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Alan Keith Meeker, M.A.T., Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Alan Keith Meeker, M.A.T., Ph.D.

Director, Immuohistochemistry Lab, Oncology Tissue Services, Johns Hopkins Medicine

Associate Professor of Pathology

Research Interests: Cancer; Quantitative fluorescence microscopy; Molecular pathology; Urology; Prostate cancer; Cancer biology; Telomeres; Pathology

Background

Dr. Alan Meeker is an assistant professor of pathology, oncology and urology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Dr. Meeker co-directs the Immuohistochemistry Laboratory of Johns Hopkins Oncology Tissue Services and serves on the faculty of the Graduate Program in Pathobiology. He joined the Hopkins faculty in 2006.

Dr. Meeker has spent his career studying chromosomal structures called telomeres. Telomeres that are too short appear to contribute to the genetic instability thought to cause the development and progression of many types of cancer. They are also believed to be related to human aging.

Dr. Meeker primarily studies the relationship between shortened telomeres and prostate cancer. He was part of a Johns Hopkins team that developed a new quantitative fluorescence microscopy technique to measure telomere lengths directly in archival tissues.

In addition to the many academic papers he has published, Dr. Meeker also contributed to the book Prostate Cancer: Biology, Genetics, and the New Therapeutics.

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Titles

  • Director, Immuohistochemistry Lab, Oncology Tissue Services, Johns Hopkins Medicine
  • Associate Professor of Pathology
  • Associate Professor of Oncology
  • Associate Professor of Urology

Departments / Divisions

Education

Degrees

  • B.S., Florida Institute of Technology (Florida) (1983)
  • M.A.T., Johns Hopkins University (Maryland) (1991)
  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (2001)

Additional Training

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, 2005, Postdoctoral research fellow

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Meeker has spent his career studying chromosomal structures called telomeres. Defective telomeres – specifically, those that are too short – appear to contribute to the genetic instability thought to cause the development and progression of many types of cancer.

Clearly seen at the chromosomal level in epithelial cancers such as prostate and breast cancers, the molecular mechanisms responsible for chromosome destabilization during carcinogenesis and progression have remained largely unknown.

To better understand these mechanisms, Dr. Meeker’s team worked with the DeMarzo Laboratory to develop a novel quantitative fluorescence microscopy technique to measure telomere lengths directly in archival tissues.

The team found that telomeres are indeed abnormally short in most microscopic precursor lesions in epithelial cancers – including those of the bladder, breast, cervix, colon, esophagus, gall bladder, oral cavity and prostate.

The belief is that those lesions are at risk of progressing to fully invasive carcinomas—and that telomere shortening may be useful in diagnosing cancer, as an intermediate endpoint marker in chemoprevention studies, and as a valid prevention target in its own right.

The telomere-length assay, which features single-cell resolution, can be used to test the hypothesized link between telomere shortening and human aging.

Core Facility: SKCCC Cell Imaging

Clinical Trials

Learn more about clinical trials at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

 

Selected Publications

  1. Bechan GI, Meeker AK, De Marzo AM, Racke F, Jaffe R, Sugar E, and Arceci RJ. "Telomere length shortening in Langerhans cell histiocytosis." Br J Haematol 140, 420-428. 2008.
  2. Cummings SD, Ryu B, Samuels MA, Yu X, Meeker AK, Healey MA, and Alani RM. "Id1 delays senescence of primary human melanocytes." Mol Carcinog 47,. 653-659. 2008.
  3. Hansel DE, Meeker AK, Hicks J, De Marzo AM, Lillemoe KD, Schulick R, Hruban RH, Maitra A, and Argani P. "Telomere length variation in biliary tract metaplasia, dysplasia, and carcinoma." Mod Pathol 19, 772-9. 2006.
  4. Meeker AK, Gage WR, De Marzo AM, Maitra A. "Direct in siture Assessment of Telomere Length Variation in Human Cancers and Preneoplastic Lesions." In M. A. Hayat (ed.), Handbook of Ummunochemistyry and In Situ Hybridization of Human Carcinomas. 2007.
  5. Palapattu GS, Meeker A, Harris T, Collector MI, Sharkis SJ, DeMarzo AM, Warlick C, Drake CG, and Nelson WG. "Epithelial architectural destruction is necessary for bone marrow derived cell contribution to regenerating prostate epithelium." J Urol 176, 813-8. 2006.
  6. Sfanos KS, Bruno TC, Maris CH, Xu L, Thoburn CJ, DeMarzo AM, Meeker AK, Isaacs WB, and Drake CG. "Phenotypic analysis of prostate-infiltrating lymphocytes reveals TH17 and Treg skewing." Clin Cancer Res 14, 3254-3261. 2008.
  7. Vander Griend DJ, Karthaus WL, Dalrymple S, Meeker AK, DeMarzo AM, and Isaacs JT. "The role of CD133 in normal human prostate stem cells and malignant cancer-initiating cells." Cancer Res 68, 9703-9711. 2008.
  8. Wang Y, Kowalski J, Tsai HL, Marik R, Prasad N, Somervell H, Lo PK, Sangenario LE, Dyrskjot L, Orntoft TF, Westra WH, Meeker AK, Eshleman JR, Umbricht CB, and Zeiger MA. "Differentiating alternative splice variant patterns of human telomerase reverse transcriptase in thyroid neoplasms." Thyroid 18, 1055-1063. 2008.

Meeker, A.K., Gage, W.R., Simon, I., Coffman, J.R., Platz, E.A., March, G., and DeMarzo, A.M. Telomere Length Assessment in Human Archival Tissues: Combined Telomere Fluorescent in Situ Hybridization and Immunostaining. American Journal of Pathology. 160:1259-1268, 2002.

Meeker, A.K., Hicks, J.L., Platz, E.A., March, G.E., Bennett, C.J., and De Marzo, A.M. Telomere Shortening is an Early Somatic DNA Alteration in Human Prostate Tumorigenesis. Cancer Research. 62:6405-6409, 2002.

Montgomery, E.A., Argani, P., Hicks, J.L., DeMarzo, A.M., and Meeker, A.K. Telomere Lengths of Translocation Associated and Non-Translocation Associated Sarcomas Differ Dramatically. American Journal of Pathology. 164:1523-1529, 2004.

Meeker, A.K., Hicks, J.L., Iacobuzio-Donahue, C.A., Montgomery, E.A., Westra, W.H., Chan, T.Y., Ronnett, B.M., and DeMarzo, A.M. Telomere Length Abnormalities Occur Early in the Initiation of Epithelial Carcinogenesis. Clinical Cancer Research. 10:3317-3326, 2004.

Meeker, A.K., Hicks, J.L., Gabrielson, E., Strauss, W.M., De Marzo, A.M., and Argani, P. Telomere Shortening Occurs in Subsets of Normal Breast Epithelium as well as In Situ and Invasive Carcinoma. American Journal of Pathology. 164:925-935, 2004.

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