Category: Spotlight

Drs. Pietro Cottone and Valentina Sabino become U.S. citizens. Dr. Cottone Records Album/Shares Perspective in the Boston Globe and BU Today.

August 14th, 2019 in Faculty Spotlight

Congratulations to Drs. Pietro Cottone and Valentina Sabino who recently became U.S. citizens in a ceremony at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum with approximately 200 other immigrants. Pietro and Valentina, natives of Italy, are Associate Professors in Pharmacology and Psychiatry and Co-Principal Investigators in the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders. Since joining Boston University in 2008, these talented neuroscientists have distinguished themselves as research leaders in the neuropsychopharmacology of addiction including eating disorders, obesity, and stress-related disorders.

Pietro shared his perspective on becoming a U.S. citizen in an in the July 17, 2019 issue of the Boston Globe, and in the August 9, 2019 issue of BU Today. A musician and composer, he also discusses the thoughts that led to release album he composed, arranged, and produced.  “Fight For Their Rights” is a collection of 10 songs “expressing his perspective of the social and political challenges that the world is facing.” As Pietro puts it in BU Today, “My album is an attempt to give a voice to the voiceless.”



Franco Puleo Receives the 2019-2020 American Physiology Society Porter Physiology Development Fellowship

May 20th, 2019 in Student Spotlight

Congratulations to Franco Puleo who has been awarded the 2019-2020 American Physiology Society Porter Physiology Development Fellowship. His research, "Sympathetic Nervous System Regulation of the NCC in Salt Sensitive Hypertension," focuses on renal mechanisms of blood pressure control in salt sensitive hypertension. The Porter Physiology Development Fellowship provides Franco a year's stipend support for his research.

Franco is a Program in BioMolecular Pharmacology PhD candidate who is doing is dissertation research in the Laboratory for Cardiovascular-Renal Research under the mentorship of Richard D. Wainford, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, Section of Cardiovascular Medicine, and member of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute at Boston University. Franco joined Dr. Wainford's lab in 2017. He was awarded the Caroline tum Suden/Francis A. Hellebrandt Professor Opportunity Award from the APS at the 2018 Experimental Biology Annual Meeting in San Diego, California.

Again, kudos to Franco Puleo for his continued pursuit of excellence and dedication to his research.

Drs. Valentina Sabino, Camron Bryant, and Chris Gabel Among the 2019 Jack Spivack Excellence in Neuroscience Awards Recipients

May 3rd, 2019 in Faculty Spotlight

Congratulations to Drs. Valentina Sabino, Camron Bryant, and Chris Gabel for being among the 2019 Jack Spivack Excellence in Neuroscience Awards recipients. Drs. Gabel and Sabino have been named as Spivack Emerging Leaders and Dr. Bryant has been honored as the Spivack Young Investgator.

Valentina Sabino, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, is the co-director of the Laboratory of Addictive Disorders. Her research focuses on the neurobiology of addiction and stress-related disorders.

Camron Bryant, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in Pharmacology and Psychiatry, is the director of the Laboratory of Addiction Genetics. He conducts research on the genetic factors and neurological mechanism underlying substance abuse disorders.

Chris Gabel, Pn.D., Associate Professor of Physiology and Biophysics and Pharmacology, studies neuroregeneration, neurodegeneration, nervous systems Circuits, and behavior and the influence of anesthetics on neurocircuitry.

All three of these talented researchers are members of the NIGMS Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology, actively participating in teaching and mentoring our Ph.D. graduate students towards careers in neuroscience.

Again we say, "Well done!"

Emily Mason-Osann Receives PhRMA Foundation Pre Doctoral Fellowship

April 29th, 2019 in Student Spotlight

Emily Mason-Osann, a fourth year Ph.D. student in the Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology, has received a pre doctoral fellowship in pharmacology/toxicology from the PhRMA Foundation. The research proposed is titled, “Defining Mechanism and Therapeutic Targets in the Alternative Lengthening of the Telomeres Pathway.” She is pursuing her thesis research under the mentorship of Rachel L. Flynn, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, in the Laboratory of Genomic Stability and Cancer Therapeutics.

The award announcement was made at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics in Orlando on April 10, 2019. This award provides $20,000 per year for up to two years for PhD candidates who have completed most of their pre-thesis requirements and are engaged in their thesis research.

Congratulations Emily!

Dr. Wendy Qiu is corresponding author on BU Alzheimer’s Study Examining the Role of Inflammation in Alzheimer’s Disease

October 29th, 2018 in Faculty Spotlight

As reported in the Friday, October 19, 2018 edition of The Boston Globe, Boston University researchers published results of their study on the examining the role of inflammation in Alzheimer's disease in the journal JAMA Network Open. Per the abstract, the research objective was "To study the interaction between the apolipoprotein E (ApoE) genotype and chronic low-grade inflammation and its association with the incidence of AD." Framingham Heart Study data was mined to for subjects who had the ApoE4 gene to examine C-reactive protein levels as an indicator of the amount of body inflammation.

Wendy Qiu, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology and corresponding author of the study, commented in The Globe, "Since many elders have chronic low-grade inflammation after suffering from common diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, pneumonia and urinary tract infection, or after having surgeries, rigorously treating chronic systemic inflammation in ApoE4 carriers could be effective for prevention of Alzheimer’s dementia.”

The study found that, "It is possible that chronic inflammation, rather than 1 episode of inflammation, interacts with genetic vulnerability to increase the risk for AD." This finding provides an important new insight into the development of Alzheimer's disease.




Dr. Hui Feng Named 2018 Arden Quinn Bucher Memorial Fund St. Baldrick’s Foundation Scholar

August 30th, 2018 in Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Hui Feng has been named the 2018 Arden Quinn Bucher Memorial Fund St. Baldrick’s Foundation Scholar. This award was established in memory of Arden Quinn Bucher who was diagnosed with neuroblastoma in 2007 at the age of 2.

An amplified gene, MYCN, is found in ~30% of neuroblastomas, and is associated with highly aggressive tumors that have extremely poor prognosis. Dr. Feng's work on T-cell leukemia recently showed that when a specific gene is turned off it will prevent tumor growth caused by C-MYC, a close relative of MYCN. This award will support Dr. Feng's research which aims to determine if targeting this gene will suppress neuroblastoma development associated with MYCN activity.

The St. Baldrick's Foundation's mission is to "conquer childhood cancers." In 2014 Dr. Feng was selected by the St. Baldrick Foundation to receive a three year Scholar award totaling $330,000. Based on her research progress, she was awarded an additional $211,154 new grants in 2017 and 2018 to fund two more years of this Scholar award. These awards have enabled Dr. Feng to make great strides in her research on childhood cancers.

We congratulate to Dr. Feng on receipt of this award and take this opportunity to thank the St. Baldrick's Foundation for their generous support of Dr. Feng's research.

WBUR Interview-Dr. Richard Wainford on Salt-Sensitive Gene Discovery

July 6th, 2018 in Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Richard Wainford spoke with Carey Goldberg on WBUR today regarding his study connecting salt sensitivity to mutations in the GNAI2 gene. He noted that 1 in 2 adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure and, according to this study, "if you have this mutation . . . you're three times more likely to be salt sensitive than patients that don't . . ." This is a promising new discovery for clinicians who currently have no way to identify patients who may be salt-sensitive and at risk for "the associated adverse cardiovascular outcomes." The details of this study were published in June 15, 2018 issue of Physiological Genomics.

Dr. Wainford, Associate Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, Section of Cardiovascular Medicine and member of the BU Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute, is the Director of the Laboratory for Cardiovascular-Renal Research. His research is supported by funding from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

Drs. Karen Harnett and Neil Ganem Honored as 2018 BUSM Educators of the Year

May 31st, 2018 in Faculty Spotlight

Karen Harnett, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmacology, and Neil J. Ganem, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and Medicine, Section of Hematology and Medical Oncology are among the nine recipients of 2018 BUSM Educator of the Year honors. Faculty were nominated for awards in each category by medical students and Division of Graduate Medical Sciences students.

Dr. Harnett, a BUSM Pharmacology Ph.D. program graduate, was named Educator of the Year in Pre-Clinical Medical Sciences. She joined the Department of Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics in 2013 as Pharmacology educator and joined the Disease and Therapy (DRx) leadership team in 2015. She directs the Dental Pharmacology could for se ond-year dental students (DMDII) and first-year Advanced Standing dental students (ASI) at BU's Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

Dr. Ganem, Principal Investigator and Director of the Laboratory of Cancer Cell Biology, is one of two recipients along with Dr. Darrell Kotton of the Educator of the Year in Graduate Medical Sciences, Dissertation Advisors award. Neil's research investigates the causes and consequences of aneuploidy and chromosome instability in human cancer, aims to define tumor suppression mechanisms that limit proliferation of aneuploid cells, and also to identify the common genetic adaptions made by cancer cells to overcome these growth barriers. He currently mentors one Ph.D. graduate student and three M.D./Ph.D. graduate students in the NIGMS supported Program in Biomolecular Pharmacology at Boston University, a BU Cell, Molecular and Genetics program undergraduate student, two postdoctoral researchers and a laboratory technician.

Congratulations to Karen and Neil on their excellent teaching skills, their commitment to their students, and on a job well done.

David Waxman Receives The Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism for Research on Sex Differences in Drug Metabolism

April 30th, 2018 in Recent News, Spotlight

David J. Waxman, Ph.D., Boston University Professor of Cell and Molecular Biology and Medicine, was awarded the Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolism by the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (ASPET) at their 2018 annual meeting in San Diego, California. The award was presented to Dr. Waxman for his research on "Sex Differences in Drug Metabolism: From Steroids and P450s to Transcription Factors and Chromatin States."

The Bernard B. Brodie Award in Drug Metabolisum was established to honor the fundamental contributions of Bernard B. Brodie in the field of drug metabolism and disposition and is given every two years. The Award includes a $2000 honorarium, a commemorative medal and hotel and airfare to the award ceremony.

Congratulations to Dr. Waxman on receipt of the Bernard B. Brodie Award in recognition of his important research contributions.

Andrieu and Denis paper featured as Editor’s Pick/Cover Story in April 2018 Issue of Molecular Cancer Research

April 13th, 2018 in Recent News, Spotlight

A paper by Boston University investigators, Guillaume Andrieu, Ph.D. and Gerald V. Denis, Ph.D., has been selected as the Cover Story and Editor’s Pick for Rapid Impact in the April 2018 Issue of Molecular Cancer Research. BET Proteins Exhibit Transcriptional Function Opposition in the Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition reports on research carried out on inhibitors of the BET bromodomain proteins, comprised of BRD2, BRD3 and BRD4, that may work well to block growth in diverse cancer types and seems to be less toxic than traditional chemotherapies. However, these three proteins don’t always work together.

In this study, Andrieu and Denis demonstrated that sometimes individual BET bromodomain proteins oppose each other. Any of the pan-BET inhibitors currently available block all three and could have unexpected side effects. To avoid the dangerous side effects, it is urgent to develop new strategies to specifically target the proteins individually.

Cancer clinical trials using BET inhibitors are currently recruiting for leukemias, lymphoma, multiple myeloma, metastatic prostate cancer, lung cancer, glioblastoma and subtypes of breast cancer, including triple negative breast cancer. Andrieu’s and Denis’ findings are urgently relevant to all of these clinical trials because of the fundamental mechanisms that they explored are shared across many cancer types.

Dr. Andrieu is a postdoctoral research associate conducting investigations into breast cancer and its interactions with the microenvironment— the tissues surrounding the tumor. Dr. Denis is Associate Professor of Medicine and Pharmacology, whose research focuses on the fundamental mechanisms of transcriptional control of growth and development.

This study was supported by grants from the Cancer Systems Biology Consortium of the National Cancer Institute.