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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.
Researchers in the Ami Shah Lab study scleroderma and Raynaud’s phenomenon. We examine the relationship between cancer and scleroderma, with a focus on how and if cancer causes scleroderma to develop in some patients. We are currently conducting clinical research to study ways to detect cardiopulmonary complications in patients with scleroderma, biological and imaging markers of Raynaud’s phenomenon, and drugs that improve aspects of scleroderma.
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 more
Research in the Caleb Alexander Lab examines prescription drug use. This includes studies of population-based patterns and determinants of pharmaceutical use, clinical decision-making about prescription drugs, and the effect of changes in regulatory and payment policies on pharmaceutical utilization. We have special expertise in conducting survey-based studies and analyzing secondary data sources, including administrative claims, the Medical Expenditure Panel Survey and the National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey.
The Center for Nanomedicine engineers drug and gene delivery technologies that have significant implications for the prevention, treatment and cure of many major diseases facing the world today. Specifically, we are focusing on the eye, central nervous system, respiratory system, women's health, gastrointestinal system, cancer, and inflammation.
We are a unique translational nanotechnology effort located that brings together engineers, scientists and clinicians working under one roof on translation of novel drug and gene delivery technologies
Charles W. Flexner Laboratory
A. Laboratory activities include the use of accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) techniques to measure intracellular drugs and drugs metabolites. AMS is a highly sensitive method for detecting tracer amounts of radio-labeled molecules in cells, tissues, and body fluids. We have been able to measure intracellular zidovudine triphosphate (the active anabolite of zidovudine) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy volunteers given small doses of 14C-zidovudine, and have directly compared the sensitivity of AMS to traditional LC/MS methods carried out in our laboratory.
B. Clinical research activities investigate the clinical pharmacology of new anti-HIV therapies and drug combinations. Specific drug classes studied include HIV reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors, entry inhibitors (selective CCR5 and CXCR4 antagonists), and integrase inhibitors. Scientific objectives of clinical studies include characterization of early drug activity, toxicity, and pharmacok...inetics. Additional objectives are characterization of pathways of drug metabolism, and identification of clinically significant harmful and beneficial drug interactions mediated by hepatic and intestinal cytochrome P450 isoforms. view more
Craig W. Hendrix Lab
Research in the Craig W. Hendrix Lab concentrates on the chemoprevention of HIV infection, clinical pharmacology of antiviral drugs, drug interactions, and oral, topical and injectable HIV microbicide development. Our lab conducts small, intensive sampling studies of PK and PD of drugs for HIV prevention with a focus on developing methods to better understand HIV and drug distribution in the male genital tract, female genital tract and lower gastrointestinal tract. We also support numerous HIV pre-exposure prophylaxis development studies from phase I to phase III, largely as leader of the Pharmacology Core Laboratory of both the Microbicide Trial Network and HIV Prevention Trials Network.
The Dölen lab studies the synaptic and circuit mechanisms that enable social behaviors. We use a variety of techniques including whole cell patch clamp electrophysiology, viral mediated gene transfer, optogenetics, and behavior. We are also interested in understanding how these synaptic and circuit mechanisms are disrupted in autism and schizophrenia, diseases which are characterized by social cognition deficits. More recently we have become interested in the therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs for diseases like addiction and PTSD that respond to social influence or are aggravated by social injury, We are currently using both transgenic mouse and octopus to model disease.
Current projects include:
The evaluation of mechanisms of immune tolerance to cancer in mouse models of breast and pancreatic cancer. We have characterized the HER-2/neu transgenic mouse model of spontaneous mammary tumors.
This model demonstrates immune tolerance to the HER-2/neu gene product. This model is being used to better understand the mechanisms of tolerance to tumor. In addition, this model is being used to develop vaccine strategies that can overcome this tolerance and induce immunity potent enough to prevent and treat naturally developing tumors. More recently, we are using a genetic model of pancreatic cancer developed to understand the early inflammatory changes that promote cancer development.
The identification of human tumor antigens recognized by T cells. We are using a novel functional genetic approach developed in our laboratory. Human tumor specific T cells from vaccinated patients are used to identify immune relevant antigens that are chosen... based on an initial genomic screen of overexpressed gene products. Several candidate targets have been identified and the prevelence of vaccine induced immunity has been assessed .
This rapid screen to identify relevant antigenic targets will allow us to begin to dissect the mechanisms of tumor immunity induction and downregulation at the molecular level in cancer patients. More recently, we are using proteomics to identify proteins involved in pancreatic cancer development. We recently identified Annexin A2 as a molecule involved in metastases.
The analysis of antitumor immune responses in patients enrolled on vaccine studies. The focus is on breast and pancreatic cancers. We are atttempting to identify in vitro correlates of in vivo antitumor immunity induced by vaccine strategies developed in the laboratory and currently under study in the clinics. view more
Eric Nuermberger Lab
Research in the Eric Nuermberger Lab focuses primarily on experimental chemotherapy for tuberculosis. We use proven murine models of active and latent tuberculosis infection to assess the effectiveness of novel antimicrobials. A key goal is to identify new agents to combine with existing drugs to shorten tuberculosis therapy or enable less frequent drug administration. We're also using a flow-controlled in vitro pharmacodynamic system to better understand the pharmacodynamics of drug efficacy and the selection of drug-resistant mutants during exposure to current agents.
Ernesto Freire Laboratory
The Ernesto Freire Lab studies the use of novel drugs to treat disease. Our research has resulted in the development of a thermodynamic platform for drug discovery and optimization. Our aim is to achieve high binding affinity and selectivity as well as appropriate pharmacokinetics with the platform. We are currently focusing on drug targets such as HIV/-1 protease inhibitors (HIV/AIDS), plasmepsin inhibitors (malaria), HCV protease inhibitors (hepatitis C), coronavirus 3CL-pro protease inhibitors (SARS and other viral infections), HIV-1 gp120 inhibitors (HIV/AIDS), chymase inhibitors (cardiovascular disease) and beta lactamase inhibitors (antibiotic resistance).
Biophysics and Biophysical Chemistry
The Frueh Laboratory uses nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) to study how protein dynamics can be modulated and how active enzymatic systems can be conformed. Non-ribosomal peptide synthetases (NRPS) are large enzymatic systems that biosynthesize secondary metabolites, many of which are used by pharmaceutical scientists to produce drugs such as antibiotics or anticancer agents. Dr. Frueh's laboratory uses NMR to study inter- and intra-domain modifications that occur during the catalytic steps of NRPS. Dr. Frueh and his team are constantly developing new NMR techniques to study these complicated enzymatic systems.
The Gabelli lab research is focused on structural, mechanistic and functional aspects of enzyme activation that play a role in the biology of human diseases such as cancer, parasitic infection and cardiovascular disease. Their work seeks to:
1. Understand how molecular events at the recognition level coordinate and trigger events in the cells
2. Translate structural and mechanistic information on protein:protein interactions at the cytoplasmic level into preventive and therapeutic treatment for human disease.
To achieve a comprehensive understanding, they are studying cytoplasmic protein-protein interactions involved in regulation of pathways such as PI3K and Sodium Voltage gated channels. Their research integrates structural biology and chemical biology and it is focused on drug discovery for targeted therapies.
Gabsang Lee Lab
Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) provide unprecedented opportunities for cell replacement approaches, disease modeling and drug discovery in a patient-specific manner. The Gabsang Lee Lab focuses on the neural crest lineage and skeletal muscle tissue, in terms of their fate-determination processes as well as relevant genetic disorders.
Previously, we studied a human genetic disorder (familial dysautonomia, or FD) with hiPSCs and found that FD-specific neural crest cells have low levels of genes needed to make autonomous neurons--the ones needed for the "fight-or-flight" response. In an effort to discover novel drugs, we performed high-throughput screening with a compound library using FD patient-derived neural crest cells.
We recently established a direct conversion methodology, turning patient fibroblasts into "induced neural crest (iNC)" that also exhibit disease-related phenotypes, just as the FD-hiPSC-derived neural crest. We're extending our research to the ne...ural crest's neighboring cells, somite. Using multiple genetic reporter systems, we identified sufficient cues for directing hiPSCs into somite stage, followed by skeletal muscle lineages. This novel approach can straightforwardly apply to muscular dystrophies, resulting in expandable myoblasts in a patient-specific manner.
The Green Group is the biomaterials and drug delivery laboratory in the Biomedical Engineering Department at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Our broad research interests are in cellular engineering and in nanobiotechnology. We are particularly interested in biomaterials, controlled drug delivery, stem cells, gene therapy, and immunobioengineering. We are working on the chemistry/biology/engineering interface to answer fundamental scientific questions and create innovative technologies and therapeutics that can directly benefit human health.
Gregory Kirk Lab
Research in the Gregory Kirk Lab examines the natural history of viral infections — particularly HIV and hepatitis viruses — in the U.S. and globally. As part of the ALIVE (AIDS Linked to the Intravenous Experience) study, our research looks at a range of pathogenetic, clinical behavioral issues, with a special focus on non-AIDS-related outcomes of HIV, including cancer and liver and lung diseases. We use imaging and clinical, genetic, epigenetic and proteomic methods to identify and learn more about people at greatest risk for clinically relevant outcomes from HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections. Our long-term goal is to translate our findings into targeted interventions that help reduce the disease burden of these infections.
Jay Baraban Laboratory
The Jay Baraban Laboratory studies key aspects of neuronal plasticity induced by environmental stimuli, including drugs. The ability of the microRNA system to regulate protein translation in the vicinity of synapses indicates it is well positioned to play a central role in regulating synaptic plasticity. Accordingly, we are studying how this system regulates synaptic function. In particular, we have identified the translin/trax RNAse complex as a key regulator of microRNA processing and are using genetically engineered mice that lack this complex to understand its role in neuronal function. For example, these mice display defects in responsiveness to cocaine and in certain forms of synaptic plasticity. We use a combination of behavioral and molecular approaches to conduct studies aimed at understanding how the microRNA system regulates these processes.
Jodi Segal Lab
Research in the Jodi Segal Lab focuses on developing methodologies to use observational data to understand the use of new drugs, particularly drugs for treating diabetes, blood disorders and osteoporosis. We apply advanced methods for evidence-based review and meta-analysis, and—in collaboration with Johns Hopkins biostatisticians—we have developed new methodologies for observational research (using propensity scores to adjust for covariates that change over time) and methods to account for competing risks and heterogeneity of treatment effects in analyses.
John Schroeder Lab
The John Schroeder Lab focuses on understanding the role human basophils and mast cells play in allergic reactions, as it relates not only to their secretion of potent inflammatory mediators (e.g., histamine and leukotriene C4) but also to their production of pro-inflammatory cytokines. We have long utilized human cells rather than cell lines in order to address the parameters, signal transduction and pharmacological aspects underlying clinically relevant basophil and mast cell responses. As a result, the lab has established protocols for rapidly isolating large numbers of basophils at high purity from human blood and for growing culture-derived mast cells/basophils from human progenitor cells. A variety of assays and techniques are also in place for concurrently detecting cytokines and mediators following a wide range of stimuli. These have facilitated the in vitro testing of numerous anti-allergic drugs for inhibitory activity on basophil and mast cell activation. The lab also studie...s counter-regulation between the IgE and innate immune receptors on human immature dendritic cell subtypes. view more
While there has been an explosion of knowledge about human carcinogenesis over the last 2 decades, unfortunately, this has not translated into the development of effective therapies for either preventing or treating the common human cancers. The goal of the Isaacs’ lab is to change this situation by translating theory into therapy for solid malignancies, particularly Prostate cancer. Presently, a series of drugs discovered in the Isaacs’ lab are undergoing clinical trials in patients with metastatic cancer.
The ongoing drug discovery in the lab continues to focus upon developing agents to eliminate the cancer initiating stem cells within metastatic sites of cancer. To do this, a variety of bacterial and natural product toxins are being chemically modified to produce “prodrugs” whose cytotoxicity is selectively activated by proteases produced in high levels only by cancer cells or tumor associated blood vessel cells. In this way, these prodrugs can be given systemically to metastati...c patients without un-acceptable toxicity to the host while being selectively activated to potent killing molecules within metastatic sites of cancer.
Such a “Trojan Horse” approach is also being developed using allogeneic bone marrow derived Mesenchymal Stem cells which are genetically engineered to secrete “prodrugs” so that when they are infused into the patient, they selectively “home” to sites of cancers where the appropriate enzymatic activity is present to liberate the killing toxin sterilizing the cancer “neighborhood”. view less