Tag Archives: Clinical and Translational Sciences Award

A&T researcher’s work on COPD among ag workers wins support from NC TraCS program for scholars

Dr. Jenora Waterman has made one key discovery toward improving the treatment of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) among agricultural workers, and now she’s been accepted into a prestigious career development program to advance her research.

Headshot of Dr. Waterman

Dr. Jenora Waterman

Dr. Waterman is an assistant professor of functional genomics in the Department of Animal Sciences at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. COPD is a major cause of death in the United States, most typically found among smokers. A less studied aspect of the disease is the 7% of its U.S. victims who are agricultural workers. They can develop COPD as a result of long-term exposure to animal production facilities containing dust that contributes to respiratory diseases.

High-density swine production houses are one example of such facilities.

Dr. Waterman’s first key finding came from comparing pigs raised indoors with those raised outdoors. Pigs aren’t as severely affected by the dust as humans are, but her work demonstrated that their respiratory systems are uniquely adapted to their housing type.

“My lab recently showed for the first time that pigs reared indoors and those raised outdoors exhibit structural and cellular differences in their respiratory systems,” Dr. Waterman says.

“The next step will be studying those differences to identify potential biomarkers that could serve as diagnostic or prognostic markers of agriculture-related COPD in humans.”

Dr. Waterman will take that step as an NC TraCS K-Scholar, a professional development honor for junior faculty members funded through the Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) program of the National Institutes of Health.

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A&T and UNC-CH researchers launch investigation into triple-negative breast cancer’s link to viral RNA

Researchers at N.C. A&T and UNC-Chapel Hill have been awarded a grant to investigate a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. The team will work to determine the role of viral factors in the virulent nature of triple-negative breast cancer.

Triple-negative breast cancer represents 15% to 20% of breast carcinomas. It is prevalent in younger women, African American women, and in women with BRCA1 gene mutations. This type of cancer is very aggressive, has a poor prognosis, fails to respond to conventional therapy, and appears in many forms. The causes and molecular basis of this cancer are currently unknown, though multiple factors, including viruses, may be involved.

Specifically, this pilot study will investigate the prevalence of three particular types of viral genetic material in triple negative breast tumors and determine what role these passenger virus genetic materials play in the cancer’s malignant properties and survival.

The study will be led by Dr. Perpetua Muganda, professor of biology at N.C. A&T. The team will include Dr. Scott Harrison, assistant professor of biology at A&T; Dr. Dukka KC, assistant professor of computational science and engineering at A&T; and Dr. Jan Prins, professor of computer science at UNC-CH.

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