Archive for August, 2017

Center for Interprofessional Education

Call for Proposals: IPE Faculty Award – September 2017

Aug. 28, 2017

Faculty Award in Support of Interprofessional Education

University of Maryland, Baltimore Center for Interprofessional Education

Deadline for priority decision: Wednesday, Sept. 27. Additional applications will be considered on a bi-monthly basis (November 2017, January 2018) pending availability of funds. Please visit the IPE website for additional information and to download a proposed template.

Purpose: The purpose of the Faculty Award in Support of Interprofessional Education (IPE) is to encourage and build a community of faculty members across the schools of the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) and throughout the University System of Maryland who have interest and expertise in interprofessional education. This includes, potentially, IPE activities nationally and internationally.

Activities: Faculty Awards may be used for a variety of endeavors that can include, but are not limited to, travel to other institutions to study IPE; regional and national meetings focused on IPE, including poster and podium presentations; educational products focused on IPE and other faculty development activities that are inclusive of UMB students from two or more schools. The funds must be used within a one-year window and any individual is limited to one award per year. Faculty Awards may provide a one-time salary enhancement stipend, if allowed by the UMB school, and appropriate for the proposed activity.

Award Management: All UMB faculty members are eligible to apply for a Faculty Award of up to $2,000 annually. Other faculty from the University System of Maryland require a partner from the UMB faculty and are eligible for up to a $1,000 award. A two-page proposal, including a budget, should be submitted via email to the UMB Center for Interprofessional Education. Please include a title for the award, along with a description of the proposed activity and its potential to further IPE at UMB. If you plan to use standardized patients through the Clinical Education and Evaluation Laboratory, please email the director, Nancy Budd Culpepper. The co-directors of the Center for Interprofessional Education serve as the award committee.

For questions or to submit an application, please contact:
Patricia Danielewicz
Center for Interprofessional Education
University of Maryland, Baltimore

Patricia Danielewicz Collaboration, Education, UMB NewsAugust 31, 20170 comments
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Orioles Night

UMB Night at the Ballpark

UMB Night at the Ballpark

Orioles vs. Boston Red Sox
Tuesday, Sept. 19
7:05 p.m.

Mark your calendar to join us for the annual UMB Night at the Ballpark! It’s fan appreciation night too and everyone will receive an Orioles knit cap.

Discounted tickets are available in many sections while tickets last and $5 from every ticket will support the UMB CURE Scholars Program.


Terrace Box Outside Bases
Sections 1-17, 55-65: $39*

Lower Reserve Between Bases
Sections 19-53: $39*

Left Field Lower Box
Sections 66-86: $39*

Lower Reserve
Sections 7-17, 55-87: $24*

Eutaw Street Bleachers
Sections 90-98: $24*

Upper Reserve
Sections 306-364: $20*

Left Field Upper Reserve
Sections 368-388: $15*

*There is an additional 10 percent service charge per ticket


• Click the ordering link.
• Select a seating location and quantity of tickets.
• Create a Baltimore Orioles ticket account.
• Purchase and print your tickets.

For any questions or accessible seating, please call 888.848.BIRD (2473) and ask for the Ticket Services team.

Tickets posted for re-sale are subject to cancellation. Offer is NOT valid at the Box Office.

Alice PowellBulletin Board, For B'more, PeopleAugust 31, 20170 comments
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Pecha promoted to full captain

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) Police Force has promoted Erik Pecha to the full rank of Police Captain for Public Safety. A University employee since 2015, Pecha had served at UMB as a lieutenant, a security shift commander, and an acting captain before his promotion July 10.

Capt. Martinez Davenport, MS, the UMB Police Force’s interim chief, said Pecha scored the highest among all candidates interviewed for the captain’s post. “I am very proud of him,” Davenport said. “He will be a great help to me and to the University.”

Pecha joined the University after serving for 21 years in the Baltimore Police Department, where he handled narcotics investigations and other criminal probes, earning promotions to sergeant, lieutenant, and captain before his retirement. He also received a Bronze Star for valor, three unit citations, and a commendation for putting his life in danger to assist others.

A 1993 graduate of Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pa., Pecha and his wife, Stephanie, have five children, ages 19 to 4. In his spare time, he enjoys hunting, fishing, and gardening.

— Lou Cortina

Lou Cortina People, UMB News, University LifeAugust 31, 20170 comments
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HS/HSL Fall Hours Begin Sept. 5

HS/HSL Fall Hours

Tuesday, Sept. 5 – Thursday, Nov. 30

Monday – Thursday: 6 a.m.* – 1 a.m.**

Friday: 6 a.m.* – 8 p.m.

Saturday: 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.

Sunday: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Exceptions to Regular Hours

Labor Day Weekend Saturday, Sept. 2 – Monday, Sept. 4: CLOSED

Wednesday Nov. 22: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Thanksgiving Thursday, Nov. 23 – Friday, Nov. 24: CLOSED

* Early Morning Study

  • Between 6 a.m. – 8 a.m., Monday through Friday, enter through the SMC Campus Center with your UMB ID or UMMC ID.
  • Library services and access to classrooms begin at 8 a.m.

**Late Night Study

  • Floors 1 & 2 will be open until 1 a.m. as a study hall
  • Library services and floors 3, 4 & 5 will close at 10 p.m.
  • Building entrance after 8 p.m. is limited to those with a current UMB One Card, UMMC ID or an ID badge from a University System of Maryland campus.
  • Visitors and borrowing members may not enter the building after 8 p.m.
  • Visitors and borrowing members entering the library for research purposes before 8 p.m. may remain until 10 p.m.
Emily Gorman Education, People, University LifeAugust 31, 20170 comments
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Nursing’s Hammersla, Windemuth Serving In New Leadership Roles

Assistant professors Margaret Hammersla, PhD ’17, MS ’05, BSN ’95, CRNP, and Brenda Windemuth, DNP ’11, RN, CRNP, have been appointed to new leadership roles within the University of Maryland School of Nursing’s (UMSON) Department of Organizational Systems and Adult Health. Hammersla, who most recently served as co-specialty director for the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP) specialty, has been named senior director of the school’s Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program, and Windemuth takes over Hammersla’s former post as co-specialty director for the AGPCNP specialty.

Hammersla has been an UMSON faculty member since 2007, serving as co-specialty director for the AGPCNP specialty since 2011. She is responsible for the daily operations of the DNP program at UMSON, including the development, implementation, and evaluation of the DNP program’s policies and procedures.

“I am thrilled to take on the role of senior director of the DNP program. This is an exciting opportunity to be part of a team that delivers high-quality, advanced nursing education,” Hammersla said. “I look forward to working with our faculty as we educate doctorally prepared nursing leaders to improve patient care at the local, state, and national levels.”

Hammersla also provides leadership in program coordination; curriculum planning; student recruitment, retention, and advisement; and general support to the DNP specialty directors. She earned a doctorate degree in nursing research, master’s degree in adult primary care, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from UMSON.

“Dr. Hammersla brings more than 10 years of experience teaching at UMSON and a wealth of leadership and operational experience in advanced practice education,” said Shannon Idzik, DNP ’10, MS ’03, CRNP, FAANP, associate professor and associate dean for the DNP program, UMSON. “She was a key leader during the development of the BSN-DNP program and is vested in its success. I am confident that she will continue to lead and support the mission of the school.”

Windemuth has been on the faculty since 2009. Her new duties include working with Barbara Resnick, PhD ’96, RN, CRNP, FAAN, FAANP, professor and Sonia Ziporkin Gershowitz Chair in Gerontology, to co-direct the development, implementation, and evaluation of DNP-level didactic and clinical courses related to the AGPCNP specialty. She also recruits, advises, teaches, and mentors students.

“I’m very excited to take on this leadership role in the AGPCNP program, and to continue the success the program has had previously. I look forward to helping guide our students to be successful in the program and our graduates contributing to our profession as doctorally prepared nurse practitioner leaders,” Windemuth said. “I want to continue moving our program forward in providing new educational experiences and learning opportunities to enrich our students’ education.

Additionally, Windemuth is working with faculty members to foster professional development. She earned a DNP in nursing from UMSON, and a master’s degree in Family Nurse Practitioner and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree both from Wilmington University.

“I am delighted that Dr. Windemuth will be taking on this new leadership role in the AGPCNP specialty. As an experienced educator and active clinician, she is committed to providing the best opportunities for student success,” said Kathleen Michael, PhD, RN, CRRN, associate professor and chair of the Department of Organizational Systems and Adult Health. “She is a valued colleague and trusted collaborator who approaches her work with dedication and vision. Her leadership will guide the specialty toward a bright future indeed.”

Kevin Nash Bulletin Board, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeAugust 31, 20170 comments
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Brady Art Exhibit Has Gala Opening

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) was honored to have Francine Brady’s art exhibit open on Aug. 14 at the Weise Gallery in the Health Sciences and Human Services Library.

This captivating exhibit is sponsored by UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture. Students, faculty, and staff attended the opening along with other artists and guests, including Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan, honorary chair of UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture. She and UMB President Jay A. Perman, MD, hosted the art exhibit opening.

Brady, a resident of Frederick, Md., since 1999, describes her artwork as contemporary, narrative, and symbolic. She prefers that each person who views her art interpret the pieces instead of her providing an interpretation for them.

Her artwork covers a wide range of subjects and textures. Her current work mostly focuses on drawings and acrylic paintings. Unique, vibrant, and expressive are just a few of the words used to describe Brady’s art.

Every visitor to her exhibit at the Weise Gallery is sure to find a piece of interest. Be sure to stop by before the exhibit closes on Oct. 1.

Read more about UMB’s Council for the Arts & Culture. See more pictures from the event.

— By Sonya Evans

Sonya Evans Community Service, Education, People, UMB News, University LifeAugust 29, 20170 comments
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Founders Week Award Winners Named

Every fall, we dedicate one week to commemorating UMB’s rich history and to celebrating the future we’re building together. Among the highlights of Founders Week is recognizing the extraordinary work of our faculty and staff. Four awards are given every year, each signifying outstanding accomplishment in one facet of our mission. We’re delighted to announce the recipients of our 2017 Founders Week Awards.

Entrepreneur of the Year

Bartley P. Griffith, MD
School of Medicine
Thomas E. and Alice Marie Hales Distinguished Professor in Transplant Surgery
Founder, Breethe, Inc.

A world-renowned heart and lung transplant surgeon, Dr. Griffith struggled for decades to develop an artificial lung — one that wouldn’t tie patients to a breathing machine in a hospital bed.

After 20 years, he achieved his goal, creating a portable, at-home device for artificial respiration.

To market this technology, which should help hundreds of thousands of patients each year, Dr. Griffith in 2014 worked with UM Ventures, the University of Maryland, Baltimore’s commercialization arm, to found the company Breethe, Inc.

Based at the BioPark, Breethe, Inc. is deep into product development, funded to date through three rounds of equity capital with Dr. Griffith playing an active role.

Dr. Griffith, who came to the School of Medicine in 2001, has performed more than 1,250 heart transplants and nearly 700 lung transplants.

In 2010, when he was named UMB’s Researcher of the Year, Dr. Griffith was credited with having “the most heavily funded cardiac surgery program in the United States” with $25 million the previous decade.

In addition to his lung breakthroughs, Griffith was one of the early surgeons to implant a Jarvik heart, and he developed a pediatric heart pump.

Previously chief of cardiac surgery at the School of Medicine, Dr. Griffith recently raised funding to endow a joint chair between the SOM Department of Surgery and the Department of Bioengineering in College Park. The chair helps to create new medical devices.

Public Servant of the Year

Susan M. Antol, PhD, RN
School of Nursing
Assistant professor, Department of Partnerships, Professional Education and Practice
Director, Wellmobile and School-Based Programs

During the past 19 years at the School of Nursing, Dr. Antol has developed innovative approaches for meeting the needs of underserved individuals throughout the state. Applying her community health nursing expertise, her organizational skills, and her perseverance, she has brought health care services to at-risk children, the homeless, immigrants, migrant workers, veterans, and victims of human trafficking.

She has led nurse-managed school-based programs providing direct care to children and has served on key statewide committees such as the Maryland Assembly on School-Based Health Care and the Governor’s School-Based Health Center Policy Advisory Council.

As director of the Governor’s Wellmobile Program since 2009, Dr. Antol has overseen nurse-managed primary care services in underserved areas ranging from Maryland’s Eastern Shore to Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and Western Maryland. When Wellmobile funding was cut in half in fiscal year 2010, she pursued grants and partnerships, securing three years of funding from CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, and in 2017 partnered with other University schools in a $1.2 million grant from the Maryland Community Health Resources Commission.

An advocate for interprofessional practice, she received $1.04 million in 2015 in Health Resources and Services Administration funding to expand the Wellmobile’s interprofessional practice. In collaboration with the schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Social Work, Dr. Antol and her team have implemented an interprofessional practice that serves as a clinical education site and is examining new methods of providing care through the Wellmobile.

Researcher of the Year

Robert K. Ernst, PhD
School of Dentistry
Professor, Department of Microbial Pathogenesis

Dr. Ernst and his colleagues are engineering rationally designed mimetics based on bacterial surface molecules that will inhibit the body’s immune response to sepsis, a condition that causes a death every two minutes in the U.S.

In particular, he is at the forefront of innovative research studying the molecular basis by which bacteria modify the lipid component of their membrane, specifically lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and how these alterations affect or circumvent normal host innate immune system responses, potentially resulting in septic shock. Additionally, these modifications can promote resistance to host innate immune-killing mechanisms by antimicrobial compounds.

Therefore, altering the biosynthesis of LPS can render the bacteria more susceptible to host cell killing and/or antimicrobial intervention and serve as novel components or adjuvants required for the development of more effective vaccines.

The work of Dr. Ernst, a member of the School of Dentistry faculty since 2008, has attracted ongoing funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), MedImmune, as well as University of Maryland Ventures Seed Grant Funding and the state of Maryland Technology Development Corporation.

An advocate of interprofessional research, he has four colleagues from the School of Pharmacy on the NIH sepsis proposal. One of them, David Goodlett, PhD, co-founded a startup diagnostic company with Dr. Ernst called Pataigin. Its patented test “BACLIB” inexpensively identifies bacteria- and fungi-caused infections in less than an hour.

Teacher of the Year

Fadia Tohme Shaya, PhD, MPH
School of Pharmacy
Professor, Department of Pharmaceutical Health Services Research
Vice Chair for Academic Affairs

Dr. Shaya leads by example and is an inspirational educator, teacher, and mentor to predoctoral students, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty.

She engages her students in research very early on, and includes them in publications. Under her mentorship, her trainees have been awarded prestigious research and training grants. Her courses — Medication Safety, Drug Abuse in the Community, and Formulary Management — are highly sought after and often referenced by graduates as among their most influential. Fluent in five languages (including her native French and Arabic), Dr. Shaya has trained visiting scholars from many countries, including Armenia, France, Israel, Lebanon, and Turkey, and is a popular guest speaker, nationally and internationally.

Along with her School of Pharmacy appointments, she is on the School of Medicine faculty (Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine), director of the Behavioral Health Research and Policy Program, associate director of the Center on Drugs and Public Policy, and adjunct faculty at the American University of Beirut.

Committed to interprofessional education (IPE), she organized an inter-school IPE program on training students to counter the opioid epidemic and how to administer naloxone.

Dr. Shaya also has supported the training of minority students and junior faculty, under the NIH minority supplement mechanism. She serves as a mentor to inner city high school students through the UMB Bioscience Summer Program.

As vice chair for Academic Affairs, Dr. Shaya has helped introduce population health and health services research-based courses in the PharmD curriculum and expand dual-degree options for pharmacy students.

For more on the Founders Week events, including the awards presentation at the Founders Gala on Saturday, Oct. 14, visit The Elm and Founders Week websites in the weeks to come.

Chris Zang Bulletin Board, Clinical Care, Collaboration, Community Service, Contests, Education, For B'more, People, Research, Technology, UMB News, University LifeAugust 28, 20170 comments
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Free HS/HSL Workshops

Fall Workshops at HS/HSL

The HS/HSL offers a variety of free workshops to faculty, students, and staff.

This semester’s topics include:

  • Leveraging research impact data for tenure and promotion
  • Citation management with RefWorks
  • Research data management basics
  • Creating effective presentations using PowerPoint
  • Finding research literature using PubMed
  • Bioinformatics on the Cloud

See the full schedule and registration information.

Emily Gorman Bulletin Board, Education, People, Research, TechnologyAugust 28, 20170 comments
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Social Justice and Our Community

Social Justice and Our Community

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) will offer a service-learning course to all UMB students for the fall 2017 semester.

Students will receive hands-on, professional experience with community health programs by working with partner organizations in the community surrounding UMB.

Through service learning, students will learn how community health programs are developed, organized, implemented, and evaluated as well as how interprofessional teams successfully function, how to interact with individuals and groups living in our community, and how to report on their observations to peers and supervisors.

Students who wish to take this course will register through their school’s normal registration process.

Course Description and Requirements

  • Course Name: CIPP 970: Interprofessional Service – Social Justice and Our Community
  • Semester Offered: Fall 2017
  • Course Credit: 1 credit hour (tuition free)
  • Hosting School: UMB Graduate School
  • Instructor: Lori Edwards, DrPH, MPH, RN, PHCNS-BC
  • Email:
  • Office Telephone: 410-706-1929

Course Introduction & Goals

This course links the experiential with the theoretical by providing hands-on professional experience in UMB’s surrounding community. Students from all University programs are encouraged to enroll in this course.

Providing true service learning is the ultimate goal of this course in which students will learn by providing for the expressed need of the community. Students will learn how community health programs (broadly defined) are developed, organized, implemented, and evaluated; how interprofessional teams successfully function; how to interact with individuals and groups living in our community; as well as how to report their observations to peers and supervisors. Students will work with organizations with which the University has formed partnerships to meet the course learning objectives. Students will be required to reflect on the service-learning experience in formal written reflections.

Service learning is a form of experiential education in which students engage in activities that address human and community needs together with structured opportunities intentionally designed to promote student learning and development. Reflection is a key element of service learning. It is one of the elements that differentiates service learning from community service. Equally important in differentiating service learning from community service is reciprocity between the person providing the service and the person receiving the service. Through the reciprocity associated with service learning, students gain a better sense of belonging to that community while community members are empowered to address and advocate for their own needs.

Course Learning Objectives

  • Students will be able to explain the connection between course content and their service experiences.
  • Students will be able to paraphrase the definition of social justice.
  • Students will be able to give examples of the root causes of social injustice in the community in which they are doing their service project.
  • Students will be able to differentiate service from social change as they relate to their service-learning experience.
  • Students will be able to define characteristics and value of an interdisciplinary educational (IPE) approach to service learning.

Course Prerequisites

  • Successful completion of background check, if required by service site

Course Requirements

Students will be matched with a community partner and complete a total of 40 hours of service learning with the partner organization, a minimum of five hours of classroom training, and a series of assignments (see “Grading” below). The classroom content will include principles of service learning, community engagement and strategies for working in a reciprocal relationship with community partners.

Community partners will be selected from among community organizations with which UMB CBEL and faculty fellows have working relationships. Examples of partner organizations include: JACQUES Initiative, Southwest Partnership, International Refugee Committee, and Hollins House (mixed population housing).

Students will work in small interprofessional groups of three to five students for their community project. They will meet with the Community-Based Organization (CBO) partner during the first week of the semester to learn more about the CBO, the population they represent, and to discuss the projects that may be undertaken to meet the goals of the organization and community that they represent. The student team and CBO will jointly decide on an approach to the project that will utilize the student expertise and meet community goals. The students and CBO will establish a deliverable/”take home” product and make plans for meeting the course requirements.

HIPAA Statement

HIPPA regulations establish uniform rules for protecting the health information and privacy of our patients. You may not see or use protected health information unless it is required for your clinical assignment. Protected health information is any information that identifies an individual, could be used to identify an individual, describes the health care condition or payment of an individual, and/or describes the demographics of an individual.

Required Readings


Class Meetings

We will meet in-person three times over the course of the semester. Our first meeting will take place the week of Sept. 5, 2017 (day and time TBD) and will be an orientation to the class, principles of service learning, and your community partner. All meetings will take place in the Community Engagement Center. The second meeting will serve as a mid-semester group check in and peer mentoring. The final meeting will present your “take home” product and discuss your experiences in the course.

Grading Information

This is a one-semester pass/fail course where students will have until the end of the fall 2017 semester to complete the 45 hours of training, service, and reflection. Each project may require separate time commitments and responsibilities. Students will be evaluated on the completion of their service-learning project requirements including:

  1. Professionalism: The student maintains the expected level of professionalism during the course.
  2. Service-subject matter relation: Service activities allow students to apply what they have learned during their professional program.
  3. Class contemplates learning through service: The students must document service activities on a weekly basis as well as record reflections on their experiences in the community, submit a mid-semester sample weekly reflection, and submit a final reflection paper.
  4. Service recipients evaluate service: Sponsoring agencies will be asked to evaluate the service activities. A variety of survey forms are being developed (and may include student involvement in the development of these forms) that will involve focus group and possibly brown bag activity recipients.
  5. Interdisciplinary learning: students may learn from each other through different skills or attributes in providing information or in “people” skills or professional practice. In addition, the group reflection sessions will permit the students to learn from each other in different activities in which they have participated.

Grading Criteria

  1. Course preparation, attendance and engagement (10 percent)
  2. Weekly reflections (not graded) and final course reflection papers (30 percent)
  3. CBO mentor individual evaluation (20 percent)
  4. Group project report (40 percent)


Reflection is one of the most critical pieces of service learning. It is the structured time in which students move from participation into deeper understanding. We want students to think about their experiences not only in the context of what they actually did, but also about how their experiences relate to their lives in a bigger sense and the decisions they will make in the future. All reflection activities should come back to the central question of how the service is connected to the learning, and how it is connected to each student’s personal development.

Examples of student reflection activities*

  • Keep an ongoing journal with specific reflection questions throughout the project
  • Compose a letter to one of the service recipients, or to a politician
  • Write a poem that reflects your experience for that week
  • Explain what scientific knowledge would help you with the project and why; see if you can get that information
  • Compile statistics on your project and compare them to other data available for similar circumstances
  • Create a skit based on your project and perform it for the class/school/parents

*Adapted from Loyola University, New Orleans

Lori Edwards Bulletin Board, Collaboration, Community Service, EducationAugust 28, 20171 comment
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UMB Day of Service

Pop! Farm Day of Service is an opportunity for the UMB community to learn more about the amazing communities across Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and provide some extra hands in a beautiful community garden. Students, staff, and faculty are all welcome! Pop! Farm is a community garden in Southwest Baltimore’s Poppleton neighborhood where community members grow their own fresh produce. You can register for one of two volunteer shifts: 10 a.m. to noon or noon to 2 p.m. All volunteers will begin at the Community Engagement Center.

Bill Joyner Community ServiceAugust 25, 20170 comments
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A Metabolic Pathway that Feeds Liver Cancer

A little-studied gene may explain how some liver cancer cells obtain the nutrition they need to proliferate, according to new research from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. The results of this research were published as an Editors’ Pick in the Aug. 18 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry.

Because they multiply quickly and spread throughout the body, cancer cells require more energy than normal cells. One approach to treating cancer, therefore, is targeting the pathways that cancer cells have adapted to meet these energy needs, thus “starving” the cancer. The laboratory of Hongbing Wang, PhD, professor in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, was interested in how this principle applied to cancers of the liver.

“The liver is one of the most busy, active organs in the body,” Wang said, so the healthy liver already needs a lot of energy. In addition, Wang said, liver cancer appears to be one of the few cancers of which incidences seem to be on the rise, possibly in association with the rise of metabolism-related conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

When looking for genes that might play important roles in the metabolism of healthy and cancerous liver cells, Wang and his colleagues became interested in a gene called SLC13A5, which produces a protein that transports citrate into cells. SLC13A5 is expressed mainly in the liver, but its role is relatively understudied.

“If you search for SLC13A5 in PubMed — I searched this morning — there are 54 publications, which is not a whole lot,” Wang said. Nearly half of these studies were published in the last two years. Research on SLC13A5 has focused on its role in obesity and diabetes; knocking out the SLC13A5 gene in mice prevents high-fat diet-induced obesity. If this gene plays a role in energy homeostasis and energy balance in the context of obesity, Wang reasoned, perhaps it could play a role in the energy requirements of liver cancer cells.

Zhihui Li, a postdoctoral fellow in Wang’s lab, performed experiments in which he used a technique called RNA interference to suppress (but not completely eliminate) the production of the SLC13A5 protein. He carried out these experiments in cultures of two human hepatocellular carcinoma cell lines. Suppressing SLC13A5 resulted in liver cancer cells that did not die but had significantly slower growth and division. Similarly, when these cells were injected into mice, the cells in which SLC13A5 was suppressed formed barely discernable tumors compared to the unmanipulated cancer cells.

Wang hypothesizes that the extracellular citrate taken up by the SLC13A5 protein is required by the liver cancer cells for fatty acid synthesis. Because prostate cancer does not express SLC13A5, the growth of prostate cancer cells was unaffected by suppressing SLC13A5 expression. The fact that prostate cancer grew independently of the presence of SLC13A5 supports the idea that different cancers use different methods to meet their high energy requirements.

Wang points out that the current findings are preliminary and that comparing SLC13A5 activity in healthy and cancerous human liver tissue will be necessary before studies of this pathway as a cancer drug target should be contemplated. But understanding the involvement of the citrate transport pathway in the growth of liver cancer marks a step forward in understanding energy use in cancer.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education. Read the paper.

About the Journal of Biological Chemistry

JBC is a weekly peer-reviewed scientific journal that publishes research “motivated by biology, enabled by chemistry” across all areas of biochemistry and molecular biology.

About the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

The ASBMB is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization with more than 12,000 members worldwide. Most members teach and conduct research at colleges and universities. Others conduct research in various government laboratories, at nonprofit research institutions and in industry. The society’s student members attend undergraduate or graduate institutions. For more information, the ASBMB website.

Alexandra Mushegian Research, UMB NewsAugust 25, 20170 comments
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