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International researcher to join Marshall's med school

Oct. 09, 2012 @ 12:10 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Marshall University's School of Medicine is attempting to reach new heights in research by creating a new position.

On Monday, Dr. Nader G. Abraham was introduced as the first vice dean for research. His goal will be to coordinate research efforts between scientists and clinicians in Huntington.

That means introducing physicians to the research side, while connecting researchers to translational medicine -- taking what they've done in the lab to patients and, possibly, to a patented medical product or procedure.

Abraham currently serves as chairman and professor of the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology at the University of Toledo College of Medicine, while also maintaining relationships with New York Medical College, The Rockefeller University in New York and the University of Catania in Italy.

Abraham's position will be mostly supported by about $1 million in ongoing grants from the National Institutes of Health, which focus on stem cell research, blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.

The school of medicine will pay him $225,000, with a significant portion of it covered through grant support, spokesperson Leah Payne said.

During his three-year tenure as chairman at Toledo, his NIH and pharmaceutical support increased from $2.5 million to more than $7 million.

"I will be focusing on translational research projects in collaboration with the clinical departments, which will be an exciting experience for our medical students," said Abraham, who will officially begin Nov. 1. "The clinicians are very enthusiastic and committed to health care. Marshall is the right place to enhance translational research.

He said he came to Marshall because of his prior working relationship at the medical school in Toledo with Dr. Joseph Shapiro, who came to Marshall earlier this year as the new dean of the medical school. Both men were highly complimentary of each other, with Shapiro saying he is confident Abraham will elevate Marshall's translational research output just as he has elsewhere during his career.

"There's another need to bring in more people like Dr. Abraham," Shapiro said. "Or develop some of our younger scientists here so they are ready for senior roles."

During the next six months, six members of Abraham's research team will join him in Huntington. The group includes three veteran researchers in areas of infant jaundice, stem cells and hypertension; a post-doctoral fellow; a doctoral student; and a lab assistant.

Marshall President Stephen Kopp said he knew during the first conversation that Abraham could take Marshall's research to the next level.

"He adds a dimension we truly need here," Kopp said. "Research provides students a compelling reason to come to campus."

Kopp also said it will help the city and state capitalize on the intellectual research that will take place, making West Virginia a desirable place to conduct biomedical research.

"He is a research catalyst," he said. "He most certainly will complement our efforts to expand applied research activities that yield commercially-viable discoveries."

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