NEOMED scientists target medical research

By Denise Dick


Six of the latest additions to Northeast Ohio Medical University’s research team focus on slowing bone loss, the causes of swallowing problems in premature infants, using natural plant products to slow arthritis progression, addressing hearing loss and using the body’s own stem cells to repair the heart.

NEOMED trustees met Friday at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber offices for their regular quarterly meeting.

“These are world-class scientists,” Dr. Jay Gershen, NEOMED president, told the board.

They bring students experiences, not just in the classroom, but also in the lab, he said.

“NEOMED has made a mark, and these individuals are going to take us to the next level,” Dr. Gershen said.

Fayez Safadi, a skeletal biologist who joined NEOMED in 2011, focuses his research on regulation of bone-cell development and function.

Rebecca German, who came to NEOMED in 2012, is a professor of anatomy and neurobiology. Her research centers on how the brain controls the muscles and bones involved in swallowing. Premature babies have problems swallowing, she said.

“My personal long-term goal is rehabilitation,” German said.

Besides premature babies, her research also has implications for adults with neurological conditions, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and stroke survivors.

Tariq M. Haqqi came to NEOMED in 2012 as an anatomy and neurobiology professor.

His research is working to identify the compounds in certain natural plant products that reduce inflammation and decrease the progression of arthritis, such as pomegranate juice and a flowering tree called Flame of the Forest.

Jianxin Bao, who joined NEOMED this year as an anatomy and neurobiology professor, is studying age and noise-related hearing loss.

Hearing loss is the No. 1 age-related disease. It can produce depression, memory loss and tinnitus in some sufferers, he said.

“It’s a huge problem,” Bao said.

Dr. Marc Steven Penn, who came to NEOMED in 2011, is leading a team conducting studies that aim to help the heart repair itself after an injury. His research focuses on inducing the body’s stem cells to repair tissue rather than by using injected stem cells.

Min You, chairwoman of the university’s Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, joined NEOMED this year. Her research centers on understanding how to promote liver health.

In other business, trustees approved the university’s $52.9 million operating budget for fiscal 2015. That’s up from the fiscal 2014 budget of $48.8 million, an increase attributed to higher enrollment.

Tuition also will increase by 2.85 percent at the medical and pharmacy colleges to $33,690 and$19,315, respectively.

Tuition at the College of Graduate Studies also will increase by the same percentage to $501 per credit hour. Fees at both the medical and pharmacy colleges will decrease, while fees at the College of Graduate Studies will increase from $34 to $36 per credit hour.

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