Johns Hopkins STEM students: can you speak Portuguese?

Amazonas_Brazilian_state-Amazon_rainforest-Americas-Brazil-Geography_of_South_America-Intact_forest_landscape-List_of_countries_by_forest_area-List_of_rivers_of_Amazonas_Brazilian_state-List_of_the_largest_country_subdivisions_by_area-NeotrThe Brazil Global Engineering Innovations Team is currently seeking a team member to participate in their project in Amazonas, Brazil. There is a particular need for a team member with Portuguese speaking and writing experience to help the team coordinate efforts with the local host group and assist the team in purchasing supplies and travelling while in Brazil. In addition to Portuguese speaking abilities, the team member should be self-motivated, a good team player and be interested in contributing to projects to benefit individuals in the developing economy of northern Brazil. Read more about INBT’s Global Engineering Innovation Program here. Interested students should contact Nathan Nicholes at nnicho12@jhu.edu by April 11.

Read more about the Global Engineering Innovations program here.

 

From bacterial intelligence to a cyber-war on cancer

Screen Shot 2014-03-18 at 11.40.42 AMINBT will host a special seminar, “From bacterial intelligence to a cyber-war on cancer,” on April 17 at 2 p.m. in Room 160 of the Mattin Center. The guest speaker is Eshel Ben-Jacob, PhD, professor and Maguy-Glass Chair in Physics of Complex Systems from Tel Aviv University. This event is free and open to the university community.

ABSTRACT: Cancer continues to elude us. Metastasis, relapse and drug resistance are all still poorly understood and clinically insuperable. Evidently, the prevailing paradigms need to be re-examined and out-of-the-box ideas ought to be explored. Drawing upon recent discoveries demonstrating the parallels between collective behaviors of bacteria and cancer, Dr. Ben-Jacob shall present a new picture of cancer as a society of smart communicating cells motivated by the realization of bacterial social intelligence. There is growing evidence that cancer cells, much like bacteria, rely on advanced communication, social networking and cooperation to grow, spread within the body, colonize new organs, relapse and develop drug resistance. Dr. Ben-Jacob shall address the role of communication, cooperation and decision-making in bacterial collective navigation, swarming logistics and colony development. This will lead to a new picture of cancer as a networked society of smart cells and to new understanding of the interplay between cancer and the immune system. Dr. Ben-Jacob shall reason that the new understanding calls for “a cyber-war” on cancer – the developments of drugs to target cancer communication and control.

Related Links:

Bacterial linguistic communication and social intelligence

Bacterial survival strategies suggest rethinking cancer cooperativity

 

 

CANCELLED: Spring mini-symposium features engineering, medicine

inbt-abstractCANCELLED: MINI-SYMPOSIUM TO BE RESCHEDULED. The Institute for NanoBioTechnology spring mini-symposium will be held March 17 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:15 pm. in the The Great Hall at Levering on the Johns Hopkins University Homewood campus. INBT sponsor’s these student run symposium’s twice a year to showcase the work of students from the institute, the Physical Sciences-Oncology Center, the Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence and other affiliated laboratories. This event is free and open to the Hopkins Community. Refreshments provided.

Agenda

  • 8:30 -9:00  - Networking and breakfast
  • 9:00- 9:10 – Introduction
  • 9:10- 9:30 – “Probing cell traction forces in confined microenvironments” - Colin Paul, Konstantopoulos Lab
  • 9:30 – 9:50 – ” 3D tumor growth dynamics inside extracellular matrix (ECM) components” - Angela Jimenez, Wirtz Lab
  • 9:50 – 10:10 – “Acrylated hyaluronic acid hydrogels to study cancer angiogenesis” - Tom Shen, Gerecht Lab
  • 10:10 – 10:20 – Coffee Break
  • 10:20 – 10:40 – Amanda Levy,  “Development of a 3D system for the study of astrocyte-endothelial interactions” Searson Lab
  • 10:40 – 11:00 – Kristen Kozielski, “Bioreducible nanoparticles for efficient and environmentally triggered siRNA delivery to primary human glioblastoma cells”, Green Lab
  • 11:00- 11:20 – “X-Ray-Visible Stem Cell Delivery for Cardiac Regenerative Therapy via Microfluidics-based Microencapsulation” – Charles Hu, Mao Lab
  • 11:20 – 12:10 - “Advancing Innovation and Convergence in Cancer Research” Deputy Director of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) Center for Strategic Scientific Initiatives (CSSI).- Dr. Jerry S.H. Lee
  • 12:10 – 12:15 – Final remarks

2014 BioNano summer institute to be held at University of Illinois

It’s like summer camp for nanobiotechnology.

nanobioinstituteuofiThe 2014 BioNano summer institute will be held at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, July 28 to August 8. Click on this link for a pdf flyer.

Come for two weeks of lectures and hands-on training in engineering, biological, and physical science laboratory techniques covering topics such as cancer nanotechnology, cell mechanics, cell biology, molecular biology, lab-on-a-chip, and NanoBio devices. The institute is accepting applications from advanced undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs, and faculty from engineering, physical sciences, and biological sciences who are interested in state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research at the intersection of engineering and biology.

Applications must be received by midnight on Friday, March 28, 2014. Find details and apply online at this link: nano.illinois.edu/summer-institute-2014.

Lectures come from California Institute of Technology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Northwestern University, Stanford University, University of California Berkeley, University of California Merced, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Kentucky, and industry. The cost is $1,500/selected participant and breakfast and lunch each weekday and dormitory housing is included from July 27-August 8. NOTE: Limited financial assistance may be available toward the registration fee. If you wish to attend and require financial help, please indicate your request on the application form.

 

Q & A with Peter Devreotes

Back when the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology first formed, we had an executive committee with faculty members from every University division to help guide our early footsteps. One of those memebers was Peter Devreotes, professor of cell biology at the School of Medicine.

Peter Devreotes with postdoctoral fellow Huaqing Cai. (Photo: Marty Katz)

Peter Devreotes with postdoctoral fellow Huaqing Cai. (Photo: Marty Katz)

Over the years Devreotes has advised and mentored students from the high school to postdoctoral level who are associated with INBT in his laboratory. Here, we have a short question and answer with Devreotes, produced for the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences newsletter. We e get to know a little bit about this faculty member, his personal and research interests and what inspires him.

How did you decide to study science?

DEVREOTES: I never thought about anything else. My father taught me a lot of math and took me on nature walks. I developed this fascination with everything in nature and wanted to know how it worked—I still do. I was actually a physics major in college—didn’t take a single biology class-but I decided to do a Ph.D. in biophysics, at Johns Hopkins’ Homewood campus. I was immediately fascinated by the mechanics of cells.

Follow this link to read more from this interview.

 

Cancer spreads through ‘Rock’ and ‘Rho’

n low oxygen conditions, breast cancer cells form structures that facilitate movement, such as filaments that allow the cell to contract (green) and cellular ‘hands’ that grab surfaces to pull the cell along (red). Credit: Daniele Gilkes

In low oxygen conditions, breast cancer cells form structures that facilitate movement, such as filaments that allow the cell to contract (green) and cellular ‘hands’ that grab surfaces to pull the cell along (red).
Credit: Daniele Gilkes

ROCK1 and RhoA genes found partly to blame for cancer metastasis. Gregg Semenza, co-director of the Johns Hopkins Physical Sciences-Oncology Center (PS-OC), led a team that made the discovery. The following comes from a Johns Hopkins press release:

Biologists at The Johns Hopkins University have discovered that low oxygen conditions, which often persist inside tumors, are sufficient to initiate a molecular chain of events that transforms breast cancer cells from being rigid and stationary to mobile and invasive. Their evidence, published online in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Dec. 9, underlines the importance of hypoxia-inducible factors in promoting breast cancer metastasis.

“High levels of RhoA and ROCK1 were known to worsen outcomes for breast cancer patients by endowing cancer cells with the ability to move, but the trigger for their production was a mystery,” says Gregg Semenza, M.D., Ph.D., the C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and senior author of the article. “We now know that the production of these proteins increases dramatically when breast cancer cells are exposed to low oxygen conditions.”

To move, cancer cells must make many changes to their internal structures, Semenza says. Thin, parallel filaments form throughout the cells, allowing them to contract and cellular “hands” arise, allowing cells to “grab” external surfaces to pull themselves along. The proteins RhoA and ROCK1 are known to be central to the formation of these structures.

Moreover, the genes that code for RhoA and ROCK1 were known to be turned on at high levels in human cells from metastatic breast cancers. In a few cases, those increased levels could be traced back to a genetic error in a protein that controls them, but not in most. This activity, said Semenza, led him and his team to search for another cause for their high levels.

What the study showed is that low oxygen conditions, which are frequently present in breast cancers, serve as the trigger to increase the production of RhoA and ROCK1 through the action of hypoxia-inducible factors.

“As tumor cells multiply, the interior of the tumor begins to run out of oxygen because it isn’t being fed by blood vessels,” explains Semenza. “The lack of oxygen activates the hypoxia-inducible factors, which are master control proteins that switch on many genes that help cells adapt to the scarcity of oxygen.” He explains that, while these responses are essential for life, hypoxia-inducible factors also turn on genes that help cancer cells escape from the oxygen-starved tumor by invading blood vessels, through which they spread to other parts of the body.

Daniele Gilkes, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow at the PS-OC and lead author of the report, analyzed human metastatic breast cancer cells grown in low oxygen conditions in the laboratory. She found that the cells were much more mobile in the presence of low levels of oxygen than at physiologically normal levels. They had three times as many filaments and many more “hands” per cell. When the hypoxia-inducible factor protein levels were knocked down, though, the tumor cells hardly moved at all. The numbers of filaments and “hands” in the cells and their ability to contract were also decreased.

When Gilkes measured the levels of the RhoA and ROCK1 proteins, she saw a big increase in the levels of both proteins in cells grown in low oxygen. When the breast cancer cells were modified to knock down the amount of hypoxia-inducible factors, however, the levels of RhoA and ROCK1 were decreased, indicating a direct relationship between the two sets of proteins. Further experiments confirmed that hypoxia-inducible factors actually bind to the RhoA and ROCK1 genes to turn them on.

The team then took advantage of a database that allowed them to ask whether having RhoA and ROCK1 genes turned on in breast cancer cells affected patient survival. They found that women with high levels of RhoA or ROCK1, and especially those women with high levels of both, were much more likely to die of breast cancer than those with low levels.

“We have successfully decreased the mobility of breast cancer cells in the lab by using genetic tricks to knock the hypoxia-inducible factors down,” says Gilkes. “Now that we understand the mechanism at play, we hope that clinical trials will be performed to test whether drugs that inhibit hypoxia-inducible factors will have the double effect of blocking production of RhoA and ROCK1 and preventing metastases in women with breast cancer.”

Other authors of the report include Lisha Xiang, Sun Joo Lee, Pallavi Chaturvedi, Maimon Hubbi and Denis Wirtz of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

This work was supported by grants from the National Cancer Institute (U54-CA143868), the Johns Hopkins Institute for Cell Engineering, the American Cancer Society and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

TO BE RESCHEDULED: Shashi Murthy of Northeastern University

THIS SEMINAR HAS BEEN CANCELLED DUE TO THE THREAT OF A WINTER STORM AND WILL BE RESCHEDULED.

“Ever heard about seaweed, Mucinex®, stem cells, and the International Space Station in the same conversation?” is the name of the talk to be given by Johns Hopkins University alumni Shashi Murthy, PhD, at 10:30 am on Thursday, February 13 in the Shriver Hall Clipper Room.  The talk is free and open to the Hopkins community and sponsored by Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology.

Shashi Murthy

Shashi Murthy

Shashi Murthy is an associate professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Founding Director of the  Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Engineering Entrepreneurship Education at Northeastern University. This presentation will combine a scientific description of a methodology for stem cell purification designed in by the Murthy laboratory with the story of its ongoing commercialization.  Murthy will also talk about how the vision behind the Michael J. and Ann Sherman Center for Entrepreneurship Education came into being and how this Center is impacting the undergraduate experience in the College of Engineering at Northeastern University.

DEADLINE EXTENDED: Applications accepted for INBT IRES until Feb 14

If you have been curious to discover what laboratory work is like in another country, now is your chance to apply for one of INBT’s coveted positions as an international undergraduate researcher. Applications are now being accepted for our National Science Foundation funded International Research Experience for Undergraduates in Leuven, Belgium with IMEC.  The deadline for applications is February 14, 2014. The opportunities are for Johns Hopkins University students.

IMEC clean roomIMEC boasts world-class micro- and nano-fabrication facilities and a campus with more than 1,000 researchers from around the globe who are collaborating on leading-edge projects. Belgium boasts waffles, beer and chocolate. Really, you can’t go wrong here.

INBT international research internships focus on a project of mutual interest to Johns Hopkins faculty and to IMEC investigators. INBT has a long-standing research collaboration agreement with IMEC, one of the world’s leading research organizations focusing on silicon nanotechnology headquartered in Leuven, Belgium. Since 2009, students, both undergraduates and postgraduates, from INBT labs have had the opportunity to participate in internships at IMEC’s state-of-the-art research facility. These internships have the dual purpose of providing international research experience for students as well as furthering the research interests of both Hopkins and IMEC.

To read about some of the previous experiences of our IRES participates, visit INBT’s Summer at IMEC blog here.

To apply, send the following items to Tom Fekete, INBT’s director of corporate partnerships, before Feb. 1: tfekete1@jhu.edu.

  • CV/Resume
  • Research Statement
  • Letter of Recommendation

If you are not sure what you would like to work on, Tom has a list of possible research areas that you can inquire about as well. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Tom.  If he is unavailable, please contact Ashanti Edwards, INBT’s Academic Program Administrator at ashanti@jhu.edu.

Student engineers solve village problems through Global Engineering Innovation Program

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology hosts teams of students to travel to foreign countries to apply their engineering skills to solve local problems through a program called Global Engineering Innovation. This story, featured in the Johns Hopkins Gazette, describes one of those projects in Nazaçu, along the Amazon River in Brazil: the design and production of a safer cassava mill that reduces the risk of injury. INBT has also hosted teams in Tanzania and India.

GEU design team with the finalized pedal power grain mill in Tanzania (from left to right) Kristen Kosielski, Jeannine Coburn, Iwen Wu and local resident Jackson. (Photo courtesy Jeannine Coburn)

GEU design team with the finalized pedal power grain mill in Tanzania (from left to right) Kristen Kosielski, Jeannine Coburn, Iwen Wu and local resident Jackson. (Photo courtesy Jeannine Coburn)

Said program director Jennifer Elisseeff, the Jules Stein Professor of Ophthalmology at the Wilmer Eye Institute: “This program has enormous potential to have students visit various communities around the world to design and solve real problems that can help people in their daily lives.”

Read more from the Gazette article here.

Read more about the INBT GEI program here.

 

Science writers’ bootcamp focuses on neuroscience

The sixth annual Johns Hopkins Science Writers’ Boot Camp will feature Johns Hopkins experts in neuroscience and medicine discussing the latest in mapping the brain, learning and memory, recovery after brain injury and more.

WHEN: Monday, April 28, 2014, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with reception following

WHERE: The National Press Club, 529 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20045

For more information please visit this link. 

swbc14Confirmed speakers:

  • Marilyn Albert, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Neurology
  • Amy Bastian, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience and member of Kennedy Krieger Institute
  • Henry Brem, M.D., Harvey Cushing Professor and Chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery
  • Aravinda Chakravarti, Ph.D., Professor of Medicine
  • David Foster, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Neuroscience
  • Argye Hillis, M.D., M.A., Executive Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology and Co-Director of the Cerebrovascular Division
  • Richard Huganir, Ph.D., Director of the Solomon H. Snyder Department of Neuroscience and Co-director of the Brain Science Institute
  • John Krakauer, M.D., Director of the Center for the Study of Motor Learning and Brain Repair
  • David Linden, Ph.D., Professor of Neuroscience
  • Mollie Meffert, M.D., Ph.D., Associate professor of Biological Chemistry
  • Jeffrey Rothstein, M.D., Ph.D., Director of the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research and Director of the Brain Science Institute
  • Hongjun Song, Ph.D., Director of the Stem Cell Program at the Institute for Cell Engineering