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The Kunisaki lab is a R01-funded regenerative medicine group within the Division of General Pediatric Surgery at Johns Hopkins that works at the interface of stem cells, mechanobiology, and materials science. We seek to understand how biomaterials and mechanical forces affect developing tissues relevant to pediatric surgical disorders. To accomplish these aims, we take a developmental biology approach using induced pluripotent stem cells and other progenitor cell populations to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which fetal organs develop in disease.
Our lab projects can be broadly divided into three major areas: 1) fetal spinal cord regeneration 2) fetal lung development 3) esophageal regeneration
Lab members: Juan Biancotti, PhD (lab manager); Lynn Zhou, PhD (postdoc), Shelby Sferra, MD, MPH (postdoc); Annalise Penikis, MD (postdoc)
Kunisaki SM, Jiang G, Biancotti JC, Ho KKY, Dye BR, Liu AP, Spence JR. Human indu...ced pluripotent stem cell-derived lung organoids in an ex vivo model of congenital diaphragmatic hernia fetal lung. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2021, PMID: 32949227
Biancotti JC, Walker KA, Jiang G, Di Bernardo J, Shea LD, Kunisaki SM. Hydrogel and neural progenitor cell delivery supports organotypic fetal spinal cord development in an ex vivo model of prenatal spina bifida repair. Journal of Tissue Engineering 2020, PMID: 32782773.
Kunisaki SM. Amniotic fluid stem cells for the treatment of surgical disorders in the fetus and neonate. Stem Cells Translational Medicine 2018, 7:767-773view more
The Shanthini Sockanathan Laboratory uses the developing spinal cord as our major paradigm to define the mechanisms that maintain an undifferentiated progenitor state and the molecular pathways that trigger their differentiation into neurons and glia. The major focus of the lab is the study of a new family of six-transmembrane proteins (6-TM GDEs) that play key roles in regulating neuronal and glial differentiation in the spinal cord. We recently discovered that the 6-TM GDEs release GPI-anchored proteins from the cell surface through cleavage of the GPI-anchor. This discovery identifies 6-TM GDEs as the first vertebrate membrane bound GPI-cleaving enzymes that work at the cell surface to regulate GPI-anchored protein function. Current work in the lab involves defining how the 6-TM GDEs regulate cellular signaling events that control neuronal and glial differentiation and function, with a major focus on how GDE dysfunction relates to the onset and progression of disease. To solve the...se questions, we use an integrated approach that includes in vivo models, imaging, molecular biology, biochemistry, developmental biology, genetics and behavior. view less
Venu Raman Research Lab
The Raman laboratory is within the Division of Cancer Imaging Research in the Department of Radiology and Radiological Science. The focus of the laboratory is bench-to-bed side cancer research. We integrate molecular and cellular biology, developmental biology, cancer biology, molecular imaging techniques to study cancer formation and progression. Many of the projects in the lab investigate dysregulated genes in cancer and the translatability of this information to a clinical setting. One such project is to functionally decipher the role of a RNA helicase gene, DDX3, in the biogenesis of multiple cancer types such as breast, lung, brain, sarcoma, colorectal and prostate. Additionally, using a rational drug design approach, a small molecule inhibitor of DDX3 (RK-33) was synthesized and its potential for clinical translation is being investigated.