Biomedical research summer interns gain experience for future endeavors

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine recently welcomed 20 summer interns for a nine-week biomedical research program. The participants, who are mainly from West Virginia colleges and universities, will conduct research that is relevant to health concerns in the Appalachian region such as cardiovascular disease, obesity, addiction disorders and cancer. 

“These talented students learn first-hand what it is like to pursue a career in research while enhancing their academic competitiveness for graduate school and networking with others in the field,” said Kelly Carothers, coordinator of the Summer Research Internship for Minority Students (SRIMS). 

The School of Medicine’s Office of Research and Graduate Education’s SRIMS program sponsors students from the United States.  The 2021 participants are listed below with their colleges, hometowns, and mentors:  

  • Sakinah Burger, Alderson Broaddus University, Beckley, WV (Balasubramanian Palaniappan, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Jocelyn Hernandez, Montclair State University, Haledon, NJ (Jennifer Haynes, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Taisha Valenzuela, University of Rio Grande, Lancaster, OH (Alip Borthakur, Ph.D., mentor)

West Virginia IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (WV-INBRE) is funded through a $16 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Marshall University, in partnership with researchers at West Virginia University, received the award to help build expertise in biomedical research. Students participating in the 2021 WV-INBRE Summer Program include: 

  • Christopher Bender, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Webster Springs, WV (Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Fallon Gallimore, University of Charleston, Williamson, WV (Hongwei Yu, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Sean Hill, University of Charleston, Danville, WV (Brandon Henderson, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Marnie Kerby-Ballinger, University of Charleston, Charleston, WV (Monica Valentovic, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Alex Martinez, University of Charleston, Albacete, Spain (Eugene Shakirov, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Madison Michels, Davis and Elkins University, Liberty, WV (Daniel Morgan, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Anya Miller, Davis and Elkins University, Milton, WV (Ruhul Amin, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Umesh Napali, West Liberty University, Nepal (Larry Grover, Ph.D., mentor)
  • RaeAnne Reed, University of Charleston, Logan, WV (Melinda Varney, Ph.D., mentor)    
  • Sidra Tahir, University of Charleston, Annapolis, MD (Vincent Sollars, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Emily Taylor, University of Charleston, Charleston, WV (Lydia Bogomolnaya, Ph.D., mentor) 

Two West Virginia teachers have also been chosen for the WV-INBRE Summer Fellowship Program: 

  • Jackie Fannin, Charleston Catholic High School, Marshall University graduate, (Richard Egleton, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Chelsea Simmons, St. Albans High School, Marshall University graduate, (Emine Koc, Ph.D., mentor)

Five students are supported by the American Heart Association Summer Intern Research program led by principal investigator Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., MPH, FAHA: 

  • Claire Combs, Marshall University, Pickerington, OH (Sandrine Pierre, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Alex Dague, Marshall University, Triadelphia, WV (Boyd Rorabaugh, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Brendin Flinn, Marshall University, Mineral Wells, WV (Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Sydnie Jenkins, Shawnee State University, Lucasville, OH (Nalini Santanam, Ph.D., mentor)
  • Alex Simpkins, Marshall University, Lavalette, WV (Jung Han Kim, Ph.D., mentor)

New this year is the NIH sponsored National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Summer Research Internship, which focuses on increasing underrepresented populations in drug abuse and addiction research. This year’s recipient: 

  • Courtney Lulek, Marshall University, Russell Springs, KY (Daniel Morgan, Ph.D., mentor)

“We are providing in-depth, mentored research opportunities for undergraduates,” said Elsa I. Mangiarua, Ph.D., professor of biomedical sciences and director of the WV-INBRE program. “The programs also promote awareness of Marshall’s graduate degree programs and available careers in biomedical research.” 

In addition to lab work, interns attend educational and professional seminars along with networking activities. They will present their research findings at a symposium at the conclusion of the program.  

For more information about WV-INBRE, visit or contact Mangiarua at or 304-696-6211. For more information about SRIMS, visit or contact Carothers at or 304-696-7279. For information about the American Heart Association program, visit or contact Santanam at or 304-696-7321. NIDA information is available by contacting Daniel Morgan at or (304) 696-7298 

Photo caption: Students participating in biomedical research internships this summer at Marshall University include (back row, left to right): Sidra Tahir, Umesh Nepali, Marnie Kerby-Ballinger, Alex Dague, Alex Simpkins, Christopher Bender, Sean Hill , Alex Martinez, (front row, left to right) Emily Taylor, Taisha Valenzuela, Jocelyn Hernandez, RaeAnne Reed, Fallon Gallimore, Brendin Flinn, Sakinah Burger, Maddy Michels, Anya Miller, Claire Combs, Courtney Lulek, Sydnie Jenkins 


Date Posted: Thursday, June 10, 2021