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photo of Romero with salim, solanki and hussain
UHCOP Assistant Professor Samina Salim, Pharmacology doctoral candidate Naimesh Solanki and Professor Tahir Hussain were among the award recipients and newly elected Executive Committee members at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Association of Scientists of Indian Origin in America.

UHCOP Pharmacology Trio Honored at Association of Scientists of Indian Origin in America Meeting

A UH College of Pharmacy Pharmacology doctoral candidate and two Pharmacology faculty members were recognized at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Association of Scientists of Indian Origin in America (ASIOA) April 3 in San Diego.

Ph.D. candidate Naimesh Solanki, M.S., received the JOGUE Junior Scientist Award in Nutrition for his research examining behavioral and biochemical outcomes of psychological stress in rodents and the role of natural antioxidants of nutritional value, such as grape seeds, in preventing and rescuing some of these deficits. Prior to receiving the award, Solanki was invited to make a 10-minute oral presentation about his research.

"This project has shed light on the non-traditional concept – involvement of oxidative stress – in the pathophysiology of stress-associated conditions including anxiety, depression and cognitive impairment," said Solanki, who earned his M.S. in Biotechnology from UH-Clear Lake. "Behavioral and biochemical data obtained from preclinical model have revealed some interesting clues about beneficial effects of grape powder. Daily intake of natural antioxidants in stressful conditions could be suggested as a supportive therapy along with current pharmacotherapy.

"It would be interesting to know which molecules of oxidative stress pathway are regulated by natural antioxidant such as grape powder. When extrapolated, this research is expected to contribute to the development of a deeper understanding of the comorbid prevalence of anxiety and other psychological disorders, such as depression, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and cognitive impairment."

Requiring the submission of a scientific abstract and delivery of a 10-minute oral presentation at the meeting, the JOGUE Junior Scientist Award is intended to encourage young researchers to continue their pursuit of nutrition-focused projects.

"This award has fueled my desire to take this fascinating research further and to actively participate in further studies leading to better understanding of the molecular pathways and potential strategy and in broad sense leading to betterment of human lives."

Solanki's doctoral advisor, UHCOP Assistant Professor Samina Salim, Ph.D., said his research has been presented at such major conferences as Experimental Biology, the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology, and the Society For Neuroscience, and published in Journal of Nutrition and Nutrition Research and other peer-reviewed journals.

"Naimesh has impressed me as a very hardworking and focused young man, who has made significant contributions to his field already with eight peer-reviewed publications," Salim said. "He is a team player: very collaborative and collegial. His work has generated a lot attention in nutritional science."

Salim also was honored in her own right at the meeting, as she won a two-year term on the ASIOA Executive Committee. A relative newcomer to the organization, Salim said her involvement began after being invited to give a presentation and serve as a session chair at the ASIOA's 2015 meeting.

"This was the first time I attended this meeting and realized that this was a good forum where one could initiate collaborative relationships not only between scientists of Indian origin working in the U.S., but also can develop contacts with scientists living in India," Salim said. "I also noted sparse representation of women scientists within this association, which bothered me, so I look forward to not only contributing to ASIOA itself but also encouraging greater membership and involvement by women."

In addition to the honors for Solanki and Salim, UHCOP Professor Tahir Hussain, Ph.D., was honored with the association's Service Award for his work with the organization over several years. Hussain has served as association secretary, a member of the annual awards committee and a member of the nomination/election committee for the association president in addition to other support roles.

As the first recipient of ASIOA's Young Scientist Award in 1994, Hussain said he's been inspired by the organization's commitment to developing the next generation of investigators. 

"Serving the association in various capacities over the years has be satisfying; it gives a sense of giving back like earlier generation worked for us," Hussain said. "During my tenure as secretary, we were able to initiate ASOIA’s new tradition of annual scientific meeting during the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, with the first meeting held in San Antonio. I hope the tradition of new initiatives continues."

According to the ASIOA website, "The association's purpose is to promote fellowship among scientists of Indian origin living in America, to act as a scientific and educational society, to establish open channels of communication among all scientists, and to act as a fraternal organization and charitable association." Established in 1981, the non-profit organization holds its annual meeting in conjunction with the Experimental Biology meeting.

– by Chip Lambert

Media Inquiries: Chip Lambert,, 713-743-1286