June Faculty and Staff Features

Youngman Oh, Ph.D., Department of Pathology, School of Medicine
Oh, director of Cancer and Metabolic Syndrome Lab, and professor of pathology and biochemistry, will be highlighted in The Endocrine Society’s annual Research Summaries Book for his research exploring new non-steroidal based technologies for the treatment of asthma.

Approximately 20 percent of patients with asthma are resistant to the existing steroid-based treatments, so researchers are exploring alternatives to help the approximately 20 million people living with asthma.

Using a mouse asthma model, Oh and his team investigated a novel, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory protein known as IGFBP-3. They found that IGFBP-3 treatment prevents inflammatory cell infiltration and airway hyper-responsiveness via unique signaling mechanisms in the asthmatic lungs.

“IGFBP-3 has exceptional properties to target key proteins that promote the recruitment of inflammatory cellular infiltrates into pulmonary tissues in an unprecedented manner in asthma patients,” said Oh.
According to Oh, IGFBP-3 could one day serve as a potential therapeutic candidate since it plays a key role in the pathogenesis of asthma.

The abstract is titled, ‘Inhibitory role of IGFBP-3 in the pathogenesis of asthma.’ The Research Summaries Book contains approximately 40-50 newsworthy abstracts and corresponding lay translations for the media. The book was distributed during the society’s annual meeting in San Diego, Calif., June 19-22.

Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., former provost and vice president of academic affairs and distinguished professor in the Center for Public Policy

Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., far right, was one of nine people recognized earlier this month during Grinnell College’s Alumni Weekend. Photo provide by Grinnell College.
Grace E. Harris, Ph.D., far right, was one of nine people recognized earlier this month during Grinnell College’s Alumni Weekend. Photo provide by Grinnell College.

Harris, former provost and vice president for academic affairs and distinguished professor in the Center for Public Policy, was one of nine people recognized during Grinnell College’s Alumni Reunion Weekend, held June 2 to June 6. Grinnell recognized alumni for distinguishing themselves in their careers and communities and for engaging in life-long learning and service.

Harris spent a semester at Grinnell College in 1952 as an exchange student from Hampton Institute, which is now Hampton University. She was involved in a program designed to promote interracial understanding at both schools. She graduated from Hampton Institute in 1954.

After initially being denied admission to graduate school at Richmond Professional Institute because of her race, she was accepted to the school a year later and went on to earn a master’s degree in social work.  

Harris began her career at VCU in 1967 when she joined the social work faculty. She later became dean of the School of Social Work, then vice provost for continuing studies and public service. When she retired in 1999 as the provost and vice president for academic affairs, she had twice served as acting president of the university.

She continues to lead the Grace E. Harris Leadership Institute, which was created after her retirement to honor her longstanding leadership, service and contributions. The former School of Business building was rededicated as Grace E. Harris Hall in December 2007.

R. Wayne Barbee, Ph.D., chair, Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee
Barbee served on a select committee that updated the 8th edition of the "Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals."

The policy document assists IACUCs, researchers and veterinarians in fulfilling their obligation to plan, conduct and oversee animal experiments in accordance with the highest scientific, humane and ethical principles. “The Guide” makes recommendations for humane animal care and use based on published data, scientific principles, expert opinion and experience with methods and practices proven consistent with high-quality, humane animal care and use.

While “The Guide” has traditionally been used as the policy for National Institutes of Health research, the penultimate edition also was endorsed and is used by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It also addresses the use of rats and mice.

The committee on which Barbee served operates under the prestigious National Research Council, the parental organization for the National Academies.

Massimo Bertino, Ph.D., Department of Physics
Bertino, associate professor in the Department of Physics, recently served as director of a joint workshop between the National Science Foundation and the National Centre for Physics and the Magnetic Nano-structures group of Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan. The workshop, titled “Applications of Nano-Technology,” discussed current trends in the field of nano-materials and was presided over by Ashfaq Ahmad, minister of state and adviser to the prime minister of Pakistan. The forum consisted of 25 lectures given by both U.S. and Pakistani scientists. Seven U.S. scientists attended the event along with more than a hundred Pakistani scientists and research students.

Lazar J. Greenfield, M.D., FACS, former Stuart McGuire Professor and chair, Department of Surgery
The American College of Surgeons honored Greenfield with its 16th Jacobson Innovation Award.

Greenfield was recognized for developing a device known as the Greenfield filter. Introduced the year before Greenfield joined Virginia Commonwealth University, the implantable device is designed to prevent blood clots from reaching the lungs, which can be fatal.

Greenfield joined the VCU School of Medicine, which he headed for 13 years, in 1974. He held a major interest in thrombo-embolic disease, and worked closely with the divisions of thoracic, vascular and cardiac surgeries. Greenfield was responsible for the hiring of a large number of faculty members and both research and clinical care flourished under his direction.

Youngman Oh, Ph.D.
Youngman Oh, Ph.D.