Monday, June 11, 2012

Solving scientific mysteries: Nova Southeastern University research isachieving results to further science

Environment Cause. by Danisraposo
Environment Cause., a photo by Danisraposo on Flickr.
Nova Southeastern University's scientists are engaged in exciting interdisciplinary research projects to make discoveries and produce new knowledge in health care, biotechnology, life sciences, environment and social sciences. NSU faculty are using more than $76 million in externally provided funding to work on projects that advance the university's mission of research, academic excellence and public service. They are working on more than 205 basic, applied and clinical research projects to improve patient care, make new drug discoveries, reduce mental health disorders, and examine the forces that impact our oceans. NSU recently opened the $40-million Center for Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Science Research Facility. Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, America's largest coral reef research center is solely dedicated to coral reef ecosystem research.


Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encepahalomyelitis (CFS/ME) is a debilitating immune disorder that affects more than one million Americans. A majority of CFS/ME sufferers are women, who remain mostly untreated. The disease damages the patient's immune system and causes symptoms such as extreme fatigue unabated by sleep, faintness, widespread muscle and joint pain, etc. NSU's Institute for Neuro-lmmune Medicine--led by NSU College of Osteopathic Medicine professor Nancy Klimas, M.D., one of the world's leading CFS/ME and Gulf War Illness (GWl) researchers--is studying these and other neuro-inflammatory disorders. The Institute uses the integration of research, training and clinical care to advance the needs of patients suffering from CFS/ME and GWt. By bringing together some of the best scientific minds in the world, the facility acts as both a think tank and a working institute for research, training new clinicians, and providing diagnostic and therapeutic clinical care.,


Coral Reef Biodiversity

Scientists are asked frequently asked about which coral reefs are important in terms of biodiversity--the number of species that inhabit them. NSU Oceanographic Center professor James Darwin Thomas, Ph.D., is investigating small species of crustaceans that tell the evolutionary history of how the species impacted the reefs. He's currently organizing a team of scientists to investigate the Madang Lagoon off Papua New Guinea's north coast. This small lagoon is the most diverse reef system ever documented, and it's in danger from impact caused by mankind. Thomas' research mission is timely because a multinational mining corporation has received permission to dump thousands of tons of mining waste in a river that drains into the lagoon. Thomas and his team of scientists will document certain groups of indicator species in the lagoon before the mining operation commences. Any adverse impacts from mining can then be measured.

Prescription Drug Abuse

Florida has been at the center of the nation's prescription drug epidemic for the past decade, experiencing tremendous increases in prescription drug-related overdoses and mortality. NSU's Center for Applied Research on Substance Use and Health Disparities is a national leader in confronting this alarming public health problem by investigating prescription drug abuse and diversion. Center Co-Directors Steven P. Kurtz, Ph.D., and Hilary L. Surratt, Ph.D., are currently conducting four large research projects to stem this crisis: 1) A national survey of law enforcement investigators that monitors the incidence of prescription drug diversion; 2) A study of more than 1,500 prescription drug abusers that tracks drug-related health consequences and sources of abused medications; 3) A project that examines the emerging black market in medications to treat HIV infection; and 4) A clinical trial testing the effectiveness of brief interventions to reduce prescription drug abuse among South Florida's young adults. Breast Cancer

There are almost 200,000 new cases of breast cancer annually in the U.S. The 10-year mortality rate of breast cancer is 48 percent. A research team at NSU's College of Pharmacy led by professors Jean Latimer, Ph.D. and Stephen Grant, Ph.D., have developed a unique method of growing breast cancer cells from tumors at early stages of the disease, enabling further studies into the causes of tumors and indicating when and what kind of chemotherapy should be used.


Severe Behavior Disorders and Autism

Researchers at NSU's Center for Psychological Studies (CPS) and The Mailman Segal Center for Human Development, led by CPS professor F. Charles Mace, Ph.D,, The Unicorn Children's Foundation Endowed Chair, are conducting research to understand why successful treatment of severe behavior disorders sometimes results in treatment relapse and recurrence of severe behavioral problems in children with autism. The aim of the research is to discover new ways to reduce or avoid treatment relapse and improve long-term outcomes for the treatment of severe behavior disorders.

Problem Drinking

Many people with non-severe alcohol problems can resolve their problems without treatment. Based on that fact, NSU's Center for Psychological Studies researchers Linda Sobell, Ph.D., and Mark Sobell, Ph.D., are using an intervention method conducted entirely by mail to help facilitate self-change with problem drinkers. Respondents to advertisements in 48 states were mailed materials to help them evaluate and change their drinking problems on their own. Results showed that many successfully changed. Such interventions could help many people, while minimizing costs to the national health care system.

Dental Ceramics

The synthetic ceramic zirconia is an important material in dental and orthopedic restorative treatments because of its excellent biocompatibility and durability. Jeffrey Y. Thompson, Ph.D., director of the Biosciences Research Center at NSU College of Dental Medicine, is developing novel surface treatments to enhance the adhesion, efficacy and reliability of zirconia in a variety of dental applications. This work is funded by two grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Cardiovascular Disease

This disease is the number one killer of Americans. A research team led by NSU College of Pharmacy professor Robert Speth, Ph.D., has characterized a brain protein that forms a hormone that lowers blood pressure, which could eventually help reduce incidents of heart disease. The team has also developed a novel radioactive drug to study another brain protein that forms this blood-pressure lowering hormone.

Coral Reef Ecosystems

Coral reef ecosystems support a variety of marine species, including fish, invertebrates, and crustaceans. NSU Oceanographic Center (OC) professor Richard Spieler, Ph.D., uses applied sciences and laboratory studies to examine coral reef restoration and coral reef fish distribution. He co-led a team of researchers with OC assistant professor David Gilliam, Ph.D., that received the Gulf Guardian Award for their work surveying endangered reefs and fish species at the Veracruz Coral Reef System National Park in Mexico.


Outbreaks and Viral Infections

There is no widely available drug for treatment and prevention of pandemic outbreaks. Development of antiviral drugs to combat outbreaks involves the stimulation of cells that are capable of eliminating pathogens without harming patients. NSU College of Pharmacy researcher Paula Faria-Waziry, Ph.D., conducts research on drugs that can increase the production of critical antiviral proteins in nuclear pores, which are targets of viruses such as HIV and influenza. Boosting this protein can potentially counteract viral actions to allow patients to better fight infections.

Source Citation
"Solving scientific mysteries: Nova Southeastern University research is achieving results to further science." Florida Trend June 2012: 128+. General OneFile. Web. 11 June 2012.
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