HIGH POINT, N.C., Feb. 8, 2018 – Members of the High Point University community frequently conduct, publish and share research and creative works in a variety of ways. Below is a recap of research initiatives from the past month.
Pharmacy Faculty Awarded Grant for Diabetes Research
Two pharmacy professors at HPU are recipients of a competitive grant for their research on weight loss in diabetes. Dr. Sally McMillin, assistant professor of basic pharmaceutical sciences, and Dr. Christina Sherrill, assistant professor of clinical sciences, received the New Investigator Award sponsored by the American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy. The award provides start-up funding for the independent research programs of early-career pharmacy faculty. McMillin and Sherrill will study weight loss in patients on sodium-glucose cotransporter 2 (SGLT2) inhibitors, which are medications used to treat diabetes.
“In addition to reducing blood sugar and improving diabetes control, SGLT2 inhibitors help patients lose weight by the elimination of glucose through the urine, but this should result in greater weight loss than what is observed,” says McMillin.
“This award will help us launch a collaborative research program within the Fred Wilson School of Pharmacy to investigate why this disparity exists and how the body adjusts to prevent maximum weight loss,” says Sherrill. “Our long-term objective is to improve patient care by maximizing the weight-lowering effects of SGLT2 inhibitor therapy, leading to better diabetes control and decreased cardiovascular risk.”
Antidepressant Reduces Bacterial Resistance to Antibiotics
HPU professors are addressing a major global health concern by exploring ways to overcome antibiotic-resistant bacteria. In an article published by the journal Heliyon, Dr. Patrick Vigueira, assistant professor of biology, and Dr. Meghan Blackledge, assistant professor of chemistry, demonstrate that amoxapine, an FDA-approved antidepressant, has the ability to lower the antibiotic resistance of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA. Blackledge and chemistry assistant professor Dr. Heather Miller are further evaluating amoxapine and structurally related compounds to understand how they work to reverse antibiotic resistance and to design more potent compounds for therapeutic development. Their students will be presenting projects on this work at the National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in March.
“With additional research and development, amoxapine or a related compound could be used as a bacterial resistance-modifying agent,” says Vigueira. “Rather than developing new antibiotic compounds, resistance-modifying agents can be used in combination with existing antibiotics to treat bacteria like MRSA. The discovery and characterization of novel resistance-modifying agents has the potential to provide new tools in our fight against antibiotic-resistant microbes.”
Professor’s Book Offers Broadened Examination of Popular Culture
Dr. Jenn Brandt, assistant professor of English and director of the Women’s and Gender Studies program at HPU, co-authored the recently published book “An Introduction to Popular Culture in the US: People, Politics, and Power.” The book expands the study of popular culture beyond the usual focus on media to include material culture and folklore expression. It covers a broad range of topics, including sports, social media, heroes, celebrities, and holidays and celebrations. Brandt says the book’s approach demonstrates the importance of the field to the understanding of contemporary systems of social stratification.
“Popular culture is sometimes dismissed as just ‘fluff,’ but it is actually a much more powerful and political force in people’s daily lives,” says Brandt. “‘Popular’ is more than just being well-liked. It is directly connected to the populous, or the people. Popular culture is the staging ground for the active engagement of individuals in shaping their lived experience.”