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The Brady Maher Laboratory is interested in understanding the cellular and circuit pathophysiology that underlies neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. Our lab focuses on trying to understand the function of genes that are associated with neurodevelopment problems by manipulating their expression level in utero during the peak of cortical development. We then use a variety of approaches and technologies to identify resulting phenotypes and molecular mechanisms including cell and molecular biology, optogenetics, imaging and electrophysiology.
Current projects in the lab are focused on understanding the function of transcription factor 4 (TCF4), a clinically pleiotropic gene. Genome-wide association studies have identified genetic variants of TCF4 that are associated with schizophrenia, while autosomal dominant mutations in TCF4 result in Pitt Hopkins syndrome. Using our model system, we have identified several interesting electrophysiological and cell biological phenotypes as...sociated with altering the expression of TCF4 in utero. We hypothesize that these phenotypes represent cellular pathophysiology related to these disorders and by understanding the molecular mechanisms responsible for these phenotypes we expect to identify therapeutic targets for drug development.
The goal of the Johns Hopkins Brain Cancer Biology and Therapy Laboratory is to locate the genetic and genomic changes that lead to brain cancer. These molecular changes are evaluated for their potential as therapeutic targets and are often mutated genes, or genes that are over-expressed during the development of a brain cancer. The brain cancers that the Riggins Laboratory studies are medulloblastomas and glioblastomas. Medulloblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumor for children and glioblastomas are the most common malignant brain tumor for adults. Both tumors are difficult to treat, and new therapies are urgently needed for these cancers. Our laboratory uses large-scale genomic approaches to locate and analyze the genes that are mutated during brain cancer development. The technologies we now employ are capable of searching nearly all of a cancer genome for molecular alterations that can lead to cancer. The new molecular targets for cancer therapy are first located by l...arge scale gene expression analysis, whole-genome scans for altered gene copy number and high throughput sequence analysis of cancer genomes. The alterations we find are then studied in-depth to determine how they contribute to the development of cancer, whether it is promoting tumor growth, enhancing the ability for the cancer to invade into normal tissue, or preventing the various fail-safe mechanisms programmed into our cells. view more
Brendan Cormack Laboratory
The Brendan Cormack Laboratory studies fungal pathogenesis, particularly the host-pathogen interaction for the yeast pathogen Candida glabrata.
We are trying to identify virulence genes (genes that evolved in response to the host environment) by screening transposon mutants of C. glabrata for mutants that are specifically altered in adherence to epithelial cells, in survival in the presence of macrophages and PMNs. We also screen mutants directly in mice for those unable to colonize or persist in the normal target organs (liver, kidney and spleen).
We also focus research on a family of genes--the EPA genes--that allow the organism to bind to host cells. Our research shows that a subset of them are able to mediate adherence to host epithelial cells. We are trying to understand the contribution of this family to virulence in C. glabrata by figuring out what the ligand specificity is of different family members, how genes are normally regulated during infection, and what mechanism...s normally act to keep the genes transcriptionally silent and how that silence is regulated. view more
The Cammarato Lab is located in the Division of Cardiology in the Department of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. We are interested in basic mechanisms of striated muscle biology.
We employ an array of imaging techniques to study “structural physiology” of cardiac and skeletal muscle. Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, expresses both forms of striated muscle and benefits greatly from powerful genetic tools. We investigate conserved myopathic (muscle disease) processes and perform hierarchical and integrative analysis of muscle function from the level of single molecules and macromolecular complexes through the level of the tissue itself.
Anthony Ross Cammarato, MD, is an assistant professor of medicine in the Cardiology Department. He studies the identification and manipulation of age- and mutation-dependent modifiers of cardiac function, hierarchical modeling and imaging of contractile machinery, integrative analysis of striated muscle performan...ce and myopathic processes. view more
The long-term goal of the Caren L. Freel Meyers Laboratory is to develop novel approaches to kill human pathogens, including bacterial pathogens and malaria parasites, with the ultimate objective of developing potential therapeutic agents.
Toward this goal, we are pursuing studies of bacterial isoprenoid biosynthetic enzymes comprising the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway essential in many human pathogens. Studies focus on understanding mechanism and regulation in the pathway toward the development of selective inhibitors of isoprenoid biosynthesis. Our strategies for creating new anti-infective agents involve interdisciplinary research in the continuum of organic, biological and medicinal chemistry. Molecular biology, protein expression and biochemistry, and synthetic chemistry are key tools for our research.
Dr. Ross and his research team have focused on Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease, and now are using insights from these disorders to approach more complex diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. They use biophysical and biochemical techniques, cell models, and transgenic mouse models to understand disease processes, and to provide targets for development of rational therapeutics. These then can provide a basis for developing small molecule interventions, which can be used both as probes to study biology, and if they have favorable drug-like properties, for potential therapeutic development. We have used two strategies for identifying lead compounds. The first is the traditional path of identification of specific molecular targets, such as enzymes like the LRRK2 kinase of Parkinson’s disease. Once structure is known, computational approaches or fragment based lead discovery, in collaboration, can be used. The second is to conduct phenotypic screens using ce...ll models, or in a collaboration, natural products in a yeast model. Once a lead compound is identified, we use cell models for initial tests of compounds, then generate analogs, and take compounds that look promising to preclinical therapeutic studies in animal models. The ultimate goal is to develop therapeutic strategies that can be brought to human clinical trials, and we have pioneered in developing biomarkers and genetic testing for developing strategies. view more
The C. Kwon Lab studies the cellular and molecular mechanisms governing heart generation and regeneration.
The limited regenerative capacity of the heart is a major factor in morbidity and mortality rates: Heart malformation is the most frequent form of human birth defects, and cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. Cardiovascular progenitor cells hold tremendous therapeutic potential due to their unique ability to expand and differentiate into various heart cell types.
Our laboratory seeks to understand the fundamental biology and regenerative potential of multi-potent cardiac progenitor cells – building blocks used to form the heart during fetal development — by deciphering the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control their induction, maintenance, and differentiation. We are also interested in elucidating the maturation event of heart muscle cells, an essential process to generate adult cardiomyocytes, which occurs after terminal differentiation ...of the progenitor cells. We believe this knowledge will contribute to our understanding of congenital and adult heart disease and be instrumental for stem cell-based heart regeneration.
We have developed several novel approaches to deconstruct the mechanisms, including the use of animal models and pluripotent stem cell systems. We expect this knowledge will help us better understand heart disease and will be instrumental for stem-cell-based disease modeling and interventions for of heart repair.
Dr. Chulan Kwon is an assistant professor of medicine at the Johns Hopkins University Heart and Vascular Institute. view more
The Cohen Lab studies neural circuits underlying reward, mood and decision making. We seek to understand how neural circuits control fundamental mammalian behaviors. Many disorders, including depression, schizophrenia, drug addiction and Parkinson's disease, appear to involve dysfunction of monoaminergic signaling. Using cell-type-specific tools and well-controlled behavioral tasks in mice, we aim to understand the function of monoaminergic circuits in behavior. We hope these basic discoveries will lead to an understanding of the biology of the brain and better treatments for disorders of the brain.
The Daniel Nyhan Lab studies vascular changes that accompany aging to determine the underlying causes and find ways to reverse the process. One goal of our research is to identify the factors that cause vascular stiffness. Our hope is that our work in vascular biology will lead to new ways to improve vascular compliance and thereby improve cardiovascular function and perioperative risk.
The principal research interest of the Shortle Lab is protein folding--how amino acid sequence information encodes three-dimensional structure. We are taking a combined experimental and computational approach to this longstanding puzzle of fundamental biochemistry. In addition, the laboratory is working to predict protein structure from sequence in ways that make the underlying physical chemistry transparent and the relative contributions of different interactions quantifiable.