5,000 Hoosier Volunteers Needed for Study to Find New Treatments for Bone and Muscle Disorders

INDIANAPOLIS — Researchers at IUPUI need 5,000 Hoosiers of all ages to take part in a study that will help advance the diagnosis and treatment of bone and muscle disorders, the leading cause of disability in the United States.

It takes about an hour to participate in the study, which includes performing physical tests, providing a blood sample and undergoing bone mineral density scans — known as DEXA scans — to determine body composition and bone health. The physical tests include walking for six minutes and having walking speed, balance and grip strength measured.

Volunteers in the study use a device to measure grip strength. Photos by Liz Kaye, Indiana University

More than 900 Hoosiers have already participated. Researchers hope to recruit the balance over the next four years.

The blood samples are stored within the Indiana Biobank. They are connected to the results of the physical performance tests and scans, as well as the volunteer’s electronic medical record, to create a database. That database will be a treasure trove for researchers seeking to develop new treatments and cures for bone and muscle disorders.

Volunteers between the ages of 5 and 100, regardless of their health condition, are eligible to participate. A broad range of people of various races, ages and levels of wellness are needed, said Dr. Stuart Warden, professor and associate dean for research in the School of Health and Human Sciences at IUPUI.

“We’ve tested people from patients coming out of the intensive care unit to college athletes, and everybody in between,” Warden said.

The testing occurs at the Function, Imaging and Tissue Resource Core at IU Health University Hospital in Indianapolis. The FIT Resource Core is part of the Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health, created in 2017 to address a significant need to prevent and treat musculoskeletal disease.

A DEXA scan is part of the information being gathered in the study. Scan results will be given to volunteers in return for their time.

With the database, researchers will be able to quickly access data they need rather than go through the time-consuming process of collecting it themselves, Warden said. “Researchers will be able to use the database to rapidly and efficiently answer questions — like, for example, what sort of markers are in the blood that are related to physical performance or leg power or balance.”

The information will help researchers as they seek to develop compounds and molecules that can target and treat muscle and bone loss stemming from aging or disease, Warden said.

In return for volunteering, study participants are given the results of their DEXA scans. DEXA scans are commonly used to assess the risk of osteoporosis and determine body composition, including lean or muscle mass, bone mass, and fat mass.

People who would like more information or want to participate should email icmhcrc@iupui.edu or call 317-278-3333.

Read the original article from IUPUI News 

Curtis Memorial Oratorical Contest

The IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI invites you to a special event to celebrate the scholarship of our students and further the notion that the building of a community requires the open and free exchange of ideas.

This contest provides IUPUI undergraduate students an opportunity to showcase their commitment to peaceful resolution of conflict through extemporaneous oration.

The theme of the of the event is Peaceful Conflict Resolution and Communication.

Did you ever wonder why there is so much conflict in society?  Or, how you could contribute to the solutions?

The two TLC’s (Themed Learning Communities) taking part in tonight’s event explore issues of culture, race, and ethnicity patterns of human interaction, through the disciplines of sociology, religious studies, and human communication via public speaking and inter-group dialogue.

Come join us!

Tuesday, December 4, 2018
Campus Center – IUPUI
420 University Blvd, CE 002
Indianapolis, IN 46202
5:30pm – Reception
6:00pm – Event Begins

The Curtis Memorial Oratorical Contest was founded by Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies, Richard Curtis, and his wife, Beth, to honor the memory of his brothers, Robert and Dana, both of whom were killed at war.

Liberal Arts Talks

Join Dr. Audrey Gertz as she presents “From Secret Technophobe to??? – A Rookie’s Reflections on Online Teaching”

This past spring semester, I offered the course Spanish for Business online. During that time, I learned a lot about online teaching and made the typical rookie mistakes.

My own attitude towards technology is ambivalent. I will review experiences, along with what I learned since then, and explore what factors influence how we feel about technology, how we use it, and how it impacts our teaching.

RSVP NOW!

Liberal Arts Talks
Friday, November 30, 2018
4:00-5:00pm
Campus Center- IUPUI
420 University BLVD, CE 405
Indianapolis, IN 46202

 

New Luis Alberto Ambroggio Center for Latino Studies to Serve as Hub for Literature and Research

The Luis Alberto Ambroggio Center for Latino Studies is housed in Room 323 of Cavanaugh Hall and is open to the entire IUPUI community. Photo courtesy of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI

In addition to being a world-renowned poet and essayist, Luis Alberto Ambroggio has been a lifelong collector of Spanish literature and history books, many from well before his time.

It’s a priceless collection. And it now resides at IUPUI.

The Luis Alberto Ambroggio Center for Latino Studies, part of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, formally opened Nov. 1 in a ceremony at the center, housed in Room 323 of Cavanaugh Hall. Among the distinguished guests were Ambroggio; Garry Holland, education chair for the Greater Indianapolis Branch of the NAACP; Elia James from the Lawrence city government; IUPUI Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Johnson; and representatives from the Indianapolis mayor’s office, the Lawrence mayor’s office and the office of Rep. André Carson.

“The center is not only for Latino studies; it’s open to anybody, in any major. Students can use the library to continue research,” said Jose Vargas-Vila, director of IUPUI’s Latino Studies program. “In the future, we’ll use it to invite scholars and writers to IUPUI.”

Nearly 2,000 volumes are in the center, covering classic Spanish literature, linguistics, American history and more. The center is in partnership with the North American Academy of the Spanish Language, of which associate professor Rosa Tezanos-Pinto is a full member and editor of the academy’s bulletin.

“Latino studies is a flourishing area of study in the School of Liberal Arts, and the Luis Alberto Ambroggio Center will do a wonderful job of serving students for years to come,” School of Liberal Arts interim dean Robert Rebein said. “To have such a wonderful collection within our walls is a remarkable testament to our school’s programs.”

The connection between Ambroggio and IUPUI was forged by Tezanos-Pinto through annual conferences around the world. Tezanos-Pinto told Ambroggio about the growing Latino Studies program at IUPUI, and an interest and a bond were formed.

“She made the impression, and Ambroggio chose this university — from among several others — to pass on his collection to a place that would be a permanent location,” Vargas-Vila said. “He wanted to donate the books that belonged to him and his parents.”

Some 700 students take classes in Latino studies each year from two full-time and four part-time faculty. Students have had internships with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, with the city of Lawrence and inside the Indiana Statehouse.

Read the original article from IUPUI News’ John Schwarb

IU Researchers Awarded $2.3 million to Continue Studies on Chemotherapy-Induced Peripheral Neuropathy

Drs. Kelley and Fehrenbacher have been awarded a five-year, $2.3 million grant from the NCI to continue their studies on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, or CIPN. Tim Yates photo.

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University School of Medicine cancer researchers who have been working to lessen the debilitating side effects caused by chemotherapy have been awarded $2.3 million to continue their studies.

Jill Fehrenbacher, PhD, and Mark Kelley, PhD, are recipients of the five-year grant (1R01CA231267) from the National Cancer Institute, which will enable them to continue their studies on chemotherapy-induced peripheral neuropathy, or CIPN.

The duo and their colleagues will test the effectiveness of a small, targeted molecule called APX3330 to prevent or reverse CIPN caused by cancer drugs in tumor-bearing mice.

“For patients with CIPN, this might be an option for pain relief or neuropathic symptom relief in the future,” said Fehrenbacher, associate professor of pharmacology and toxicology at IU School of Medicine and a researcher at the IU Simon Cancer Center. “Alternatively, for patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments, it might be something we can administer alongside the chemotherapy drugs so they never develop CIPN.”

Fehrenbacher added: “The critical element of this grant is that we also are validating our preliminary results that the drug does not compromise the ability of the chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells.”

Although cancer treatments are becoming more effective and people are consequently surviving cancer in increasing rates, many patients report neuropathy — a nerve problem that causes pain, numbness and tingling in the hands and feet and muscle pain and weakness. As many as 30 to 60 percent of cancer patients say they experience neuropathy.

Neuropathy can become severe enough for some patients that their treatment needs to be reduced or stopped. The effects also can linger well beyond the course of the treatment.

Currently, there are no effective treatments or preventive treatments against neuropathy because researchers don’t yet understand all of the mechanisms that lead to it. It is believed that neuropathy develops over time as a cumulative effect of chemotherapy that alters the function of sensory neurons, which are responsible for detecting pain and touch.

In 2017, Kelley, associate director of basic science research at the IU Simon Cancer Center, was first awarded a $2.9 million grant (1R01CA205166) from the National Cancer Institute to study CIPN. Fehrenbacher is also a co-principal investigator of that initial grant. That grant was awarded because Kelley, Fehrenbacher, and colleagues had previously demonstrated in the lab that increasing the repair activity of a protein called APE1/Ref-1 decreased neurotoxicity. The aims of the 2017 grant are to study, in detail, the mechanisms by which APE1 alters the function of the sensory neurons. Interestingly, they also found that APX3330 was effective in reducing APE1’s ability to facilitate the growth and spread of tumors in mice models, therefore this new drug has the potential to block the advancement of cancer and CIPN.

“It’s very rewarding to receive funding for these studies from the NCI in continued support of our efforts to further advance APX3330 for anti-CIPN studies, both in the lab as well as in the clinic,” Kelley said.

Kelley pointed out that APX3330 is currently in phase I trials, supported by Apexian Pharmaceuticals, to test its safety for people. Kelley is a co-founder and chief scientific officer at Apexian, which plans to advance APX3330 for phase II trials for anti-tumor and anti-CIPN studies. Kelley called those studies a “potential win-win for patients.”

APX3330 was developed based on Kelley’s nearly three decades of cancer research.

The National Cancer Institute awarded both grants as part of its Provocative Questionsinitiative, a program aimed at promoting cancer-related research on important yet understudied areas or research questions that have proven difficult to address.

Melissa Fishel, PhD, and Karen Pollok, PhD, scientists from the cancer center’s Tumor Microenvironment and Metastasis research program, are collaborators on this study as is Theodore Cummins, PhD, an electrophysiologist in the School of Science at IUPUI.

Read the original article from IUPUI News‘ Michael Schug

IUPUI Biologists Are Growing ‘mini retinas’ to Better Understand Connection Between Eye and Brain

INDIANAPOLIS — IUPUI biologists are growing ‘mini retinas’ in the lab from stem cells to mimic the growth of the human retina. The researchers hope to use the research to restore sight when critical connections between the eye and the brain are damaged. These models also allow the researchers to better understand how cells in the retina develop and are organized. These results are published online in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.

The lab-created mini retinas, called retinal organoids, are collections of cells that grow in a manner similar to how the retina develops in the body. The retinal organoids are created in an IUPUI biology department research lab using human pluripotent stem cells, or hPSCs, which can be derived from adult skin cells.

Axons of retinal ganglion cells, shown in red, derived from human pluripotent stem cells bundle together and navigate their environment using growth cones, shown in green, similar to human development of the optic nerve. Photo courtesy of the School of Science

Jason Meyer, an associate professor of biology in the School of Science at IUPUI, is using the retinal organoids to better understand retinal ganglion cells, or RGCs, which provide the connection between the eye and the brain. These cells project long axons to transmit visual information. When that connection is disturbed, a person loses sight.

“In the past couple of years, retinal organoids have become a focus in the research community,” Meyer said. “However, there hasn’t really been any emphasis on those retinal ganglion cells within these mini retinas, the retinal organoids, so this study is not only looking at how the retinal organoids develop and organize but also exploring the long axons they need in order to connect with the brain.”

RGCs are the cells primarily damaged by glaucoma, a disease that affects about 70 million people worldwide and is the second leading cause of blindness.

“There’s a lot we have to understand about these cells outside of the body before we can put them into humans for transplants and treating those diseases,” said Clarisse Fligor, a biology graduate researcher and first author on the paper. “This research is looking at ways that we can encourage growth of these cells for possible cell-replacement therapies to treat these different injuries or diseases.”

Fligor looked through different growth factors involved in RGC development and found that a protein called Netrin-1 significantly increased the outgrowth of axons from these cells.

“This protein is not expressed long term; it is most prominently during early human development,” Meyer said. “Once the retina is established, it’s not as available, which is why retinal ganglion cells usually can’t fix themselves. Strategies so far to replace retinal ganglion cells by transplanting new cells have not been able to restore those connections because the body itself doesn’t produce these signals.”

The researchers hope this study is an important step toward using lab-grown cells for cell-replacement purposes.

“If we want to be able to use these cells for therapies and encourage the proper wiring of these cells within the rest of the nervous system, perhaps we need to take a page out of the playbook of human development and try to re-create some of those features ordinarily found during early human development,” Meyer said.

“Three-Dimensional Retinal Organoids Facilitate the Investigation of Retinal Ganglion Cell Development, Organization and Neurite Outgrowth from Human Pluripotent Stem Cells”is published online in Scientific Reports, a Nature Research journal.

In addition to Fligor and Meyer, IUPUI and Indiana University authors on the study are Kirstin B. Langer, Akshayalakshmi Sridhar, Priya K. Shields, Michael C. Edler, Sarah K. Ohlemacher and Chi Zhang. Other authors are Daniel M. Suter and Yuan Ren of Purdue University and Valentin M. Sluch and Donald J. Zack of Johns Hopkins University.

The study was supported in part by the National Eye Institute, the National Science Foundation, and the Indiana Department of Health Spinal Cord and Brain Injury Research Fund.

About the School of Science at IUPUI

The School of Science at IUPUI is committed to excellence in teaching, research and service in the biological, physical, computational, behavioral and mathematical sciences. The school is dedicated to being a leading resource for interdisciplinary research and science education in support of Indiana’s effort to expand and diversify its economy.

Read the original article from IUPUI News

‘Frankenstein’ Is On The Move at 200

British history professor Jason Kelly holds a copy of “Frankenstein,” which was first published 200 years ago. Kelly and his students created A Frankenstein Atlas, a website that breaks down all 331 geographic points associated with the 200-year-old book and its creation. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

First published on Jan. 1, 1818, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and its undead monster have been captivating international audiences for two centuries.

The tale has been made into almost 100 movies around the planet — from Boris Karloff’s 1931 classic to 2017’s “Mary Shelley,” which depicted the trailblazing creation of the story in the early 19th century.

With so many reiterations and takes on the book, Jason M. Kelly, an associate professor of British history and director of the IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute, and his spring 2018 “Machines and the Age of Invention” class took a deep read of the book, poring over the many locations visited — or even just mentioned in passing — by Dr. Victor Frankenstein and the numerous other characters. From this, Kelly and his students constructed A Frankenstein Atlas, a living research project that maps 331 locations that reside in the book or were visited by Shelley during the writing process.

“It’s a slowly growing site to learn about ‘Frankenstein’ and explore the many facets of the book,” Kelly said. “In class, it allowed us to think about what kinds of historical sources and methods we use in the context of literary analysis.”

Kelly and his students are still publishing new data to A Frankenstein Atlas. Fueled by Github, other researchers and classes will be able to add new “branches” to the work, allowing the atlas — and the legacy of “Frankenstein” — to grow for another 200 years.

Question: How was the data created to fill and launch A Frankenstein Atlas?

Jason Kelly: The first thing we needed to do was read “Frankenstein.” So we did a group read of the book pretty quickly. Our first pass set the groundwork for our semester-long discussion of the historical context of “Frankenstein.” Each student was assigned two or three chapters, and their job was to code them. I created an online interface and helped them map their data.

Q: What struck you most about the novel while conducting the research?

JK: It’s an epistolary novel, a novel of letters, and it’s a travel journal at the same time. Mary and Percy Shelley, Claire (Clairmont, Mary Shelley’s stepsister) were touring through in 1816. They had been keeping travel journals. You can actually read sections of “Frankenstein” and go back to the travel journals to flesh out the spaces and places they’re talking about.

Because there is a strong geographical element to “Frankenstein,” and we used location as our jumping-off point, which gave us the opportunity to pursue historical geographic information systems approaches. The model that helped shape the project was “Mapping the Lakes,” a project that examined the Lake poets. We borrowed the format and developed it into this pedagogical platform. We made it an open source data set so that people can add to and develop it.

Q: As a professor of British history, how did your travel experience influence the project?

JK: I do a lot of research on the Grand Tour, a one or two year trip through Europe that many British elites took during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. And, fortunately, my research takes to locations across the continent. So, Percy and Mary’s visit to the continent—specifically Lake Geneva where she composed “Frankenstein”—was similar to my other work.

Q: What other sources did you use during your analysis?

JK: In one instance, we pulled data on where historical ice sheets, and we read journals from the 18th and 19th-century scientific expeditions. We even studied where whaling ships were likely to travel. These were the types of information that Mary had access to when she described the ice at the beginning and end of the book. We triangulated these data sets, and when we brought it all together, we were able to get a good sense where Mary was situating the action in the novel. It was a great exercise in the ways that science and literature can come together and talk to each other.

Q: What were your students’ reactions to the book?

JK: They loved it. They arrived with an image of Frankenstein mediated by the movies. But when they read the book, like almost anyone I’ve spoken to who has never read the book before, they said, “Oh, this isn’t at all what I thought it was about.” This is talking about all the same issues we’re grappling with today, like religion, ethics, responsibility and what makes us human. It’s such a contemporary novel, and it’s 200 years old.

Read the original article from IUPUI NewsTim Brouk

A Message from Rafael Macia from the Institute for European Studies

Just as a reminder before the November 5th deadline, please see below the announcement for EURO’s research and travel awards for Fall 2018 – Spring 2019. You can find more information, along with the application forms for graduate students, and for faculty.

Research and Travel Awards for Faculty
The Institute for European Studies is happy to announce two grant competitions for the Fall of 2018 and the Spring of 2019. Eligible applicants are allowed to apply for both, but with the understanding that only one award may be accepted per person.

The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence Grant offers one $1,500 award in the Fall and one in the Spring to an IU faculty member (TT or NTT) to support research and / or travel related to any aspect of European politics, society, or culture, whether current or historical in scope.

EURO’s Title VI Grant offers 2 awards of $1,500 each in the Fall and 2 in the Spring to IU faculty to support international research and / or travel, as well as 2 awards of $750 each (also Fall and Spring) to support domestic research and / or travel related to any aspect of European politics, society, or culture, whether current or historical in scope.

Research and Travel Awards for Graduate Students

The Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence Grant: One $1,500 award in the Fall and one in the Spring to an IU graduate student to support research and/or travel related to any aspect of European politics, society, or culture, whether current or historical in scope.

Research funds may be used to conduct preliminary thesis or dissertation feasibility studies or to compile evidence for their Master’s thesis or dissertation. While priority is given to students pursuing an MA or doctoral minor in European Studies, all IU graduate students are welcome to apply.

Grant recipients are expected to send a report detailing how the grant was used and on invitation, to present their results at a lecture hosted by the Institute for European Studies.

The Fall application deadline for all competitions is November 5, 2018, at 5 pm.

The Spring application deadline for all competitions is March 25, 2019, at 5 pm.

Two IUPUI Researchers Receive 2018 Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award

IUPUI faculty from the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health and the School of Liberal Arts have been named recipients of the 2018 Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award.

Established in 2010, the award recognizes outstanding IUPUI researchers who show promise in becoming nationally and internationally known for their research and creative activity. It is given to associate professors within the first three years of being appointed or promoted to that title.

This year’s Research Frontiers Trailblazer Award recipients are Brian E. Dixon, associate professor, Department of Epidemiology, Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health, and Andrea R. Jain, associate professor, Department of Religious Studies, School of Liberal Arts.

Dixon and Jain spoke about their research in videos produced by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at IUPUI.

Brian E. Dixon

Brian E. Dixon

“The tools and platforms Brian Dixon designs, builds and evaluates are routinely deployed and used by health systems and public health agencies in Indiana. The systems therefore impact real-world practice and support future research as new data are collected by the operational systems,” said Gerardo Maupomé, associate dean of research and professor of social and behavior sciences, in a letter of recommendation. “These systems have the capacity to be replicated across the U.S. and internationally through other research programs at IUPUI.”

Watch this video about Brian E. Dixon’s research!

Andrea R. Jain

NIH Awards $1.75 million to IUPUI to Further Explore a Promising Brain-Obesity Link

INDIANAPOLIS — IUPUI biologist Nick Berbari has received a $1.75 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the connection between obesity and tiny hairlike projections on brain cells called cilia. Cilia are thought to function like a cell’s antennae and help in communication between cells.

Berbari’s research team is working to determine how altered signaling processes impact appetite regulation.

The knowledge Berbari and his research team acquire could potentially open new therapeutic approaches to obesity, which impacts the health and longevity of over 93 million Americans.

“With hunger, there is an initial urge to eat and to continue eating until feeling full,” Berbari said. “Cilia dysfunction is known to be associated with certain types of obesity, but it is unclear why their dysfunction leads to people overeating and results in obesity.”

“Put simply, we will be looking at how a little cellular antenna in the brain is important for appetite. When we study rare syndromes that are associated with obesity, we might learn important information and gain potentially therapeutically advantageous ideas about how to treat obesity in the general population.”

The goal of Berbari’s research, which will be conducted in mice, is to determine how altered signaling processes impact appetite regulation, feeding behavior and obesity. The research team includes a School of Science at IUPUI postdoctoral fellow, doctoral and masters’ degree students, and several undergraduate research assistants.

Nick Berbari