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2017 Health MIRG Program Awardees Announcement

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is pleased to announce the two winners of our 2017 Health Multidisciplinary Internal Research Grant (Health MIRG) program:

  1. Project Title: Development of Novel Anthelmintics and Antiparasitics Derived from Plant Sources.
    • Research Team:
      • Elizabeth Benavides, Agriculture (PI)
      • Ken Mix, Agriculture (Co-PI)
      • Rodney Rohde, Clinical Lab Science (Co-PI)
      • Sean Kerwin, Chemistry & Biochemistry (Co-PI)
    • Abstract
      Currently, only a few anthelmintic drugs are used to control or treat livestock and human gastrointestinal nematodes (GIN). These parasites cause massive livestock economic losses (APHIS, 2011) and morbidity in humans (Taye et al 2014). In livestock, continuous broadscale anthelmintic treatment causes rapid development of anthelmintic resistance. One option to combat resistance is the exploration of various plants with purposed experimental and anecdotal anthelmintic and antiparasitic activity. We propose a two stage study, incorporating both in vitro and in vivo trials of various plant extracts as anthelmintics. The in vitro study will test several phytochemicals’ ability to evoke aversion or mortality in a model organism, Caenorhabditis elegans and the anthelmintic resistant GIN, Haemonchus contortus (a fatal ruminant helminth). We will employ a full factorial design using laboratory grade extracts when possible and our own laboratory extracts when needed. The in vivo study will develop a strategy for administration of plants and their extracts to goats and evaluate the anthelmintic activity based on fecal egg and adult counts. The results from this study will result in novel strategies for treating GIN in small ruminants. This will provide a solid research foundation for adaptation of strategies to determine efficacy of identical or similar plant products on GIN and other intestinal parasites in humans. This work easily translates to developing communities as a one health approach. Herd health transfers directly to human health via economic security, food security and community stability, not to mention the translation opportunity to human GIN anthelmintic resistance.
  2. Project Title: Childhood Trauma and Mental Health among College Students: Identifying Neurological, Physiological, and Behavioral Pathways
    • Research Team:
      • Toni Watt, Sociology (PI)
      • Natalie Ceballos, Psychology (Co-PI)
      • Kim Seoyoun, Sociology (Co-PI)
      • Pan Xi, Sociology (Co-PI)
    • Abstract
      The Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACEs) revealed that strains in childhood such as abuse/neglect, parental depression, and family violence are common and can produce a level of toxic stress in young children that has lifelong consequences. This study demonstrated that childhood trauma significantly and substantively increases the risk of adult disease, mental illness, and early death. While the ACE research has been highly influential, researchers have not yet elucidated the mechanisms through which childhood trauma affects health and how to potentially interrupt these destructive pathways. The Mental Health Research Group proposes a study to address some of the most notable gaps in the literature on the relationship between childhood trauma and mental health. Using survey and biomarker data from college students, the group will trace how childhood trauma relates to neuronal health (BDNF), inflammation (C- Reactive Protein), and physiological dysregulation (Iron deposition). We will also examine how these internal processes relate to mental disorders (cognitive impairment, depression/anxiety, and addiction/substance abuse). Finally, we will search for intermediate pathways and moderating influences such as diet, exercise, and social support. The ultimate goal of the study is to examine how trauma “gets under the skin” in order to better understand risk, resilience, and recovery. This line of research directly responds to National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) research objective 2.2, investigating clinically relevant biomarkers and behavioral indicators that predict changes across the mental health trajectories. The MIRG pilot data will be used to create three NIH grant proposals.

Please direct Health MIRG questions to research@txstate.edu.