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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

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
  • Co-director, Cell Imaging Core, 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.

Lab Website: Meeker-Heaphy Lab
Core Facility: SKCCC Cell Imaging

Clinical Trials

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

Selected Publications

Heaphy CM, de Wilde RF, Jiao Y, Klein AP, Edil BH, Shi C, Bettegowda C, Rodriguez FJ, Eberhart CG, Hebbar S, Offerhaus GJ, McLendon R, Rasheed BA, He Y, Yan H, Bigner DD, Oba-Shinjo SM, Marie SK, Riggins GJ, Kinzler KW, Vogelstein B, Hruban RH, Maitra A, Papadopoulos N, Meeker AK. Altered Telomeres in Tumors with ATRX and DAXX Mutations. Science. 2011;22:333; 425. PMID: 21719641 PMCID: PMC3174141

Heaphy CM, Subhawong AP, Hong SM, Goggins MG, Montgomery EA, Gabrielson E, Netto GJ, Epstein JI, Lotan TL, Westra WH, Shih IeM, Iacobuzio-Donahue CA, Maitra A, Li QK, Eberhart CG, Taube JM, Rakheja D, Kurman RJ, Wu TC, Roden RB, Argani P, De Marzo AM, Terracciano L, Torbenson M, Meeker AK. Prevalence of the Alternative Lengthening of Telomeres (ALT) Telomere Maintenance Mechanism in Human Cancer Subtypes. Am Jol Pathology. 2011;179(4):1608-1615. PMID: 21888887

Lovejoy CA, Li W, Reisenweber S, Thongthip S, Bruno J, de Lange T, De S, Petrini JH, Sung PA, Jasin M, Rosenbluh J, Zwang Y, Weir BA, Hatton C, Ivanova E, Macconaill L, Hanna M, Hahn WC, Lue NF, Reddel RR, Jiao Y, Kinzler K, Vogelstein B, Papadopoulos N, Meeker AK. Loss of ATRX, genome instability, and an altered DNA damage response are hallmarks of the alternative lengthening of telomeres pathway. PLoS Genet. 2012; 8(7):e1002772. Epub 2012 Jul 19

Heaphy CM, Yun GS, Peskoe SB, Joshu CE, Lee TK, Giovannucci E, Mucci LA, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Hicks JL, De Marzo AM, Platz EA, Meeker AK. Prostate Cancer Cell Telomere Length Variation and Stromal Cell Telomere Length as Prognostic Markers for Metastasis and Death. Cancer Discovery. 2013;Oct; 2(10):1130-41. PMID:23779129

Graham, M, Meeker, A.K. The role of telomeres and telomerase in prostate cancer development and therapy. Nature Reviews Urology. 2017 Jul 4. [Epub ahead of print]

Academic Affiliations & Courses

Courses and Syllabi

  • Stem Cells and the Biology of Aging and Disease (PH.120.627)
    lecture
  • Cancer Biology (PH.120.624)
    lecture
  • Phenotyping for Functional Genetics (ME:680.712)
    multiday workshop/lecture+lab
  • Biological Basis of Aging (260.665.01)
  • Stem Cells and the Biology of Aging and Disease (AS.020.337)
    lecture
  • Introduction To The Human Body: Anatomy, Histology and Physiology (ME: 800.702)
    lecture/lab

Activities & Honors

Honors

  • The Paul Ehrlich Research Award, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.
  • AACR-AFLAC Scholar-in-Training Awards, American Association for Cancer Research and AFLAC
  • Best Scientific Session for "“Improved Software for Quantitative Analysis of Fluorescence Microscopy Images.”, Advancing Practice Instruction and Innovation through Informatics (APIII)
  • ASIP Merit Award, American Society for Investigative Pathology
  • Young Investigator Award, David Koch/Prostate Cancer Foundation
  • AACR Team Science Award, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR)

Memberships

  • American Association for Cancer Research

    Active member.

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  • American Urologic Association

    Affiliate Member

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • Telomere Dynamics, Genetic Instability and Cancer
    Podium talk , Baltimore Area Repair Symposium , Baltimore, MD (03/10/2012)
    Baltimore Area Repair
  • Exomic Sequencing in Pancreatic NETs: Potential Clinical Applications
    Podium talk , VIII Simposio Internacional GETNE , Seville, Spain (05/14/2012)
    GETNE (Grupo Espanol de Tumores Neuroendocrinos)
  • Epigenetics of Pancreatic Neuroendocrine Tumors.
    Podium talk , European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society 2013 Annual Conference , Barcelona, Spain (04/21/2013)
    European Neuroendocrine Tumor Society (ENETS)
  • Telomere Translation: Moving Telomere Research From Bench to Bedside to Benefit Cancer
    Podium talk , International Conference on Genomic Medicine , Baltimore, MD. (02/10/2017)
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