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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, Discovery and Development of Therapeutic Peptides, Immuno-Oncology, Systems Biology, Systems Pharmacology, Computational Medicine and Biology, Angiogenesis, Lymphangiogenesis, Microcirculation, Angiogenesis-Dependent Diseases: Cancer, Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Macular Edema, Peripheral Arterial Disease ...read more

Background

Dr. Aleksander Popel is a professor of biomedical engineering and oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a member of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center. His research focuses on systems biology and medicine and systems pharmacology using both computational and experimental approaches. His interests and current research include Discovery and Development of Therapeutic Peptides, Immuno-Oncology, Angiogenesis and Lymphangiogenesis, and Angiogenesis-Dependent Diseases: Cancer, Age-Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Macular Edema, and Peripheral Arterial Disease.

He serves on the editorial boards of several academic journals, including the American Journal of Cancer Research, Annals of Biomedical Engineering, Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering, Microcirculation, and Scientific Reports. 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 and Eugene M. Landis Award from the Microcirculatory Society in 2009. He is the author of over 300 original manuscripts, chapters and review articles, and is the co-editor of two books.

 

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Titles

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

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, rheumatoid 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 biology combined with in vitro and in vivo experiments, they analyze the signaling pathways leading to angiogenesis as well as the cellular mechanisms governing vascular network formation. They apply this knowledge to design therapeutic strategies for diseases associated with excessive angiogenesis (cancer, age-related macular degeneration) and deficient angiogenesis (peripheral arterial disease). They test therapeutics developed in the lab and also repurposed drugs. 

Immuno-Oncology – The burgeoning field of immuno-oncology is using the patient’s own immune system to attack growing tumors. Researchers in Dr. Popel’s lab construct complex computational models describing the immune system’s interactions with the cancer and stromal cells, and simulate monotherapies and combination therapies involving immune checkpoint inhibitors. These approaches allow a better mechanistic understanding of immunotherapies and also facilitate analysis of clinical trials and design of improved therapeutics.   

Design and Development of Therapeutic Peptides: We use bioinformatics and other computational methods to make predictions for peptide sequences for specific targets and then use in vitro screening for peptide sequence optimization. Selected peptides are then tested in vivo in various animal models.

Lab Website: Systems Biology Laboratory

Selected Publications

View all on Pubmed

D.P. Noren, W.H. Chou, S.H.Lee, A.A. Qutub, A. Warmflash, D.S. Wagner, A.S. Popel, A. Levchenko. VEGF-mediated Ca2+ signaling steers endothelial cell phenotypes by a combination of stochastic and deterministic decoding. Science Signaling, 9:ra20, 2016 (Journal cover). Highlighted in Science Signaling editorial EDITORS' CHOICE: CALCIUM SIGNALING Gough NR, New connections: Interpreting calcium signals Sci. Signal. 23 Feb 2016: Vol. 9, Issue 416, pp. ec42

S.D. Finley, P. Angelikopoulos, P. Koumoutsakos, and A.S. Popel. Pharmacokinetics of anti-VEGF agent aflibercept in cancer predicted by data driven, molecular-detailed model. CPT: Pharmacometrics & Systems Pharmacology 4:641–649, 2015.

E. Lee, N.B. Pandey, and A.S. Popel. Crosstalk between cancer cells and blood endothelial and lymphatic endothelial cells in tumour and organ microenvironment. Expert Reviews in Molecular Medicine, 17:e3, 2015.

E. Lee, E. Fertig, K. Jin, S. Sukumar, N.B. Pandey, and A.S. Popel. Breast cancer cells condition lymphatic endothelial cells within pre-metastatic niches to promote metastasis. Nature Communications, 5:4715, 2014.

S.K. Stamatelos, E. Kim, A.P. Pathak, and A.S. Popel. Bioimage informatics aided reconstruction of breast tumor microvasculature and computational predictions of blood flow. Microvasc. Res. 91:8-21, 2014 (Journal cover).

Activities & Honors

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
  • Kawasaki Medical Society Lecturer, 2004
  • Wiederhielm Award, Microcirculatory Society, 2015

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 Lead, Interdisciplinary Modeling and Analysis Group, 2007-2015
    Lead
  • Program Chair, Biomedical Engineering Society Annual Meeting, 2005
  • Senior Editorial Board, American Journal of Cancer Research
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