Dr. Moeller Discusses Clinical Research with Visiting Italian Medical Students

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The VCU C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research proudly welcomed nine medical students from the Università Campus Bio-Medico in Roma, Italy to VCU for a two and a half week program titled, “A Primer on Clinical and Translational Research.”

The program took place from Monday, Sept. 5 to Saturday, Sept. 24, during which time the Italian students attended lectures on clinical and translational research with Antonio Abbate, M.D., Ph.D., medical director of the Wright CCTR’s Clinical Research Services, and associate chair of the VCU Scientific Review Committee, and other esteemed VCU scientists and researchers. 

The students also visited the Richmond Academy of Medicine (RAM) building to meet with F. Gerard Moeller, M.D., director of the VCU Wright CCTR, who sat down with the group to discuss the value of clinical research and the paths to a research career. 

“As a medical professional, there is always a pull to just do clinical work because the career path of a researcher is difficult,” Moeller said. “But the work done by researchers is a vital component of the scientific field and there are many funding opportunities, fellowships, and mentors available to support you along your path.”

Dr. Moeller also stressed the importance of young scientists finding a good team and supportive institution. He explained the functions and services of the various programs offered to researchers by the VCU Wright CCTR, including protected time in the form of the KL2 (formerly known as K12) scholar program. The KL2 provides substantial salary support and $25,000 in start-up funds for faculty-level clinical and translational scientists near the beginning of their investigative careers. 

The Italian medical students’ visit to VCU was made possible by a cooperative partnership between VCU and the Università Campus Bio-Medico. This past June, five American students in their 3rd and 4th years of VCU’s medical program visited Italy for three weeks as part of an intensive training program dedicated to generating enthusiasm for research and exposing VCU students to medical practices abroad. 



First image up top: F Gerard Moeller, M.D., director of the VCU Wright CCTR , presents a lecture on the value of clinical research

CCTR to Co-sponsor Workshop on the Art of the Engaged Lecture

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What can scientists do in a limited time frame to nudge student thinking from passive to engaged? How can one do this without significantly adding to their existing workload? The VCU community now has the opportunity to learn about the science and art of crafting significant learning experiences for students through an upcoming workshop. 

Lisa Phipps, Ph.D., Pharm.D.

The C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research and Tompkins-McCaw Library are co-sponsoring a brown bag lunch workshop that will walk participants through a variety of best teaching practices that can be contextualized and transferred to individual teaching methods.

Enoch Hale, Ph.D.

Lisa Phipps, Ph.D., Pharm.D., online learning innovation specialist for the the VCU Academic Learning Transformation Lab, and Enoch Hale, Ph.D., director for the VCU Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence, will lead this free presentation on Monday, Oct. 3 from noon to 1:00 p.m. at the Tompkins-McCaw Library, Room 2-010 (second floor).

Please visit http://go.vcu.edu/_qip to register.  



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.


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

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.”

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