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Karen Sandell Sfanos, M.S., Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Karen Sandell Sfanos, M.S., Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Pathology

Research Interests: Prostate cancer; molecular pathology; infections and chronic inflammation; microbiome

Background

Dr. Karen Sfanos is an associate professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the cellular and molecular pathology of prostate disease.

Dr. Sfanos and her research team are particularly interested in agents that may lead to chronic prostatic inflammation, such as bacterial infections and prostatic concretions called corpora amylacea. The lab's ongoing studies are aimed at understanding the influence of prostate infections and inflammation on prostate disease including prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The laboratory also focuses on the influence of the microbiome on prostate cancer development, progression, and/or resistance to therapy.

Dr. Sfanos earned her M.S. at the Florida Institute of Technology. She completed her Ph.D. and a fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.

She was awarded a fellowship from the Prevent Cancer Foundation in 2009 and was recognized by the Prostate Cancer Foundation as the Chris and Felicia Evensen Young Investigator in 2012 and by the V Foundation as a V Scholar in 2014.

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Titles

  • Associate Professor of Pathology
  • Associate Professor of Oncology
  • Associate Professor of Urology

Departments / Divisions

Education

Degrees

  • B.S., Florida Institute of Technology (Florida) (2001)
  • M.S., Florida Institute of Technology (Florida) (2003)
  • Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine (Maryland) (2008)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

Dr. Sfanos and her lab study the cellular and molecular pathology of prostate disease. She is specifically interested in agents that may lead to chronic inflammation in the prostate. Ongoing studies in the lab are aimed at understanding the influence of prostate infections and inflammation on prostate disease including prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The laboratory also focuses on the influence of the microbiome on prostate cancer development, progression, and/or treatment.

Dr. Sfanos’ previous studies have demonstrated the presence of multiple microbial species in the prostate of cancer patients and, importantly, many of the organisms identified are consistent with genera associated with inflammation-associated conditions including bacterial prostatitis or urinary tract infections. She works very closely with both genitourinary pathologists as well as epidemiologists in an effort to correlate discoveries in the laboratory with prostate cancer risk as well as disease pathology.

Lab Website: The Sfanos Lab

Selected Publications

Sfanos K.S., Bruno T.C., Maris C.H., Xu L., Thoburn C.J., De Marzo A.M., Meeker A.K., Isaacs W.B., Drake C.G. Phenotypic analysis of prostate-infiltrating lymphocytes reveals TH17 and Treg skewing. Clinical Cancer Research. 2008; 14: 3254-3261.

Sfanos K.S., Wilson B.A., De Marzo A.M., Isaacs W.B. Acute inflammatory proteins constitute the organic matrix of prostatic corpora amylacea and calculi in men with prostate cancer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) U.S.A. 2009; 106: 3443-3448.

Aloia A.L.*, Sfanos K.S.*, Isaacs W.B., Zheng Q., Maldarelli F., De Marzo A.M., Rein A. XMRV: A new virus in prostate cancer? Cancer Research. 2010; 70: 10028-10033. *Co-first author

Shinohara, D.B., Vaghasia, A., Yu, S-H., Mak, T.N., Brüggemann, H., Nelson, W.G., De Marzo, A.M., Yegnasubramanian, S., Sfanos, K.S. A mouse model of chronic prostatic inflammation using a human prostate cancer-derived isolate of Propionibacterium acnes. Prostate, 73(9):1007-1015, 2013.

Yu, S.-H., Zheng, Q., Esopi, D., Luo, J., Macgregor-Das, A., Antonarakis, E.S., Vessella, R., Morrissey, C., De Marzo, A.M., Sfanos, K.S. A paracrine role for IL-6 in prostate cancer patients: Lack of production by primary or metastatic tumor cells. Cancer Immunology Research, 3:1175-1184, 2015.

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