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’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

MedImmune scientist focuses final INBT seminar on ‘soft skills’

 

Ambarish Shah of MedImmune

Ambarish Shah, Senior Manager and Principal Scientist at MedImmune Inc., presented the final Professional Development Seminar talk hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) on July 28. Shah’s presentation included an overview of the Biopharmaceutical industry and offered an insider’s perspective on how MedImmune manages the process of protein drug development.

Shah stated that “success in your careers will not only depend on how well you master the scientific principles in theory but more so how you apply them innovatively,” impressing upon students the value of applying science to solving practical problems. In addition, he stressed the acquisition of “soft skills” along with science, such as people skills and networking. Shah stressed the importance of protecting one’s intellectual property, as well as the safety and efficacy of a product. Despite the risks and costs, he urged students to always remember the altruistic purpose behind their work, cautioning: “don’t get attached to projects, get attached to science.”

Due to the fact that new research in the field is presented at technical conferences or published in peer reviewed journals, scientists tend to speak in technical terms that are too complex for the general public to understand. Shah stated that the field is missing “the clarity in linking what we do scientifically in our labs to the tangible benefits the general public end user will see, and a good forum to share it in.”

Shah offered students insight in understanding career development, stating that career success comes from a combination of many good personal attributes such as clarity of communication, willingness to a make a persistent effort, teamwork, and of course an analytical problem solving mind (all of these which can be learned through deliberate practice). Most importantly he advised students that “Grades and publications matter, but just to get the first job. After the first job, the only thing that matters is demonstrated results.”

Shah received his PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Mercer University in 1998, a Master of Science from Duquesne University, and a Bachelor of Pharmacy from Bombay University in India. He has been in the field for over twelve years and is currently the Principal Scientist/Group leader for MedImmune’s Dept. of Formulation Sciences in Gaithersburg, Md.

Story by Sarah Gubara, Senior, Psychology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

Nanowires Deliver Biochemical Payloads to One Cell Among Many

Imagine being able to drop a toothpick on the head of one particular person standing among 100,000 people in a sports stadium. It sounds impossible, yet this degree of precision at the cellular level has been demonstrated by researchers affiliated with The Johns Hopkins University Institute for NanoBioTechnology. Their study was published online in June in Nature Nanotechnology.

Arrow points to nanowire placed on cell surface. (Image: Levchenko/Chien labs)

The team used precise electrical fields as “tweezers” to guide and place gold nanowires, each about one-two hundredth the size of a cell, on predetermined spots, each on a single cell. Molecules coating the surfaces of the nanowires then triggered a biochemical cascade of actions only in the cell where the wire touched, without affecting other cells nearby. The researchers say this technique could lead to better ways of studying individual cells or even cell parts, and eventually could produce novel methods of delivering medication.

Indeed, the techniques not relying on this new nanowire-based technology either are not very precise, leading to stimulation of multiple cells, or require complex biochemical alterations of the cells. With the new technique the researchers can, for instance, target cells that have cancer properties (higher cell division rate or abnormal morphology), while sparing their healthy neighbors.

“One of the biggest challenges in cell biology is the ability to manipulate the cell environment in as precise a way as possible,” said principal investigator Andre Levchenko, an associate professor of biomedical engineering in Johns Hopkins’ Whiting School of Engineering. In previous studies, Levchenko has used lab-on-a-chip or microfluidic devices to manipulate cell behavior. But, he said, lab-on-a-chip methods are not as precise as researchers would like them to be. “In microfluidic chips, if you alter the cell environment, it affects all the cells at the same time,” he said.

Such is not the case with the gold nanowires, which are metallic cylinders a few hundred nanometers or smaller in diameter. Just as the unsuspecting sports spectator would feel only a light touch from a toothpick being dropped on the head, the cell reacts only to the molecules released from the nanowire in one very precise place where the wire touches the cell’s surface.

With contributions from Chia-Ling Chien, a professor of physics and astronomy in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, and Robert Cammarata, a professor of materials science and engineering in the Whiting School, the team developed nanowires coated with a molecule called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF?), a substance released by pathogen-gobbling macrophages, commonly called white blood cells. Under certain cellular conditions, the presence of TNF? triggers cells to switch on genes that help fight infection, but TNF? also is capable of blocking tumor growth and halting viral replication.

Exposure to too much TNF?, however, causes an organism to go into a potentially lethal state called septic shock, Levchenko said. Fortunately, TNF? stays put once it is released from the wire to the cell surface, and because the effect of TNF? is localized, the tiny bit delivered by the wire is enough to trigger the desired cellular response. Much the same thing happens when TNF? is excreted by a white blood cell.

Additionally, the coating of TNF? gives the nanowire a negative charge, making the wire easier to maneuver via the two perpendicular electrical fields of the “tweezer” device, a technique developed by Donglei Fan as part of her Johns Hopkins doctoral research in materials science and engineering. “The electric tweezers were initially developed to assemble, transport and rotate nanowires in solution,” Cammarata said. “Donglei then showed how to use the tweezers to produce patterned nanowire arrays as well as construct nanomotors and nano-oscillators. This new work with Dr. Levchenko’s group demonstrates just how extremely versatile a technique it is.”

To test the system, the team cultured cervical cancer cells in a dish. Then, using electrical fields perpendicular to one another, they were able to zap the nanowires into a pre-set spot and plop them down in a precise location. “In this way, we can predetermine the path that the wires will travel and deliver a molecular payload to a single cell among many, and even to a specific part of the cell,” Levchenko said.

During the course of this study, the team also established that the desired effect generated by the nanowire-delivered TNF? was similar to that experienced by a cell in a living organism.

The team members envision many possibilities for this method of subcellular molecule delivery. “For example, there are many other ways to trigger the release of the molecule from the wires: photo release, chemical release, temperature release. Furthermore, one could attach many molecules to the nanowires at the same time,” Levchenko said. He added that the nanowires can be made much smaller, but said that for this study the wires were made large enough to see with optical microscopy.

Ultimately, Levchenko sees the nanowires becoming a useful tool for basic research. “With these wires, we are trying to mimic the way that cells talk to each other,” he said. “They could be a wonderful tool that could be used in fundamental or applied research.” Drug delivery applications could be much further off. However, Levchenko said, “If the wires retain their negative charge, electrical fields could be used to manipulate and maneuver their position in the living tissue.”

The lead authors for this Nature Nanotechnology article were Fan, a former postdoctoral fellow in the departments of materials science and engineering and in physics and astronomy; and Zhizhong Yin, a former postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Biomedical Engineering. The co-authors included Raymond Cheong, a doctoral student in the Department of Biomedical Engineering; and Frank Q. Zhu, a former doctoral student in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Regarding the faculty members’ participation, Chien led the group that developed the electric tweezers technique and collaborated with Levchenko on its biological applications.

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology

Beyond academia and industry

Penelope Lewis, acquisitions editor at the American Chemical Society, spoke at the summer’s second Professional Development Seminar hosted by The Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) on June 30 at 11 a.m. in Maryland Hall 110.

Penelope Lewis, acquisitions editor at the American Chemical Society (Photo: Mary Spiro)

Lewis discussed her experience as a scientist making the transition to non-profit, scholarly publishing.

As a PhD candidate, she felt she had only two options: academia or industry. She cautioned against having “too much of a single-minded focus,” as students can get “wrapped up in studying or getting stuck in the lab.” Lewis stressed the importance of having a broad outlook and being involved in a variety of activities to know where one’s true skills and interests lie.

Penelope Lewis advocated for an interactive and investigative approach to understanding career development: “My main piece of advice is to keep your eyes and ears open when considering different careers.” Academic publishing allowed Lewis to combine her interest in writing (she minored in English) with her love of science.

“Being able to communicate your research findings and their significance is such a critical skill. It is necessary not only for securing grants and publishing papers, but also as part of a responsibility that scientists and engineers have to act as good ambassadors for science, and to transfer their excitement and understanding to the public. This is especially important in newer fields like nanotechnology,” she said.

Penelope Lewis has a BS in Chemistry (English Minor) from Indiana University, a Chemistry PhD from Pennsylvania State University, and was a Postdoctoral Research Scientist at Columbia University.

For more information about INBT’s professional development seminars, click here.

Story by Sarah Gubara, Senior, Psychology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

ACS Nano editor leads June 30 INBT seminar

Penelope Lewis, acquisitions editor for the journal ACS Nano will lead the next professional development seminar for Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) on June 30 at 11 a.m. in Maryland 110. These seminars aim to expand students’ knowledge of issues and ideas relevant to but outside of the laboratory and classroom experience.

Penelope Lewis

Lewis, acquisitions editor of the American Chemical Society’s journal, ACS Nano. Lewis, earned a Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State University. She will talk about her experience as a scientist moving into the world of academic publishing.

“A career in scholarly publishing can be an interesting and rewarding path for graduate students or post-docs who are looking to move away from the lab bench but still be surrounded by scientific research. In scientific publishing, a doctoral degree or a postdoc is always a great strength and for many positions a requirement. In this talk, I will describe the daily activities involved in working at a non-profit publisher, including the skills and interests that are helpful to succeed in this position,” Lewis said.

All JHU/JHMI and APL faculty, staff and students are invited to attend these free seminars, designed to promote discussion and interaction with scientific and engineering professionals. To find out the location and to RSVP for each seminar, please contact Ashanti Edwards at ashanti@jhu.edu.

Melissaratos opens INBT summer seminar series, June 16

Aris Melissaratos, senior advisor to the president for enterprise development at Johns Hopkins Technology Transfer, will speak at the summer’s first Professional Development Seminar hosted by the Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology (INBT) on June 16 at 11 a.m. in Maryland Hall 110.

A Hopkins’ electrical engineering graduate (‘66), Melissaratos will discuss the importance of technology on academic development and how it affects the standard of living, opportunities of the future, and solves global discrepancies. Melissaratos claims that he has “lots of warnings and advice” to offer, in addition to the benefit of “50 years of industry” experience.

Wednesday’s talk will include excerpts and topics from his new book, Innovation: The Key to Prosperity—Technology and America’s Role in the 21st Century Global Economy, cowritten with N.J Slabbert, which focuses on the translation side of the industry and how to transfer technology. The book “reveals America’s greatest wealth: its scientific and inventive ingenuity” and discusses how to harness and utilize that wealth for its full potential.

Melissaratos is a whiz at developing and financing a product and creating a business around a product. A true product of a research institute, Melissaratos” book “reminds us of the power and adventure of human intelligence,” wrote Gilbert F. Decker, former Science Advisor to the US Secretary of Defense in a review of the book. Topics to look forward to include: redeveloping the American economy to regain supremacy, upping our competitive edge in the global economy, and making up for our country’s lost manufacturing base with research.

Melissaratos has previously served as the vice president of science and technology and chief technology officer at Westinghouse Electronics corporate headquarters in Pittsburgh. He left to join state government in 2003 as Secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. His list of impressive credentials include holding the vice presidency title at Thermo Electron Corp., founding Armel Private Equity Investments, founding the Greater Baltimore Technology Council (co-chair), and serving as vice president of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce.

Four seminars will be held this summer. To attend any of INBT’s Professional Development Seminars, RSVP to Ashanti Edwards at Ashanti@jhu.edu.

For more information: INBT Professional Development Seminar Series, The Aris Institute

Story by Sarah Gubara, Senior, Psychology, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

INBT welcomes 16 summer nanobio research interns

For 10 weeks this summer, 16 students from universities across the country will join the highly competitive Johns Hopkins Institute for Nanobiotechnology (INBT) Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU). The internship is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and is supported and administered by INBT.

This is the third year of INBT’s REU program, and this group represents the institute’s largest group. Students are being mentored by faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in INBT affiliated laboratories across Hopkins. At the end of the 10-week research program, they will present their findings at a university-wide collaborative research poster session held with other summer interns from across several divisions.

In November 2009, NSF reported that over the last decade 10 times more white students will have earned doctoral degrees in science and engineering disciplines than minority students. Acknowledging this fact yet resolving not to accept it as status quo, INBT has employed aggressive measures to increase the number of individuals from underrepresented groups who apply to its educational programs.

“The nanobiotechnology REU has been one of the most successful and popular programs for INBT,” says Ashanti Edwards, senior education program coordinator for the institute. “The program has consistently attracted the best and the brightest students interested in research from top universities across the nation. The REU program was launched as a conduit to attract highly talented and motivated research students to pursue academic careers in research, particularly women and minority scholars. The program is highly competitive. For summer 2010, the number of applicants for the 10 slots in the program rose to nearly 500, twice what it had been the year before.”

Johns Hopkins Institute for NanoBioTechnology Summer REU Students. (Photos by Mary Spiro)

INBT’s summer 2010 REU students include pictured from top to bottom, from left to right:

Top row

Joshua Austin, computer science and math major from UMBC, is working with Jeff Gray, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Mary Bedard, biochemistry and Spanish major from Elon University, is working with J.D. Tovar, assistant professor of chemistry, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

Kameron Black, neuroscience major from the University of California, Riverside, is working in the lab of Ted Dawson, professor of neuroscience, School of Medicine

Obafemi Ifelowo, who majors in molecular biology, biochemistry and bioinformatics at Towson University, is working with Jordan Green, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, School of Medicine.

Second row

Alfred Irungu, mechanical engineering major at UMBC, is working with German Drazer, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Ceslee Montgomery, human biology major from Stanford University, is working in the lab of Doug Robinson, associate professor of cell biology, School of Medicine.

Makeda Moore, biology major from Alabama A & M University, is working with Sharon Gerecht, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Christopher Ojeda, biomedical engineering major from New Jersey Institute of Technology, is working in the lab of Michael Yu, assistant professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Third row

Katrin Passlack, mechanical engineering and kinesiology major at the University of Oklahoma, is working with Jeff Wang, associate professor of mechanical engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Roberto Rivera, chemical engineering major from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez, is working in the lab of Nina Markovic, associate professor of physics, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.

D. Kyle Robinson, bioengineering major from Oregon State University, is working in the lab of Denis Wirtz, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, Whiting School of Engineering. In addition, Kyle is the first REU intern for Johns Hopkins new Engineering in Oncology Center, of which Wirtz is director.

Russell Salamo, biology major from the University of Arkansas, is working with Kalina Hristova, associate professor of materials science and engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Bottom row

Quinton Smith, major in chemical engineering with a bioengineering concentration from the University of New Mexico, is working with Sharon Gerecht, assistant professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

David To, chemistry major from Wittenberg University, is working with assistant professor Hai-Quan Mao in the department of materials science and engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Alan Winter, biology systems engineering major from Kansas State University, is working with Professor Peter Searson in the department of materials science and engineering, Whiting School of Engineering. Searson is the director of INBT.

Mary Zuniga, biology major a Northern Arizona University, is working in the lab of David Gracias, associate professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering, Whiting School of Engineering.

Related Links:

Johns Hopkins NanoBio Research Experience for Undergraduates