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Neuro-Urology Laboratory

Scientific drawing on biological mechanisms of the pelvis

Led by Arthur L. Burnett, M.D., the Basic Science Laboratory in Neuro-Urology focuses on biological mechanisms of the pelvis as they relate primarily to erectile dysfunction and voiding dysfunction (urinary incontinence). 

We aim to understand the neurophysiology and vascular physiology of the lower genitourinary tract, with an emphasis on the translational aspect of basic science discoveries relevant to the human condition. Overall, the laboratory is geared toward improving and preserving erectile and voiding dysfunctions, which occur as a result of pelvic disorders and consequences from treatment of these disorders. 

Open Clinical Trial: Stravix Research Study

The Johns Hopkins Hospital is recruiting volunteers for the Stravix research study that investigates erectile recovery and quality of life outcomes with lyopreserved placental tissue applied directly over the neurovascular bundle during nerve-sparing radical prostatectomy.
Eligibility criteria: Participants must be 40 to 65 years old, suffering from localized prostate cancer, and about to undergo prostatectomy. They must be interested in minimizing the deleterious effect of radical prostatectomy on erectile function and cannot currently have severe erectile dysfunction.
Study procedures: This 18-month research study will evaluate erectile recovery and quality of life outcomes of patients after undergoing a radical prostatectomy. The study involves surgical implantation of Stravix (lyopreserved placental tissue) directly over the neurovascular bundle. At 1, 3, 6, 9, 12, and 18 months after your surgery, you will be asked to complete questionnaires to assess your erectile function and overall quality of life.
IRB protocol number: IRB00251531
Principal investigator: Dr. Arthur Burnett

Email research coordinator for more information


Scientific Areas of Study 

Neurophysiology of the Pelvis 

Principal research studies have focused on the neurophysiology of the pelvis along with molecular mechanisms largely specific to nerve regulation of erectile and voiding functions. 

This work led to the original discovery that nitric oxide is the principal neurotransmitter regulating penile erection. The discovery contributed to an understanding of the science of penile erection in the early 1990’s, from which drugs such as Viagra, Levita and Cialis were developed.  

The laboratory has continued major studies in the areas of nitric oxide biology in the pelvis as they relate to other erection disorders such as priapism, a condition of prolonged penile erection.

Improving Outcomes of Radical Prostatectomy 

Over the past several years, the lab has focused on improving outcomes of radical prostatectomy related to the recovery of urinary and erectile functions. Primary efforts have gone toward the investigation and development of chemical compounds for men undergoing radical prostatectomy — in hopes that erectile function will be better preserved. 

In collaboration with Johns Hopkins neuroscientists, the lab has established a role for neuroimmunophilins, which are special proteins localized to nerves. Neuroimmunophilins appear to be the receptor molecules for specialized drugs that can be taken to protect the nerves from significant damage. 

Experimental models in rats with nerve injury leading to erectile dysfunction — similar to what occurs in men after radical prostatectomy — have been used to demonstrate the major potential for drugs based on this pathway to be developed and used in the near future. 

Ongoing projects have involved the study of additional drugs that may help recover penile nerve function in men undergoing radical prostatectomy. 

Research Training Opportunities 

We welcome both graduate and undergraduate students to participate in research activities: 

  • Medical students – Please consider joining the laboratory for an elective rotation, even for a short period of time. 
  • Post-doctoral fellows – Please consider the laboratory for further research development in the areas of pelvic neurophysiology and vascular biology. 

For more information, contact Dr. Burnett directly at

Our Team 

Laboratory Director 

Arthur L. Burnett, M.D., has served as director of the Basic Science Laboratory in Neuro-Urology for more than 10 years. He is a professor of urology at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, director of the Male Consultation Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and a clinician-scientist at the James Buchanan Brady Urological Institute. 

Research Team 

  • Biljana Musicki, Ph.D., Research Associate 
  • Liming Jin, Ph.D., Research Associate 
  • Tongyun Liu, Senior Research Technician 
  • Gwen Lagoda, Senior Research Technician 

Our laboratory frequently is joined by post-doctoral fellows, graduate students and undergraduate students. We also partner with other experts in the Department of Urology, as well as scientists in the departments of neuroscience, cardiology and psychiatry. 

Contact Us 

The Department of Urology
JHH-407 Marburg 21287

Fax: 410-614-3695

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