FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 21, 2012
For more information:
Public Relations Department
Glenville State College
(304) 462-7361ext. 6390
Glenville, WV– Gary Morris, Glenville State College Assistant Professor of Biology and Department of Science and Mathematics Chair, has been selected to participate in the 2012 West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) Summer Research Program. Morris is one of only two faculty fellows statewide who have been chosen for the program. Morris also was awarded a WV-INBRE fellowship in the summer of 2011.
WV-INBRE, is part of the NIH Institutional Development Award (IDeA) Program that establishes a consortium among selected institutions of higher education in the State of West Virginia. The goal is to enhance their capacity for educating and training their faculty and students in biomedical research.
“I have a great passion for teaching, but I was trained as a research scientist, and teaching does not leave a lot of time to conduct research. These fellowships allow me to get back to my roots and do some in-depth research,” said Morris.
Dr. Morris will work in Dr. Travis Salisbury’s lab at Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. The 2012 Summer Research Program will run from May 29th until July 30th. The fellows will conduct biomedical research projects under the direction of their faculty mentors and present the results of their research at the Summer Research Symposium which is scheduled for July 30 at WVU.
Dr. Salisbury and Dr. Morris will continue their research that they began in 2011, which studies the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AHR), a protein found in all cells. Historically, the AHR has been studied as a protein that binds and responds to environmental chemicals and provides a connection between the chemical environment with in which we live and the biology that occurs within our cells. Their joint research data suggest that the AHR in breast cancer cells may also respond to chemicals that are released from adipocytes (fat cells) and provides a connection between fat cells and cancer cells. Last summer, Dr. Morris performed experiments in Dr. Salisbury’s laboratory to understand how this occurs. Using gene knockdown technology and gene profiling technology, Dr. Morris identified that the AHR activates genes in cancer cells that are important for cancer cells to grow.
“This summer, Dr. Morris will return to my lab with the opportunity to profile tens of thousands of genes in collaboration with Dr. Jim Denver (a biostatistician) with the goal of identifying an AHR-driven gene network in breast cancer cells. Dr. Morris’s findings will provide a greater understanding of the AHR, cancer cell growth, which will lead to new cancer therapies,” stated Dr. Salisbury.
Morris is hopeful that his collaboration with Dr. Salisbury will continue beyond this summer’s fellowship. “I believe that this project will open research opportunities for our students at Glenville State College. The relationship that I am developing with faculty in Marshall University’s Biomedical Science Program should also pay dividends for GSC science graduates who want to go to graduate school in the biomedical field. Our students are required to conduct undergraduate research so anything that we can do to give them more opportunities to do so certainly makes them more marketable,” said Morris.
For more information about the GSC Department of Science and Mathematics, contact Morris at Gary.Morris@glenville.edu or (304) 462-6305. For more information about the WV-INBRE fellowship contact Elsa Mangiarua at firstname.lastname@example.org.