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GI Early Detection Biomarkers Lab
Dr. Meltzer is an internationally renowned leader in the molecular pathobiology of gastrointestinal malignancy and premalignancy. He invented molecular methods to detect loss of heterozygosity in tiny biopsies, triggering an avalanche of research on precancerous lesions. He was the first to comprehensively study coding region microsatellite instability, leading to the identification of several important tumor suppressor genes. He performed several groundbreaking genomic, epigenomic and bioinformatic studies of esophageal and colonic neoplasms, shifting the GI research paradigm toward genome-wide approaches. He directed an ambitious nationwide validation study of DNA methylation-based biomarkers for the prediction of neoplastic progression in Barrett’s esophagus.
Dr. Meltzer founded and led the Aerodigestive Cancer and Biomarker Interdisciplinary Programs at the University of Maryland, also becoming associate director for core sciences at that school’s Cancer Center. He currently hol...ds an endowed professorship and is the director of GI biomarker research at Johns Hopkins.
The laboratory group focuses its efforts on the molecular genetics of gastrointestinal cancers and premalignant lesions, as well as on translational research to improve early detection, prognostic evaluation, and treatment of these conditions. Below, some examples of this work are described. view less
James Hamilton Lab
The main research interests of the James Hamilton Lab are the molecular pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma and the development of molecular markers to help diagnose and manage cancer of the liver. In addition, we are investigating biomarkers for early diagnosis, prognosis and response to various treatment modalities. Results of this study will provide a molecular classification of HCC and allow us to identify targets for chemoprevention and treatment. Specifically, we extract genomic DNA and total RNA from liver tissues and use this genetic material for methylation-specific PCR (MSP), cDNA microarray, microRNA microarray and genomic DNA methylation array experiments.
Dr. Kinzler’s laboratory has focused on the genetics of human cancer. They have identified a variety of genetic mutations that underlie cancer, including mutations of the APC pathway that appear to initiate the majority of colorectal cancers and IDH1/2 mutations that underlying many gliomas. In addition, they have developed a variety of powerful tools for analysis of expression and genetic alterations in cancer.
Most recently, they have pioneered integrated whole genome analyses of human cancers through expression, copy number, and mutational analyses of all the coding genes in several human cancer types including colorectal, breast, pancreatic and brain. The identification of genetic differences between normal and tumor tissues provide new therapeutic targets, new opportunities for the early diagnosis of cancer, and important insights into the neoplastic process.
Li Gao Lab
The Li Gao Lab researches functional genomics, molecular genetics and epigenetics of complex cardiopulmonary and allergic diseases, with a focus on translational research applying fundamental genetic insight into the clinical setting. Current research includes implementation of high-throughput technologies in the fields of genome-wide association studies (GWAS), massively parallel sequencing, gene expression analysis, epigenetic mapping and integrative genomics in ongoing research of complex lung diseases and allergic diseases including asthma, atopic dermatitis (AD), pulmonary arterial hypertension, COPD, sepsis and acute lung injury/ARDS; and epigenetic contributions to pulmonary arterial hypertension associated with systemic sclerosis.
Investigators in the Michael Mingzhao Xing Lab study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of thyroid cancer, including its genetic and epigenetic alterations and related cellular behaviors. We are particularly interested in exploring cellular and molecular derangements associated with the MAP kinase and PI3K/Akt pathways as a fundamental mechanism in thyroid tumorigenesis. The clinical translation of research findings is an important focus for us. Examples include the team’s demonstrations of the prognostic value of the BRAF mutation for risk stratification of thyroid cancer, as well as its preoperative value when tested on thyroid fine-needle biopsy specimens.
The long-term objectives of our research team are:
a. to understand the molecular etiology in the development of human cancer, and
b. to identify and characterize cancer molecules for cancer detection, diagnosis, and therapy.
We use ovarian carcinoma as a disease model because it is one of the most aggressive neoplastic diseases in women. For the first research direction, we aim to identify and characterize the molecular alterations during initiation and progression of ovarian carcinomas.
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
Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology
Dr. Yegnasubramanian directs a Laboratory of Cancer Molecular Genetics and Epigenetics at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center (SKCCC), and is also the Director of the SKCCC Next Generation Sequencing Center.
Our lab research is focused on understanding the complex interplay between genetic and epigenetic alterations in carcinogenesis and disease progression, and to exploit this understanding in developing novel biomarkers for diagnosis and risk stratification as well as in identifying targets for therapeutic intervention.
Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed malignancy in men in the United States, although our understanding of the molecular basis for this disease remains incomplete. We are interested in characterizing consistent alterations in the structure and expression of the genome of human prostate cancer cells as a means of identifying genes critical in the pathways of prostatic carcinogenesis.
We are focusing on somatic genomic alterations occurring in sporadic prostate cancers, as well as germline variations which confer increases in prostate cancer risk. Both genome wide and candidate gene approaches are being pursued, and cancer associated changes in gene expression analyses of normal and malignant prostate cells are being cataloged as a complementary approach in these efforts.
It is anticipated that this work will assist in providing more effective methodologies to identify men at high risk for this disease, in general, and in particular, to identify new markers of prognostic... and therapeutic significance that could lead to more effective management of this common disease. view more
Zack Wang Lab
The Wang lab focuses on the signals that direct the differentiation of pluripotent stem cells, such as induced-pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, into hematopoietic and cardiovascular cells. Pluripotent stem cells hold great potential for regenerative medicine. Defining the molecular links between differentiation outcomes will provide important information for designing rational methods of stem cell manipulation.