated color (red, green or blue) and asked to sit at any of the corresponding colored seats. They were then given three minutes to talk about their research and background before an alarm sounded, signaling either the green or red-designated researchers to move to the next table. Participants were provided lunch and a list of fellow attendees to keep notes on as they rotated.

“After participating in the speed-networking event, I was amazed at the breadth of research that is being conducted across VCU,” said Adam Sima, assistant professor for the VCU School of Medicine’s Department of Biostatistics, and CCTR faculty. “It was fantastic to hear of such diverse research areas and what each researcher was seeking in terms of collaborators. Judging from my own conversations as well as the engaged conversations that raged around me, I have no doubt that most of the researchers found a fellow researcher with shared interests or compatible expertise.”


Dr. Youngmi Kim Presents on Anti-Poverty Policies and Programs

The C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) at VCU recently held a new Discovery Dialogues seminar at the Main Hospital’s Learning Center.

Youngmi Kim, Ph.D., assistant professor for the VCU School of Social Work, led the presentation titled, “Discovering Innovative Anti-Poverty Policies and Programs.”

“The United States is one of the richest countries, yet we also have a high population of poor citizens compared to other developed countries,” said Kim. “It’s important to look at the social safety nets we have in place and critically analyze what is and isn’t working.”  

According to the United States Census Bureau, the official poverty rate of the U.S. population in 2014 was 14.8 percent (46.7 million people). This rate reflects a fourth consistent year that the number of people in poverty at the national level has not statistically differed from the previous year’s estimates [source].                  

Kim pointed to a number of contributing factors that make up the poverty rate, including education, employment, disability, rates of income versus consumption, and opportunities in the community.   

In addition to reviewing the asset-building programs and policies in place by the U.S. government, Kim discussed the differences between asset poverty and income poverty. She identified inadvertent negative side effects of some asset-building policies and pointed out that poor populations do not always have the same support nor incentives for asset accumulation, especially when faced with the threat of losing other benefits, such as welfare and Medicaid. 

“There is more and more research being done that really focuses on helping poorer populations save for the future,” said Kim. “We are learning how to better motivate and educate people to not only save for themselves, but also for their children’s future.”

CCTR Newsletter on Diabetes and Hypertension

Community and academic researchers, with support from the VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR), work collaboratively to produce Research Light, a community newsletter that sheds light on new research and knowledge that can improve quality of life. The newsletter is a product of the ongoing community-academic partnership established through the CCTR and is a forum to encourage community conversations about research results and their implications. Each Research Light issue focuses on a specific health issue and the research being conducted at VCU with the help of the community.

View the newsletter here.

If you have a recommendation for future community newsletter stories, please email


CCTR to Fund Four Undergraduate Research Fellowship Awards

The VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) is proud to announce that it will fund four undergraduate research fellowship awards this year.

One such award will be the undergraduate research fellowship award for a clinical translational research project focused on human health and mentored by a VCU faculty member. This project will aim to translate scientific discoveries into improved human health and wellness.

In partnership with the VCU Division of Community Engagement (DCE), CCTR will additionally fund three undergraduate community-engaged research fellowship awards. Proposals for this particular fellowship will include a community-engaged research project that creates and disseminates knowledge or creative expression with the goal of contributing to the discipline and strengthening the well-being of the community.

Each fellowship award includes $1,500 in funding for the student and $500 for the faculty mentor.

For eligibility and application requirements, please click here. Email questions to Herb Hill (

Please note the deadline to apply is March 1, 2016.

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VCU to Host Four-Day Event on Competitive Grant Writing

The VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research and the VCU Office of Research and Innovation are sponsoring “Ready, Set, Grant!,” a four-day event with more than 40 workshops aimed at helping researchers learn competitive grant writing skills. “Ready, Set, Grant!” will take place Tuesday, Jan. 12 through Friday, Jan. 15 at various on-campus locations.

Please see below for the schedule of events taking place at the MCV campus.

Click here to view the full schedule and register by Tuesday, Jan. 5.



CCTR Hosts Research Seminar on Using Web of Science

The VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) and Tompkins-McCaw Library hosted “Recipe for Success: Effectively Using Web of Science,” which is the latest installment in a monthly lunch research seminar. The event took place Wednesday, Dec. 9 at the Tompkins-McCaw Library, Room 109.

Karen Gau, research and education librarian for Tompkins-McCaw Library, led the presentation and explained the key resources available through the Web of Science database. Gau also reviewed the library’s core collection and offered tips for effectively searching NIH grant publications, creating citation alerts, and determining journal impact factors.

Longtime VCU Benefactor Donates $16M to VCU’s Center for Clinical and Translational Research

On Friday, Dec. 11, Virginia Commonwealth University announced that longtime benefactor C. Kenneth Wright has made a $16 million gift to name the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research at VCU.

The gift is the fifth-largest single gift in the history of the university and will be used to establish six C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Distinguished Chairs in Clinical and Translational Research as well as the C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Physician-Scientist Scholars program.

“The gift by Mr. Wright will provide important support to catalyze continued growth in the CCTR in its mission to accelerate translational research for the betterment of human health,” said F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., director of CCTR. “It is a major commitment by Mr. Wright and VCU to the CCTR for advancement of clinical translational research and education, including education of future physician scientists. This gift is an indication of the importance of research and education supported by the faculty and staff of the CCTR to VCU and the VCU health system.”

The endowed chairs, established with $12 million of the gift, will enable the university to recruit distinguished clinical and translational researchers from around the country. Initially, faculty whose research is focused in the Pauley Heart Center and the Massey Cancer Center will be awarded the chairs, which will be held for five years. The chairs can then be renewed or shifted to other areas of excellence in the health sciences.

The additional $4 million will launch the physician-scientist scholars program, which will help VCU prepare the best and brightest students for careers in clinical and translational research, providing tuition and stipends for M.D.-Ph.D. candidates in the VCU School of Medicine.

“The Center for Translational Research is improving the lives of patients at VCU Health,” Wright said. “I am excited about helping to put the very best faculty and students in the laboratories and clinics so new discoveries can be made and new treatments can be developed. I know that Dianne would be very pleased about this gift and the impact it will have across VCU.”

Follow CCTR in the coming months as we undergo an exciting and major brand change to reflect becoming a named center due to the generosity of C. Kenneth Wright.

Read more:

C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright

Dr. S. Esra Sahingur Presents Periodontitis Research at West Hospital

S. Esra Sahingur, D.D.S., M.S., Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Periodontics for the VCU School of Dentistry and former Center for Clinical and Translation Research (CCTR) KL2 scholar, gave a presentation titled, “A New Paradigm in the Pathogenesis of Periodontitis: Intracellular Innate Sensors and Emerging Therapeutic Targets,” at the West Hospital’s Cardiology Conference Room on Wednesday, Dec. 2.

An R01 grant-recipient, Sahingur is studying the cause of periodontitis, an inflammation of gums that can lead to tooth loss and additional health complications if not treated. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 47.2% of U.S. adults aged 30 years and older have some form of periodontal disease.

Click here to learn more about Sahingur’s research and R01 grant.

CCTR Hosts First “Student Short Talks” Presentation

The VCU Center for Clinical and Translational Research (CCTR) held it’s first “Student Short Talks” session on Wednesday, Nov. 18 and Thursday, Nov. 19 in the Richmond Academy of Medicine’s main conference room. The event, hosted by Teraya Donaldson, Ph.D., assistant director of education programs for CCTR’s Education Core, was open to first year and pre-qualifying research students who presented a 10-minute PowerPoint on their rotation or research projects.

“The Short Talks was an opportunity to learn about the diverse research of our CCTR graduate students,” said Donaldson. “It was wonderful having faculty and senior-level students to support this burgeoning group of scientists.”

The following students participated in the “Student Short Talks” presentation:

Wednesday, November 18th

  • Kranthi Chougoni – “Investigating the Role of Sepiapterin in the Inhibition of EMT in Colorectal Cancer Derived Tumor Spheroids.”
  • Audra Iness – “Ivabradine & Inotrope Combination in Doxorubicin-Induced Cardiomyopathy.”
  • Alex Azzo – “Epigenetic Regulators of Fetal γ-Globin Expression.”
  • Eiman Aboaziza – “Effects of Waterpipe Tobacco Smoking on DNA methylation.”

Thursday, November 19th

  • Fatmata Sesay – “Quantitative Imaging of Dense Tumor Stromal Collagen in a Rat Model of Desmoplastic Intrahepatic Cholangiocarcinoma.”
  • Janina Vaitkus – “Role of Adipose Tissue Browning in Cancer-Associated Cachexia.”
  • Jared Farrar – “Inter-Individual Variability in the Adaptive Thermogenesis Response.”
  • Joseph Lownik – “Role of ADAM10 and ADAM17 in Asthmatic Disease.”
  • Ula Warncke – “Exploring Interaction Between Cancer and Fat Cells by Measuring UCP1 Level.”
  • Justin Craig – “HDAC6 is a Key Regulatory Element Governing Transcription Mediated by the PRLr/Stat5 Complex in Human Breast Cancer.”