Have your PURA application reviewed

Are you planning to apply for the Johns Hopkins Provost Undergraduate Research Award (PURA)? Have yourpura Oct 1 application reviewed by experts — people who have previously won! Bring your applications to Shaffer 300 at  7p.m. on Oct. 1 and prepare for some constructive criticism. Improve your chances of winning funding for your great research idea! This meeting is open to any student applying for the PURA grant. This event hosted and sponsored by Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology.

The PURA program offers Johns Hopkins University students unique opportunities to conduct undergraduate research. Founded in 1993 on the belief that encouraging undergraduates to engage in research activity enhances the learning experience and helps to develop investigative skills, the PURA program is an important part of the university’s mission. PURA has given out an average of 46 awards per year (2 cycles/ year) since its inception in 1993. Guided by a full-time faculty sponsor, PURA research is designed by the student and can take many forms. From policy to nanotechnology; DNA engineering to musical presentation; short film to depression; the PURA program has enabled undergraduates to study all manner of subjects and have their results published in professional journals.

For more information on PURA visit this link.

pura Oct 1

Don’t believe everything (peer-reviewed) you read on the web

Recently, my attention was drawn to an article the same way I find many articles: through Facebook. Several of my many science-minded friends referenced a recent article from sciencemag.org entitled “Who’s Afraid of Peer Review?”, where a spoof paper with clearly bad controls was submitted to 304 open access journals and was accepted by 157. After reading a variety of comments with tones ranging from outrage to, “damn, I need to start writing some fake papers,” there was no way I wasn’t going to check out the article.

peer review image

Image used with permission from http://strange-matter.net/screen_res/nz060.jpg

Basically, some writers from Science generated a fake paper the claimed a chemical extracted from a lichen had shown anticancer properties. While the article claimed that there was a strong dose-dependent effect of the drug on the cancer cells, the effect barely varied over 5 orders of magnitude. The paper claimed that the chemical was dissolved in large amounts of ethanol before being added to cells, but the control cells were given no ethanol, meaning that likely what was killing the cells was not in fact the chemical, but the ethanol itself. Testing controls with the same solvent as the other conditions is standard, especially when large amounts of the solvent itself can have toxic effects. The spoof paper also went on to make large claims about how the molecule tested has potential as an anticancer drug.

It would seem likely, given the inherent flaws in the article, that the academics reviewing this paper would immediately raise a red flag about its content. However, the majority of the journals accepted the paper, including 45% of the journals in the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ), which is meant to identify the credible open access journals. Many of the journals that offered the authors any feedback ignored the glaring scientific mistakes and simply made suggestions for changes in formatting.

As a grad student, I read peer-reviewed papers nearly every day. And while I’ve always known that I should be critical of everything I read, I was still shocked that this spoof article with such glaringly bad science was accepted by so many publishers. While I’m not as tempted to submit my own fake articles as some of my Facebook friends, this sting operation performed by the writers at Science is making me much more skeptical of papers I find on the web.

Amanda Levy is a doctoral student in the materials science and engineering laboratory of Peter Searson, director of INBT.

 

Fall 2014 PS-OC newsletter online

The most recent newsletter from Johns Hopkins Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PS-OC) is now online for your reading pleasure. One of the best features of this little update is the extensive list of recently published papers with brief summaries of each. It is a full rundown of what this center has been working on since April 2014.

Screen Shot 2014-09-23 at 12.55.23 PMThe Johns Hopkins Physical Sciences-Oncology Center is one of several NCI-funded PS-OC’s launched to better understand and control cancer through initiatives that enable the convergence of the physical sciences with cancer biology.

Click on this link to download your very own pdf copy.

For more information about the Johns Hopkins PS-OC go to http://psoc.inbt.jhu.edu/

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.