Sepsis research wins awards for UH Manoa graduate student

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Contact:
Nana Ohkawa, (808) 564-5911
Director of Communications and Community Outreach, UH Cancer Center
Posted: May 29, 2018

Michelle L. Matter and Natalija Glibetic at the Master's 3-minute Elevator Pitch Competition.
Michelle L. Matter and Natalija Glibetic at the Master's 3-minute Elevator Pitch Competition.
Natalija Glibetic at the Graduate Division 3-Minute Thesis Competition.
Natalija Glibetic at the Graduate Division 3-Minute Thesis Competition.

Natalija Glibetica molecular biosciences and bioengineering graduate student at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa, has won multiple awards on campus for sepsis research conducted at the UH Cancer Center in Michelle L. Matter’s Cancer Biology Program lab.

Glibetic's honors are:

  • First Place, Best Poster, Graduate Division, 2018 UH John A. Burns School of Medicine's Biomedical and Health Disparities Symposium, "R-Ras: A key regulator of sepsis-mediated vascular permeability"
  • 30-year Anniversary Overall Best Master's Poster, 2018 College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources (CTAHR) Student Research Symposium, "R-Ras: A key regulator of sepsis-mediated vascular permeability"
  • First Place, Master's 3-Minute Elevator Pitch, 2018 CTAHR's 3-Minute Elevator Pitch Competition, "Going with the flow to stop sepsis"
  • Runner-up, 3-Minute Thesis Award, 2018 Graduate Division, 3-Minute Thesis (3MT) Competition, "Going with the flow to stop sepsis" 

“I am incredibly grateful for all the support and attention my work has received,” said Glibetic. “Presenting at these symposiums, I was hoping that I could bring more attention to sepsis and the exciting work we are doing in Michelle L. Matter’s lab at the UH Cancer Center. Hopefully, with my contribution, we will be a step closer to stopping sepsis.”

More on Glibetic’s research

Sepsis is the leading cause of death in U.S. hospitals and accounts for 8.5 percent of cancer patient deaths each year, yet there are no treatments for sepsis, and all therapies are supportive. 

Glibetic, whose research focuses on the regulation of vascular leakage in sepsis and cancer-associated sepsis, found a protein that is crucial in maintaining blood vessel integrity that blocks sepsis-induced vascular leakage. The protein acts as a key switch from an unhealthy leaky vessel to a healthy blood vessel.

Blood vessels are lined by endothelial cells that act as gatekeepers for the movement of fluids and nutrients from the bloodstream into the underlying tissue. In sepsis, these cells dysfunction, leading to increased vascular leakage that can induce tissue swelling, multiple organ failure and death.

People with cancer are particularly susceptible to developing sepsis due to suppression of the immune system that can occur from the cancer itself or from surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy used to treat the disease. About 8.5 percent of cancer patients die from cancer-associated sepsis each year, with Native Hawaiians being particularly susceptible.

“We are now focused on moving our work into pre-clinical models as the protein is an exciting target for developing sepsis-specific therapies, and could lead to the development of treatments for other diseases such as atherosclerosis and diabetes,” said Glibetic.

For more information, visit: http://www.uhcancercenter.org