Roseman University Aspires to Create Incubator for Medical Research

In November 2013, Henderson-based Roseman University of Health Sciences completed a merger with the Nevada Cancer Institute Foundation. As a result, Roseman acquired the Ralph and Betty Engelstad Cancer Research Building in Summerlin along with sophisticated research equipment. These resources are advancing the university’s research endeavors and has allowed Roseman University to pursue both organizations’ shared missions of advancing medical research and education.

“The positive impact of the merger on Southern Nevada is substantial,” said Roseman University President Renee Coffman. “Prior to the merger, Roseman began building its medical research programs in leased space in the Engelstad Cancer Research Building. When Roseman acquired the facility it provided resources and financial backing so its researchers could continue their groundbreaking work. Without Roseman’s backing, the state could have lost valuable brainpower as these researchers may have moved on to institutions outside of Nevada.”

Under the leadership of Roseman’s Vice President for Research, Dr. Ronald Fiscus, the university has expanded local medical research beyond cancer and into disease areas that impact populations in Nevada and the region, including diabetes and obesity, and their related pathological complications; Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurodegenerative diseases; and cardiovascular disease. Roseman researchers are also working on adult stem cell and regenerative medicine, and expansion into other areas is planned in the coming years as the university develops its College of Medicine.

“Roseman University offers researchers stability as they concentrate on discoveries that may lead to new therapies for a growing list of diseases,” said Fiscus.

The most valuable resource is the advanced research equipment in Roseman’s labs. “Our research equipment is highly quantitative and ultrasensitive, allowing for more accurate measurements of biological processes,” said Fiscus. “Some of the research equipment is unique to Southern Nevada and the entire Intermountain West region.”

The equipment includes an ultrasensitive capillary-electrophoresis-based nanofluidic immuno-detection instrument, NanoPro100 and NanoPro1000, that allows for the analysis of not only protein expression levels, but also of phosphorylation states, with a sensitivity that is significantly greater than conventional techniques used by other laboratories.

Fiscus says this equipment allows for the analysis of precious cell populations, such as primary cells, isolated adult stem cells, fine needle tumor aspirates, and microbiopsies.

Roseman labs are also equipped with the total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy system, providing detailed analysis of molecular interactions occurring right at the cell membrane, with significantly more detail compared to conventional fluorescent microscopy. This allows researchers to conduct highly specialized experiments and target new and more effective therapeutic agents.

Roseman University currently has active research collaborations with several world-renowned scientists, including the Nobel Laureate Dr. Ferid Murad and Dr. Chikao Morimoto, professor and chair of clinical immunology and director of the Advanced Clinical Research Center at the University of Tokyo.

The University’s College of Pharmacy recently collaborated with researchers from University of Mississippi, the University of Michigan Medical School, Ferris State University and the Veteran’s Affairs Health Administration to establish the Roseman University Research Center for Substance Abuse and Depression. The center is focusing on discovery, education and outreach related to two significant healthcare and societal issues, says Jeffery Talbot, Ph.D., the center’s director and an associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences. The center recently announced the discovery of a fast-acting antidepressant drug, which has since gained international attention.

“We are extremely proud of the work our researchers are doing,” said Coffman. “They have delivered presentations at scientific meetings across the country and around the world, published dozens of articles in peer-reviewed scientific journals and won numerous local and national awards. These accomplishments contribute to raising the stature of Southern Nevada as a national player in medical research and will hopefully spur investment and growth in this vital sector of our economy.”

Jason Roth, Roseman University of Health Sciences