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The Advanced Optics Lab uses innovative optical tools, including laser-based nanotechnologies, to understand cell motility and the regulation of cell shape. We pioneered laser-based nanotechnologies, including optical tweezers, nanotracking, and laser-tracking microrheology. Applications range from physics, pharmaceutical delivery by phagocytosis (cell and tissue engineering), bacterial pathogens important in human disease and cell division.
Other projects in the lab are related to microscopy, specifically combining fluorescence and electron microscopy to view images of the subcellular structure around proteins.
Alain Labrique Lab
The Alain Labrique Lab conducts research on infectious diseases and public health. Our team studies the various factors that lead to maternal and neonatal mortality, particularly in underserved populations in South Asia, using the tools of infectious disease epidemiology, molecular biology and biostatistics. We work to better understand factors such as the interface of micronutrient deficiency and maternal/infant mortality and the prevention of nosocomial infections through mechanistic or nutritional interventions. We also have a longstanding interest in technologies that may enable early detection of disease.
The Lau Lab uses a combination of computational and experimental approaches to study the atomic and molecular details governing the function of protein complexes involved in intercellular communication. We study ionotropic glutamate receptors (iGluRs), which are ligand-gated ion channels that mediate the majority of excitatory synaptic transmission in the central nervous system. iGluRs are important in synaptic plasticity, which underlies learning and memory. Receptor dysfunction has been implicated in a number of neurological disorders.
Research in the Anderson laboratory focuses on cellular signaling and ionic mechanisms that cause heart failure, arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death, major public health problems worldwide. Primary focus is on the multifunctional Ca2+ and calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII). The laboratory identified CaMKII as an important pro-arrhythmic and pro-cardiomyopathic signal, and its studies have provided proof of concept evidence motivating active efforts in biotech and the pharmaceutical industry to develop therapeutic CaMKII inhibitory drugs to treat heart failure and arrhythmias.
Under physiological conditions, CaMKII is important for excitation-contraction coupling and fight or flight increases in heart rate. However, myocardial CaMKII is excessively activated during disease conditions where it contributes to loss of intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis, membrane hyperexcitability, premature cell death, and hypertrophic and inflammatory transcription. These downstream targets a...ppear to contribute coordinately and decisively to heart failure and arrhythmias. Recently, researchers developed evidence that CaMKII also participates in asthma.
Efforts at the laboratory, funded by grants from the National Institutes of Health, are highly collaborative and involve undergraduate assistants, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty. Key areas of focus are:
• Ion channel biology and arrhythmias
• Cardiac pacemaker physiology and disease
• Molecular physiology of CaMKII
• Myocardial and mitochondrial metabolism
• CaMKII and reactive oxygen species in asthma
Mark Anderson, MD, is the William Osler Professor of Medicine, the director of the Department of Medicine in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and physician-in-chief of The Johns Hopkins Hospital. view less
Researchers in the Center for Cell Dynamics study spatially and temporally regulated molecular events in living cells, tissues and organisms. The team develops and applies innovative biosensors and imaging techniques to monitor dozens of critical signaling pathways in real time. The new tools help them investigate the fundamental cellular behaviors that underlie embryonic development, wound healing, cancer progression, and functions of the immune and nervous systems.
Andrew Lane Lab
The Lane laboratory is focused on understanding molecular mechanisms underlying chronic rhinosinusitis and particularly the pathogenesis of nasal polyps. Diverse techniques in molecular biology, immunology, physiology, and engineering are utilized to study epithelial cell innate immunity, olfactory loss, the sinus microbiome, and drug delivery to the nose and sinus cavities. Ongoing work explores how epithelial cells participate in the immune response and contribute to chronic sinonasal inflammation. The lab creates and employs transgenic mouse models of chronic sinusitis to support research in this area. Collaborations are in place with the School of Public Health to explore mechanisms of anti-viral immunity in influenza and rhinovirus, and with the University of Maryland to characterize the bacterial microbiome of the nose and sinuses in health and disease.
Andrew McCallion Laboratory
The McCallion Laboratory studies the roles played by cis-regulatory elements (REs) in controlling the timing, location and levels of gene activation (transcription). Their immediate goal is to identify transcription factor binding sites (TFBS) combinations that can predict REs with cell-specific biological control--a first step in developing true regulatory lexicons.
As a functional genetic laboratory, we develop and implement assays to rapidly determine the biological relevance of sequence elements within the human genome and the pathological relevance of variation therein. In recent years, we have developed a highly efficient reporter transgene system in zebrafish that can accurately evaluate the regulatory control of mammalian sequences, enabling characterization of reporter expression during development at a fraction of the cost of similar analyses in mice. We employ a range of strategies in model systems (zebrafish and mice), as well as analyses in the human population, to illu...minate the genetic basis of disease processes. Our long-term objective is to use these approaches in contributing to improved diagnostic, prognostic and therapeutic strategies in patient care. view more
Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology
The main focus of the Becker lab has been on the mechanisms and consequences of post-ischemic myocardial inflammation.
Genomic control of platelet function:
Aggregation of blood platelets initiates clotting in coronary arteries, the main cause of heart attacks. Our laboratory conducts experiments to understand how genes control platelet function. Through funding by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, we have performed candidate gene analysis, linkage studies, whole genome association studies, and now whole genome sequencing in about 2000 healthy subjects from families with early onset coronary artery disease. The subjects are siblings or offspring of an individual identified with coronary artery disease before age 60 in the GeneSTAR Research Program (Genetic Studies of Atherosclerosis Risk). We have identified a large number of common and rare genetic variants associated with platelet aggregation, and although some variants are located in genes known to be important in... the biology of platelet function, most are in non-protein coding regions of genes (introns) or in intergenic regions of the genome. To understand better how these variants influence platelet function, we created pluripotent stem cells from blood mononuclear cells in 257 genotyped GeneSTAR subjects and then transformed the stem cells to megakaryocytes, the source of platelets in the bone marrow. We have determined the entire transcriptome of these megakaryocytes to measure gene expression levels in an effort to functionally link genetic variation with platelet function. We are also interested in epigenetic effects which regulate the amount of gene transcription and resulting protein formation. We have done similar transcriptomic and proteomic studies in blood platelets as we have in stem cell-derived megakaryocytes.
Our goal is to identify new therapeutic targets for drug development to control excessive platelet aggregation and reduce the risk of heart attack in susceptible individuals. We also hope to use the genetic information to predict who is at greatest risk for platelet aggregation or bleeding, and tailor treatment to effectively apply individualized precision medicine.
The Becker laboratory also extends its cardiovascular work well beyond platelet function, as noted on the GeneSTAR Research Program website. view less
The goal of research in the Beer Lab is to understand how gene regulatory information is encoded in genomic DNA sequence. Our work uses functional genomics DNase-seq, ChIP-seq, RNA-seq, and chromatin state data to computationally identify combinations of transcription factor binding sites that operate to define the activity of cell-type specific enhancers. We are currently focused on improving SVM methodology by including more general sequence features and constraints predicting the impact of SNPs on enhancer activity (delta-SVM) and GWAS association for specific diseases, experimentally assessing the predicted impact of regulatory element mutation in mammalian cells, systematically determining regulatory element logic from ENCODE human and mouse data, and using this sequence based regulatory code to assess common modes of regulatory element evolution and variation.
Mitochondrial dysfunction has long been a consistent observation in Parkinson's disease. To understand the consequences of Parkinson's disease causing genetic mutations on the function of mitochondria, the Bioenergetics Core B will provide the following analyses to the projects in the Udall Center at Johns Hopkins: (1) Measuring rates of respiration, oxygen consumption and ATP generation, (2) Measuring calcium dynamics, (3) Measuring reactive oxygen and reactive nitrogen species, (4) Measuring the activity of the electron transport chain enzymes and metabolic enzymes, and (5) Measuring plasma versus mitochondrial membrane potential and mitochondrial membrane permeability
Borahay Gynecologic Research Innovation Lab
Dr. Borahay's team focuses on understanding pathobiology of common gynecologic problems with a special focus on uterine fibroids. In addition, the team seeks to develop novel therapeutic options and in carrying out high quality clinical trials.
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.