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School of Medicine
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We specialize in unconventional, multi-disciplinary approaches to studying the heart at the intersection of applied mathematics, physics and computer science. We focus on theory development that leads to new technology and value delivery to the society. Currently we have three research programs:
1. Precision Medicine
To develop a quantitative approach to personalized risk assessment for stroke and dementia based on patent-specific heart anatomy, function and blood flow.
Disciplines: Cardiac Hemodynamics; Medical Imaging Physics; Continuum Mechanics; Computational Fluid Dynamics
2. Information Theory
To quantify and perturb cardiac fibrillation that emerges as a macro-scale behavior of the heart from micro-scale behaviors of inter-dependent components.
Disciplines: Cardiac Electrophysiology; Spiral Wave; Information Theory; Complex Networks
3. Artificial Intelligence
To develop artificial intelligence algorithms to predict the future risk of heart attack, stroke and sudden... death, and to assist surgical interventions to prevent these outcomes.
Disciplines: Medical Imaging Physics; Artificial Intelligence; Robotically Assisted Interventions
Bradley Undem Lab
Research in the Bradley Undem Lab centers around the hypothesis that the peripheral nervous system is directly involved in the processes of inflammation. This hypothesis is being studied primarily in the central airways and sympathetic ganglia. We are addressing this in a multidisciplinary fashion, using pharmacological, electrophysiological, biochemical and anatomical methodologies.
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 Brown Lab is focused on the function of the cerebral cortex in the brain, which underlies our ability to interact with our environment through sensory perception and voluntary movement. Our research takes a bottom-up approach to understanding how the circuits of this massively interconnected network of neurons are functionally organized, and how dysfunction in these circuits contributes to neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. By combining electrophysiological and optogenetic approaches with anatomical and genetic techniques for identifying cell populations and pathways, the Brown Lab is defining the synaptic interactions among different classes of cortical neurons and determining how long-range and local inputs are integrated within cortical circuits. In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, corticospinal and spinal motor neurons progressively degenerate. The Brown Lab is examining how abnormal ...activity within cortical circuits contributes to the selective degeneration of corticospinal motor neurons in an effort to identify new mechanisms for treating this disease. Abnormalities in the organization of cortical circuits and synapses have been identified in genetic and anatomical studies of neuropsychiatric disease. We are interested in the impact these abnormalities have on cortical processing and their contribution to the disordered cognition typical of autism and schizophrenia. view more
Our laboratory investigates the neural bases of sound processing in the human brain. We combine electrophysiology recordings (intracranial, scalp), behavioral paradigms, and statistical modeling methods to study the cortical dynamics of normal and impaired auditory perception. We are interested in measuring and modeling variability in spatiotemporal cortical response patterns as a function of individual listening abilities and acoustic sound properties. Current studies are investigating the role of high-frequency (>30 Hz) neural oscillations in human auditory perception.
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.
The Dong Laboratory has identified many genes specifically expressed in primary sensory neurons in dorsal root ganglia (DRG). Our lab uses multiple approaches, including molecular biology, mouse genetics, mouse behavior and electrophysiology, to study the function of these genes in pain and itch sensation. Other research in the lab examines the molecular mechanism of how skin mast cells sensitize sensory nerves under inflammatory states.
The Fuchs Laboratory uses cellular electrophysiology, immunolabeling and electron microscopy to study synaptic connections between sensory hair cells and neurons in the cochlea. One effort focuses on an unusual cholinergic receptor that mediates efferent inhibition of hair cells, driving discovery of the molecular mechanisms, and offering a target for protection against acoustic trauma. A second topic concerns the small number of unmyelinated "type II" afferent neurons whose synaptic connectivity and response properties argue for a role as the pathway for noxious (too loud) sound. Our studies are motivated by curiosity about fundamental mechanisms, and to provide a foundation for understanding cochlear pathogenesis.
Michael Caterina Lab
The Caterina lab is focused on dissecting mechanisms underlying acute and chronic pain sensation. We use a wide range of approaches, including mouse genetics, imaging, electrophysiology, behavior, cell culture, biochemistry and neuroanatomy to tease apart the molecular and cellular contributors to pathological pain sensation. A few of the current projects in the lab focus on defining the roles of specific subpopulations of neuronal and non-neuronal cells to pain sensation, defining the role of RNA binding proteins in the development and maintenance of neuropathic pain, and understanding how rare skin diseases known as palmoplantar keratodermas lead to severe pain in the hands and feet.
How do brain dynamics give rise to our sensory experience of the world? The O'Connor lab works to answer this question by taking advantage of the fact that key architectural features of the mammalian brain are similar across species. This allows us to leverage the power of mouse genetics to monitor and manipulate genetically and functionally defined brain circuits during perception. We train mice to perform simple perceptual tasks. By using quantitative behavior, optogenetic and chemical-genetic gain- and loss-of-function perturbations, in vivo two-photon imaging, and electrophysiology, we assemble a description of the relationship between neural circuit function and perception. We work in the mouse tactile system to capitalize on an accessible mammalian circuit with a precise mapping between the sensory periphery and multiple brain areas. Our mission is to reveal the neural circuit foundations of sensory perception; to provide a framework to understand how circuit dysfunction causes ...mental and behavioral aspects of neuropsychiatric illness; and to help others fulfill creative potential and contribute to human knowledge. view more
The O’Rourke Lab uses an integrated approach to study the biophysics and physiology of cardiac cells in normal and diseased states.
Research in our lab has incorporated mitochondrial energetics, Ca2+ dynamics, and electrophysiology to provide tools for studying how defective function of one component of the cell can lead to catastrophic effects on whole cell and whole organ function. By understanding the links between Ca2+, electrical excitability and energy production, we hope to understand the cellular basis of cardiac arrhythmias, ischemia-reperfusion injury, and sudden death.
We use state-of-the-art techniques, including single-channel and whole-cell patch clamp, microfluorimetry, conventional and two-photon fluorescence imaging, and molecular biology to study the structure and function of single proteins to the intact muscle. Experimental results are compared with simulations of computational models in order to understand the findings in the context of the system as a whole....
Ongoing studies in our lab are focused on identifying the specific molecular targets modified by oxidative or ischemic stress and how they affect mitochondrial and whole heart function.
The motivation for all of the work is to understand
• how the molecular details of the heart cell work together to maintain function and
• how the synchronization of the parts can go wrong
Rational strategies can then be devised to correct dysfunction during the progression of disease through a comprehensive understanding of basic mechanisms.
Brian O’Rourke, PhD, is a professor in the Division of Cardiology and Vice Chair of Basic and Translational Research, Department of Medicine, at the Johns Hopkins University. view more
The Stewart Hendry Laboratory uses a strategy that exploits the unique molecular characteristics of neurons to understand how these streams are organized and the types of visual signals they carry. We identify those characteristics and then use them to study distinct neuronal populations in isolation. We use anatomical approaches to study the position of these neurons in the path of visual information transfer and the circuits whereby they accomplish an analysis and synthesis of information. Collaborative studies determine by optical imaging and electrophysiological methods the physiological properties of neuronal populations previously identified by their molecular characteristics. Such a strategy exploits the robust but selective expression of neuronal genes to address questions of visual system organization, function and plasticity across the primate order, including humans.
The Arking Lab
The Arking Lab studies the genomics of complex human disease, with the primary goal of identifying and characterizing genetics variants that modify risk for human disease. The group has pioneered the use of genome-wide association studies (GWAS), which allow for an unbiased screen of virtually all common genetic variants in the genome. The lab is currently developing improved GWAS methodology, as well as exploring the integration of additional genome level data (RNA expression, DNA methylation, protein expression) to improve the power to identify specific genetic influences of disease.
The Arking Lab is actively involved in researching:
• autism, a childhood neuropsychiatric disorder
• cardiovascular genomics, with a focus on electrophysiology and sudden cardiac death (SCD)
• electrophysiology is the study of the flow of ions in biological tissues
Dan E. Arking, PhD, is an associate professor at the McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine and Department of Medicine, D...ivision of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins University. view more
Epilepsy affects 1-3% of the population and can have a profound impact on general health, employment and quality of life. Medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) develops in some patients following head injury or repeated febrile seizures. Those affected may first suffer spontaneous seizures many years after the initial insult, indicating that the neural circuit undergoes a slow pathologic remodeling over the interim. There are currently no methods of preventing the development of MTLE. It is our goal to better understand the process in order to slow, halt, and ultimately reverse it.
Our laboratory draws on electrophysiology, molecular biology, and morphology to study the contribution of dysregulated neurogenesis and newborn neuron connectivity to the development of MTLE. We build on basic research in stem cell biology, hippocampal development, and synaptic plasticity. We work closely with colleagues in the Institute for Cell Engineering, Neurology, Neurosurgery, Biomedical Engineering..., and Radiology. As physician neuropathologists our grounding is in tissue alterations underlying human neurologic disease; using human iPSC-derived neurons and surgical specimens we focus on the pathophysiological processes as they occur in patients.
By understanding changes in cell populations and morphologies that affect the circuit, and identifying pathologic alterations in gene expression that lead to the cell-level abnormalities, we hope to find treatment targets that can prevent the remodeling and break the feedback loop of abnormal activity > circuit change > abnormal activity. view more
Ion channels are pore-forming membrane proteins gating the flow of ions across the cell membrane. Among their many functions, ion channels regulate cell volume, control epithelial fluid secretion, and generate the electrical impulses in our brain. The Qiu Lab employs a multi-disciplinary approach including high-throughput functional genomics, electrophysiology, biochemistry, and mouse genetics to discover novel ion channels and to elucidate their role in health and disease.