petolinoJoseph F. Petolino has co-edited, along with Vibha Srivastava and Henry Daniell, a special issue of Plant Biotechnology Journal (February 2016, 14(2):433-832) on ‘Genome Editing in Plants’.

Top L to R: Pam Weathers, Melissa Towler, Abdul Mannan (2015 visiting Fulbright Fellow from COMSATS Institute of Information Technology Abbottabad, Pakistan) Bottom: L to R: Hailey Cambra, Kevin Magnan, Matt Desrosiers, Curtis Kazmaier, Dina Rassias  

Dr. Pamela Weather’s laboratory received a new NIH grant as an Administrative Supplement to their currently funded project from the National Center for Complementary and integrative Health (NCCIH) studying the effect of phytochemicals from the plant Artemisia annua on the bioavailability of artemisinin in drug transport studies. The new award was made in conjunction with ODS, Office of Dietary Supplements along with NCCIH. Artemisinin, from the medicinal herb, Artemisia annua (sweet annie), is effective in treating malaria and many other diseases. Artemisinin and the plant also have anti-inflammatory effects and are potential dietary supplements. Oral consumption of dried leaves of the plant in a malaria mouse model was at least five and three times more effective, respectively, than pure artemisinin in combatting the malaria parasite, and in resilience against emergence of artemisinin drug resistance (Elfawal et al. PNAS 2015 112(3):821-6). In our newly funded study we will compare tissue distribution (ADME) of artemisinin from orally consumed pure artemisinin vs. when artemisinin delivered by oral consumption of the dried plant leaves. We will also compare the two delivery modes for their effects on inflammation markers in our study animals. Overall this should help us better understand how artemisinin is so much more bioavailable when orally delivered via the dried leaves vs. as the pure drug. Matt Desrosiers is the student conducting this study and he also drafted the original proposal that was submitted. Matt will present his results to date on bioavailability at the 2016 meeting. Matt is one of the two Student Co-chairs for the 2016 meeting.

Dr. Pam Weathers received a Kalenain Award for her proposal to use the medicinal plant Artemisia annua to treat non-small cell lung cancer. The study involves both in vitro work as well as mouse xenograft experiments. Dina Rassias is the student who is conducting the work. She will present her results to date at the 2016 meeting.

AKauschDr. Albert Kausch, Professor in the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Rhode Island, was recently funded by the National Science Foundation for the grant titled “Transforming Cereal Genomics: Tooling Up for Empowered Phenotyping Platforms”.

Dr. Kausch also participated in a NSF sponsored summit meeting of plant biotechnology experts from government, industry, and academics that convened in Clearwater, Florida.  As a result of this meeting it was concluded that resources dedicated to crop improvement must be increased globally.  The meeting resulted in a White Paper to advise the NSF on the issue, and a Plant Cell review paper that is in press titled “Advancing Crop Transformation in the Era of Genome Editing”.

Dr. Kausch has also organized the NSF Plant Transformation Training Workshop that will take place on July 25-29, 2016 at the University of Rhode Island Plant Biotechnology Center.  If you are interested in applying for this workshop please use the following link for more detailed information.

Martina Garda (Ph.D. student at Arkansas State University) was married to Charles (Chuck) Bamberger on December 23, 2015 in Jonesboro, AR.  Congratulations to Martina and Charles (Chuck) on their marriage!



Dr. Roland M. Nardone of the Catholic University of America (Washington, DC) was recently highlighted in the CellBANK Australia Newsletter.  The article is titled “Snail Glide: Personal Reflections of Roland M. Nardone” and highlights Dr. Nardone’s decade long effort to establish guidelines for the authentication of cell lines as a condition of funding and research.  As a result of Dr. Nardone’s efforts, the NIH released a new mandate for research (NOT-OD-16-011) in January 25, 2016 that requires grant applicants to provide information on the source of cells and a plan for cell line authentication.  Please read the entire story in Dr. Nardone’s own words.
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