Jordan Green named to PopSci’s Brilliant Ten

Jordan Green, Johns Hopkins University associate professor of biomedical engineering and executive committee member for the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, was named one of Popular Science magazine’s Brilliant Ten. The magazine recognized “inspired young scientists and engineers … whose ideas will transform the future.”

Jordan Green (Photo by Marty Katz)

Jordan Green (Photo by Marty Katz)

Green’s work focuses on using nanoscale particles made in the shape of footballs that can train the body’s own immune system to tackle cancer cells. Turns out, particles with the elongated ovoid shape have a slightly larger surface area, which gives them an edge over spherical particles. The football-shaped particles did a better job of triggering the immune system to attack the cancer cells.

Green collaborated with Jonathan Schneck, M.D., Ph.D., professor of pathology, medicine and oncology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. Both are affiliated faculty members of Johns Hopkins Institute for  NanoBioTechnology. Their work was published in the journal Biomaterials on Oct 5, 2013.

Read more about their research here.

Congratulations to Dr. Green for the recognition of your interesting and promising work!

Watch a video where Green explains his work in simple terms using toys.

Giddens Inaugural Professorial Lecture Series features all INBT faculty

In 1993, the Whiting School of Engineering at Johns Hopkins University started a tradition to honor faculty members who had been newly promoted to full professors through a special lecture series named for the school’s fifth dean. The Don P. Giddens Inaugural Professorial Lecture Series this fall features three faculty affiliated with the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology. Each will take place in different auditoriums on the Homewood campus and begin at 3 p.m. They are free and open to the Hopkins community, but seating in each location is limited. Check it out.

Monday Sept. 15, Mason Hall, 3-5 p.m.Fall IPL lecture poster

David Gracias, Russell Croft Faculty Scholar, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering

Big Ideas in a Small World

Nine orders of magnitude separate humans from the nanometer length scale – much of what is hidden from the naked eye. Professor Gracias discusses how engineering three-dimensional devices at these tiny length scales promises revolutionary advances in optics, electronics and medicine.

Tuesday, Oct. 14, Gilman 50, 3-5 p.m.

Hai-Quan Mao, professor of materials science and engineering

Designer Materials for Tissue and Therapeutic Engineering

New materials with tailored structural and functional characteristics can advance the ways medical treatments are delivered to combat diseases and repair damaged tissue. Professor Mao chronicles several case studies about recent innovations in the development of polymeric nanomaterials to enhance stem cell expansion and differentiations and to improve gene medicine delivery.

Thursday, November 6, Hodson Hall 210, 3-5 p.m.

Tza-Huei “Jeff” Wang, professor of mechanical engineering

Discerning Rare Disease Biomarkers by Micro- and Nanotechnologies

Microfluidics, nanoparticles and single molecule spectroscopy hold great promise for advancing the molecular analysis of diseases. Professor Wang will explicate how these highly sensitive tools can enhance the detection of genetic and epigenetic markers for cancer, as well as assist in diagnosing infectious diseases more swiftly and accurately.

 

 

 

Posters solicited for Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering Symposium

labwarestockPosters are now being accepted for the Regenerative Medicine and Tissue Engineering Symposium, co-organized by the Institute for Cell Engineering and Translational Tissue Engineering Center. The symposiumwill be held  from 8:30 to 5 p.m. October 7, 2014 in the Mountcastle Auditorium, Pre-Clinical Teaching Building. Our keynote speakers are Dr. Irv Weismann from Stanford University and Dr. Arnold Caplan from Case Western Reserve University. Other speakers to be announced.

Students, postdoctoral fellows and faculties are encouraged to attend this one day symposium and present their work related to regenerative medicine during the lunchtime poster session. Please submit a short poster abstract to Eleni Georgantonis at egeorga1@jhmi.edu by September. 15.  Awards for the best posters from students and postdocs will be presented at the end of the day.

The event is co-hosted by INBT affiliated faculty Jennifer Elisseeff and Guo-li Ming.

Receptors, Synapses and Memory

Johns Hopkins University’s “Brain Night” is a monthly event sponsored by the Brain Science Institute and includes supper and a scientific program aimed at bringing together students and senior investigators. Faculty, students and staff interested in the brain sciences are invited to attend. The program is designed to promote interactions between faculty and students across the University and to increase links between basic and clinical neuroscience researchers.

Brain_Night_Sept_2014_HuganirThis month’s Brain Night will feature: Richard L. Huganir, Ph.D. on “Receptors, Synapses and Memory” on Wednesday, September 10, 2014, with a 5:00pm reception and  5:30pm lecture in the Mountcastle Auditorium, PCTB (PreClinical Teaching Building) 725 N. Wolfe Street, East Baltimore Campus.

Huganir is affiliated with The Johns Hopkins Blood-Brain Barrier working group launched by Peter Searson, director of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology. Huganir is also Professor and Director of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience, as well as an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Please RSVP to Barbara Smith via email bsmith13@jhmi.edu or 410-955-4504.

http://www.brainscienceinstitute.org/index.php/news/brain_night/

 

INBTea returns Sept 3

INBTea Flyer Fall 2014

REU student profile: Christopher Glover

Christopher Glover is a rising senior in bioengineering at the University of Missouri. He worked this summer as an REU intern in the laboratory of professor Jeff Tza-Huei Wang, who has joint appointments in mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and oncology. The Research Experience for Undergraduates, hosted by Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology, attracts nearly 800 undergraduate applicants for just 10 research positions.

Christopher Glover

Christopher Glover

Christopher’s project involved a proof-of-concept experiment to test a device used to digitally sort and amplify DNA samples.

The device consists of a silicone chip imprinted with 3,000 tiny wells to contain DNA. A thermoplastic lid covers the top of the chip to keep the DNA in place in the wells. After a segment of DNA is added to the chip, the number of copies of that DNA segment is amplified using a device called a thermal cycler. “The goal is to either get zero or one copy of the DNA segment in each well, which makes the device “digital,” he said.

“We aren’t concerned about the type of DNA we are amplifying but just to see if it will work,” Christopher said. “This could be used for medical screening where a specific allele could be detected within a gene to see if someone is more susceptible to getting a disease,” he said.

Christopher said that working in the Wang lab has helped him learn much more about nanotechnology than he had previously known. His future plans include earning a PhD in biomedical engineering.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

REU student profile: Claire Korpela

Claire Korpela is a rising senior at the University of Wyoming studying chemistry and molecular biology. She spent the summer at Johns Hopkins University working in the chemical and biomolecular engineering laboratory of Honggang Cui. Claire was part of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology’s Research Experience for Undergraduates.

Claire Korpela

Claire Korpela

Her research project involved creating a peptide chain that targets to cancer cells and combining it with an anti-cancer drug. Claire’s career goal is to become an oncologist. She decided to write her own blog post on her experience at JHU, which follows:

The naked eye is only so good for seeing small objects. This summer I had the opportunity to work with chemotherapeutic 1D nanostructures, a task that my naked eye was not well equipped for.

peptides-korpela.jpg

Nanotubes (Cui Lab)

When I was first told that the nanotubes I had formed from individual drug-peptide monomers has self-assembled into highly ordered and complex structures, I had a difficult time wrapping my mind around what that meant. Just the idea of nanotechnology astounded me. How could something so small have such a large impact on society and the future of technology and medicine? It was something I needed to see to believe.

After looking at my sample using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), I was taken aback by the image that was before me. It certainly wouldn’t be classified as beautiful or interesting to most people looking at it, but to me it was. Seeing how my molecule aggregated on its own into nanotubes that can weave around itself to form a stable gel gave me an even better understanding of just how important nanotechnology can be in the fight against cancer.

 

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

Summer scholars celebrate with poster session

The Johns Hopkins Summer Academic Research Experience (SARE) program will hold a closing celebration and poster session for participants on August 15 at 3:30 in the pre-function area of the Woods Basic Science Auditorium on the ground floor at the medical campus.

Screen Shot 2014-08-06 at 12.17.09 PMThe SARE is an outreach initiative and internship program that provides a biomedical research experience and academic support for selected high school students from the greater Baltimore community. It is partially funded by the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and the Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT).

“SARE Scholars typically come from disadvantaged backgrounds and participants are chosen from Boys Hope Girls Hope of Baltimore, the SEED School of Maryland, the Crossroads School and KIPP Academy,” said Doug Robinson, professor of cell biology, INBT affiliate and founder of the program. “SARE Scholars spend the summer working in research labs with doctoral students and postdoctoral fellows, while taking a structured academic program and working on professionalism skills. At the celebration, Scholars will present the fruits of their hard work through a professional scientific poster session.”

Robinson noted that since 2009, 16 Scholars have participated in SARE. Of those who have reached college age, 100 percent have enrolled into 4-year universities, and 40 percent of those students chose science, engineering, or health-related degree programs.

“Although we often hear of sad stories of Baltimore youth, this event will show just how exceptional Baltimore students are,” Robinson said. “I promise you will be amazed and inspired by the SARE Celebration.”

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

 

 

REU student Profile: Florencia Velez-Cortes

Florencia Velez-Cortes is a rising senior in physics and chemistry at The Ohio State University. As part of INBT’s REU program, she spent her summer as a research intern the chemical and biomolecular engineering laboratory of professor David Gracias. REU stands for Research Experience for Undergraduates and is a National Science Foundation program hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology.

Florencia Velez-Cortes

Florencia Velez-Cortes

Florencia worked constructing bi-layers out of DNA and acrylamide gel. The combination of the two materials could be used the make biocompatible devices, such as microgrippers that could be used in tether-less surgery, she explained.

“The best part about this project is that we are working on something complete new and biocompatible that could even be responsive to chemical signals,” she explained.

Also because the material is composed of DNA, “it could be responsive to certain DNA sequences.”

Florencia said the most challenging thing for her this summer was working with people who are engineers, when she is not. “It’s been a steep learning curve for me but everyone has been really helpful and receptive to working with someone who is outside of their field.”

She also noted that the pace of research in the Gracias lab is a lot faster than what she is used to in her previous laboratory experiences. She said having a mentor she could talk to was integral to her success.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.

Three-way brain tumor therapy sparks immune system with radiation

Johns Hopkins researchers have found that combining radiation with two therapies that activate the immune system allow mice with brain tumors (glioblastoma) to survive longer than mice who did not receive the combo treatment. INBT affiliated faculty member Michael Lim, M.D., an associate professor of neurosurgery, oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said the radiation may act “as kind of kindling, to try to induce an immune response.”

brainRead the full press release from Johns Hopkins regarding the publication in PLoS One journal below:

A triple therapy for glioblastoma, including two types of immunotherapy and targeted radiation, has significantly prolonged the survival of mice with these brain cancers, according to a new report by scientists at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Mice with implanted, mouse-derived glioblastoma cells lived an average of 67 days after the triple therapy, compared with mice that lasted 24 days when they received only the two immunotherapies. Half of the mice who received the triple therapy lived 100 days or more and were protected against further tumors when new cancer cells were re-injected under the animals’ skins.

The combination treatment described in the July 11 issue of PLOS One consists of highly focused radiation therapy targeted specifically to the tumor and strategies that lift the brakes and activate the body’s immune system, allowing anti-cancer drugs to attack the tumor. One of the immunotherapies is an antibody that binds to and blocks an immune checkpoint molecule on T cells called CTLA-4, allowing the T-cells to infiltrate and fight tumor cells. The second immunotherapy, known as 4-1BB, supplies a positive “go” signal, stimulating anti-tumor T cells.

None of the treatments are new, but were used by the Johns Hopkins team to demonstrate the value of combining treatments that augment the immune response against glioblastomas, the most common brain tumors in human adults. The prognosis is generally poor, even with early treatment.

“We’re trying to find that optimal balance between pushing and pulling the immune system to kill cancer,” said Charles Drake, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of oncology, immunology and urology, and medical oncologist at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

The researchers speculate that when radiation destroys tumor cells, the dead tumor cells may release proteins that help train immune cells to recognize and attack the cancer, said Michael Lim, M.D., an associate professor of neurosurgery, oncology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and member of Johns Hopkins’ Institute of NanoBiotechnology.

“Traditionally, radiation is used as a definitive therapy to directly kill cancer cells,” said Lim, who also serves as director of the Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program and director of the Metastatic Brain Tumor Center at Johns Hopkins Medicine. “But in this situation we’re using radiation as kind of kindling, to try to induce an immune response.”

Lim says if further studies affirm the value of the triple therapy in animals and humans, the radiation could be delivered a few days before or after the immunotherapies and still achieve the same results. Lim said this leeway “could make applications of this therapy in patients possible.”

The researchers say they were also encouraged to see that the triple therapy created “immune memory” in mice that were long-term survivors. When brain tumor cells were re-introduced under the skin of the animals, their immune systems appeared to protect them against the development of a new brain tumor.

Drake said since the immune system usually doesn’t generate a memory when foreign (tumor) cells are still present in the body. “But the idea that this combination treatment was successful at generating immunological memory really suggests that we could do this in patients and generate some long-term responses.”

The researchers are developing a variety of clinical trials to test combination therapies against brain tumors.

Other researchers on the study include Zineb Belcaid, Jillian A. Phallen, Alfred P. See, Dimitrios Mathios, Chelsea Gottschalk, Sarah Nicholas, Meghan Kellett, Jacob Ruzevick, Christopher Jackson, Xiaobu Ye, Betty Tyler, and Henry Brem of the Department of Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine; Jing Zeng, Phuoc T. Tran, and John W. Wong of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Molecular Radiation Sciences at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center;  and Emilia Albesiano, Nicholas M. Durham, and Drew M. Pardoll at the Kimmel Center’s Department of Oncology and Medicine, Division of Immunology.

Funding for the study was provided by the WW Smith Charitable Foundation and individual patient donations.

Michael Lim is a consultant for Accuray and receives research funding from Accuray, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Celldex and Aegenus. Charles Drake has served as a consultant for Amplimmune, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Compugen, Dendreon, ImmunExcite and Roche/Genentech and is on the Scientific Advisory Board of Compugen. He receives research funding from Bristol-Meyers Squibb, Aduro and Janssen and has stock ownership in Compugen. Drew Pardoll is a consultant/advisor for Jounce Therapeutics, Bristol-Meyers Squibb, ImmuneXcite and Aduro and receives research funding from Bristol-Meyers Squibb. Jing Zeng, Michael Lim, Charles Drake and Drew Pardoll hold a patent for the work related to this study.

The authors declare that they have a patent relating to material pertinent to this article; this international patent application (PCT/US2012/043124) is entitled “Use of Adjuvant Focused Radiation Including Stereotactic Radiosurgery for Augmenting Immune Based Therapies Against Neoplasms.” These relationships are being managed by The Johns Hopkins University in accordance with its conflict of interest policies.

For all press inquiries regarding INBT, its faculty and programs, contact Mary Spiro, mspiro@jhu.edu or 410-516-4802.