Research Projects at KCU

KCU 4th Year Student Co-Authors Yale Study That Shows Promise in Treating Sarcoidosis

In a clinical trial, a Yale team treated 10 sarcoidosis patients with tofacitinib, a Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitor normally used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune diseases. The study of the trial and results was published on June 6, 2022. KCU-Joplin 4th Year Student Doctor Abigale Clark was an additional co-author of the study. Treating sarcoidosis with JAK inhibitor shows promise in clinical trial


KCU Research Team Publish Peer-Reviewed Observational Study Comparing Outcomes of Sepsis Patients

A Kansas City University research team led by Robert Arnce, MD, assistant professor of Emergency Medicine, recently completed and published a retrospective observational study evaluating how the presence of hypothyroidism affects outcomes in septic patients.

The study, published on in February 2022, Outcome Comparisons Between Septic Patients With and Without Secondary Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism From a Rural Midwest Hospital, provides details of sepsis morbidity and mortality rates, which have remained high despite recent developments in clinical guidelines aimed to curtail this disease process. Understanding how sepsis interacts with co-morbidities and pre-existing disease states is necessary for improving sepsis treatment. Accounting for specific pre-existing conditions in the treatment of sepsis patients may not only improve patient outcomes but also reduce health-care costs by preventing possible complications., based in San Francisco, California, is an open-access medical journal whose mission is to leverage the power of the internet through a crowdsourced community platform to share and promote published medical knowledge.


KCU Faculty and Student Doctors Invited to Review Literature in the Field of Nuclear Receptor Research

Published November 2021 in Cells, a peer-reviewed journal, this invited review of the ligand-activated nuclear receptor superfamily member Pregnane X Receptor (PXR, NR1I2) was completed by a team of MKRC & KCU staff. The team included KCU faculty members Dr. Robert Rogers and Dr. Jeff Staudinger as well as eleven (11) student doctors, and the review is published in the Cells special themed issue Current Trends in pregnane X receptor Research. Read the review here: The Interface between Cell Signaling Pathways and Pregnane X Receptor.

The review opportunity allowed the KCU faculty and student doctors to form a cohesive team and expand their scientific knowledge about nuclear receptor signaling in pathological disease states. The exercise also gave a number of KCU student doctors the rigorous experience of writing and editing an invited review article and first-hand experience of the effort it takes to publish in a scientific peer-reviewed journal.

Congratulations to the KCU team for this invited review of recent literature! The peer-reviewed journal Cells also published an earlier KCU team's study in nuclear receptor research in their special October 2020 issue (see info below). 


KCU Student Doctors' Research Published in Internationally Renowned Journal

Published October 2021 in Biomedicines MDPI, an internationally renowned journal, with an impact factor of six, Andrew Sulaiman, PhD, KCU third-year osteopathic medical student, assembled and led a research team of KCU student doctors including Rohith Kandunuri, Vishak Vinod and Sai Chilumula. They reviewed TGF-β signaling and its importance in patient prognosis for those diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

“This article reviewed TGF-β signaling and its importance in breast cancer patient prognosis. Additionally, we stratified a database of 1083 breast cancer patients and found that the TGF-β was specifically upregulated in triple-negative breast cancer patients and its expression was associated with substantially reduced patient outcomes,” he explained. “This is important as right now, there are no specific therapies for the treatment of triple-negative breast cancer patients. Identification of TGF-β as a potential target for this disease may lead to novel therapeutic approaches. We further highlighted preclinical and clinical trials using TGF-β inhibitors for further investigation.” View the published research: Clinically Translatable Approaches of Inhibiting TGF-β to Target Cancer Stem Cells in TNBC.


KCU Faculty and Students Publish Research and Development for Sterilization and Sanitizing of 3D-printed PPE

When the COVID-19 pandemic exposed serious deficiencies in the national supply of PPE, Kansas City University faculty and students faced the challenge with ingenuity. In collaboration with Missouri Southern State University and Nemotech 3D Printing, LLC, Drs. Jeff Staudinger and Brad Creamer led research together with KCU College of Medicine students to create a 3D-printed N95-like mask using a polypropylene starting material. The results of their study proved that 3D-printed polypropylene is effectively sterilized in an autoclave, and can also be effectively sanitized with household cleaners such as bleach or hydrogen peroxide, and can thus be re-used.

Results of their research have the potential to support health care workers needs for PPE in the event of another pandemic, and could help mitigate the copious amount of medical waste brought about by single-use paper masks. Additionally, the versatile nature of polypropylene starting material has the potential for use in the manufacture of other medical devices that are now single use, or are in short supply during a pandemic should they be needed in the future.

Their work was published on June 11, 2021, in BioMed Central - 3D Printing in Medicine.


An Analysis of Anatomy Education Before and During COVID- 19:
May-August 2020

Jennifer Dennis-Winslow, PhD, associate professor in KCU’s Department of Anatomy, worked with multiple colleagues and members within their professional organization, the American Association for Anatomy (AAA). The team developed a study that evaluated immediate changes (March-May) in Anatomy education across the United States in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are currently working on Part 2 of this study to evaluate changes implemented from June-Dec. Read the study, published online December 30, 2020.


KCU-Joplin Faculty and Students Publish Research on YouTube

KCU professor of pharmacology and chair of basic sciences Dr. Jeff Staudinger promotes KCU-Joplin student research work on his YouTube channel. His students work on research projects that can provide greater context for, or help inform, current health care scenarios in our country or around the globe. The most recent playlist on Dr. Staudinger's channel tackles opioid use: Improving Health Outcomes in Patients with Opioid Use Disorder.


KCU Student and Faculty Study of Spiritual Conflict Affecting Students Learning Patient Care Published by Family Medicine

Cindy Schmidt, PhD, KCU director of scholarly activity and faculty development, and OMS IV Student Andrew Dang have authored an article in the January 2021 issue of Family Medicine. Under the guidance of Dr. Schmidt, Dang conducted a study which found that medical students who had internal spiritual conflict were more disengaged when interviewing Standardized Patients whose patient case also had spiritual conflict. The findings point to the need to support students’ own spiritual needs in the context of supporting patients’ spiritual needs. Read the article from Family Medicine.


KCU Anatomy Chair Publishes Article on Capuchin Feeding Behavior in Nature for Clues to Human Dental and Orthodontic Conditions

KCU anatomy professor and chair Dr. Barth W. Wright's latest study is an outgrowth of his primary research program, which focuses on the influence of food material properties and ingestive behavior on craniodental adaptations and evolution in human and non-human primates. The monkeys in this study feed on mechanically resistant foods and exhibit craniodental traits that appear to be adaptations for the ingestion of these items. This makes members of this genus interesting analogs for a number of early fossil hominins. Dr, Wright's findings can help us better understand the ecological pressures that may have led to the modern human craniodental configuration, and help to explain why we as a species deal with particular dental and orthodontic conditions. Read the study abstract.


KCU Professor and Researcher Collaborates on Study of New Protein Marker in Dementia

As the world of science looks for cures in the battle against dementia, researchers have identified a new enemy. A newly-named pathway to dementia that has always existed, but now has a name: Limbic-predominant Age-related TDP-43 Encephalopathy, or LATE. Kansas City University professor and researcher Abdulbaki Agbas, MSc, PhD, is part of the urgent quest to study and learn more about this pathway and disease. Read more...


KCU Faculty and Medical Students’ Work Published Alongside Other Leaders in the Field of Nuclear Receptor Research

October 2020 - Congratulations to researchers at KCU-Joplin, on the publication of a peer-reviewed article titled “Associations between Pregnane X Receptor and Breast Cancer Growth and Progression.

The team led by Jeffery Staudinger, PhD, and Bradley Creamer, PhD and composed of KCU-Joplin researchers and medical students was invited to contribute to a special theme issue of the journal, Cells, an international peer-reviewed open access journal of cell biology, molecular biology, and biophysics. The special issue is titled "The Xenobiotic Receptors CAR and PXR in Health and Disease." 

“It is an honor to have our manuscript published in this special issue and to have our work appear with other articles contributed from absolute leaders in this field,” said Staudinger.


KCU Professor Developing Innovative Test for Early Diagnosis of Neurodegenerative Disease

Dr. Abdulbaki Agbas, professor and director of research at Kansas City UniversityAugust 14, 2020 - Dr. Abdulbaki Agbas, professor and director of research at Kansas City University, is working to develop a blood-based biomarker that diagnoses Alzheimers disease and ALS before their clinical manifestations. Read about Dr. Agbas' research on the BioNexusKC site


Second-Year KCU Student's Research Published for Advances in Triple Negative Breast Cancer Treatment

Andrew Sulaiman, PhDAugust 12, 2020 - Second-year med student Andrew Sulaiman, PhD, is a published first author in two new research papers in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences and in Advanced Therapeutics where he focuses on triple negative breast cancer (TNBC).

Through development of a combinational therapy, they improved cisplatin's TNBC targeting abilities while stopping cancer stem cell enrichment and resistance. His research findings may make cisplatin usage for TNBC more translatable in the clinic setting.

In the second publication, when the nanoparticle encapsulated therapy was compared to conventional chemotherapy, it proved better anti-tumor targeting effects and reduced rates of relapse and tumorigenicity after treatment, making this research an advancement in TNBC.


Graduate's Research Sheds Light on the Dreaded ACL Tear

May 18, 2017 - When Kyle Busch graduates from KCU on Saturday, May 20, his name will already appear on two major research studies that could impact the health of young athletes everywhere.

As a medical student Busch has been working with Dr. Matt Daggett, KCU alumnus and an orthopedic surgeon, alongside an international team trying to discover why girls involved in pivot-shifting sports suffer injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) at a rate far faster than their male counterparts. They partnered with Dr. Camilo Helito of Sau Paulo Brazil and gained unprecedented access to clinical samples. More...


KCU Receives NIH Grant to Study Causes of Microvascular Defects in Heart Disease

Aug.1, 2016 - Many American families are unfortunately all too familiar with the devastating effects of heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. By the age of 40 the lifetime risk of developing of heart failure in both men and women is 1 in 5. Despite important advances in medicine, current treatments do not prevent or reverse the progression of the disease. More...


Unintended Consequences of Chemotherapy – Heart Disease in Cancer Survivors

Dr. Eugene Konorev at Kansas City University studies the harmful effects of chemotherapy treatment on the cardiovascular system. The goal of his research is to mitigate these negative side effects enabling patients to enjoy a healthier life post-cancer treatment.

While chemotherapy has saved millions of cancer patients, it has also damaged the hearts of many cancer survivors. The American Heart Association reported that patient risk of heart failure increases 5% after eight chemotherapy treatments and the risk rises to 48% after 14 doses. More...

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