UM News

Previous Articles
2014
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2013
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December
2012
January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

School of Dentistry's Costello Achieves Half-Century of Continuous Research

It has been 52 years since Leslie Costello, PhD, professor in the School of Dentistry Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences, received his first grant from the National Institutes of Health, and his career as a research scientist is still flourishing. His more than five decades of consistent research funding, including 30 grants as a principal investigator, place Costello among just a handful of long-term scientific investigators in the U.S. His body of work represents a total of 120 years of budgeted grant funding, worth approximately $30 million in today's dollars. Also, Costello has been a co-investigator on many grants awarded to Renty Franklin, PhD, professor in the Department of Oncology and Diagnostic Sciences, his colleague for more than 30 years.

Costello's research career started at the School of Pharmacy, where he received his first National Institutes of Health grant in 1962. A meticulous researcher, Costello's innovative work was soon recognized by NASA, which awarded him one of his most memorable grants in 1963. The grant, which Costello received at the height of the space race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, funded a research project examining the life cycle of parasites that live in the intestine, an environment with very little oxygen. Costello also studied the eggs of these parasites, which do not develop until they are exposed to the higher oxygen content in air. NASA took an interest in the project because Costello's work showed how cells are affected by a change from a low-oxygen to a normal-oxygen environment, which are similar to the conditions that astronauts would encounter in space.ýý

Following a decade of research into citrate metabolism in the human body, Costello laid the foundation for his pioneering work in the field of prostate cancer research. He was the first to discover the metabolic pathway that normal prostate cells follow when they transform into malignant cells. This discovery led to the development of an imaging procedure that can identify malignant cells in the prostate gland with impressive accuracy.

Costello also used this work as a basis for his studies of zinc as a potential prostate cancer treatment (zinc has been shown to suppress tumor growth). Costello is currently researching ways to use different forms of zinc to penetrate cancerous cells and reduce tumor growth.

Fifty years later, he still gets excited about what his research may yield, but Costello understands that it could take years before this work has an impact on patient care. He credits his patience and tenacity with helping him achieve so many milestones. "To me, there is something very fascinating about having a unique idea and trying to prove whether it is a right idea," Costello states. "That process leads to discovery and advancements in medicine and health, and that is what keeps me going."

Posting Date: 08/06/2014
Contact Name: Adam Zewe
Contact Phone: 410-706-2289
Contact Email: azewe@umaryland.edu