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Auburn University celebrates Olympic designation

Elite athletes from across the nation can now train and receive science-based assessments and personalized feedback from kinesiology experts at Auburn.

The College of Education unveiled signage on Sept. 25 marking Auburn University’s official designation as a U.S. Olympic training site by the United States Olympic Committee, or USOC, following a ceremony at the School of Kinesiology. Auburn is one of 18 Olympic training sites in the country and one of only five universities nationwide to receive the designation.

The Kinesiology Building, Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum and Watson Fieldhouse were designated U.S. Olympic training sites as the university assists Team USA on its journey to the 2016 Rio de Janiero Olympic Games.

“USA Team Handball is one that competes at the highest level in the Pan American Games and Olympic Games,” said retired Brig. Gen. Harvey Schiller, president of USA Team Handball and USOC representative. “I think it’s a unique opportunity for the community and the university to have an Olympic sport housed in its environment.”

auburn designated olympic training site

The ceremony, which was hosted in conjunction with the College of Education’s centennial anniversary celebration and the Auburn University Board of Trustees’ quarterly meeting, included remarks from Jay Gogue, Auburn University president; Betty Lou Whitford, dean of the College of Education; David Benedict, chief operating officer for Auburn University Athletics; Schiller; Sarah Gascon, doctoral candidate in the School of Kinesiology; Sarah Newton, member of the Auburn University Board of Trustees; and Dave Pascoe, a Humana-Germany-Sherman Distinguished Professor and the assistant director of the School of Kinesiology.

Administrators from the university and USA Team Handball, along with several athletes were also honored on Sept. 26 before the Auburn vs. Mississippi State football game.

“This designation brings together the recognizable logos of the USOC, Auburn University and USA Team Handball,” said Pascoe. “People across the country will want to connect with this unique collaboration of spirit, science and top training facilities.”

Since the summer of 2013, Auburn has hosted elite training and competition for the men’s and women’s USA national team handball programs.

The USA Team Handball members are also a part of a long-term residency program at Auburn through the School of Kinesiology. This program allows the school to provide expertise in assessment and performance of human movement, including biomechanics, basic and applied physiology, neuroscience, behavior, conditioning, health and motor learning and development.

“The Auburn School of Kinesiology has been instrumental in providing a new home for USA Team Handball athletes and we appreciate the support of the Auburn-Opelika community in welcoming our athletes and coaches,” said Alicia McConnell, USOC director of training sites and community partnerships. “We look forward to a fruitful relationship with Auburn University as an official U.S. Olympic training site.”

For more information about the United States Olympic Committee, go to www.teamusa.org. For more information about USA Team Handball, go to www.teamusa.org/USA-Team-Handball.

Published: 09/25/2015

By: Sarah Phillips

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Driving Discovery to the Marketplace. This is Auburn Research.

At Auburn University, research fuels the engines of innovation.  Our entrepreneurial spirit drives discovery to the marketplace, improving quality of life at home and around the world.

Auburn’s new ‘This is Research: Faculty Symposium 2015’ set for Sept. 30

AUBURN UNIVERSITY — Auburn University will launch its new “This is Research: Faculty Symposium 2015” Sept. 30 at The Hotel at Auburn University and Dixon Conference Center to recognize research excellence of Auburn and Auburn Montgomery faculty.

“Our researchers are world class and do great work,” said John Mason, Auburn University vice president for research and economic development. “This symposium is a great way to bring them together and showcase their work.”

The event is also designed to provide a forum for collaboration, offer information about support offices on campus and increase the visibility of Auburn research to external constituencies, such as advisory board members, representatives from industry and foundations as well as community members.

“The morning sessions will bring together researchers with common interests,” said Jennifer Kerpelman, chair of the This is Research Symposia Committee. “We want to initiate opportunities for researchers to continue to make connections during the upcoming year.”

Three-minute, morning lightning presentations will cover cyber, energy, health disparities, military-related research, SENCER, applied design, STEM education, climate-earth systems, digital applications, fMRI research, nano-bio research, omics and informatics, data management and visual and literary arts.

A morning research expo will provide information about key research support offices on campus.

“The sessions are designed to increase visibility to both internal and external audiences,” Kerpelman said. “We will have Auburn Talks, posters sessions and opportunities for one-on-one conversations with researchers.”

Fourteen Auburn researchers from across campus will present 10-minute Auburn Talks about their work. The list of presenters and titles is available on the This is Research website (https://cws.auburn.edu/OVPR/pm/thisisresearch/auburntalks).

The afternoon will also have one-on-one sessions to allow attendees to visit with researchers in areas of health, energy, environment, cyber and technology. Another afternoon session will have updates from directors of Auburn’s institutes, centers and initiatives.

The evening portion of the program will include the presentation of the Auburn University Research Advisory Board’s Advancement of Research and Scholarship Achievement Award, followed by the keynote address by Lt. Gen. Steven Kwast, commander and president of Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. A reception for all attendees will conclude the event.

The “This is Research: Faculty Symposium 2015” is one of two This is Research symposia scheduled this school year. A spring event, “This is Research: Student Symposium 2016,” will be held in April in the Student Center. The two symposia replace the former Research Week which concurrently showcased faculty and student research.

In 2016 a biennial part of the faculty symposium, “Showcasing the Work of Creative Scholarship,” will debut with feature exhibitions and performances.

More details on the 2015 symposia are available on the This is Research website at www.auburn.edu/thisisresearch. For more information, contact Jennifer Kerpelman at kerpejl@auburn.edu.

Auburn University pharmacy professor helps bring two new drugs to market


Auburn University professor of pharmaceutics Bill Ravis has been instrumental in bringing two new drugs to market – Nesina® to treat type 2 diabetes and Impavido® to treat a parasitic disease that affects people in tropical and sub-tropical climates.  Ravis, in the Department of Drug Discovery and Development in the Harrison School of Pharmacy, collaborated with drug manufacturers on the studies and the FDA approval process.

Nesina is a peptidase-4 inhibitor used to treat type 2 diabetes, a disease that affects more than 29 million people in the United States.

In a project funded by Takeda Pharmaceuticals, Ravis served as a principal investigator to conduct the required FDA phase I studies on Nesina to examine the influence of kidney function and how this relates to how the body handles and reacts to the drug. Also investigated was dosing for the drug and its toxicity in diabetes patients. Ravis supervised the study with the assistance of the East Alabama Medical Center and Dr. Thomas Stokes.

Impavido is the first FDA-approved drug to treat cutaneous or mucosal leishmaniasis, a parasitic disease affecting more than 12 million people living in tropical and sub-tropical climates and also a concern for military personnel in these areas.

Ravis studied how the body absorbs, distributes, metabolizes and excretes the drug, along with how factors such as age, gender and lesion size affect the drug in the body. This information was required as part of the new drug application, which then was used to establish the dose regimens to improve the drug’s benefits and limit its adverse effects. Support for miltefosine, Impavido’s generic name, for drug development and the work at Auburn was coordinated by Fast Track Drugs and Biologics and sponsored by Paladin Therapeutics and the Department of Defense.

“It is exciting to be a part of the study and development for new drugs that become approved and can make an impact in people’s lives,” said Ravis. “Interactions and collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry not only are a source of research funding but also provide training, learning and career opportunities for our professional and graduate students in the drug development process. With the expertise and facilities, not only within the Harrison School of Pharmacy but across campus, collaborations with the pharmaceutical industry and Auburn have grown and will continue to grow more in the future.”

Ravis also has been involved in studies of other drugs. The results of a new intravenous product of carbamazepine for epilepsy and convulsions were presented as a “late-breaker” poster presentation at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the American Epilepsy Society. Ravis assisted in the pharmacokinetic analysis for the product which is due to be available next year from Lundbeck. The presentation was titled “Pharmacokinetic Evaluations of Oral and Intravenous Carbamazepine using a Model-Based Approach” and was authored by Auburn’s Ravis, Dwain Tolbert of Lundbeck and Aziz Karim with AzK Consulting.

For more information about Ravis and his research, go to http://www.auburn.edu/academic/pharmacy/directory/william-ravis.html. For more information about the Harrison School of Pharmacy, go to http://pharmacy.auburn.edu.

By Matt Crouch

Auburn University hosting forum: Additive Manufacturing – The Next Industrial Revolution

additive-email3

On July 30, 2015, Auburn University will be hosting a by invitation only forum on industrialized additive manufacturing.

Experts will discuss the application of this advanced technology for industries ranging from aerospace to biotechnology.  Industry leaders from GE Aviation, GKN, NASA, Carpenter Technology, Alabama Laser, U.S. Army Aviation and faculty from Auburn University, University of Alabama, UAH and University of Memphis will describe the role their organizations are playing in developing, implementing and utilizing new processes and computer-aided hardware and software to produce components from material and composites once considered exotic.

A keynote address will be given by Greg Morris, the General Manager of Additive Technologies for GE Aviation.

To learn more about this day-long forum and networking reception to follow, or if you are interested in attending, please email forum organizers at auees@auburn.edu.

Auburn University experts say biosecurity is crucial in the fight against Avian Influenza

Auburn University Poultry Science expert, Dr. Ken Macklin

Auburn University Poultry Science expert, Dr. Ken Macklin

While avian influenza has been confirmed in 20 states, Alabama remains free of the disease and Alabama poultry producers are doing all that they can to keep the disease at bay.

A poultry scientist with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System said poultry producers are more vigilant than ever when it comes to sanitation and other biosecurity measures.

“All our Alabama poultry growers have biosecurity measures in place,” said Ken Macklin. “Biosecurity measures are the first line of defense against avian influenza and other poultry diseases.”

Macklin said that more than 43 million chickens and turkeys have either died from the disease or had to be euthanized because the flock tested positive for a highly contagious form of avian influenza in the first five months of 2015. The most severely impacted states are in the upper Midwest, including Iowa, Minnesota, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

“These cases in commercial poultry operations in the upper Midwest have mostly been linked to a failure of biosecurity,” said Macklin. “Growers may have thought they were following biosecurity guidelines fully, but it seems that there were lapses.”

Macklin, who is also an associate professor of poultry science at Auburn University, said strong biosecurity measures take many forms, including:

  • Isolating the birds from other animals
  • Minimizing access to people and unsanitized equipment
  • Keeping the area around the poultry buildings clean and uninviting to wild birds
  • Sanitizing the facility between flocks
  • Cleaning equipment entering and leaving the farm
  • Having an all in, all out policy regarding the placement and removal of the birds
  • Disposing properly of bedding material and any mortalities

Joseph Giambrone, an Auburn University professor of poultry science, called the losses to the national poultry industry staggering.

“The losses are in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Giambrone. “We can expect a reduction of at least 10 percent in egg laying production and a similar drop in turkey production nationally.”

Macklin said the potential production loss is why Alabama producers are working hard to keep their flocks free of the disease. According to Auburn University research done in 2012, poultry and egg production and processing contributed more than $15 billion to the state’s economy and employed more than 86,000 people.

Giambrone, whose research focuses on viral diseases of poultry, said the disease is spread by migrating water fowl such as ducks and geese.

“This outbreak began in Canada, and water fowl spread it south along the migratory bird flyways,” he said. “It was brought into the Midwest by birds using the Mississippi flyway. It has persisted so long there because of the heavy concentration of poultry producers in that region of the country.”

Giambrone said ducks and geese shed the virus in fecal material.

“Infected water fowl shed the virus into ponds and lakes as well as onto the land they are grazing.”

Macklin said that warmer weather may slow the disease’s spread.

“The virus can survive for days, especially if it is in water. In water, the virus can survive up to 100 days with a water temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit. But when water temperatures reach the 80s, the virus can survive for less than a month.”

He said the virus has a reduced ability to survive on land.

“On land, the virus can survive for 30 days at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 7 days at 68 degrees Fahrenheit,” said Macklin. “Once the outside temperature hits the 80s the virus breaks down in hours.”

While warmer weather may halt the disease’s progress in the United States, Giambrone emphasized that the disease can return next year.

“Even if we get control of the disease this year, wild water fowl in Alaska and Canada remain carriers of the disease and are a threat to bring it back to the United States when they migrate again next year.

By Maggie Lawrence