College of Graduate Studies

Advances in the Study of Brain’s Link to Metabolic Syndrome

IYAD MANASERH | SPECIAL TO THE BLADE
PUBLISHED ON SEPT. 4, 2017

High blood pressure, high blood sugar, and overweight. Do these conditions scare you? Then the term “metabolic syndrome” should be a full-blown nightmare to you, because this is a combination of all these conditions within the same person. Even worse, metabolic syndrome often leads to heart disease, diabetes, and infertility.

In the United States, about 600,000 people die from heart disease every year, 26 million people have diabetes and 8 million people suffer from infertility. According to the American Diabetes Association, more than 200,000 new cases of Type 2 diabetes are diagnosed every year and many of these diabetic patients also have obesity and infertility issues. These combined illnesses have become known as the metabolic syndrome.

Insulin plays a major role in regulating both diabetes and infertility. Insulin is a molecule released by your pancreas into your blood stream when your blood sugar is high, for example, after you eat a big meal. Insulin directs the excess sugar in your blood to organs such as your liver, muscle, and fat cells to provide your body with stored energy.

We now know that more than 25 percent of men with Type 2 diabetes also have problems with infertility. Because of the increasing number of patients being treated for both infertility and diabetes, there is intense interest in developing less expensive, combined therapy for these conditions.

Iyad Manaserh is a PhD student in the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences Biomedical Science Program.

At the University of Toledo College of Medicine, formerly the Medical College of Ohio, our research team is focused on the brain because we believe that it is the master regulator of the metabolic syndromes.

Why the brain? What is the connection between the brain and insulin levels in your blood?

We know that specific areas in your brain control how much you eat and how your body responds to high blood sugar. Therefore, our research team is testing the idea that insulin also acts in the brain to regulate metabolic syndrome and related problems such as infertility.

Your brain has multiple regions that control diabetes, obesity, and infertility. One of these regions in the brain is called the hypothalamus, and is further divided into many important subregions. Your brain also contains two types of cells; neurons to communicate messages across the brain and glial cells, whose function has been a mystery until recently.

My research uses a mouse model to study how insulin actions in the brain affect diabetes and infertility. My first experimental step was to delete insulin receptors from specific brain glial cells called astrocytes, which become activated when insulin binds to their receptors. I wanted to know what would happen when insulin could no longer activate the astrocytes. I discovered that astrocytes without insulin receptors affect fertility, diabetes, and obesity.

My research project is to investigate insulin signaling in the brain and its effect on reproduction (fertility) and metabolism (diabetes). When I studied fertility in this mouse model, I saw a delay in onset of puberty in the sick mouse model without insulin receptors, when compared to control healthy mice. Also, the sick female mice did not have regular menstrual cycles. I also observed a reduction in brain fertility hormone levels as well as ovary and testis hormone levels in the sick mice. I also found that pregnancy rate for the sick female mouse model was reduced dramatically when compared to that of healthy mice. I found similar results of decreased fertility in the sick male mouse model when compared to healthy mice. All of these findings indicate that insulin activity in brain cells affects fertility in important ways.

When I studied diabetes and obesity in this mouse model, as we had suspected, there were profound effects. The sick mouse model showed an increase in body weight from the first month and become outright obese by 6 months of age (equal to a 35-40 year old human).

This was the first hint that the sick mouse model would eventually become diabetic. Indeed, the sick mouse model is also prediabetic at an early age and becomes diabetic by 6 months of age. I also checked overall fat and muscle content in the sick mouse model and, as expected, I measured increased fat and low muscle content, also confirming obesity in the sick mouse model.

These combined findings indicate that insulin in the brain is critical in treating obesity, diabetes, and infertility. We are planning to use these results to help identify new drugs that will target these conditions simultaneously thereby lowering the cost of using of multiple drugs.

Iyad Manaserh is a PhD student in the department of physiology and pharmacology at the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences Biomedical Science Program. Mr. Iyad is doing his research in the laboratory of Jennifer Hill. For more information, contact Iyad.Manaserh@rockets.utoledo.edu.


New Teaching Assistant Training – August 24, 2017

Attention new Fall 2017 Teaching Assistants. For detailed agenda, please Click Here.


BIG FISH: Jessica Sherman Collier, grad student, Finalist for National Fellowship Sea Grant [VIDEO]

A University of Toledo graduate student in biology who has been working to restore giant, ancient sturgeon to Lake Erie was recently selected as one of 61 finalists across the country by Sea Grant for the 2018 Knauss Fellowship.

As a finalist, Jessica Sherman Collier, PhD student researcher in UT’s Department of Environmental Sciences, will spend a year working in Washington, D.C., on water resource policy.

“I am very excited and quite honored to be selected for this fellowship,” said Sherman Collier, who was recommended to Sea Grant by her PhD adviser Dr. Jonathan Bossenbroek. “The Knauss Fellowship is an amazing opportunity, and I am so happy to represent The University of Toledo and the Great Lakes region while I am there.”

Sherman Collier will spend a week in November interviewing with up to 20 different federal agency and legislative offices, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Department of Interior, National Science Foundation, U.S. Navy, and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. After being matched with her fellowship placement, her work will begin in February.

“This is a great launch to Jessica’s career, and I hope she finds satisfaction doing work as a public servant for the betterment of our environment,” said Dr. Tim Fisher, geology professor, chair of the UT Department of Environmental Sciences, and interim director of the Lake Erie Center.

“We are excited about the talent and perspectives the 2018 Knauss Fellowship finalists will bring to their executive and legislative appointments next year,” Jonathan Pennock, director of the National Sea Grant College Program, said. “The Knauss Fellowship is a special program for Sea Grant, and we are proud of the professional development and opportunities Sea Grant has provided our alumni, the current class and now these finalists.”

Knauss finalists are chosen through a competitive process that includes several rounds of review.

Since 1979, Sea Grant has provided more than 1,200 early-career professionals with firsthand experiences transferring science to policy and management through one-year appointments with federal government offices in Washington, D.C.

Sherman Collier, who also is president of the North American Sturgeon and Paddlefish Society Student Subunit, has been involved in the project to restore lake sturgeon to Lake Erie. Most recently, she helped the Toledo Zoo secure $90,000 in federal grant money to build a sturgeon rearing facility along the Maumee River, which flows into Lake Erie. Sherman Collier assisted the project by verifying that spawning and nursery habitat still ex

ist in the Maumee River to sustain a population of the fish that can live to be 150 years old and grow up to 300 pounds and eight feet long.

“I have enjoyed working with partners at the zoo, as well as state and federal agencies to give these large and ancient fish a chance to thrive in Lake Erie once again,” Sherman Collier said. “This is an instance when scientists and natural resource managers have the opportunity to improve the state of an ecosystem by restoring a species that belongs there and to learn a good lesson about our actions in the past.”

BIG FISH:  Jessica Sherman Collier, grad student Finalist for national fellowship Sea grant


Thomas Lai, graduate student, awarded Spitzer Fellowship in astronomy

“As a teenager, gazing at the stars on the dark canvas of the sky was like entering the most luxurious cinema,” reminisced Thomas Lai, a graduate student studying astronomy. “Soon I picked up the habit of staying in the dark whenever I could, and to recognize as many constellations as possible during my high school years.

“In retrospect, I can see this as a sparkle of the beginning of my interest in the enigmatic cosmos.”

Lai’s passion and hard work were recognized by the Department of Physics and Astronomy: He recently received the Doreen and Lyman Spitzer Graduate Fellowship.
The fellowship is named after Toledo natives. Lyman Spitzer was a world-renowned physicist and astronomer, who was an early proponent of a project that became the Hubble Space Telescope. The Spitzer Space Telescope, launched in 2003, is named after the scientist. Doreen Spitzer was a prominent archaeologist who had an affinity for all things Greek.

Lai, with assistance from Dr. Adolf Witt, Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of Astronomy, and Dr. JD Smith, associate professor of astronomy, was able to publish a study on light emissions from nebulae in the Cassiopeia constellation.

“I was extremely pleased that we were able to offer the Spitzer Fellowship to Thomas. He was clearly qualified; he was eager to start an independent research project during his first year as a graduate student at UT, which the Spitzer Fellowship made possible,” Witt said. “The data for this project had been secured beforehand by my collaborator, Ken Crawford, and myself. This allowed Thomas to enter right at the data calibration, reduction and analysis stage of the project — the phase where scientific results and conclusions are being extracted from a collection of images and numbers.

“I enjoyed working with Thomas. The fact that the project resulted in a peer-reviewed scientific paper in a major journal within about two years speaks for itself.”

“They showed me not only the method in conducting research, but also the right attitude in finding the reasonable answer,” said Lai, regarding the aid he received from Witt and Smith.

On the results of his study, Lai said, “I am particularly interested in extended red emission, because we understood little about the exact emission process and the carrier involved in producing such light, even though it has been studied for more than 40 years. To summarize this study, we attributed the extended red emission to a fluorescent process, namely the recurrent fluorescence, which enables small and fragile particles in interstellar space to dissipate their energy efficiently after being bombarded by high-energy photons originating in an illuminating star. This mechanism prevents particles from getting destroyed in the harsh environment filled with ultraviolet radiation from stars, and it may be a crucial process for increasing the survival rate of small carbonaceous molecules, which might be the building blocks of life.”

Though great progress has been made, Witt pointed out the work of a scientist is never finished: “It is an important part of the research experience that every successfully completed project should lead to new questions, which then demand follow-up studies. This has been the case with our work as well. A new question has emerged from some of our current findings, the solution to which we are pursuing through observations with the 4.3-meter Discovery Channel Telescope in Arizona and the 10-meter Keck II telescope on Mauna Kea, Hawaii. This will most likely be part of Thomas’s PhD thesis.”

Luckily, Lai’s passion for this field will surely lead to many more years of scientific discovery.

“Having this paper published means a lot to my career in astronomy,” Lai said. “It encourages me to find more intriguing phenomena provided by the universe and to reveal those profound facts hidden by wonders of the nature.”


Teaching Assistant (TA) Training Save-The-Date

Attention new Fall 2017 Teaching Assistants – TA training scheduled for Thursday, August 24th, 8:30-noon, Wolfe Hall Room 1201. More details to follow – Click Here.


Congratulations, Dr. Greg Guzman – Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio.

Congratulations, Dr. Greg Guzman, a recent graduate of our Higher Education Doctoral program, who has accepted a position as the Vice President of Institutional Advancement at Winebrenner Theological Seminary in Findlay, Ohio.

Dr. Greg Guzman

Click Here to view the Press Release


July Reminders from the Graduate College

As the summer semester is drawing to a close, we want to remind those of you graduating we are here to help you make the process as smooth as possible. Please take a look at the GRADUATION section below for important information, deadlines, and links to ensure a successful finish to your academic career. If you are continuing your studies with us, please take note of upcoming workshops, events, and academic planning timelines to keep you on track and involved in what is relevant to your interests as a graduate student. Don’t miss out on the upcoming LinkedIn workshops next week, July 11th! Click Here to Register.

If you are already following us on Facebook or Twitter, you may have noticed an increase in the number and frequency of posts. That is not by accident! We are striving to provide relevant, up-to-the-minute content that you can use, whether as a current graduate student, faculty, or even alumni. Follow us on social media!

 College of Graduate Studies Current Students
MyUT Portal Graduate Tab

419.530.GRAD (4723)


GRADUATION

Graduation Application

Summer

The graduation application deadline was May 26th, but it is not too late to apply to graduate in the summer! Please submit your application through the MyUT portal. Remember, you have to be registered for a minimum of one graduate credit hour in the semester in which you plan on graduating. The last day applications will be accepted is Friday, August 4, 2017.

Fall

It’s not too early to apply if you are planning for a Fall 2017 graduation (Deadline: September 22nd)! Please submit your application through the MyUt portal. Remember, you have to be registered for a minimum of one graduate credit hour in the semester in which you plan on graduating.

Planning Information

Check out our newly updated Graduation Overview webpage for all information regarding graduation, commencement, diplomas, transcripts, fees, and more.

Degree Audits

Our office is working on getting out the summer degree audits, which will be sent to your UTAD email account, but you can print off one of our newly revised Graduation Completion Checklists to keep yourself on track in the meantime.

University Commencement Ceremony

Summer and Fall 2017 Commencement is on Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 10:00 am at the John F. Savage Arena – Main Campus. For all details please visit the registrar’s commencement webpage.

College Honors  & Convocations

Many of the 13 UT Colleges will hold their own convocation. A list of college honors convocations can be found on the university’s commencement ceremony webpage, which will be updated later this semester.

Questions and suggestions?

Elissa Falcone at GCAcademicSvcs@utoledo.edu:    Colleges of: Arts & Letters, Business & Innovation, Education, Engineering, Health & Human Services, Law, Natural Sciences  & Mathematics

Teri Green at teresa.green@utoledo.edu: Colleges of: Medicine,  Nursing, Pharmacy


   ELECTRONIC THESES AND DISSERTATIONS (ETDs)

For students completing a thesis or dissertation and who plan on graduating in the Summer 2017 term, please carefully review the deadlines associated with the entire process, from applying to graduate to submitting your ETD to OhioLINK.  Resources for formatting, intellectual property concerns, submission, publication, and more are found on our website.

Deadlines  /    Start Here! Three Simple Steps    /    Document Preparation  /  ETD Submission

Final ETD Upload Deadline – Summer

Friday, August 4th by 11:59 pm to the OhioLINK ETD Center


ETD WORKSHOPS

ETD Open Labs: Formatting and Submission

This program provides one-on-one assistance with formatting issues and uploading your ETD to the OhioLINK ETD Center. This is not a lecture or presentation. Must bring own laptop for sessions on the Health Science Campus. Save your document to your laptop or H:drive or thumb drive. There will be one or two facilitators circulating to provide assistance. Please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for the session(s) you wish to attend.

  • Tuesday, July 25 from 3 – 5 in MLB 129 (HSC)
  • Wednesday, July 26 from 3 – 5 in CL 1025 (MC)
  • Monday, July 31 from 3 – 5 in CL 1025 (MC)

Questions and suggestions?

Teri Green at etdsvcs@utoledo.edu


PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT CALENDAR 2016 – 2017

The Graduate College is pleased to present, sponsor, and collaborate with other offices to bring you programming in Academic Planning, Academic Enhancements, Career Development, Thesis and Dissertation Services, and Graduate Writing. Please take a few minutes to review the program descriptions and make sure to “Save the Date” on any you are interested in. Questions & suggestions? Contact Teri Green:                   GradCollegeProgramming@utoledo.edu

 


CAREER DEVELOPMENT

Editing Your LinkedIn Profile

Did you know that LinkedIn completely changed their desktop platform in February? If you have not returned to your LinkedIn profile since you created it, or you are needing to take your profile to the next level, then this is the workshop for you! Our facilitator, Mary Jo Borden, M.Ed., from the College of Pharmacy & Pharmaceutical Sciences will be focused on assisting individuals update their LinkedIn profile to best suit their needs, with the primary focus being the development and/or improvement of the Profile Summary. She will be assisted by Teri Green of the College of Graduate Studies. Please bring your own laptop to participate in this workshop.  CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

  • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 from NOON – 1:30 pm in Collier Building Room 1030 (Health Science Campus )
  • Tuesday, July 11, 2017 from 5:00 – 6:30 pm in the Field House Room 1700 (Main Campus)

Prior to the workshop:


CENTER FOR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING AND CAREER SERVICES

SAVE THE DATE!

Please visit http://www.utoledo.edu/success/career/events/ for upcoming job fairs, career expos, and   pre-professional conferences. More events will be added throughout the year so check back often!


GRADUATE STUDENT ASSOCIATION (GSA)

The GSA is an organization that represents the concerns of approximately 5,000 graduate students at the University of Toledo. The GSA sponsors many programs and provides funding to subsidize conference and symposium travel. Additionally, the GSA serves on numerous university-wide committees and organizes social events to help students develop contacts both on and off campus. Please visit the GSA website for updated information on meetings, events, programs, and funding.

GSA Executive Officers / GSA College Representatives / Meeting Schedule / Contact & Calendar


ACADEMIC PLANNING

New Students

To ensure an accurate degree audit and fulfillment of your graduation requirements, you need to submit a complete Plan of Study for your degree—Doctoral, Masters, or Certificate—to the Graduate College office by the end of your first term or completion of 12 graduate credit hours.

  • If you are not a new student and have not yet completed a Plan of Study, please consult your adviser and do so immediately

Students Completing a Dissertation, Thesis, Scholarly Project, or Field Experience

To monitor and record timely compliance with the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, we require the submission of the Graduate Research and Advisory Committee Approval & Assurances form prior to beginning any research and as soon as a committee has been formed. Known as the GRAD form, it addresses types of research and approvals obtained, timing of publication, and committee formation.

  • If you are already conducting research and have not completed and submitted the GRAD form, please consult with your PI or Committee Chair and do so immediately

GRAD Form Timelines

Dissertation: after the acceptance of the dissertation proposal and completion of didactic coursework

Thesis: at the end of the second semester or no later than the end of the third semester

Projects and Field Experiences: prior to conducting the actual research

Academic Program Forms

All forms required during the course of your degree journey are found on our Academic Program Forms page. These are the official forms produced by the College of Graduate Studies and also the most current. Please use the forms directly from our website. The forms are fillable PDFs and for accurate and timely processing, please type all information into the form before signing, and please obtain all required signatures before submitting to our office.


GRADUATE STUDENT ORIENTATION

All new graduate students must fulfill the graduate orientation requirement. 2017 orientation includes a self-directed online orientation and three supplemental modules. We ask that all new degree-seeking graduate students complete the requirements by the end of the current semester. After completing the three modules, be sure to continue on and complete the remainder of the required online graduate orientation and submit the form at the end.

Resources for New Students   / Self-Directed Online Orientation and modules  / Questions? Email us


 


Blooming success – Sara Guiher, a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Sciences

Sara Guiher, a graduate student in the Department of Environmental Sciences, checked out the native plants at the roundabout at Dorr Street and Centennial Road. She is working with Dr. Todd Crail, associate lecturer of environmental sciences, and other students to ensure the flowering species native to the Oak Openings region continue to flourish in that roundabout as well as one at Dorr Street and King Road. The past two years, students planted predominantly herbaceous species that keep weeds at bay by taking up nutrients and space.


College of Law’s graduate certificates in compliance re-launched as online program

Starting fall semester, The University of Toledo College of Law’s Graduate Certificates in Compliance Program will be available as an online, part-time program, allowing students to learn about compliance and law in a more flexible manner.

Bringing each graduate certificate in compliance online means the program is more accessible to working professionals or those wanting to launch a career in compliance, according to Kirsten Winek, director of communications, special programs and financial aid in the College of Law.

“The online course work is asynchronous, meaning that it can be completed even if one travels for work, can only study in the evenings, or has a variable schedule,” she said. “Adding to this accessibility is the fact that course work can be completed in 10 to 12 months on a part-time basis.”

The program allows students to choose one of three graduate certificates in compliance — higher education compliance, health-care compliance and general compliance — that range between 15 to 17 credits. However, regardless of program, all students take a 14-credit core of foundational compliance course work in areas such as ethics; organizational governance; statutory and regulatory interpretation; privacy and data security; compliance education; and auditing, investigating and reporting.

Agnieszka McPeak, assistant professor of law, teaches Privacy and Data Security. “Individuals and companies interact with technology daily, and my goal in teaching privacy and data security is to show how this topic affects our personal and professional existence,” she explained. “We therefore cover the practical and technical background as well as the legal and business dimensions of privacy and data security, drawing on real-world, current examples and our own personal experiences.”

The remaining credits include course work specialized to each certificate, such as higher education law, health-care law, or a faculty-supervised research project for students enrolled in the certificate in general compliance.

Working professionals enrolled in the program have found the course work valuable and can fit the program into a busy schedule. “My course load has been manageable each semester, and I have had great opportunities to learn not only from the professors, but also from the other students within the course,” said student and UT Residence Life Area Coordinator Brad Ledingham.

Christine Wile, a student who is an administrative assistant in admissions in the UT College of Medicine and Life Sciences, added, “I found the program to be a win-win for individuals looking for an edge to advance professionally and academically. The courses are relevant and applicable in today’s complex work environments because the law professors and professionals in the compliance field teaching the classes are at the cutting edge of today’s issues.”

For more information on this program, contact Winek at kirsten.winek@utoledo.edu.


Fatimah Kareen Khalaf, a PhD candidate in the Department of Medicine, writes a Special To The Blade medical article July 3, 2017 – “UT studying methods to prevent cardiorenal syndrome”

 

Joint heart and kidney disorder is called cardiorenal syndrome, which occurs when damage to one of these organs causes injury to the other one.

Your heart relies heavily on your kidneys to control the correct amount of salt and water within your body. In turn, your kidneys rely on your heart for correctly regulating your blood pressure.

Fatimah-Khalaf-photo-jpg

Fatimah Kareen Khalaf is a PhD candidate in the department of medicine in the University of Toledo college of medicine.

Therefore, when one of these organs begins to fail, the other often follows closely behind. For example, patients undergoing heart failure frequently develop a rapid decline in kidney function. This combined decrease in organ function contributes to longer hospital stays, more frequent re-admissions, and increased rate of death.

Scientists have not yet figured out what causes cardiorenal syndrome. However, intense research is ongoing to devise new methods aimed at the prevention and treatment of this medical syndrome.

At the University of Toledo, we are focused on understanding the mechanisms causing cardiorenal disease. We are developing new tools that physicians can use to help patients survive.

We are investigating specific molecules that the body makes. These molecules, called cardiotonic steroids, normally help to regulate the amount of salt and water in your body, when present at low levels. However, in cardiorenal syndrome, these hormones often become chronically elevated, which stresses the heart and kidneys.

We have found that chronic high levels of these hormones can cause an inflammatory reaction of the body’s immune system that, in turn, causes scarring of heart and kidney tissue. Furthermore, we have found that patients with cardiorenal syndrome who also have increased levels of cardiotonic steroids are more likely to experience heart attack, stroke, or death.

We are investigating how the body produces and regulates these molecules, so that we can develop new ways to avoid the heart and kidney damage that elevated levels can cause.

My role in David Kennedy’s research laboratory is to understand the first steps within the body to produce this syndrome. It turns out that this damaging process begins with our own immune cells interacting with injured kidney cells.

Immune cells are quiet in times of health, but become active during injury. As an army is built to fight during times of war, immune cells increase to fight against any harm to the body. I have found that high levels of cardiotonic steroids cause activation of immune cells that, in turn, leads to organ injury. Therefore, constant activation of immune cells leads to organ damage rather than protection.

I have been able to show that the first steps of inflammation and scarring that normally occur in cardiorenal syndrome can be stopped by exposing immune cells or kidney cells, in culture medium, to different drugs that block the action of cardiotonic steroids. In addition, I am developing experimental methods to discover more molecules that the body produces that may help to control the levels of cardiotonic steroids. We will then work to enhance these molecules when cardiotonic steroids levels get too high.

A lot remains unknown about the function of cardiotonic steroids in the kidneys. We have worked hard to find answers to some of these important, unanswered questions. However, still more research needs to be done before physicians can safely apply our findings in the clinic. We will continue to work hard to discover appropriate treatments that can improve the outcome of patients with cardiorenal syndrome.

Fatimah Kareen Khalaf is a PhD student in the department of medicine in the University of Toledo College of Medicine and Life Sciences Biomedical Science Program, formerly the Medical College of Ohio. Ms. Khalaf is doing her research in the laboratory of David Kennedy. For more information, contact Kareem.Khalaf@rockets.utoledo.edu or go to utoledo.edu/​med/​grad/​biomedical.