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Aleksander S. Popel, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Aleksander S. Popel, Ph.D.

Director, Systems Biology Laboratory

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Research Interests: Drug discovery; Experimental in vitro and in vivo studies in cancer; Angiogenesis- and lymphangiogenesis-dependent diseases; Microcirculation; Angiogenesis; Computational biology; Systems biology and medicine; Biomedical Engineering more


Dr. Aleksander Popel is a professor of biomedical engineering and oncology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He also has joint appointments in the Johns Hopkins Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Department of Mechanical Engineering. His research focuses on systems biology and medicine.

His team is currently engaged in applying the methods of multiscale modeling to problems of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Dr. Popel received his master's degree and Ph.D. in mechanics from Moscow University.

He serves on the editorial board of several academic journals, including the American Journal of Cancer Research and Annals of Biomedical Engineering. His work has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including the C. Forbes Dewey Distinguished Lectureship in Biological Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011. He is the author of 250 original manuscripts, chapters and review articles, and is the co-editor of two books. more


  • Director, Systems Biology Laboratory
  • Professor of Biomedical Engineering
  • Professor of Medicine

Departments / Divisions

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Popel's research focuses on the following areas:

Systems Biology of Angiogenesis - Angiogenesis is important in diverse areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, arthritis, diabetes, wound healing and tissue engineering. Dr. Popel and his research team are interested in the quantitative understanding of the mechanisms of microvascular network formation under different conditions. Using methods of computational and mathematical biology, they analyze the signaling pathways leading to angiogenesis as well as the cellular mechanisms governing tubulogenesis and network formation.

Blood Flow and Molecular Transport in the Microcirculation - Dr. Popel's lab is formulating computational models of the microcirculation based on anatomical, biophysical and physiological experimental data. These include detailed models of microcirculatory blood flow and molecular transport (e.g., oxygen and nitric oxide) and their regulation, and creation of databases of parameters necessary for model input and validation.

Electromechanical Transduction in the Cochlear Outer Hair Cell - Outer hair cells perform exquisite electromechanical transduction at acoustic frequencies and exhibit a unique form of cell motility. The motility is attributed to membrane-based molecular motors driven by changes in the transmembrane potential. Dr. Popel's lab develops biophysically based computational models of cell mechanics, molecular transport and cell electromotility at the microscopic and nanoscopic (molecular) scales.


Multiscale modeling has emerged in recent years as a powerful methodology to integrate the different levels of biological organization spanning multiple spatial and temporal scales. Dr. Popel and his research team apply the methods of multiscale modeling to problems of cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Lab Website: Systems Biology Laboratory

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

Imoukhuede PI, Popel AS. "Quantitative fluorescent profiling of VEGFRs reveals tumor cell and endothelial cell heterogeneity in breast cancer xenografts." Cancer Med. 2014 Apr;3(2):225-44. doi: 10.1002/cam4.188. Epub 2014 Jan 22.

Stamatelos SK, Kim E, Pathak AP, Popel AS. "A bioimage informatics based reconstruction of breast tumor microvasculature with computational blood flow predictions." Microvasc Res. 2014 Jan;91:8-21. doi: 10.1016/j.mvr.2013.12.003. Epub 2013 Dec 14.

Vempati P, Popel AS, Mac Gabhann F. "Extracellular regulation of VEGF: Isoforms, proteolysis, and vascular patterning." Cytokine Growth Factor Rev. 2014 Feb;25(1):1-19. doi: 10.1016/j.cytogfr.2013.11.002. Epub 2013 Nov 27. Review.

Logsdon EA, Finley SD, Popel AS, Gabhann FM. "A systems biology view of blood vessel growth and remodelling." J Cell Mol Med. 2013 Nov 17. doi: 10.1111/jcmm.12164. [Epub ahead of print]

Tan WH, Popel AS, Mac Gabhann F. "Computational model of VEGFR2 pathway to ERK activation and modulation through receptor trafficking." Cell Signal. 2013 Dec;25(12):2496-510. doi: 10.1016/j.cellsig.2013.08.015. Epub 2013 Aug 29.

Activities & Honors


  • Fellow, American Heart Association, 2001
  • Fellow, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering, 1994
  • Fellow, American Physiological Society (Cardiovascular Section), 1995
  • Fellow, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1992
  • Inaugural Fellow, Biomedical Engineering Society, 2005
  • Board of Directors, Biomedical Engineering Society, 1992 - 1995
  • Keynote Overseas Speaker, International Symposium of Next-Generation Integrated Simulation of Living Matter (on the occasion of inauguration of Japan's 10 petaflop K-supercomputer), 2012
  • William H. Huggins Excellence in Teaching Award, Johns Hopkins University
  • The C. Forbes Dewey Distinguished Lectureship in Biological Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011
  • The Robert M. and Mary Haythornthwaite Distinguished Lecturer, Temple University, 2006
  • Keynote Speaker, the 5th International Conference on Computational Bioengineering, 2013
  • Eugene M. Landis Research Award, the Microcirculatory Society, 2009
  • Keynote Speaker, the Virtual Physiological Human (VPH) European Union Physiome Project, 2010
  • The A.C. Suhren Lecture, Tulane University, 2009
  • Lecturer, 2004

Professional Activities

  • Associate Editor, Annals of Biomedical Engineering
  • Associate Editor, Microcirculation
  • Associate Editor, Microvascular Research
  • Associate Editor, Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering Society Representative, International Union of Physiological Sciences U.S. National Committee
  • Biomedical Engineering Society Representative, FASEB Summer Research Conference Advisory Committee
  • Chair, Biomedical Engineering Society Meetings Oversight Committee
  • Chairman, American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering Fellows Selection Committee, 2001 - 2004
  • Co-Chairman, International Union of Physiological Sciences
    Physiome and Systems Biology Committee
  • Committee on Outside Interests, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
  • Editorial Board, Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Systems Biology and Medicine
  • Editorial Board, American Journal of Physiology (Heart Circ. Physiol.), 1999 - 2005
  • Meritorious Awards Committee, North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO)
  • Multiscale Systems Biology Working Group Co, Interdisciplinary Modeling and Analysis Group
  • Program Chair, Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, 2005
  • Senior Editorial Board, American Journal of Cancer Research
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