MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Earlier this week Bryan Gall, Ph.D., presented his West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute funded research at the National IDeA Symposium of Biomedical Research Excellence (NISBRE) in Washington, D.C. Gall presented his research that had recently been published in the Nature journal Genes and Immunity.
Dr. Gall’s research focuses on a protein called GPSM3 and the role that it plays in rheumatoid arthritis development. This research was the first of its kind to show that specific mutations in the GPSM3 gene may protect against rheumatoid arthritis by reducing inflammatory cell activity in joints.
Dr. Gall had the benefit of working with two WVCTSI pilot grant recipients as mentors during this project. David Siderovski, Ph.D., professor and chair of the West Virginia University Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and Colleen Watkins, M.D., assistant professor of orthopaedics at WVU, mentored Gall throughout the course of this project, and he believes this mentorship was integral to his development as a researcher.
“I really benefitted greatly from my relationship with WVCTSI because I was able to have both the clinical mentor as well as the basic science mentor, both of whom really helped to guide my interest in science,” said Gall.
“This has been the grease with which a new way of doing research has been sparked in West Virginia,” says Siderovski. “We now have basic scientists who are not just in their own little world but are trying to steer discoveries towards informing and impacting human health.”
Julie Lockman, Ph.D., WVCTSI director of scientific development, believes this kind of mentoring relationship is an excellent opportunity to enhance the career of a young scientist.
“Conducting research alongside a multidisciplinary team of scientists adds a new dimension to traditional biomedical graduate training. Researchers who are willing to reach beyond the walls of their laboratories and clinics not only enhance their own research programs, but provide valuable opportunities to those individuals they are mentoring,” says Lockman. “It’s very rewarding when we are able to support these efforts.”
Gall and Siderovski are excited about the impact this breakthrough could have on the development of better treatments and therapies for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
“We believe that if we were to target this particular protein in a very focused manner then we wouldn’t see some of the side effects, including risk of infection, that are seen with current therapies on the market,” said Gall.
In addition to the other accomplishments Gall has achieved in his work with GPSM3, he was also awarded first place in the American Society of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics Young Investigator Platform Session. Gall has recently accepted a position as a postdoctoral researcher at the Oregon Health and Science University.
Twenty WVCTSI supported researchers also presented their work at NISBRE, which is held every two years to highlight the activities and successes of researchers working at institutes funded by the National Institute of General Medical Science Institutional Development Award.
In August 2012, the WVCTSI was awarded a $19.6 million IDeA Clinical and Translational grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences titled “West Virginia IDeA CTR” [Institutional Development Award for Clinical and Translational Research, 1U54RR033567-02; Hodder (Principal Investigator)] to support WVCTSI’s mission of building clinical and translational research infrastructure and capacity to impact health disparities in West Virginia.
This grant was matched by a $33.5 million commitment from several West Virginia entities to create a total funding of $53.1 million to recruit 24 clinician scientists and provide infrastructure core support in biostatistics, bioinformatics, community engagement and outreach, clinical research education and mentoring, ethical and regulatory knowledge support, and pilot grants to grow clinical and translational research in the state.
West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute