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Oklahoma State University
Center for Veterinary Health Sciences

Healthy Animals - Healthy People

First Toxicology Fellowships Awarded

Tuesday, December 16 2014

(Stillwater, Okla., November 24, 2014) – The OSU Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program recently awarded five graduate fellowships for the first time since the inception of the program in October 2012.  Among the recipients was Manushree Bharadwaj, a PhD candidate at OSU’s Center for Veterinary Health Sciences. 

These scholarships were open to any graduate student in a degree granting program on the OSU campus.  Applicants must have a Certificate in Interdisciplinary Toxicology or be currently enrolled in the program, be conducting research related to some aspect of toxicology, be participating in Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program activities such as sponsored programs, and be a member in the newly formed Graduate Society for Interdisciplinary Toxicology.

As part of the fellowship, Dr. Bharadwaj will receive a $2,500 stipend per year.  Continuation of the award will be based on sustained research progress.  Originally from Nagpur, Maharashtra, India, she earned a BVSc from Nagpur Veterinary College in India. She came to the United States in 2011 when she began her studies at OSU’s veterinary center. 

Dr. Bharadwaj works on a collaborative research program involving laboratories of Lara Maxwell, DVM, PhD, and Carey Pope, PhD, both in the veterinary center’s Department of Physiological Sciences. Maxwell’s Experimental and Clinical Pharmacology Laboratory and Pope’s Neurotoxicology Laboratory collaborate on an NIH-supported project studying human heart failure with Stuart Katz, MD, at New York University.

“The project deals with a Phase II clinical trial being conducted on congestive heart failure patients,” explains Bharadwaj.  “Our part is to analyze blood samples collected from the patients at different time points to quantify the amount of drug present during the study period (pharmacokinetic variable) and to estimate the degree of inhibition of the enzyme (acetylcholinesterase, pharmacodynamics variable) targeted by the drug pyridostigmine.  We put all the data together including some more details provided by our collaborators in New York and perform the population pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic modeling.  This model is created during the drug development and drug labeling phases.”

To mimic the findings from the ongoing human project, researchers at OSU have finished a pilot study to determine the effects of long term administration of pyridostigmine on heart rate recovery in rats.

“We are now developing a highly sensitive and specific analytical method to quantify pyridostigmine and its metabolite in human plasma,” continues Bharadwaj.  “Heart disease is the highest cause of death in the United States and worldwide.  Our work will help us better understand the drug pyridostigmine and optimize its therapeutic potential in human and animal congestive heart failure patients, while minimizing any adverse effects.  Ultimately, we hope to reduce the risk of sudden death in heart failure patients due to an imbalance between the neuronal control mechanisms of the failing heart.”

Dr. Bharadwaj works under the advisement of Lara Maxwell, PhD, DVM, Dipl. American College of Veterinary Clinical Pharmacology, an associate professor in the Department of Physiological Sciences at the veterinary center.

“The research in my lab is quite diverse.  Manushree’s work does extend our studies that relate to more complex pharmacokinetic models and it relates closely with the toxicological work on pesticides that Dr. Pope has been engaged in at OSU,” says Maxwell.

“Getting the Interdisciplinary Toxicology graduate fellowship is a great honor for me,” says Bharadwaj.  “It is not just about receiving money; it tells me I am seen as having potential for the future of our scientific society.  I’ve got to make sure of my responsibilities to represent that society.  When I represent something, I try to do so at the fullest so I am going to do my best to make everyone proud.”

Carey Pope, PhD, Regents Professor and Sitlington Chair in Toxicology in the Department of Physiological Sciences at the veterinary center is director (along with Drs. Loren Smith [Zoology] and David Wallace [Center for Health Sciences] of OSU’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program (ITP).

“Funding for these fellowships came from our Graduate College,” says Pope.  “We are very appreciative of Dr. Sheryl Tucker’s ongoing support of ITP, which allows us to facilitate training of the next generation of toxicologists.”

In addition to graduate fellowships, OSU’s Interdisciplinary Toxicology Program has also recently initiated both an undergraduate student and pathology resident fellowship program, and recently funded pilot interdisciplinary research grants totaling $60,000. A training grant application was submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency earlier this month that would extend ITP’s ability to recruit and train undergraduate, graduate and postdoctoral students. 


Contact: Derinda Blakeney, APR | OSU Center for Veterinary Health Sciences | 405-744-6740 |