Faculty Spotlight

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Cheryl Cameron

Congratulations to Cheryl Cameron, PhD for recently receiving an R21 grant for the project “Using Systems Immunology to Get at the Nature (SIGNATURE) of Mood Disorders in HIV.”  Dr. Cameron will work with Corrilynn Hileman, MD, MS at MetroHealth Medical Center to enroll people with HIV who have symptomatic mood disorders to determine mood disorder-specific gene expression and metabolite signatures to identify new potential therapeutic targets to improve mental health in this population.

People with HIV (PWH) have a higher prevalence of mood disorders including major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD) than the general population(1, 2) and concurrent psychiatric disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and prior trauma are not uncommon(3, 4). Multimodality treatment is generally required, however, symptoms frequently persist(5, 6). Elucidating pathophysiologic mechanisms contributing to mood disorders holds promise for improving diagnostic testing, optimizing treatment and identifying indicators of therapeutic progress and success. Improvement in mental health outcomes is paramount in PWH as mood disorders are linked with adverse antiretroviral therapy (ART) treatment outcomes, HIV transmission risk behavior, decreased quality of life and even excess mortality(7-9). Successful management of mood disorders in PWH has the potential to benefit individuals afflicted, and also upholds the aims of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services plan for Ending the HIV Epidemic.

The research team has previously applied systems biology approaches to identify mechanisms that drive differences in immunological function and inflammation in HIV infection.  This approach has identified therapeutically targetable pathways that may reverse disease manifestations and improve health in PWH. Psychiatric conditions are complex in nature, and an unbiased global systems analysis of the host response is the ideal approach to defining specific signatures of mood disorders in the context of chronic infection and inflammation. The research team proposes to use a systems biology-based approach to assess the vast complexity of molecular mechanisms underlying mood disorders in PWH and apply this knowledge to strategically identify the pathways perturbed in these disorders that are most likely to either induce or exacerbate symptoms.

The overarching goal of the using Systems Immunology to Get at the NATURE of Mood Disorders in HIV or SIGNATURE-HIV study is to set the ground work for the development of novel diagnostic biomarkers, therapeutics, and indicators of treatment progress and success for mood disorders in PWH. In this study, two specific aims will be evaluated in a 24-week, sex-matched, prospective, cohort study of virologically-suppressed PWH on ART with 1) major depressive disorder (MDD), 2) bipolar disorder (BD), 3) generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), and 4) virologically-suppressed PWH on ART without mental health diagnoses.

Head shot of Catherine McManus smiling while standing outdoors.

Catherine Rogers McManus

Dr. McManus earned the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ 2020 Mary Abbott Hess Award for Recognition of an Innovative Food/Culinary Effort for the culinary medicine research intervention, Diabetes Inspired Culinary Education (DICE), she developed for youth with type 1 diabetes. The intervention, which aimed to improve glycemic control and disease management behaviors among youth with type 1 diabetes, was implemented at a local grocery store teaching kitchen with the help of graduate and undergraduate students from the CWRU Nutrition Department. Dr. McManus received the Diabetes Nutritional Science & Metabolism 2021 Abstract Award at the American Diabetes Association national conference and the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ 2021 Marie & August LoPresti Sr. Endowment Fund Faculty Development Award for the DICE intervention and her work in culinary medicine. In addition, Dr. McManus recently earned the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics’ Abbott Nutrition Award in Women’s Health for the new Women’s Wellness course (NTRN 320) she developed. Expanding on her expertise in women’s health, she earned the CWRU Flora Stone Mather Center Research & Professional Development grant for her research and work expanding women’s health education.

Image of headshot of Sichun Yang

Sichun Yang

Case Western Reserve researchers uncover novel drug targets by piecing together receptor structures

Sichun Yang, PhD, Associate Professor, received an Exceptional Project award from the Breast Cancer Alliance and an omnibus grant from the National Cancer Institute. The Breast Cancer Alliance is a private foundation that is committed to recognize creative, unique and innovative research for breast cancer. Together with recent support from the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center and the Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC), these awards will accelerate the drug discovery for advanced ER-positive breast cancer by harnessing an unprecedented “burning the bridge” strategy for estrogen receptor to develop “first-in-class” inhibitors to fight against endocrine therapy resistance.

More related findings have been featured in The Daily and also profiled in the annual Science Highlights at the Argonne National Lab as well as highlights from National Comprehensive Cancer Network newsletter.