Former nanobio summer intern featured in med school newsletter

Obafemi Ifelowo (Photo:MSpiro)

One of Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology’s 2010 summer research interns –Obafemi Ifelowo, a senior molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics major at Towson University– was featured in a recent issue of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Science Newsletter. Ifelowo worked in the biomedical engineering laboratory of affiliated faculty member Jordan Green. Read more.

INBT’s summer nanobio internship is a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation. The Institute supported 16 students during the summer of 2010 for 10 weeks of research in laboratories across The Johns Hopkins University campuses.  Learn more about INBT’s summer nanobio REU program  here.

INBT’s REU gives students 10 weeks to find out if research is for them

Roberto Rivera worked in Nina Markovic’s physics lab. (Photo: Sarah Gubara)

Johns Hopkins University was founded as a research university. But the fact is, research is not the best career path for everyone. That’s why Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology offers a 10-week summer research internship for undergraduate students. There’s no better way to find out if research is for you than to actually do it.

During the summer of 2010, 16 students from universities across the country were admitted into INBT’s highly competitive Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) funded by the National Science Foundation. This was the third year of INBT’s REU program, and this group of scholars represented the Institute’s largest since the program began. Students are mentored by faculty members, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in INBT affiliated laboratories across Hopkins.

Makeeda Moore conducted research in Sharon Gerecht’s lab. (Photo: Sarah Gubara)

Projects are designed in such a way that students are able to gather relevant data in such a short period of time. At the end of the 10-week research program, they presented their findings at a university-wide collaborative research poster session held with other summer interns from across several divisions at Johns Hopkins. Some students are invited stay on for a few weeks after the conclusion of their program and continue to work in their assigned laboratories. Several REU scholars have been able to subsequently publish peer-reviewed scientific reports with their advisors.

In addition to their academic and research activities, INBT REU participants have the opportunity to live with other summer interns and mingle at organized and impromptu social events. Outings have included cookouts, crab feasts and Orioles baseball games.

Watch a video about the REU poster session here!

Meet the 2010 REU students here.

Applications are no longer accepted for the 2011 REU program.

Festival draws half a million fans of science and engineering

Charli Dvoracek shows off some nanoparticles at the USA Science & Engineering Festival. (Photo: Mary Spiro)

The scene was a sea of white tents spread across the National Mall in Washington, DC and science and engineering were the order of the day. That’s what greeted visitors to the booth hosted by Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology at the first USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo, held October 23-24.

An estimated 500,000 people attended the two-day event, which featured 550 participating organizations and 1,500 hands-on activities. Those who stopped by INBT’s “Nano-Magic” booth learned about how atoms, molecules and materials have ways of building structures all by themselves.

Twelve graduate students affiliated with INBT training programs and a handful of friends of the Institute volunteered to help visitors understand the science. In addition, several of the research and news videos created by INBT’s Animation Studio were on display throughout the day.

An estimated 500 to 600 people came to the INBT booth and spent from 5 to 20 minutes discussing nanotechnology, Johns Hopkins research, and INBT’s training programs. This first-ever event was a major outreach opportunity for INBT and one of the first times the Institute has had a public display of this kind.

Tania Chan working with youngsters at the USASEF. (Photo: Mary Spiro)“Outreach serves an important purpose,” said Denis Wirtz, INBT’s associate director and professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering who came out Saturday to assist with the demonstration. “It showcases the interdisciplinary nature of INBT’s work to a broad audience. But it also gives the students an opportunity to explain their research in an accessible way. These outreach activities are a requirement of their training program grants, but this skill will also help them in their future careers when explaining their work to funding sources.”

USA Science and Engineering Festival organizers have not announced whether or not they will host another event like this one next year. INBT leaders indicate, however, that they will be interested in participating in this or similar events in the future.

Six exhibitors from Johns Hopkins presented at the USA Science and Engineering Festival. Along with INBT, they included representatives from the Institute for Data Intensive Engineering and Science and the department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering from the Whiting School of Engineering and the undergraduate program in neuroscience, the department of Physics and Astronomy, and the Institute for Biophysical Research from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

USA Science and Engineering Festival Website

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology

Hopkins Biomaterials Day Symposium Oct. 29

Click here to view flyer.

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology is a sponsor of the annual Biomaterials Day Symposium to be held Friday, Oct. 29 , from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Charles Commons at the Homewood campus.

The goal of this of regional mini-symposium is to show-case all biomaterials related research happening at Johns Hopkins University, University of Maryland, and Pennsylvania State University, to stimulate further collaborations among peers, and to promote student participation in biomaterials research at all levels. Several keynote speakers will be giving talks on various aspects of biomaterials science, engineering and applications.

Join INBT, JHU and our neighboring research universities for this day-long event. You and your lab are invited to share your work on biomaterials at this symposium. Previously presented research may be presented here again. The registration is free and lunch is included.

Society for Biomaterials

Cells studied in 3-D may reveal novel cancer targets

Stephanie Fraley

Stephanie Fraley, a doctoral student in chemical and biomolecular engineering, was lead author of the study. Photo by Will Kirk/HomewoodPhoto.jhu.edu

Showing movies in 3-D has produced a box-office bonanza in recent months. Could viewing cell behavior in three dimensions lead to important advances in cancer research? A new study led by Johns Hopkins University engineers indicates it may happen. Looking at cells in 3-D, the team members concluded, yields more accurate information that could help develop drugs to prevent cancer’s spread.

“Finding out how cells move and stick to surfaces is critical to our understanding of cancer and other diseases. But most of what we know about these behaviors has been learned in the 2-D environment of Petri dishes,” said Denis Wirtz, director of the Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center and principal investigator of the study. “Our study demonstrates for the first time that the way cells move inside a three-dimensional environment, such as the human body, is fundamentally different from the behavior we’ve seen in conventional flat lab dishes. It’s both qualitatively and quantitatively different.”

One implication of this discovery is that the results produced by a common high-speed method of screening drugs to prevent cell migration on flat substrates are, at best, misleading, said Wirtz, who also is the Theophilus H. Smoot Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins. This is important because cell movement is related to the spread of cancer, Wirtz said. “Our study identified possible targets to dramatically slow down cell invasion in a three-dimensional matrix.”

When cells are grown in two dimensions, Wirtz said, certain proteins help to form long-lived attachments called focal adhesions on surfaces. Under these 2-D conditions, these adhesions can last several seconds to several minutes. The cell also develops a broad, fan-shaped protrusion called a lamella along its leading edges, which helps move it forward. “In 3-D, the shape is completely different,” Wirtz said. “It is more spindlelike with two pointed protrusions at opposite ends. Focal adhesions, if they exist at all, are so tiny and so short-lived they cannot be resolved with microscopy.”

The study’s lead author, Stephanie Fraley, a Johns Hopkins doctoral student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, said that the shape and mode of movement for cells in 2-D are merely an “artifact of their environment,” which could produce misleading results when testing the effect of different drugs. “It is much more difficult to do 3-D cell culture than it is to do 2-D cell culture,” Fraley said. “Typically, any kind of drug study that you do is conducted in 2D cell cultures before it is carried over into animal models. Sometimes, drug study results don’t resemble the outcomes of clinical studies. This may be one of the keys to understanding why things don’t always match up.”

collagen fibers

Reflection confocal micrograph of collagen fibers of a 3D matrix with cancer cells embedded. Image by Stephanie Fraley/Wirtz Lab

Fraley’s faculty supervisor, Wirtz, suggested that part of the reason for the disconnect could be that even in studies that are called 3-D, the top of the cells are still located above the matrix. “Most of the work has been for cells only partially embedded in a matrix, which we call 2.5-D,” he said. “Our paper shows the fundamental difference between 3-D and 2.5-D: Focal adhesions disappear, and the role of focal adhesion proteins in regulating cell motility becomes different.”

Wirtz added that “because loss of adhesion and enhanced cell movement are hallmarks of cancer,” his team’s findings should radically alter the way cells are cultured for drug studies. For example, the team found that in a 3-D environment, cells possessing the protein zyxin would move in a random way, exploring their local environment. But when the gene for zyxin was disabled, the cells traveled in a rapid and persistent, almost one-dimensional pathway far from their place of origin.

Fraley said such cells might even travel back down the same pathways they had already explored. “It turns out that zyxin is misregulated in many cancers,” Fraley said. Therefore, she added, an understanding of the function of proteins like zyxin in a 3-D cell culture is critical to understanding how cancer spreads, or metastasizes. “Of course tumor growth is important, but what kills most cancer patients is metastasis,” she said.

To study cells in 3-D, the team coated a glass slide with layers of collagen-enriched gel several millimeters thick. Collagen, the most abundant protein in the body, forms a network in the gel of cross-linked fibers similar to the natural extracellular matrix scaffold upon which cells grow in the body. The researchers then mixed cells into the gel before it set. Next, they used an inverted confocal microscope to view from below the cells traveling within the gel matrix. The displacement of tiny beads embedded in the gel was used to show movement of the collagen fibers as the cells extended protrusions in both directions and then pulled inward before releasing one fiber and propelling themselves forward.

Fraley compared the movement of the cells to a person trying to maneuver through an obstacle course crisscrossed with bungee cords. “Cells move by extending one protrusion forward and another backward, contracting inward, and then releasing one of the contacts before releasing the other,” she said. Ultimately, the cell moves in the direction of the contact released last.

When a cell moves along on a 2-D surface, the underside of the cell is in constant contact with a surface, where it can form many large and long-lasting focal adhesions. Cells moving in 3-D environments, however, only make brief contacts with the network of collagen fibers surrounding them–contacts too small to see and too short-lived to even measure, the researchers observed.

“We think the same focal adhesion proteins identified in 2-D situations play a role in 3-D motility, but their role in 3-D is completely different and unknown,” Wirtz said. “There is more we need to discover.”

Fraley said her future research will be focused specifically on the role of mechanosensory proteins like zyxin on motility, as well as how factors such as gel matrix pore size and stiffness affect cell migration in 3-D.

Co-investigators on this research from Washington University in St. Louis were Gregory D. Longmore, a professor of medicine, and his postdoctoral fellow Yunfeng Feng, both of whom are affiliated with the university’s BRIGHT Institute. Longmore and Wirtz lead one of three core projects that are the focus of the Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center, a National Cancer Institute-funded Physical Sciences in Oncology Center. Additional Johns Hopkins authors, all from the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, were Alfredo Celedon, a recent doctoral recipient; Ranjini Krishnamurthy, a recent bachelor’s degree recipient; and Dong-Hwee Kim, a current doctoral student.

Funding for the research was provided by the National Cancer Institute.  This study, a collaboration with researchers at Washington University in St. Louis, appeared in the June issue of Nature Cell Biology.

Related links:

Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

Watch a related video on YouTube

Story by Mary Spiro

INBT summer scholars “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” Airs Sept. 26

 

From left, Matthew Green-Hill, Dwayne Thomas II, Donte Jones, Durrell Igwe. (Photo by Mary Spiro/INBT)

Swirling test tubes and swinging hammers set the stage for four talented Baltimore city high school students whose summer included working in Johns Hopkins University medical research laboratories and helping build a new home for some of their fellow scholars. The young men, all part of Baltimore’s Boys Hope/Girls Hope program, were supported equally by Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) and the School of Medicine to gain experience conducting research. But the producers of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” television show also put the boys (and a bunch of other folks) to work to construct a spacious home for the young women of Girls Hope. (The episode featuring the Boys Hope Girls Hope home build airs this Sunday, Sept 26 at 7 p.m. as the show’s 2-hour season premier. See video in links below.)

According to the organization’s website, Boys Hope/Girls Hope is a “privately funded, non-profit multi-denominational organization that provides at-risk children with a stable home, positive parenting, high quality education, and the support needed to reach their full potential.” In the summer of 2009, INBT hosted two students to work in labs at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. This summer INBT hosted four Boys Hope Girls Hope scholars.

Matthew Green-Hill, 18, a junior at Archbishop Curley High School and Donte Jones, 17, a sophomore at Archbishop Curley High School returned this summer and were joined by Dwayne Thomas, 16, a junior at Loyola Blakefield and Durrell Igwe, 16, a sophomore at Archbishop Curley. (Other students participate in Boys Hope Girls Hope, but only four scholars had summer jobs at Johns Hopkins.)

 

Dwayne Thomas II shows off his summer research efforts. (Photo by Christie Johnson/INBT)

Doug Robinson, associate professor of cell biology at the School of Medicine spear-headed the effort to bring Boys Hope Girls Hope scholars to Johns Hopkins through INBT. Each scholar was paired with a graduate student or postdoctoral fellow in their host labs to ensure that they were actively engaged in an aspect of a research. “The goal of this program was to provide our scholars with a summer experience that was challenging, enriching, and personally rewarding,” Robinson said. “Additionally, the students participated in a class three mornings a week where they worked on writing, reading, and mathematics skills.”

The summer experience concluded with a poster session where the scholars showed off what they had done with family, friends, other faculty members and staff. For example, Dwayne Thomas II worked with postdoctoral fellow Alexandra Surcel in Cell Biology in Robinson’s lab to conduct research on cytokinesis in the organism Dictyostelium.

“My summer experience was very important to me on so many levels,” Thomas said. “The quality education I received this summer was outstanding because I learned so much it will help next year in school. I feel like this has really prepared me for college in the near future and also for my dream of becoming a medical doctor. During the summer program, it taught me a lot about professionalism such the importance of arriving at work on time. I know that this experience has made me strive even harder because not many people receive the same type of opportunities I do.”

Donte Jones worked on the problem of malaria in the laboratory of Caren Meyers, assistant professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences at the School of Medicine. Durrell Igwe spent his summer in the neuroscience laboratory of Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator Alex Kolodkin in the department of neuroscience. Matthew Green-Hill participated in neurodegenerative disease research in the laboratory of Craig Montell, professor of biological chemistry at the School of Medicine.

A half dozen young women also study through Girls Hope, but unlike their male counterparts, the girls had no home where they could live with their adult mentors, only a parcel of land in the Hamilton section of Baltimore. Boys Hope/Girls Hope is completely voluntary and the organization does not serve as a legal guardian to the students, but participants have the option of living in the group house or at home with their own families. Many choose to live with their classmates in the group house.

The Boys Hope scholars wanted to help the Girls Hope scholars get their home built as soon as possible. So the boys sent a video requesting that the makers of the television Extreme Makeover: Home Edition to construct a house for the girls before the start of the next school year. The plea worked and before long, several city blocks along Fleetwood Ave. were cordoned off and filled with construction equipment and workers. The 11,000 square ft. home was built in nine short days, suffering a brief setback due to severe rainstorms. Look for more photos of the Girls Hope Home on the INBT website after the television reveal.

Related Links

Boys Hope/Girls Hope Baltimore

ABC TV Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

Girls Hope of Baltimore Gets an Amazing Gift from Extreme Makeover

Story by Mary Spiro

INBT’s Nano-Magic appears at first USA Science and Engineering Festival Expo

The first USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo is set for October 23-24 on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., and Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology will be there showcasing some of our research. More than 1,500 interactive exhibits and stage shows are planned.

INBT will present a hands-on exhibit of demonstrations dedicated to self-assembly entitled “Nano-Magic” that will allow visitors of all ages a chance to learn about now atoms, molecules and materials have ways of building structures all by themselves. Graduate students affiliated with INBT training programs will help visitors understand the science. In addition, several of the videos created by INBT’s Animation Studio will be on display on a computer monitor.

Some of the other exhibits include the science behind TRON and other Hollywood movies, baseball, superheroes, Thanksgiving dinner, and NASCAR as well as the mathematics of speed jump roping. There are also 50 stage shows featuring science musicians, comedians, and rock stars. Even the Redskins cheerleaders will be leading a pep rally for science.

Bring the whole family to this free event. Come check out our booth located at Section NM 6, Booth No. 610, along with several other Johns Hopkins affiliated exhibits listed here. Visit the official festival website to view all exhibit and stage shows, download a map of the Expo grounds, and view the entire festival calendar.

Related Link:

INBT Animation Studio

INBT launches Johns Hopkins Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence

Martin Pomper and Peter Searson will co-direct INBT’s new Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (Photo: Will Kirk/Homewood-JHU)

Faculty members associated with the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology have received a $13.6 million five-year grant from the National Cancer Institute to establish a Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence. The new Johns Hopkins center brings together a multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers and physicians to develop nanotechnology-based diagnostic platforms and therapeutic strategies for comprehensive cancer care. Seventeen faculty members will be involved initially, with pilot projects adding more participants later.

The Johns Hopkins Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, which is part of the university’s Institute for NanoBioTechnology, is one of several NCI-supported centers launched through a funding opportunity started in 2005. According to the NCI, the program was established to create “multi-institutional hubs that integrate nanotechnology across the cancer research continuum to provide new solutions for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.”

Peter Searson, who is the Joseph R. and Lynn C. Reynolds Professor of Materials Science and Engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering and director of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, will serve as the center’s director. The co-director will be Martin Pomper, professor of radiology and oncology at the School of Medicine and the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins.

“A unique feature of the center is the integration of research, education, training and outreach, and technology commercialization,” Searson said.

To move these new technologies toward use by physicians, a Cancer Nanomedicine Commercialization Working Group will be established and headed by John Fini, director of intellectual property for the university’s Homewood campus. This group will be responsible for managing and coordinating the translational process.

Another special feature of the center will be its Validation Core, led by Pomper, who is also associate director of the Johns Hopkins In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center and director of the Johns Hopkins Small Animal Imaging Resource Program.

“Validation is about assuring that the experimental products and results we generate are on target and able to measure the biological effects for which they’re intended,” he said.

Searson and Pomper said the center will consist of four primary research projects.

One project will seek methods to screen bodily fluids such as blood or urine for indicators of cancer found outside of the genetic code, indicators called epigenetic markers. Led by Tza-Huei “Jeff” Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering in the Whiting School of Engineering; Stephen Baylin, the Virginia and Daniel K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research in the School of Medicine; and James Herman, a professor of cancer biology in the School of Medicine, this project will use semiconductor nanocrystals, also known as quantum dots, and silica superparamagnetic particles to detect DNA methylation. Methylation adds a chemical group to the exterior of the DNA and is a biomarker frequently associated with cancer.

A second project, led by Anirban Maitra, associate professor of pathology and oncology at the School of Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, will focus on curcumin, a substance found in the traditional Indian spice turmeric. In preclinical studies, curcumin has demonstrated anti-cancer properties but, because of its physical size, it is not readily taken up into the bloodstream or into tissues. Engineered curcumin nanoparticles, however, can more easily reach tumors arising in abdominal organs such as the pancreas, Maitra said. This team will try to determine whether nanocurcumin, combined with chemotherapeutic agents, could become a treatment for highly lethal cancers, such as pancreatic cancer.

Hyam Levitsky, professor of oncology at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, will lead a third project, which will seek to use a noninvasive method to monitor the effectiveness of vaccines for cancer and infectious diseases.

A final project will build on the work of Justin Hanes and Craig Peacock, professors in the School of Medicine, to deliver therapies directly to small cell lung cancer tissue via mucus-penetrating nanoparticles.

All research efforts will be supported by a nanoparticle engineering core, led by Searson, which will make and characterize a variety of nanomaterials. Another core, centering on bioinformatics and data sharing, will be led by Rafael Irizarry, professor of biostatistics at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology

Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

INBT’s international research program sends second team of students to Belgium

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology supports university students to conduct research in an international setting. Their work, travel and housing expenses are funded through INBT with a National Science Foundation’s International Research Experience for Students (IRES) program and through a partnership with The Inter-University MircroElectronics Centre (IMEC) in Leuven, Belgium.

This summer, two Whiting School of Engineering students, Mike Keung, a master’s student in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and Kayla Culver, a recent bachelor’s graduate in Materials Science and Engineering, spent the summer conducting research at IMEC. Additional Johns Hopkins students will be traveling to Belgium later in the year.

“Students work at IMEC’s world-class microfabrication facility and learn to design, fabricate and test chip-based platforms and integrated microelectronic systems for biomedical applications,” said INBT director Peter Searson, the Joseph R. and Lynn C. Reynolds Professor of Materials Science and Engineering. “The goal of the program is to help students gain a broader, global perspective of science and technology.”

IMEC performs world-leading research in nano-electronics and nano-technology with a staff of more than 1,750 people, including 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. The research is applied to healthcare, electronics, sustainable energy, and transportation.

Keung and Culver maintained blogs about their experiences in Europe and at IMEC. Keung, who also worked at IMEC last year through the IRES program, has written his blog for two years in a row. The blogs, reflect both the rich educational and cultural experience that the IRES program is intended to provide for participants. For example, both students conducted experiments that will enhance their careers and skill sets, as well as support the research goals of their mentors both at Johns Hopkins and at IMEC. But Keung and Culver also had the opportunity to be immersed in a different culture, travel to nearby cities and countries, and practice collaborating with scientists from around the world.

For more information about INBT IRES program click here.

Clikc on the images below to check out Mike’s and Kayla’s blogs!

 

Mike Keung’s IMEC Blog

Kayla Culver’s IMEC Blog

Story by Mary Spiro

Johns Hopkins Researchers Appointed to Governor’s Task Force to Study Nanobiotechnology

Peter Searson

Steve Desiderio

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has appointed Peter Searson and Steve Desiderio, two researchers from The Johns Hopkins University, to serve on a special task force to study the benefits of nanobiotechnology.

According to the governor’s office, the mission of the task force is “to study the benefits of nanobiotechnology including job creation, the development of lifesaving treatments, reductions in health care costs, the development of state-of-the-art electronics, medical equipment, chemical processes and other commercial products.”

Nanotechnology involves the application of materials and devices at the scale of just a few atoms in diameter. Nanobiotechnology attempts to apply these tiny technologies to medicine and basic science.

Searson is the Joseph R. and Lynn C. Reynolds Professor of Engineering in the university’s Whiting School of Engineering. He is a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and he directs the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in England and was a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He lives in Baltimore.

Desiderio is director of the Institute of Basic Biomedical Sciences, director of the Immunobiology Program at the Institute for Cell Engineering and a professor of Molecular Biology and Genetics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Desiderio earned his M.D. and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Desiderio also lives in Baltimore.

Both Searson and Desiderio are involved with research related to nanobiotechnology. Searson’s interests include nanoscience, biophysics and bioengineering. He led the launch of the Institute for Nanobiotechnology, which was established in 2006 as a cross-divisional center with research interests in the basic sciences, engineering, medicine and public health.

Desiderio’s research focuses on the immune system: how immune cells are able to recognize a diverse number of pathogens and respond to environmental cues. He studies the molecular and genetic mechanisms underlying the development of the immune system. In 2007, Desiderio was appointed by O’Malley to the Maryland Life Sciences Advisory Board.

The nanobiotechnology task force will be chaired by state Sen. Jennie M. Forehand and Del. Susan C. Lee. In addition to Searson and Desiderio, task force members include Nariman Farvadin, Peter Swaan, Esther H. Chang, Lisbeth Pettengill, Patrick Y. Lu and Lawrence Tamarkin.

Along with examining the scientific and medical benefits of nanobiotechnology, the task force members expect to look at the economic impact that the development of such technologies might have on the state of Maryland, including the creation of jobs.

The governor’s office also stated that the group will study the “generation of revenue for the state and improvements to the quality of life for the state’s citizens and the state’s role in supporting Maryland’s leadership in nanobiotechnology, including: promoting public-private partnerships; assisting companies in technology transfers, including from research to commercial product; promoting research; protecting intellectual property; offering appropriate financial incentives; including tax credits; and capturing and leveraging federal funds for both public and private ventures; and make recommendations regarding actions that the state should take to promote the growth of the nanobiotechnology industries in the state.”