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Institutional Review Board
147 Sycamore Street
Pikeville, Kentucky 41501
Research is the repeated systematic process of testing hypotheses to develop theories. It can include basic science, clinical, social science or translational research and encompass testing on human subjects and animals.
Before beginning, the researcher may need to complete several certifications and gain approval from the university’s Institutional Review Board. These processes are in place to protect the participants and researchers.
For more information:
Creswell, J. W. Research design: Qualitative, quantitative and mixed methods approaches. 4th Ed. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2014.
The University of Pikeville – Kentucky College of Osteopathic College (KYCOM) has been growing and sustaining a successful research program located on campus. The research program at KYCOM provide students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to engage in a culture of inquiry through ethical and safe biomedical research. Located in the Coal Building, the state-of-the-art 2,600 square foot laboratory provides students and faculty with all the equipment and resources needed to conduct successful research. In addition to the research laboratory, KYCOM also has a 10-room clinic located in the Coal Building that is available for clinical research studies. Click on the options below to expand the information:
The research program at KYCOM strives to serve as a continuation of the mission of the college and provide solutions for problems that are prevalent in the rural areas of Appalachia.
The combination of research, scholarship, and teaching are all valuable aspects needed in the training of osteopathic physicians. Student fellowships for research are available to KYCOM students in good academic standing.
In addition to providing valuable information to the medical community, students who participate in research, gain valuable information about experimental designs, data collection, and analysis as well as important techniques for biomedical research.
The research program at KYCOM aims to advance biomedical knowledge, give students opportunity to grow beyond the curriculum framework, and produce future physicians who will continue improving health in Appalachian communities.
The clinical research priority areas include osteopathic manipulative treatment, osteopathic patient care, clinical case research, community health research, and research for primary care in underdeveloped areas.
The biomedical science research priority areas include cancer prevention and treatment, cardiovascular physiology, aging of the immune system in the context of thymic structure and function, mammalian macroevolution, diabetes research, black lung, and medical education research
Malgorzata Simm, Ph.D., MSc Research Interests:
Dr. Simm’s research tests the hypothesis that the residual function of the thymus persists in humans until the end of life and plays a role in optimizing immune function. Because of a scarcity of human tissue and a lack of standardized markers of thymic cellular activity in that age group, there is a noticeable void in the knowledge about the function of the thymus in elderly humans. Dr. Simm’s group conducts systematic studies on the immunological fitness of the thymus from elderly human body donors used for gross anatomy training at KYCOM, whose age at the time of death spans 50 to 100+ years. Applying the immunocytochemistry techniques, Dr. Simm’s team found that at the time of death, some individuals had a functional thymus with well-preserved thymic epithelium and thymocytes. The team also reported that the involution process might occur unilaterally, thus preserving the function of one of the thymic lobes until the end of life. Looking at the expression of genes mediating the organ’s function in the young human population, the research team has found that these genes were also expressed in some elderly individuals. Dr. Simm wants to determine if these genes’ protein products may serve as molecular markers of thymic function in the late stage of human life. Dr. Simm’s research is highly collaborative and student-oriented. The research team incorporates members of the KYCOM Gross Anatomy and Immunology departments and Student Fellows.
To see Dr. Simm’s publications from this and previous research projects, visit the bibliography at the National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/14KAgwqly6EkP/bibliography/public/
Shumaila Hanif, Ph.D., MSc, MBA Research Interests:
Tuberculosis remains the most serious global infectious disease caused by a single causative organism Mycobacterium tuberculosis. One-fourth of the world’s population has been infected with MTB. Moreover, the incidence of co-infection with HIV, and multiple and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis presents an imminent threat to global health. No new drugs in over thirty years and no new vaccines in 92 years have been launched. Consequently, the search for new drugs, vaccines, and therapies, in general, is an urgent need in global health. Thus, Dr. Hanif’s research interest is in Infectious Diseases, especially in developing new diagnostic methods, new drugs, and new vaccines for TB. Dr. Hanif is also interested in educational research involving students. Currently, Dr. Hanif is working on two projects, “Osteopathic Medical Student Preferences for PowerPoint Presentation Structure” and “Osteopathic Medical Student’s Preferences for Lecture Delivery.” Dr. Hanif also involves students in writing research editorials, research reviews, book chapters, and case studies on infectious diseases.
Guichun Han, M.D., Ph.D. Research Interests:
Dr. Han’s research interests are in the fields of female hormone effects on the cardiovascular system (wet lab approach) and the effects of osteopathic manipulation therapy (OMT) on physiology and disease (human subjects). In the field of female hormones and the cardiovascular system, Han’s research team (Drs. Bao, N. Ghayur, A. Ghayur) studies the role of individual estrogen receptors in coronary blood flow regulation and the interplay of different receptor signaling pathways. Childbearing- age women are protected from coronary heart disease compared to men, owing largely to female hormones. In contrast, in women >65 years of age, who have the highest mortality rate, estrogen replacement is associated with an even greater risk of coronary heart disease. Han’s research team applies comprehensive research approaches in our investigation. Isometric tension study for measuring vascular tension in a chamber that provides a controlled environment for an arterial ring under study. Biochemistry and molecular biology approaches are employed for investigating the molecular basis of functional changes. The crosstalk between ERα/ERβ and GPER is the most significant area to explore in the field and the findings will shed light on the current understanding of estrogen effects in the cardiovascular system and in most organs and tissues where estrogen receptors present. In the field of OMT effects on physiology and disease, Han’s research team (Drs. Stiles, Crawford, Griffin, Ziegler, Lazenka, Ivasenko, Ibeawuchi and ) studies the effects of OMT on the autonomic nerve activities and functional changes of the heart, blood vessels, lungs, and airways, skeletal muscles, and memory.
Damian Cole D.O., FACEP, AAO Research Interests:
Dr. Cole’s research focus will be related to Osteopathic Manipulative Treatments and how they relate to the reduction of pain and potentially the reduction of opioid/non-opioid pharmacologic management of acute and chronic pain. He also has a research interest in Quality Improvement. Subjects would include any topics dealing with quality of care with respect to patients in any setting as well as the reduction of medical errors, process improvement, throughput improvement, creation and implementation of patient safety protocols, and analysis/improvement of current protocols to improve patient safety. Another research interest will be any topics that deal with physician wellness and mental health. Topics would include physician satisfaction, access to therapy, suicide prevention, and the impacts of poor patient outcomes/deaths. The focus will be on improving and advocating for mental health in clinical professionals.
David L. McWhorter, Ph.D. Research Interests:
Dr. McWhorter’s scholarly work uses the scientific problem-solving method in medical education. Independent and dependent study variables use experimental or descriptive techniques to maximize internal and external validity to investigate and explain medical educator and student behaviors and academic performance in the preclinical setting. Academic interests include answering questions that have practical significance to medical educators and students and preparing medical students to become proficient consumers and producers of medical education research.
Antoinette Justice, D.O.
Dr. Justice’s research ideas are associated with expanding her research on pulmonary fibrosis with OMT and also some other OMT studies.
Anzhelika Ivasenko, MD, PhD Research Interests:
The research interests of Dr. Ivasenko lie in the areas of medical humanities, proper ways to educate patients about their health issues, and recommendations for healthy lifestyles. She will be applying patients’ own stories as a context to create effective educational content. The design of her research projects will be patient-specific and educational-centered. It is expected that the outcome of her research will shed some light on existing patient education and improve the patient-doctor relationship, as well as students’ communication skills and empathy.
Sujin Bao, Ph.D. Research Interests:
Dr. Bao’s work has been focused on three lines of investigation. First, control of gene expression. This project utilizes various model systems to study how genes coding for Nephrin and Neph-1 are regulated and to identify the components of the Nephrin and Neph-1 signaling pathways. Nephrin and Neph-1 are two transmembrane adhesion receptors and components of the slit diaphragm in the mammalian kidney. Second, the roles of noncoding RNAs in memory. This project studies the expression patterns of selected noncoding RNAs in hippocampus and anterior cingulate cortex in mice before and after learning. In addition, Dr. Bao’s team is working to deplete those noncoding RNAs that show unique spatial and temporal expression patterns and assess their impact on memory using the standard contextual fear conditioning (CFC) test. This project is carried out in collaboration with Dr. Dana Ziegler from the University of Pikeville and Dr. Louise Risher from Marshall University. Third, methods to improve student learning and methods to assess the success of medical curricula. This is educational research focused on curriculum development and assessment. This project aims at identifying factors that affect student learning, establishing assessment methods that have a lower variability and higher sensitivity than conventional methods, and applying these methods to identify course deficits.
Les Keniston, Ph.D. Research Interest:
Dr. Keniston’s main research focus has long been in the area of multisensory integration. In other words, this research looks into exactly how different sensory modalities (like sight, sound, or touch) become integrated as a unified experience in the nervous system. This emergent property of the nervous system is found in both higher-order species like in man and in lower-order organisms like insects. A widely conserved function, multisensory integration helps organisms make sense of the world around them, helps determine cause and effect, enriches experiences, and aids in avoiding threats. More recently, Dr. Keniston has been examining the functional properties of the neural architecture that perform these integrations in both cortical and subcortical areas.
While maintaining a long interest and research effort in multisensory processing, Dr. Keniston is always open to discussing new research ideas and holds wide interests. Some of his more favored areas include Consciousness and Theory of Mind, Information and Graph theory, Nociception, Sensorimotor Transform, Emotional Affordance, and Neuroplasticity.
Ishfaq A Bukhari, Ph.D., B.Pharm., M.S Research Interests:
Dr. Bukhari’s research area is focused on exploring the role of Epoxyeicosatrienoic acids (EETs), novel endothelial products, in the regulation of vascular tone in the cardiovascular system. (EETs) are cytochrome P450 metabolites of arachidonic acid that are produced by the vascular endothelium and have diverse physiological actions including vasodilator, neuroprotective, renal and cardio-protective properties. There are four EET isomers produced by the endothelium: 14,15EET, 11, I2-EET,8,9-EET, and 5,6-EET. EETs are metabolized to inactive DHET by soluble epoxide hydrolase (sEH). Recent preclinical and clinical studies have shown that sEH is overexpressed in certain disease states such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity. sEH Inhibition enhances EETs function and it is a promising therapeutic target for the management of hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases. Our recent research studies have revealed a substantial beneficial impact of the inhibition of this enzyme on obesity and diabetes-induced metabolic and cardiovascular complications in animal models. A growing number of research studies have shown that sEH inhibition produced profound anti-inflammatory, antihypertensive, coronary dilator, renal and neuroprotective effects. Dr. Bukhari’s research interests also include natural product pharmacology (Neuropharmacology, pain, and inflammation research) aimed at substantiating medicinal plants/herbal products for their therapeutic potential in various health conditions and drug discovery.
Helen Ibeawuchi, M.D. Research Interests:
Dr. Ibeawuchi focuses on advancing cancer research by applying computational biology and bioinformatics tools for a more in-depth investigation of the molecular basis of diseases and cancer genomics. This can be achieved by using current tools and methods for the analysis of large-scale genomic data related to cancers and its comorbidities. Ibeawuchi has already demonstrated this in her ongoing research project, where she has identified genes that escape X-chromosome inactivation (XCI) in adipose derived mesenchymal stem cells. The research involved the use of single-cell RNA sequencing (scRNA-seq) for the assessment of allele specific expression in individual cells with subsequent identification of escapee genes. It utilized the advantage of scRNA-seq data to identify different cell populations and stratified the analysis by cell types. The expressed variant allele fraction at heterozygous single nucleotide variant positions on the X-chromosome were assessed and the genes that escape XCI were identified. These included some genes not previously described as escapees in other tissues. Currently, the project aims to identify the role of the escapee genes and their association with clinical abnormalities. Since XCI is known to be heterogenous in different tissues, this may be suggestive of a possible influence on phenotypic variance of X-linked single cell disorders and female sex bias in many diseases including cancer. Understanding cancer genomics and identifying cancers’ characteristics based on genetics can provide patients with a more precise diagnosis and more personalized treatment modalities. Ibeawuchi collaborates with researchers at George Washington University, National Cancer Institute, and other institutions.
Nabeel Ghayur, PhD., B.Pharm., M.S Research Interests:
Dr. Nabeel Ghayur has an interest in the area of medicinal plant pharmacology. Combining his experience with medicinal plants, Dr. Ghayur has worked with plants and plant-derived chemicals for their effectiveness in regulating smooth muscle contractility. His research interests have evolved but have remained within the umbrella of natural products pharmacology. From muscarinic agonists that can stimulate the gastrointestinal (GI) tone to calcium channel blockers that not only can slow down the GI tone but also have bradycardia as an effect and reduce the blood pressure. Most recently, while working with muscarinic agonists, the research showed that some muscarinic agonists can also exhibit acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity. This observation led the researchers to look into the enzyme inhibitory potential of certain plants and plant-derived chemicals that might actually have the potential for use in dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.
Dr. Yomi Afolabi MD, MHA, Ph.D. Research interest:
Dr. Afolabi’s area of research is focused on how anatomical variation in human cadaveric dissection has furthered clinical practice, with a continued interest in such applicable research. The human anatomy despite being similar has subtle variations which impact the practice of medicine, such variation is commonly found post-mortem. With documentation, such variation can be better anticipated, and the knowledge utilized in clinical practice. More recently Dr. Afolabi has been examining research areas in Medical Education, cadaveric dissections- the Incidence of the absence of the palmaris longus and plantaris in cadaveric specimens, and in osteopathic clinical practice- the physiologic changes in osteopathic clinical manipulations.
One of the Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (KYCOM) research program aims is that it is student-led.
The program seeks to reinforce KYCOM’s mission statement by encouraging students to participate in research and cultivating an appreciation of lifelong scholarly activity by providing students with the opportunity to learn research techniques and practices. One of the ways this is accomplished is through the KYCOM summer research program.
KYCOM students can apply for the summer research program through the KYCOM Student Research Application. Students selected for the summer research program will receive a stipend and work closely with a UPIKE mentor faculty member throughout the summer. They can also find their mentor outside the university if they desire. Students wishing to seek an outside mentor should complete the Student’s Research Information for Projects Conducted Outside UPIKE-KYCOM.
As of the summer of 2022, KYCOM will fund 15 students for the summer research program. Students work with very knowledgeable faculty that will assist them and ensure that the research is successful.
Students have an opportunity to present their research work at regional, national and international conferences and during KYCOM Research Day.
Prospective students are encouraged to view the faculty research tab to discover topics of interest.
Students Summer Research:
Statistics is a tool that helps researchers relay the meaningfulness of the subject by organizing the collected data (descriptive statistics) and make statements about how characteristics of that data are applicable to new settings (inferential statistics). Which statistical tests are selected depends on the question to be answered.
Meg Sidle, Ph.D., director of institutional research and effectiveness, assists faculty and students with statistical analysis of their research projects.
For assistance, contact Meg Sidle at:
Office: Record Memorial Building 600
In support of the research process, IBM SPSS Statistics software is installed on a set of computers in Allara Library.
Statistics textbooks that may be of benefit in research include:
Salkind, N. J. (2017). Statistics for people who (think they) hate statistics ( 6th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. [ISBN: 978-1-5063-3383-0]
Trochim, W. M., and Donnelly, J. P. (2006). The Research Methods Knowledge Base (3rd Ed.). Cincinnati, OH: Atomic Dog Publishing, Inc. [ISBN: 978-1-5926-0291-9]
The University of Pikeville’s Office of Advancement supports the grant writing efforts of faculty and other campus researchers. Grant writing services include searching for funding opportunities, developing proposals, developing budgets, editing and managing awarded grants.
Contact Grant Writer Michelle Goff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 606-218-5279 for help funding research interest or study.
For more information about funding opportunities, visit:
National Institutes of Health
National Eye Institute
National Science Foundation
Kentucky Academy of Science
Kentucky Biomedical Research Infrastructure Network
American Academy of Optometry
American Osteopathic Association
Selective Laser Trabeculoplaty (SLT) vs Combigan
Name of researcher(s): Ian McWherter, O.D.
Project Title: Selective Laser Trabeculoplaty (SLT) vs Combigan
Project Description (250 word limit): This study aims to compare the effectiveness in intraocular pressure (IOP) lowering between SLT and Combigan in primary open angle glaucoma patients who are uncontrolled on a topical prostaglandin analog.
Contact Information: email@example.com
Accepting new research interns: no
Cataract Surgery Activity Study
Name of researcher(s): Duane Corbett, Ph.D and Ian McWherter, O.D.
Project Title: Cataract Surgery Activity Study
Project Description (250 word limit): This study will investigate the effects of cataract surgery on the daily activities levels in elderly patients.