Center for Epithelial Disorders
The Johns Hopkins Center for Epithelial Disorders focuses on research into the physiology and pathophysiology of epithelial cells (cells that line the cavities and interior surfaces of the body) of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, liver, pancreas and kidney. Specifically, the center’s research seeks to:
-Understand the mechanisms regulating the activity of transport proteins (including channels) of epithelial cells
Characterize the mechanisms by which polarity of epithelial cells are maintained
-Investigate the mechanisms controlling transcription of epithelial-specific genes
Understand the pathophysiological basis of GI and renal diseases that involve the preceding three components
-The center also provides a framework for training fellows in gastroenterology and hepatology to become independent investigators.
The center is funded primarily through individual investigator-initiated extramural research grant support from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) as well as multi-investigator grants including RO1, PO1, UO1 and R24.
Principal Investigator: Mark Donowitz, M.D.
Cynthia Sears Laboratory
Work in the Cynthia Sears Laboratory focuses on the bacterial contributions to the development of human colon cancer and the impact of the microbiome on other cancers and the therapy of cancer. The current work involves mouse and human studies to define how enterotoxigenic Bacteroides fragilis, pks+ Escherichia coli, Fusobacterium nucleatum, biofilms and the colonic microbiota induce chronic colonic inflammation and colon cancer. Prospective human studies of the microbiome and biofilms in screening colonoscopy are in progress as are studies to determine if and how the microbiome impacts the response of individuals with cancer to immunotherapy and other cancer therapies.
Principal Investigator: Cynthia Sears, M.D.
Early Detection of Pancreatic Cancer Laboratory
The goal of the lab's research is to identify molecular abnormalities that can improve the outcome of patients with pancreatic cancer and those at risk of developing this disease. Much of our work is focused on translational research evaluating markers and marker technologies that can help screen patients with an increased risk of developing pancreatic cancer.
Thus, marker efforts have been focused mostly on identifying markers of advanced precancerous neoplasia (PanINs and IPMNs) that could improve our ability to effectively screen patients at risk of developing pancreatic cancer. We lead or participate in a number of clinical research protocols involved in the screening and early detection of pancreatic neoplasia including the CAPS clinical trials. We maintain a large repository of specimens from cases and controls with and without pancreatic disease and use this repository to investigate candidate markers of pancreatic cancer for their utility to predict pancreatic cancer risk.
In addition, we have been working to identify familial pancreatic cancer susceptibility genes and identified BRCA2 as a pancreatic cancer susceptibility gene in 1996. We participate in the PACGENE consortium and the familial pancreatic cancer sequencing initiative. My lab also investigates pancreatic cancer genetics, epigenetics, molecular pathology, tumor stromal interactions and functional analysis of candidate genes and miRNAs. Dr. Goggins is the principal investigator of a phase I/II clinical trial evaluating the Parp inhibitor, olaparib along with irinotecan and cisplatin for patients with pancreatic cancer.
Principal Investigator: Michael Goggins, M.B.B.Ch., M.D.
Florin Selaru Lab
Research interests in the Florin Selaru Lab comprise the molecular changes associated with the transition from inflammatory states in the GI tract (colon, stomach, biliary tree) to frank cancers. In addition, our current research—funded by the AGA, FAMRI and the Broad Foundation—works to further the understanding of cancer development and progression in the gastrointestinal tract.
Principal Investigator: Florin Selaru, M.D.
GI Biomarkers Laboratory
The GI Biomarkers Laboratory studies gastrointestinal cancer and pre-cancer biogenesis and biomarkers. The lab is led by Dr. Stephen Meltzer, who is known for his research in the molecular pathobiology of gastrointestinal malignancy and premalignancy. Research in the lab has led to several groundbreaking genomic, epigenomic and bioinformatic studies of esophageal and colonic neoplasms, shifting the gastrointestinal research paradaigm toward genome-wide approaches.
Principal Investigator: Stephen Meltzer, M.D.
James Hamilton Lab
The main research interests of the James Hamilton Lab are the molecular pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma and the development of molecular markers to help diagnose and manage cancer of the liver. In addition, we are investigating biomarkers for early diagnosis, prognosis and response to various treatment modalities. Results of this study will provide a molecular classification of HCC and allow us to identify targets for chemoprevention and treatment. Specifically, we extract genomic DNA and total RNA from liver tissues and use this genetic material for methylation-specific PCR (MSP), cDNA microarray, microRNA microarray and genomic DNA methylation array experiments.
Principal Investigator: James Hamilton, M.D.
Research in the Jeanne Clark Lab covers a wide range of fields, employing various research techniques, methods and procedures to generate and disseminate the knowledge required to prevent disease and its consequences. Our most recent research program, Look AHEAD, focuses on the health of overweight volunteers with type 2 diabetes. We are examining the long-term effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention program designed to achieve and maintain weight loss by decreased caloric intake and increased physical activity.
Principal Investigator: Jeanne Clark, M.D., M.P.H.
LEAD Center: Laboratory for Endoscopy Advancement and Device Development
The principal goal of LEADD is to catalyze the development and dissemination of innovative techniques in advanced gastrointestinal endoscopy at Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, by providing the resources and expertise to conceptualize, design, build, and test new endoscopic devices. LEADD resources will also provide resources for endoscopy education for trainees and faculty.
Director: Venkata Akshintala
Liudmila Cebotaru Lab
Research in the Liudmila Cebotaru Lab studies cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) mutants. We also investigate corrector molecules that are currently in clinical trials to get a better understanding of their mechanism of action. A major focus of our research is on developing more efficient gene therapy vectors with the ultimate goal of developing a gene therapy for cystic fibrosis.
Principal Investigator: Liudmila Cebotaru, M.D., J.D.
Marcia Canto Lab
Research interests in the Marcia Canto Lab include pancreatic neoplasms, Barrett’s esophagus and endomicroscopy. We are also interested in the use of endoscopic ultrasound to identify early-stage pancreatic cancer and its precursors.
Principal Investigator: Marcia Canto, M.D., M.H.S.
Research in the Mark Sulkowski Lab focuses on hepatitis B and hepatitis C. We've conducted clinical research related to the management of viral hepatitis, including novel agents. Other studies focus on adult patients at the Johns Hopkins site of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) Hepatitis B Clinical Research Network as well as the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Adult AIDS Clinical Trials Group.
Principal Investigator: Mark Sulkowski, M.D.
Saleh Alqahtani Lab
The Saleh Alqahtani Lab has conducted clinical research on the management of fatty liver disease and viral hepatitis, including novel therapies. We’ve also been involved in various clinical trials related to liver cirrhosis, liver cancer and outcomes of liver transplant patients.
Principal Investigator: Saleh Alqahtani, M.B.Ch.B., M.S.
Saowanee Ngamruengphong Lab
Research in the Saowanee Ngamruengphong Lab focuses on methods for diagnosing and managing gastrointestinal conditions, including premalignant and malignant lesions of the gastrointestinal tract, esophageal cancer, colon polyps, and biliary and pancreatic disease. Our most recent work includes investigating a novel hybrid technique for closure of refractory gastrocutaneous fistula. We also conducted an international multicenter study that compared endoscopic ultrasound-guided pancreatic duct drainage with enteroscopy-assisted endoscopic retrograde pancreatography following Whipple surgery.
Principal Investigator: Saowanee Ngamruengphong, M.D.
The research in the Svetlana Lutsenko Laboratory is focused on the molecular mechanisms that regulate copper concentration in normal and diseased human cells.
Copper is essential for human cell homeostasis. It is required for embryonic development and neuronal function, and the disruption of copper transport in human cells results in severe multisystem disorders, such as Menkes disease and Wilson's disease.
To understand the molecular mechanisms of copper homeostasis in normal and diseased human cells, we utilize a multidisciplinary approach involving biochemical and biophysical studies of molecules involved in copper transport, cell biological studies of copper signaling, and analysis of copper-induced pathologies using Wilson's disease gene knock-out mice.
Principal Investigator: Svetlana Lutsenko, Ph.D.