Appalachian Translational Research Network Pilot Awardees

2018 Awardees

  • Gia Mudd-Martin, PhD, MPH, RN

    Associate Professor, Director of Community Engagement, College of Nursing (UK)

    Gia Mudd-Martin PhD, MPH, RN, FAHA

    Fran Feltner, DNP, MSN, RN,

    Director of Center of Excellence in Rural Health, College of Medicine (UK)

    Frances Feltner DNP, MSN, RN, FAAN

    Traci Jarrett, PhD

    Project Director, West Virginia Prevention Research Center, West Virginia School of Public Health (WVU)

    Appalachian Community-Academic Partner Award

    Journey of Hope in Appalachian Youth: Building Youth Resilience

    Traci Jarrett
  • Ashley Seifert, PhD

    Assistant Professor, College of Arts & Sciences (UK)

    Steve Potter, PhD

    Professor, Department of of Pediatrics (UC)

    University of Cincinnati - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Using single cell RNA-seq to discover regenerative macrophage subtypes and resolve progenitor cell heterogeneity in spiny mice (Acomys)

    When damaged, human tissue generally exhibits poor regenerative ability and heals by producing scar tissue. A continued failure to develop effective regenerative therapies for tissue trauma or loss can be traced to an incomplete understanding of how tissues naturally develop and regenerate. To advance our understanding of regeneration in mammals, we are using a bonafide mammalian model of complex tissue regeneration; the spiny mouse (Acomys). Spiny mice are able to heal full-thickness skin injuries scar-free and re-grow excised tissues in the ear pinna, whereas identical injuries in lab mice and other rodents trigger scar formation. Using this comparative model of regenerative success and failure we are using single cell RNA-sequencing technology (scRNA-seq) to identify (i) macrophage phenotypes that are explicitly associated with regeneration and (ii) progenitor cell phenotypes that respond to macrophages and form a regeneration blastema. Our project tests the central hypothesis that macrophages, which are required for regeneration, differentiate into specific subtypes associated with a regenerative or fibrotic microenvironment, and that unique features among these macrophages are critical towards directing resident cells to form new tissue. Our project will also characterize the complete profile of secreted growth factors from identified macrophage subtypes alongside respondent progenitor cells. Identifying this cross-talk between key immune cells and local progenitor cells affords a unique opportunity to discover molecules that specifically stimulate a local regenerative response. When completed, our project will enhance our understanding of how the immune response promotes controlled cell proliferation and new tissue formation. These advances will in turn provide insight as regenerative medicine practitioners develop new clinical approaches to treat human tissue trauma.

    Steve Potter, PhD
  • Arun Aneja, MD, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, College of Medicine (UK)

    Eben Carroll, MD

    Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, College of Medicine (Wake Forest)

    Wake Forest University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Inflammatory Response to Trauma - Does Early Cytokine Modulation Improve Patient Outcome?

    Accidental trauma is the 4th leading cause of death in the United States and it is associated with a complex inflammatory response.  This response is associated with post-traumatic complications including multi-organ dysfunction syndrome (MODS), bacterial pneumonia, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS), and post traumatic pain (PTP). It is unknown whether early modulation of inflammatory cytokines is associated with improved patient outcomes, reduced narcotic requirements, and improved patient subjective pain after hospital discharge.

    The purpose of our study is to investigate this and determine:

    1) if a brief and low dose scheduled administration of an NSAID (Ketorolac) will reduce the inflammatory cascade and improve the clinical outcomes of orthopaedic trauma patients

    2) whether patients who received Ketorolac treatment require less opioid medication throughout their hospital and post-operative course.

    The data we collect from this initial pilot project will be critical in allowing us to develop a larger, multi-institution study to determine how modulation of the inflammatory response may lead to decreased patient complications, shorter hospital length of stay and reduce use of narcotic pain medication.

    Eben Carroll, MD

2017 Awardees

  • Warren J Alilain, PhD

    Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience, College of Medicine (UK)

    Warren J. Alilain, PhD

    Steven Crone, PhD

    Department of Pediatric Neurosurgery, College of Medicine (UC)

    University of Cincinnati - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Harnessing the plasticity of spinal circuits to enhance breathing following spinal cord injury

    More than half of all spinal cord injury cases are at the cervical level, disrupting critical pathways controlling diaphragm function and the ability to breathe. The Alilain and Crone laboratories are devoted to developing new strategies to improve breathing following spinal cord injury by activating spinal circuits below the site of injury. Dr. Alilain's expertise in spinal cord injury models and Dr. Crone's expertise in spinal respiratory circuits will be harnessed to identify anatomical substrates with the potential to mediate recovery of function and restore breathing following injury. Specifically, they will test their hypothesis that excitatory cells termed V2a neurons are important components of spared pathways capable of restoring respiratory function following injury.  Moreover, they will assess whether enhancing the function of V2a neurons via specific signaling pathways can improve breathing following injury.  These studies will provide the foundation for new therapeutic approaches to improve breathing in patients with spinal cord injury.

    Steven Crone, PhD
  • Donald Helme, PhD

    Associate Professor, College of Communication and Information (UK)

    Donald Helme, PhD

    Mark Wolfson, PhD

    Department of Social Sciences and Health Policy (Wake Forest)

    Wake Forest University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Improving Messaging to Promote Organized Disposal of Prescription Drugs to Prevent Abuse

    Mark Wolfson, PhD

2015 Awardees

  • Babak Bazrgari, PhD

    Department of Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering (UK)

    Babak Bazrgari, PhD

    Xiaopeng Ning, PhD

    Department of Industrial & Management Systems Engineering, College of Engineering (WVU)

    West Virginia University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Toward an objective and quantitative assessment of lower back pain: understanding patients' biomechanical changes after lumber facet nerve block

    Lower back pain (LBP) remains the most prevalent musculoskeletal disorder worldwide. Among LBP patients, facet joint osteoarthritis is widely prevalent, and is thought to be a common cause of back pain. Lumbar facet nerve block (LFNB) is a diagnostic approach commonly used by pain management physicians to diagnose the sources of the LBP, however this diagnostic approach has a high failure rate mainly due to the patients’ response to this treatment is highly subjective. Therefore, there is a strong need in developing an objective assessment approach to determine the severity of LBP and the effectiveness of LBP treatment or diagnostic operations such as LFNB. The goal of this proposed study is to quantify the biomechanical changes of LBP patients after receiving LFNB, To achieve this goal, LBP patients that receives LFNB operation will be recruited and the following two specific aims will be pursued: 1. Quantify the changes of human stability and lumbar-pelvic motion coordination after LFNB; and 2. Quantify the changes of lumbar tissue loading after LFNB. According to the existing evidence, it is highly possible that chronic LBP patient will demonstrate changes in kinematic performance after receiving LFNB and experiencing relief of pain. Alterations in kinematics performance are further expected to be in part due to capability of patients in admitting higher loads on the painful site following nerve block. This new knowledge will be used to reduce the high failure rate of the current LFNB operation.

    Xiaopeng Ning, PhD
  • Pexiuan Guo, PhD

    Director of Nanobiotechnology Center (UK)

    Peixuan Guo, PhD

    Lisa Privette Vinnedge

    Cancer and Blood Diseases Institute, College of Medicine (UC)

    University of Cincinnati - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Targeting the DEK oncogene using RNA nanoparticle technology as a novel cancer therapeutic

    Lisa Privette Vinnedge
  • jimmi Hatton Kolpek, PharmD

    Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, College of Pharmacy (UK)

    Jimmi Hatton Kolpek, PharmD

    Denise Rhoney, PharmD

    Associate Dean, Department of Pharmacy Practice, College of Pharmacy (UNC)

    University of Kentucky - University of North Carolina Collaborative Award

    The Impact of Kidney Function on Drug Concentration after Acute Brain Injury

    Denise Rhoney, PharmD
  • Jeremy McAleer, PhD

    Assistant Professor, College of Pharmacy, Marshall University

    Marshall University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Regulation of pulmonary CD4 cell immunity by commensal bacteria

    CD4 T cells are critical for host defense against lower respiratory tract infections, and identifying factors that regulate T cell function may help to limit disease caused by pathogens for which there is no approved vaccine. Commensal bacteria are symbiotic residents in our gastrointestinal tract and contribute to maturation of the immune system. This project will evaluate the role of gut bacteria on T cell immunity during infection with the pulmonary pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus. The balance of T cell subsets directed against a pathogen can profoundly impact disease, e.g. leading to pathogen clearance or the development of allergies. By defining specific roles for T cell subsets and how they are shaped by commensal bacteria, it is hoped that this project can facilitate clinical studies that compare antibiotic use with lung T cell function and microbiota diversity.

    Jeremy McAleer, PhD

2014 Awardees

  • Sarah​ Miles, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, College of Medicine

    Marshall University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Characterization and mechanism of serum factor(s) causing melanocyte proliferation in Bilateral Diffuse Uveal Melanocytic Proliferation syndrome

    The studies in this grant focus on elucidating the identity and mechanism of the serum borne factor causing Bilateral Diffuse Uveal Melanocytic Proliferation (BDUMP) syndrome. This project aims to determine the physiochemical properties of this factor, as well as the cellular signaling mechanisms through which this factor stimulates melanocyte proliferation.  Identification of this factor, and its causative mechanisms will potentially yield a much-needed clinical diagnostic marker as well as reveal potential targets for therapy.

    Sarah​ Miles, PhD
  • Patrick Sullivan, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Anatomy & Neurobiology, College of Medicine (UK)

    Patrick Sullivan, PhD

    Robert Krikorian, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neuroscience, UC Academic Health Center (UC)

    University of Cincinnati - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Validation of a platelet mitochondrial marker of disease progression in Parkinson's disease

    Biomarkers are desperately needed for early diagnosis as well as to determine treatment therapies in disease states such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. In a set of translational experiments we propose to test the central hypothesis that platelet mitochondrial oxidative phosphorylation in a genetic mouse model of PD and in patients with PD will correlate with mitochondrial dysfunction in the brain and therapeutic response. This hypothesis is based upon preliminary data collected from basic science and clinical studies from the Sullivan, Krikorian, and Fleming laboratories at UK and UC. The strength of this translational approach is that we will be able to determine the biomarker potential of platelet mitochondrial function in patients and correlate it with proton magnetic resonance spectroscopic imaging (1H MRS) data and cognitive performance. In tandem, we will use the mouse model to investigate mitochondrial bioenergetics both in platelets and directly in specific brain regions that cannot be measured in humans. The proposed research seeks to develop novel data concerning the degree to which peripheral platelet mitochondrial respiration reflects central mitochondrial function both with respect to level of impairment and response to an intervention designed to provide an alternative energy substrate for central mitochondrial function. The research will involve a human intervention trial in individuals with early Parkinson’s disease and an animal trial using the alpha synuclein Parkinson’s disease mouse model. Primary outcome measures will include magnetic resonance specstroscopy to obtain in vivo information concerning central bioenergetic function in human participants, striatal tissue mitochondrial function in animals, cognitive and behavioral performance in both humans and animals, and peripheral platelet mitochondrial respiration in both humans and animals.

    Robert Krikorian, PhD
  • Jeffery Talbert, PhD

    Professor, Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science, College of Pharmacy (UK)

    Jeffery Talbert, PhD

    Cecil Pollard, MA

    Department of Social and Behavioral Science, School of Public Health (WVU)

    West Virginia University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    The West Virginia-Kentucky Health Research Data Collaborative

    The primary objective of this pilot study is to test the feasibility of integrating patient data from multiple primary care sources in WV and KY to create a data mart designed for research and quality improvement. The project would build on the health analytics, data management, and community engagement expertise of the investigator team.   The data mart would serve as a tool for research and act as a catalyst to work with primary care clinics to build skills and capacity within clinics and with providers.

    This collaborative project between University of Kentucky and West Virginia University has great potential to provide researchers with a new tool to conduct research using health care data from rural primary  care sites. The primary objective of this work is to test the feasibility of integrating clinical data from multiple sources in West Virginia and Kentucky to create a data mart for use in research and quality improvement. We aim to provide improved access to quality and outcomes data; serving as a resource for primary care, public health, and academic settings with the shared mission of improving patient care and outcomes.

    Cecil Pollard, MA
  • Hongwei Yu, PhD

    Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, College of Medicine

    Marshall University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Investigation of Cystic Fibrosis mixed biofilms through deep sequencing

    The CCTS pilot grant will allow us to examine whether some genetic mutations from bacteria can be used as DNA biomarkers for the severe lung symptoms in patients with Cystic Fibrosis.  We will use next-generation sequencing technology to analyze the frequency of these mutations from the sputum specimens of the patients to see any correction with clinical status can be created.  Establishing this correlation is important, because it will provide valuable information on how to prevent pulmonary exacerbation as well as how to control the chronic infections through a targeted therapy.

    Hongwei Yu, PhD

2013 Awardees

  • Roberto Cardarelli, DO, MPH, FAAFP

    Professor, Department of Family and Community Medicine, College of Medicine

    ATRN CCTS Pilot - Markey Cancer Center Collaborative Award

    Raising Awareness About Lung Cancer Screening: Kentucky Terminate Lung Cancer (TLC) Study

    Roberto Cardarelli, DO
  • Jody Clasey, PhD

    Professor, Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, College of Education

    ATRN CCTS Pilot - Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center Collaborative Award

    Circadian Rhythm Parameters and Metabolic Syndrome Associate Factors in Young Children

    Jody Clasey, PhD
  • Maria Serrat, PhD

    Associate Professor, Department of Anatomy and Pathology, College of Medicine

    Marshall University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Temperature Enhanced Bone Elongation in Growth Plates

    Linear growth deficiencies have multiple etiologies, ranging from injury and illness to genetic bone diseases. Unequal length of the lower limbs during growth can lead to disabling adult conditions such as scoliosis, chronic back pain, and osteoarthritis. Although novel drug therapies are on the horizon, targeting agents to the growing skeleton is a challenge because cartilage does not have penetrating blood vessels. This CCTS project couples an innovative limb heating model with dynamic in vivo imaging in mice to determine whether localized heat can enhance the uptake and efficacy of systemic bone lengthening drugs. This research is important for designing non-invasive, heat-based therapies for delivering drugs that can promote bone lengthening in children suffering from a wide range of growth plate disorders.

    Maria Serrat, PhD
  • Sidney Whiteheart, PhD

    Associate Professor, Department of Molecular and Cellular Biochemistry, College of Medicine (UK)

    Sidney Whiteheart, PhD

    Alexandra Filipovich, MD

    Associate Professor, Department of Pediatrics, College of Medicine (UC)

    University of Cincinnati - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Analysis of Platelet Function in Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis

    Alexandra Filipovich, MD

2012 Awardees

  • Misung Jo, PhD

    Associate Professor, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine (UK)

    Misung Jo, PhD

    Rajesh Naz, PhD

    Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, College of Medicine (WVU)

    West Virginia University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Investigation of ovarian transcription factors, chemokines, and proteases in women with polycystic ovarian disease

    Rajesh Naz, PhD
  • Nalini Santanam, PhD

    Professor, College of Medicine, Marshall University

    Marshall University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    MicroRNA Fingerprint in Women with Endometriosis and Pain

    Nalini Santanam, PhD
  • Nancy Schoenberg, PhD

    Marion Pearsall Professor of Behavioral Science, College of Medicine (UK)

    Nancy Schoenberg

    Mira Katz, PhD

    Health Behavioral and Health Promotion, College of Public Health (OSU)

    Ohio State University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Leveraging Social Networks to Increase Cancer Screening in Appalachia

    Mira Katz, PhD
  • Lin Yang, PhD

    Department of Biomedical Informatics, College of Public Health (UK)

    Lin Yang, PhD

    Kun Huang, PhD

    Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics, College of Medicine (OSU)

    Ohio State University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Integrated Morphological and Genome Analysis for Computer-Aided Diagnosis and Computer-Intervened Personalized Treatment for Lung Cancer

    Kun Huang, PhD

2011 Awardees

  • Pier Paolo Claudio, PhD

    College of Medicine, Marshall University

    Marshall University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Phase I Clinical Trial Investigation of Sensitivity to Chemotherapy in Appalachian Lung Cancer Patients

  • Jingwei Xie, PhD

    College of Medicine, Marshall University

    Marshall University - University of Kentucky Collaborative Award

    Biomimetic Nanofiber Scaffolds Seeded with Adipose-drived Stem Cells for Rotator Cuff Injury Repair