Discoveries: The Next Generation

Tagde took home top honors in the Basic Sciences Senior category for his research on multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cell.

Tagde took home top honors in the Basic Sciences Senior category for his research on multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cell.

Ashujit Tagde’s curiosity always got the best of him, so when it came time to decide what to pursue as a career, research was a perfect fit.

“Research could be fun, right from developing hypothesis, designing experiments, analyzing results and repeating the same procedure again until you find something new,” Tagde said. “It really gives a sense of accomplishment when you realize your work will make a positive impact of someone’s life.”

Real Results

This drive and passion for research helped Tagde take top honors in the Basic Sciences Senior category at the 25th Annual Student Research Week. Students in the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences use this opportunity to showcase the next generation of biomedical researchers and their work.

“The research activities at Student Research Week are increasingly diverse and intense,” Tagde said. “Student Research Week recognizes and celebrates research undertaken by students. This year, we had an overwhelming response from all campuses and schools, which reflects increasing awareness about the importance of research.”

Tagde, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in pharmacology, works in the School of Medicine Cancer Center and is mentored by Patrick Reynolds, M.D., Ph.D. His award-winning research focused on multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cell. Every year nearly 20,000 patients are diagnosed with myeloma and 10,000 die because of the disease. In the last decade, nearly 7,000 patients in Texas died because of myeloma. The current treatment is aimed at slowing down progression, reducing tumor load and associated symptoms. The current induction therapy is based on Melphalan, a DNA alkylating agent.

Tagde said Melphalan is given in combination with other drugs. Although patients initially respond to a varying extent, all of them relapse at some time point during therapy. The reason for relapse is thought to be due to development of drug resistance and driven by intracellular antioxidant glutathione. The cancer cell exploits glutathione to overcome the anti-cancer effects of Melphalan.

“We are studying whether inhibiting glutathione production inside the cell could enhance the anti-cancer effect of Melphalan,” Tagde said. “So far, we have made significant headway in this direction and our experiments support this concept. Our study is initiating a Phase I clinical trial against advanced myeloma. The study has been presented at the American Association for Cancer Research and Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas conference.”

Hall and Pandhare (right) were the student organizers of their year's event.

Hall and Pandhare (right) were the student organizers of this year's event.

Personal Medicine

Student Research Week also brought in keynote speakers Dan M. Roden, M.D., assistant vice chancellor for personalized medicine and director of the John Oates Institute for Experimental Therapeutics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, and Richard M. Weinshilboum, M.D., the Mary Lou and John H. Dasburg Professor in Cancer Genomics Research and chair of the Division of Clinical Pharmacology at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, to present this year’s theme, Genomic Revolution: Personalizing Medicine.

Akash Pandhare, event director, said this year’s goal was to learn more about the recent advances made in genomics and how this advancing field in research will allow accurate predictions to be made about a person’s susceptibility of developing a particular disease, the course of the disease and its response to treatment.

“The speakers are nationally known for their expertise in genomics research,” Pandhare said. “We were extremely excited and fortunate to have the high caliber of keynote lectures at this year’s event.”

Connor Hall, event marketing director, said Student Research Week is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to learn about what research is being done at TTUHSC.

“Many people may not understand the world of research and what it encompasses,” Hall said. “This gave people the opportunity to see first hand how research is such a vital part of academics as well as the daily lives of everyone.”

Other Student Research Week award winners are:

  • Basic Science Seniors
    First: Ashujit Tagde
    Second: Ahsan Farooqi
    Third: Jood Hashem
  • Basic Science Juniors
    First: Ravi Rajmohan
    First: James Wang
    Second: Lauren Hubbard
  • Clinical Sciences Seniors
    First: Macym Rizvi
    Second: Jaden Evans
    Third: Trey Sertich
  • Clinical Sciences Juniors
    First: Jordan Jamerson
    Second: Justin Berk
    Third: Michael Matthews
  • Undergraduate
    First: Jessica Stilwell
    Second: Tyler Enos
    Third: Nyasha Gondora
  • Resident and Clinical Fellows
    First: Jarmara Hice
    Second: Johnny Hickson
    Third: Katherine Rinard
  • Postdoctoral Fellows
    First: Gurvinder Kuar
  • Quality Enhancement Plan
    First: Meera Subash
  • Best Practices
    First: Chelsea Lohman

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