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School of Medicine discoveries

January 2009 Archives


The day Dr. Sakar discovered the Dana Foundation would support his gene therapy research with a $200,000 grant.

The Dana Foundation has awarded a three-year grant totaling $200,000 to Devanand Sarkar, Ph.D., to develop a gene therapy strategy as an effective treatment for malignant gliomas, a type of brain tumor. Sarkar, an assistant professor in the Department of Human and Molecular Genetics, will evaluate the eradication efficacy and vaccine effects of an agent that combines gene therapy and immunotherapy in animal models using human and mouse glioma cell. The preclinical studies will gather essential baseline information to develop a Phase I/II clinical trial for translation of this approach in malignant glioma patients.

Read the VCU News Release on the discovery.


The day Dr. Siminoff learned the doctoral program in social and behavioral health got the go ahead from SCHEV.

VCU received approval from the State Council on Higher Education for Virginia to move forward with a doctoral program in social and behavioral health. The program will be offered by the Department of Social and Behavioral Health, which is currently housed in the medical school as a component of the emerging School of Public Health. Since its establishment two years ago, the Department has won $8 million in NIH funding.

Read coverage of the program’s approval by the Richmond Times Dispatch.


The day that Dr Larner’s findings on a protein’s role in the energy production of cells was published by Science Express.

In the January 8 issue of Science Express, Andrew C. Larner, M.D., Ph.D., professor of biochemistry and molecular biology, reported that a previously known protein has a role in the
energy production of cells. The discovery could one day lead to the development of new treatments for heart disease to boost energy in failing heart muscle or to master the
abnormal metabolism of cancer.

The protein is Stat3, and Larner’s team examined oxygen consumption in cultured cells and hearts of mice to discover that when the protein was missing, cells consumed less oxygen
and produced less ATP, the key molecular form of cellular energy.

The NIH-supported research, Larner said, “could suggest new ways for Stat3 to be therapeutically manipulated to treat a variety of diseases where there are imbalances between energy generation and energy demands such as occurs in cancer and heart disease.”

Next, the team will conduct studies to determine the downstream targets of Stat3 and identify the physiological role of Stat3 that is localized to the mitochondria, the energy-producing machines of cells, in heart disease and cancer.

The journal Science electronically publishes select articles in advance of its print publication via Science Express.

Read more. VCU News Release on the discovery, Study abstract.

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Updated: 04/29/2016