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  • 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.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, mobile health, Hepatitis, neonatal, infectious disease, public health, biostatistics, nosocomial infections, molecular biology

  • Andrea Cox Lab

    Research in the Andrea Cox Lab explores the immune response in chronic viral infections, with a focus on HIV and the hepatitis C virus (HCV). In our studies, we examine the role of the immune response upon exposure to HCV by examining responses to HCV in a longitudinal, prospective group of high-risk individuals. This enables us to compare the innate, humoral and cellular immune responses to infection with clearance versus persistence. Through our findings, we seek to identify mechanisms of protective immunity against HCV infection and improve HCV vaccine design.

    Research Areas: virology, vaccines, viral immunology, HIV, hepatitis C, T cells

    Principal Investigator

    Andrea Cox, M.D., Ph.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Arturo Casadevall Lab

    The Arturo Casadevall Lab uses a multidisciplinary approach to explore two key topics within microbiology and immunology: how microbes cause disease and how hosts can protect themselves against those microbes. Much of our research focuses on the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans, which frequently causes lung infections in people with impaired immunity. We also work with the microorganism Bacillus anthracis, a bacterium that causes anthrax and is frequently used in biological warfare. Our goal is to devise antibody-based countermeasures to protect against this and other similar threats.

    Research Areas: microbiology, immunology, vaccines, cryptococcus neoformans, tuberculosis

    Principal Investigator

    Arturo Casadevall, M.D., M.S., Ph.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Asad Latif Lab

    Research in the Asad Latif Lab focuses on patient safety and quality improvement. Our key interests include preventing hospital-acquired infections and improving health systems, the evaluation and prevention of healthcare errors and the utility of telemedicine in intensive care units. One recent study focused on reducing medication errors (the single most common type of error in healthcare) related to drug formulation in the intensive care unit.

    Research Areas: critical care medicine, patient safety, quality improvement, infection control, quality of care

  • Cervical Dysplasia Research Lab

    We are interested in how immune responses occur in the cervix. The focus of our translational research is on developing immune therapies for disease caused by human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV infection causes more cancers than any other virus in the world. Cervical cancer is the most common cancer caused by HPV, and although we have known how to screen for it for over half a century, it remains the second most common cause of cancer death in women. Although the preventive vaccines are a public health milestone, they prevent HPV infections, but are not designed to make immune responses to treat HPV. We are testing different strategies to make immune responses that could treat HPV disease. Our dedicated researchers are working to extend the techniques used in HPV vaccine development to the creation of vaccines targeting other cancers with defined tumor antigens.

    Research Areas: cervical cancer, HPV, cancer vaccines

  • Clare Rock Lab

    Dr. Clare Rock is an assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Associate hospital Epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Faculty Member at Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality. Her research interest focuses the prevention of pathogen transmission in the hospital environment. This includes novel strategies of improving patient room cleaning and disinfection, including human factors engineering approaches, and conducting robust clinical trials to examine effectiveness of "no touch" novel technologies such as UV-C light. She has particular interest in carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae transmission in the hospital environment, including outbreak management, and transmission and epidemiology of Clostridium difficile. Her other area of interest is diagnostic stewardship, and the behavioral, cultural and human factors aspects of implementation of initiatives to enhance appropriate use of ...diagnostic tests. She leads a national initiative, as part of the High Value Practice Academic Alliance, examining strategies for appropriate testing for Clostridium difficile. This is a wider implementation of work that Dr. Rock conducted with The Johns Hopkins Health System facilities.

    Dr. Rock has multiple sources of grant funding including from the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and industry. Dr. Rock is Vice Chair of the Society for Healthcare Epidemiology of America Research Network, and serves on the SHEA research committee. Dr. Rock earned her M.B.B.Ch. at the University College Dublin School of Medicine, National University of Ireland, and her MS masters of clinical science of research at the University of Maryland, where she received the MS scholar award for epidemiology.
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    Research Areas: diagnostic stewardship, Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), infections, infection control, hospital epidemiology, quality of care

    Principal Investigator

    Clare Rock, M.B.B.Ch.

    Department

    Medicine

  • David Celentano Lab

    The David Celentano Lab studies behavioral and social epidemiology by integrating behavioral science theory and research with epidemiology methods. Our team directs epidemiological investigations and stages preventive interventions targeting HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, opioids, AIDS, HIV, sexually transmitted diseases

    Principal Investigator

    David Celentano, Sc.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • David Sack Lab

    Research in the David Sack Lab focuses on enteric infections. Our team has worked to develop laboratory detection methods to better understand the epidemiology of these agents. We also work to create appropriate clinical management strategies, such as antibiotics and rehydration methods, for enteric infections. Our work has included participating in the development of vaccines for a range of bacterial infections, including rotavirus, cholera and enterotoxigenic E. coli.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, international health, cholera, infectious disease, diarrhea, malaria, tuberculosis

    Principal Investigator

    David Sack, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • David Thompson Lab

    Researchers in the David Thompson Lab examine the outcomes of patients treated in intensive care units (ICUs), patient safety efforts, quality improvement efforts, and multidisciplinary teamwork and safety curriculum development. We're taking part in a study aimed at reducing hospital-acquired infections among cardiovascular surgery patients. Our investigators also participated in a clinical research collaboration that saw an 81 percent reduction in bloodstream infections related to central lines.

    Research Areas: medical education, patient safety, quality improvement, infections, patient outcomes, ICU

  • Elizabeth Daugherty Lab

    The Elizabeth Daugherty Lab conducts research on patient safety, critical care infection control and critical care disaster response. We investigate methods of improving patient safety through improved infection control, with a focus on clinical outcomes, nosocomial infection rates and the individual and organizational obstacles to personal protective equipment adherence.

    Research Areas: critical care medicine, patient safety, infection control, nosocomial infections

    Principal Investigator

    Elizabeth Daugherty, M.D., M.P.H.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Erica Johnson Lab

    Research in the Erica Johnson Lab investigates infection control in military deployment environments as well as infections that are associated with combat trauma. We explore topics such as HIV outcomes, gender-based health issues and disparities in care.

    Research Areas: gender-based health issues, infectious disease, combat trauma, HIV, deployment infection control, health disparities

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    Erica Johnson, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • 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).

    Research Areas: pharmaceuticals, thermodynamics, AIDS, drug discovery, HIV, protease inhibitors, malaria

  • Grant (Xuguang) Tao Lab

    Research in the Grant (Xuguang) Tao Lab explores environmental and occupational epidemiology topics, including workers' compensation and injuries, and nosocomial infections. We conduct research through clinical trials and systematic literature reviews, and also use cancer registry data and GIS applications in environmental epidemiological research. Our recent studies have explored topics such as the effectiveness of lumbar epidural steroid injections following lumbar surgery, the effect of physician-dispensed medication on workers' compensation claim outcomes and how the use of opioid and psychotropic medications for workers' compensation claims impacts lost work time.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, drug safety, cancer, nosocomial infections, GIS applications

    Principal Investigator

    Grant Tao, M.D., M.S., Ph.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • 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.

    Research Areas: global health, Hepatitis, Africa, AIDS, cancer, HIV, drugs, liver diseases

    Principal Investigator

    Gregory Kirk, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Haughey Lab: Neurodegenerative and Neuroinfectious Disease

    Dr. Haughey directs a disease-oriented research program that address questions in basic neurobiology, and clinical neurology. The primary research interests of the laboratory are:

    1. To identify biomarkers markers for neurodegenerative diseases including HIV-Associated Neurocognitive Disorders, Multiple Sclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. In these studies, blood and cerebral spinal fluid samples obtained from ongoing clinical studies are analyzed for metabolic profiles through a variety of biochemical, mass spectrometry and bioinformatic techniques. These biomarkers can then be used in the diagnosis of disease, as prognostic indicators to predict disease trajectory, or as surrogate markers to track the effectiveness of disease modifying interventions.
    2. To better understand how the lipid components of neuronal, and glial membranes interact with proteins to regulate signal transduction associated with differentiation, motility, inflammatory signaling, survival, and neuronal excitab...ility.
    3. To understand how extracellular vesicles (exosomes) released from brain resident cells regulate neuronal excitability, neural network activity, and peripheral immune responses to central nervous system damage and infections.
    4. To develop small molecule therapeutics that regulate lipid metabolism as a neuroprotective and restorative strategy for neurodegenerative conditions.
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    Research Areas: multiple sclerosis, PTSD, HAND, HIV

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    Norman Haughey, Ph.D.

    Department

    Neurology
    Neurosurgery

  • J. Marie Hardwick Laboratory

    Our research is focused on understanding the basic mechanisms of programmed cell death in disease pathogenesis. Billions of cells die per day in the human body. Like cell division and differentiation, cell death is also critical for normal development and maintenance of healthy tissues. Apoptosis and other forms of cell death are required for trimming excess, expired and damaged cells. Therefore, many genetically programmed cell suicide pathways have evolved to promote long-term survival of species from yeast to humans. Defective cell death programs cause disease states. Insufficient cell death underlies human cancer and autoimmune disease, while excessive cell death underlies human neurological disorders and aging. Of particular interest to our group are the mechanisms by which Bcl-2 family proteins and other factors regulate programmed cell death, particularly in the nervous system, in cancer and in virus infections. Interestingly, cell death regulators also regulate many other cel...lular processes prior to a death stimulus, including neuronal activity, mitochondrial dynamics and energetics. We study these unknown mechanisms.

    We have reported that many insults can trigger cells to activate a cellular death pathway (Nature, 361:739-742, 1993), that several viruses encode proteins to block attempted cell suicide (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 94: 690-694, 1997), that cellular anti-death genes can alter the pathogenesis of virus infections (Nature Med. 5:832-835, 1999) and of genetic diseases (PNAS. 97:13312-7, 2000) reflective of many human disorders. We have shown that anti-apoptotic Bcl-2 family proteins can be converted into killer molecules (Science 278:1966-8, 1997), that Bcl-2 family proteins interact with regulators of caspases and regulators of cell cycle check point activation (Molecular Cell 6:31-40, 2000). In addition, Bcl-2 family proteins have normal physiological roles in regulating mitochondrial fission/fusion and mitochondrial energetics to facilitate neuronal activity in healthy brains.
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    Research Areas: cell death

  • Jonathan Zenilman Lab

    The Jonathan Zenilman lab conducts research related to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). We are working to develop biological markers for sexual behavior to use in other research. The lab studies sexual risk behaviors in highly vulnerable populations and studies datasets from the Baltimore City Health Department to understand STD trends and behaviors. Additionally, we study nosocomial infections at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, with a focus on developing an antimicrobial control program. We also conduct clinical research related to the natural history and microbiology of chronic wounds in the outpatient setting.

    Research Areas: behavioral research, biomarkers, sexually transmitted diseases, nosocomial infections

    Principal Investigator

    Jonathan Zenilman, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Kenrad Nelson Lab

    Research in the Kenrad Nelson Lab focuses on diseases such as hepatitis, HIV/AIDS, leprosy, nosocomial infections, tuberculosis and infections in drug users. We study populations including HIV/AIDS patients, injection drug users, blood donors and transfusion recipients in the United States as well as in China, Thailand, Bangladesh and the Republic of Georgia. We are currently investigating the connection between HIV infection and drug use as part of the ALIVE study.

    Research Areas: Hepatitis, AIDS, blood donors, HIV, drug users, leprosy, tuberculosis, nosocomial infections

    Principal Investigator

    Kenrad Nelson, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Lisa Maragakis Lab

    Researchers in the Lisa Maragakis Lab are interested in health care-acquired infections and antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative bacilli. We are particularly interested in the epidemiology, prevention and management of these infections.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, infections, health care-acquired infections, resistant organisms

    Principal Investigator

    Lisa Maragakis, M.D., M.P.H.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Mark Jennings Lab

    The Mark Jennings Lab conducts research on bacterial infection in patients with cystic fibrosis. We are currently conducting a clinical trial to investigate the epidemiology and treatment of small-colony variant staphylococcus aureus in cystic fibrosis. We’ve also recently studied eradication strategies for persistent methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus infection in patients with cystic fibrosis.

    Research Areas: infections, cystic fibrosis

    Principal Investigator

    Mark Jennings, M.D., M.H.S.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Michael Melia Lab

    Research in the Michael Melia Lab focuses primarily on nocardia infections, Lyme disease and hepatitis C. Our studies have included key topics such as risk factors for incident infections during hepatitis C treatment, racial differences in eligibility for hepatitis C treatment and misdiagnosis of Lyme arthritis using the Borrelia burgdorferi immunoblot testing method. We also have a longstanding interest in medical education and work on curriculum to improve the quality of education for medical students and interns.

    Research Areas: medical education, nocardia infections, infectious disease, AIDS, HIV, Lyme disease, hepatitis C

    Principal Investigator

    Michael Melia, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Noah Lechtzin Lab

    Research in the Noah Lechtzin Lab investigates several important aspects of cystic fibrosis (CF), including the impact of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections in CF patients and new therapy options for individuals with CF. Our research into new CF therapies has included studies on home electronic symptom and lung function monitoring, transbronchial needle aspiration and bedside percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy tube placement. We also explore the role of metabolic complications in CF patients by examining how the disease is impacted by factors such as vitamin D deficiency, osteoporosis and testosterone deficiency.

    Research Areas: osteoporosis, cystic fibrosis, pulmonary medicine, metabolism, antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections, testosterone

    Principal Investigator

    Noah Lechtzin, M.D., M.H.S.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Patrick Breysse Lab

    Research in the Patrick Breysse Lab seeks to better understand the biological, chemical and physical factors that can impact a patient’s health. Our team is currently studying the effects of indoor and outdoor air pollution on childhood asthma, respiratory tract infections, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and other respiratory conditions. We also conduct research on secondhand smoke exposure around the world and have participated in a range of health and exposure studies in Peru, Nepal, Mongolia, Columbia and India.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, pollution, asthma, COPD, pediatrics

    Principal Investigator

    Patrick Breysse, M.H.S., Ph.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Raymond Reid Lab

    Research in the Raymond Reid Lab focuses on community health and pediatric infectious diseases among Native American populations; epidemiologic studies of enteric infections, Haemophilus influenzae, and pneumococcus; and field testing of vaccines and treatments.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, community health, vaccines, infectious disease, enteric infections

    Principal Investigator

    Raymond Reid, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Retrovirus Laboratory

    Research in the Retrovirus Laboratory focuses on the molecular virology and pathogenesis of lentivirus infections. In particular, we study the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) to determine the molecular basis for the development of HIV CNS, pulmonary and cardiac disease.

    Research projects include studies of viral molecular genetics and host cell genes and proteins involved in the pathogenesis of disease. We are also interested in studies of lentivirus replication in macrophages and astrocytes and their role in the development of disease. These studies have led us to identify the viral genes that are important in neurovirulence of SIV and the development of CNS disease including NEF and the TM portion of ENV. The mechanisms of the action of these proteins in the CNS are complex and are under investigation. We have also developed a rapid, consistent SIV/macaque model in which we can test the ability of various antiviral and neuroprotective agents to reduce the severity of CNS and ...pulmonary disease. view more

    Research Areas: HIV, genomics, pulmonology, SIV, cardiology, lentivirus

    Principal Investigator

    Janice Clements, Ph.D.

    Department

    Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology

  • Robert Gilman Lab

    Research in the Robert Gilman Lab focuses on disease control. Our work led to the development of microscopic-observation drug-susceptibility (MODS), a rapid tuberculosis diagnostic technique. We continue to conduct infectious disease research based at Peru’s Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia.

    Research Areas: international health, infectious disease, infections, infection control, parasitic diseases, disease control

    Principal Investigator

    Robert Gilman, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Sara Cosgrove Lab

    The Sara Cosgrove Lab researches how infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria affect patients. We are interested in the methods needed to make sure patients receive the best possible antibiotic treatment, including the development of tools and programs to promote the rational use of antimicrobials. We also study the epidemiology and management of S. aureus bacteremia.

    Research Areas: epidemiology, antimicrobials, antibiotics, resistant organisms

    Principal Investigator

    Sara Cosgrove, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Schneck Lab

    Effective immune responses are critical for control of a variety of infectious disease including bacterial, viral and protozoan infections as well as in protection from development of tumors. Central to the development of an effective immune response is the T lymphocyte which, as part of the adaptive immune system, is central in achieving sterilization and long lasting immunity. While the normal immune responses is tightly regulated there are also notable defects leading to pathologic diseases. Inactivity of tumor antigen-specific T cells, either by suppression or passive ignorance allows tumors to grow and eventually actively suppress the immune response. Conversely, hyperactivation of antigen-specific T cells to self antigens is the underlying basis for many autoimmune diseases including: multiple sclerosis; arthritis; and diabetes. Secondary to their central role in a wide variety of physiologic and pathophysiologic responses my lab takes a broad-based approach to studying T cell re...sponses. view more

    Research Areas: t-cell responses, pathologic diseases, autoimmune diseases, pathology, immune system

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    Jonathan Schneck, M.D., Ph.D.

    Department

    Pathology

  • Sean Berenholtz Lab

    Work in the Sean Berenholtz Lab focuses on patient safety, ICU care, quality health care and evidence-based medicine. Two notable and successful projects include the National On The Cusp: Stop BSI project, which was implemented in 47 states with the goal of eliminating bloodstream infections, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded Keystone ICU project, which improved communication and teamwork and reduced hospital-acquired infections in more than 100 ICUs in Michigan. One recent study focused on ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), one of the most common type of health care-associated infections in the ICU. Existing VAP prevention intervention bundles vary widely on the interventions, but our research team described a structured approach for developing a new VAP prevention bundle.

    Research Areas: patient safety, quality improvement, infections, ICU, evidence-based medicine, quality of care

  • Stuart C. Ray Lab

    Chronic viral hepatitis (due to HBV and HCV) is a major cause of liver disease worldwide, and an increasing cause of death in persons living with HIV/AIDS. Our laboratory studies are aimed at better defining the host-pathogen interactions in these infections, with particular focus on humoral and cellular immune responses, viral evasion, inflammation, fibrosis progression, and drug resistance. We are engaged in synthetic biology approaches to rational vaccine development and understanding the limits on the extraordinary genetic variability of HCV.

    Research Areas: immunology, Hepatitis, AIDS, HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, liver diseases, synthetic biology

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    Stuart Ray, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • The Sfanos Lab

    The Sfanos Lab studies the cellular and molecular pathology of prostate disease at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. We are specifically interested in agents that may lead to chronic inflammation in the prostate, such as bacterial infections and prostatic concretions called corpora amylacea. Our ongoing studies are aimed at understanding the influence of prostate infections and inflammation on prostate disease including prostate cancer and benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). The laboratory also focuses on the influence of the microbiome on prostate disease development, progression, and/or resistance to therapy.

    Research Areas: disease resistance, prostate cancer, prostate, benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostate disease, chronic inflammation

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    Karen Sfanos, M.S., Ph.D.

    Department

    Pathology

  • The Transplant and Oncology Infectious Diseases (TOID) Center

    The mission of the Transplant and Oncology Infectious Diseases (TOID) Center is to expand institutional expertise in clinical and academic activities focused on infectious complications in transplant (solid organ and stem cell) and oncology patients at Johns Hopkins medical institutions. Key efforts include developing standardized algorithms for the prevention and treatment of infections in these vulnerable patients and to establish an expanded infrastructure to facilitate clinical and translational studies at TOID. Current research projects focus on diagnostics for invasive fungal infections and specialized studies of the pathogenesis of candidiasis and aspergillosis.

    Research Areas: transplants, candidiasis, fungal infections, infectious disease, cancer, aspergillosis

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    Kieren Marr, M.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Thomas Grader-Beck Lab

    Research in the Thomas Grader-Beck Lab aims to understand the pathogenesis of systemic autoimmune diseases—particularly systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and Sjögren’s syndrome—by taking a translational approach. Autoantibodies (antibodies that target self-molecules) are believed to contribute significantly to the disease process. We are studying mechanisms that may make self-structures immunogenic. We theorize that certain post-translational antigen modifications, which can occur in infections or malignant transformation, result in the expression of neoepitopes that spread autoimmunity in the proper setting. The team has combined studies that employ a number of mouse strains, certain gene-deficient mice and human biological specimens.

    Research Areas: Sjogren's syndrome, antibodies, autoimmune diseases, self-molecules, systemic lupus erythematosus

    Principal Investigator

    Thomas Grader-Beck, M.D., Ph.D.

    Department

    Medicine

  • Todd Dorman Lab

    Research conducted in the Todd Dorman Lab examines the use of informatics in intensive care settings as it relates to remote patient monitoring, safety and management strategies. Specific areas of interest include the surgical stress response; aminoglycoside antibiotics; fungal infections; renal failure; pharmacokinetic models of drug administration; and ICU triage and its impact on disaster preparedness.

    Research Areas: fungal infections, patient safety, informatics, disaster preparedness, aminoglycoside antibiotics, surgical stress response, ICU, patient monitoring

  • William G. Nelson Laboratory

    Normal and neoplastic cells respond to genome integrity threats in a variety of different ways. Furthermore, the nature of these responses are critical both for cancer pathogenesis and for cancer treatment. DNA damaging agents activate several signal transduction pathways in damaged cells which trigger cell fate decisions such as proliferation, genomic repair, differentiation, and cell death. For normal cells, failure of a DNA damaging agent (i.e., a carcinogen) to activate processes culminating in DNA repair or in cell death might promote neoplastic transformation. For cancer cells, failure of a DNA damaging agent (i.e., an antineoplastic drug) to promote differentiation or cell death might undermine cancer treatment.

    Our laboratory has discovered the most common known somatic genome alteration in human prostatic carcinoma cells. The DNA lesion, hypermethylation of deoxycytidine nucleotides in the promoter of a carcinogen-defense enzyme gene, appears to result in inactivation of th...e gene and a resultant increased vulnerability of prostatic cells to carcinogens.
    Studies underway in the laboratory have been directed at characterizing the genomic abnormality further, and at developing methods to restore expression of epigenetically silenced genes and/or to augment expression of other carcinogen-defense enzymes in prostate cells as prostate cancer prevention strategies.

    Another major interest pursued in the laboratory is the role of chronic or recurrent inflammation as a cause of prostate cancer. Genetic studies of familial prostate cancer have identified defects in genes regulating host inflammatory responses to infections.
    A newly described prostate lesion, proliferative inflammatory atrophy (PIA), appears to be an early prostate cancer precursor. Current experimental approaches feature induction of chronic prostate inflammation in laboratory mice and rats, and monitoring the consequences on the development of PIA and prostate cancer.
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    Research Areas: cellular biology, cancer, epigenetics, DNA

    Lab Website

    Principal Investigator

    William Nelson, M.D., Ph.D.

    Department

    Oncology

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