COPH graduates and Delta Omega inductees, Melissa Clemens and Shelbie Stahr, presented grand rounds on June 22 at the Arkansas Department of Health. They each presented research from their culminating experience projects in the MPH program.
Clemens looked at the effects of nicotine and tobacco specific nitrosamines (TSNAs) from e-cigarettes on pregnant women. The study, which was the first of its kind, specifically looked at the effects of the biomarkers, nicotine, cotinine, and the TSNAs NNK and NNL, which are carcinogens and what most people assume are not in ENDS, by sampling the hair of 81 pregnant women who use Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS).
Results showed that dual users (or those who smoke cigarettes and are ENDS users) and smokers expose themxelves to the same amount of nicotine. Nicotine i also only paritally responsible for adverse birth outcomes; therefore, cigarettes must contain additional toxins. Lastly, dual users expose themselves to more NNK than smokers, which may affect them down the road.
Stahr’s research looked at the biomarker SULT1A1 and its capabilities for cancer. She aimes to identify a biomarker that could ultimately reduce invasive procedures and large costs that a cancer diagnosis brings.
SULT1A1 is a drug-metabolizing enzyme, expressed in the liver, that engages in modifying metabolites and neutralizing toxins. Stahr looked at 288 liver samples to see if there was a correlation between SULT1A1 expression and activity levels and the methylation status. Ultimately, she couldn’t make a correlation, but if work like this continues, eventually a biomarker will be found that can reduce the cancer burden in our health care system.
Clemens and Stahr will both continue their education at UAMS in the fall by pursuing Ph.D.’s, one in Toxicology and the other in Epidemiology, respectively. Congrats to both ladies on all their hard work.