Skip to main content

Current Buzz

January 2017

Events, Lectures and Workshops

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, and Mark Nelson, PhD, a former Department of Physiology trainee, co-organized the 70th Annual Society of General Physiologists Meeting and Symposium “Genetic Models for Ion Channel Function in Physiology and Disease,” held at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, MA, September 7–11, 2016. The scientific program brought together 130 prominent scientists using genetic, electrophysiological, and imaging techniques to elucidate the molecular, cellular, and integrated physiology of ion channels in a variety of human disease models. Dr. Meredith also presented a talk entitled “Circadian Regulation of BK Channel Splice Variant Expression.”

Honors and Awards

Eryn Dixon, a PhD student in the laboratory of Owen Woodward, PhD, Assistant Professor,  Department of Physiology, was awarded The Glaser Prize in Imaging for 2016 for her image showing a mini-kidney grown in a dish that has been induced to form a cyst resembling those characterizing polycystic kidney disease. The Glaser Prize was established to honor Dr. Edmund Glaser when he retired from the Department of Physiology. Dr. Glaser and his colleague, Dr. Hendrick Van der Loos, made a seminal contribution in the 1960’s by creating the first computer-assisted neuron reconstruction system - Neurolucida. He went on to found a company, MBF Bioscience, to further develop and market software for neuroscience imaging in 1988. The prize is awarded annually for the most visually attractive scientific image submitted by a student working in the laboratory of a faculty member in the Department of Physiology.

Stephen DavisMBBS, FACE, FRCP, MACP, the Theodore E. Woodward Professor of Medicine and Chairman, Department of Medicine, has been elected to Mastership in the American College of Physicians (ACP). Election to Mastership recognizes outstanding and extraordinary career accomplishments. Masters must have made notable contributions to medicine. This includes, but is not limited to, teaching, outstanding work in clinical medicine (research or practice), contributions to preventive medicine, improvements in the delivery of health care, and/or contributions to the medical literature. According to ACP bylaws, Masters are elected “on account of personal character, positions of honor, contributions toward furthering the purposes of the ACP, eminence in practice or in medical research, or other attainments in science or in the art of medicine.” ACP activities are also taken into consideration for all candidates. This includes service to the ACP in an official capacity, participation in chapter activities, and involvement in the development of College products and educational programs. Volunteer and community service is also taken into consideration. Dr. Davis will formally be honored at a Convocation during the Internal Medicine Meeting 2017, ACP’s annual scientific conference, which will be held in San Diego, March 30–April 1.

Publications

Terez Shea-Donohue, PhD, Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, was among the co-authors on “The Synthesis of OspD3 (ShET2) in Shigella flexneri is Independent of OspC1” in Gut Microbes, 2016 Nov;7(6):486-502. She also was among the co-authors on “A Critical Role for IL-25 In Host Protective Th2 Memory Response Against Heligmosomoides polygyrus bakeri” in Infection and Immunity, 2016 Nov 18;84(12):3328-3337.

December 2016

Honors and Awards

The Departments of PhysiologyAnatomy & NeurobiologyPharmacology, and the Program in Neuroscience honored Professor Emeritus Bradley E. Alger, PhD, from the Department of Physiology, with the inaugural Bradley E. Alger Lectureship in Neuroscience on October 13. In continuous honor of Dr. Alger’s role as an outstanding teacher and mentor, as well as his contributions in the establishment of the Program in Neuroscience (PIN), PIN graduate students will select the speaker for this lecture every year. The inaugural lecture was given by Dr. Roger Nicoll from the University of California, San Francisco, who was Dr. Alger’s postdoctoral mentor.

W. Jonathan Lederer, MD, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology, has been appointed as an Honorary Member of the Physiological Society. The list of honorary members of this international society includes multiple Nobel Prize winners.

Grants and Contracts

Joseph P.Y. Kao, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Associate Director, Center for Biomedical Engineering and Technology (BioMET), received a two-year, $30,000 grant from the Department of Defense—Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, to explore the use of optical photostimulation (using focused light flashes to photo-release neurotransmitter molecules that stimulate neurons in the brain’s visual cortex). Normally, light coming in through the eye stimulates cells that send signals back through the optic nerve, and on through the brain, to release chemicals called neurotransmitters. The neurotransmitter turns on cells in the visual cortex, allowing us to see. Instead of implanting electrodes into the visual cortex, Dr. Kao with colleagues from BioMET and University of Maryland, College Park, plan to synthesize a neurotransmitter molecule whose activity is blocked by a photosensitive “cage.” Exposure to a flash of light breaks the cage to unleash the fully active neurotransmitter. The team will test the ability of a small light-emitting device placed on the surface of the brain to activate caged neurotransmitter deeper in the visual cortex, activating neurons and producing an image. Developing and validating a technology based on photo-releasable neurotransmitters could enable a less invasive approach for vision prosthetics.

Mark Rizzo, PhD, Associate Professor; Thomas Blanpied, PhD, Associate Professor; and Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, all from the Department of Physiology, received a three-year, $1,428,179 Multi-PI research grant from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Multiparametric Biosensor Imaging in Brain Slices.”

Ai-Hui Tang, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, received a two-year $75,000 NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain and Behavior Research Foundation for “Nanoscale Reorganization of Glutamatergic Synapses in Schizophrenia-Related Animal Models,” which will support collaborative work between the Department of Physiology and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center.

November 2016

New Faculty and Staff

Ivy Dick, PhD, has been appointed as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physiology. Prior to receiving her Doctorate in Philosophy in Biomedical Engineering, Dr. Dick received her BS in Physics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1997. She received her PhD in 2010 from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore MD. She did her Postdoctoral training at The Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Biomedical Engineering under Dr. David Yue. She was promoted to Research Associate in 2015. Dr. Dick came to the University of Maryland, Baltimore as a result of a recent recruitment process and will be focusing on the biology of voltage-dependent ion channels mediating the influx of calcium into cardiac cells and neurons.

Honors and Awards

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, has been re-elected to serve for a three-year term as a Councilor for The Society of General Physiologists. The Society was founded in 1946 to promote and disseminate knowledge in basic biological, chemical, or physical mechanisms of broad physiological significance, encompassing research on membrane transport and ion channels; membrane structure, regulation, and dynamics; and cellular contractility and molecular motors.

Grants and Contracts

Sai Sachin Divakaruni, BS, Graduate Research Student, Department of Physiology, received a four-year, $159,428, MD/PhD F30 individual training grant renewal from the National Institute of Mental Health for research training on “Regulation of Drp1-Dependent Mitochondrial Fission During Synaptic Potentiation.” This individual training grant was awarded with two years of PhD and two years of MD support.

Publications

John Hamlyn, PhD, Professor, and Mordecai Blaustein, MD, Professor, both from the Department of Physiology, co-authored “Endogenous Ouabain: Recent Advances and Controversies” in Hypertension, 2016 Sep;68(3):526-32. The article was listed on the journal cover and was the lead article in the issue. Drs. Blaustein and Hamlyn, along with Ling Chen, MD, MMed, Associate Professor; Gil Wier, PhD, Professor; and Jin Zhang, MD, PhD, Associate Professor, all also from the Department of Physiology, were among the co-authors on an invited ‘Topical Review’ entitled “Pivotal Role of Alpha-2 Na+ Pumps and Their High Affinity Ouabain Binding Site in Cardiovascular Health and Disease” in The Journal of Physiology, 2016 Nov 1;594(21):6079-6103.

October 2016

Events, Lectures and Workshops

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, delivered the TransCure Lecture in Physiology at the University of Bern, Switzerland in June. Her topic was “Big Time for BK: Mechanisms of Circadian Rhythm in Neuronal Activity.” She also gave invited seminars at Columbia University in April, the University of Washington in May, the Society for Biological Rhythms Meeting in Palm Harbor, FL in May, and the Ion Channels Gordon Research Conference in Mt. Holyoke, MA in July.

Honors and Awards

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, has been appointed to a six-year term on the Neurotransporters, Receptors, Channels and Calcium Signaling (NTRC) Study Section, Center for Scientific Review, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Members are selected on the basis of their demonstrated competence and achievement in their scientific discipline, as evidenced by the quality of research accomplishments, publications in scientific journals, and other significant scientific activities, achievements and honors.

Grants and Contracts

Toni Antalis, PhD, Professor of Physiology, Center for Vascular and Inflammatory Diseases, and Curt Civin, MD, Associate Dean for Research, Professor of Pediatrics, and Director, Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, have received a five-year, $2,501,301 competing renewal T32 training grant from the National Cancer Institute. This training grant will continue support for the Training Program in Cancer Biology, launched in 2011, and will provide support for pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees in basic, translational, and clinical research at the Marlene and Stewart Greenebaum Comprehensive Cancer Center.

Joseph Kao, PhD, Professor of Physiology, Center for Biomedical Engineering & Technology (BioMET), has been awarded a two-year, $310,000 Vision Prosthesis Pilot Study Award from the US Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC). The awards were created to fund research exploring novel technologies contributing to the development of a working visual prosthesis prototype for individuals who have sustained severe macular degenerate or traumatic eye injury. Dr. Kao is exploring the use of optical photostimulation—using focused light flashes to photo-release neurotransmitter molecules that stimulate neurons in the brain’s visual cortex.

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, received a $35,000 conference supplement from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute for “Genetic & Animal Models for Ion Channel Function in Physiology and Disease” in support of her attendance at The 70th Annual Society of General Physiologists Meeting-Symposium in Woods Hole, MA, September 7–11.

Publications

Elizabeth O’Hare; James Perry, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Medicine; Alan Shuldiner, MD, the John L. Whitehurst Professor of Medicine and Director of the Program for Pharmacogenomics and Genomic Medicine; and Norann Zaghloul, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, all from the Program for Personalized and Genomic Medicine, were among the co-authors on “Assignment of Functional Relevance to Genes at Type 2 Diabetes-Associated Loci Through Investigation of b-Cell Mass Deficits” in Molecular Endocrinology, 2016 Apr 30(4):429-45.

Alan Shuldiner, MD, the John L. Whitehurst Professor of Medicine and Director of the Program for Pharmacogenomics and Genomic Medicine; Braxton Mitchell, MPH, PhD, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology; and Elliot Hong, MD, Professor of Psychiatry, all from the Program in Personalized and Genomic Medicine, were among the co-authors on “Cognitive Profiles and Heritability Estimates in the Older Amish” in Psychiatric Genetics, 2016 Aug;26(4):178-83.

August 2016

Grants and Contracts

Robert Bloch, PhD, Professor, Department of Physiology, received a three-year, $176,506 research supplement to promote diversity in health-related research from the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases. The supplement was added to his ongoing research grant “Role of Dysferlin in T-Tubules of Skeletal Muscle.”

Paul Grimm, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Physiology, received a one-year, $40,000 Professional Development Award from the National Kidney Foundation of Maryland for “Proximal Tubule Production of Alpha Ketoglutarate Diminishes Thiazide Diuretic Efficacy.”

Tami Kingsbury, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physiology, Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, received a two-year, $230,000 grant from the Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, TEDCO for “Eyes Absent-1 (EYA1) as a Novel Hematopoietic Stem-Progenitor Cell Regulator.” She also received a two-year sub-award grant in the amount of $234,000 from TheraCord, LLC, and Prime Sponsor The Maryland Stem Cell Research Fund, TEDCO, for “TheraCord Cord Blood Collection Device.”

Melissa Long Konopko, BS, Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Physiology, received a two-year, $40,000 Pre-doctoral Fellowship grant from the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America Foundation (PhRMA) for “Role of Placenta in Valproic Acid-Induced Defects in Fetal Brain Development.”

Dudley Strickland, PhD, Professor of Surgery and Physiology, Director of the Center for Vascular & Inflammatory Diseases, and Assistant Dean of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, and Sanjay Rajagopalan, MBBS, FACC, FAHA, the Melvin Sharoky Professor in Medicine and Assistant Chair of Translational Research, Department of Medicine, have been awarded a five-year, $2.48 million T32 training grant from the National Institute of Health (NIH)/National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for “Interdisciplinary Training Program in Cardiovascular Disease (ITCVD-T32).” This program is an amalgam of two exceptional T32 programs that have been in existence at the School of Medicine for more than 14 years: The Vascular Biology Training Program and the Training Program in Cardiovascular and Cell Biology. Its objective is to develop knowledge and sharpen skills for pre- and post-doctoral scientists who have multi-disciplinary background to better understand cell biology, vascular biology, immunology and inflammation, as well as genomics and bioinformatics as they relate to cardiovascular disease. It will bring a total of five predoctoral and five postdoctoral trainees to the School of Medicine in the upcoming years.

Honors and Awards

Curt Civin, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, and Associate Dean for Research, was honored for contributions to cancer cures at the TerpsPlay4TheCure halftime presentation during a University of Maryland Women’s Basketball game broadcast on ESPN in May. He was also honored for his stem cell research in the Hometown Heroes section of an exhibit at Baltimore’s Jewish Museum of Maryland called “Beyond Chicken Soup: Jews and Medicine in America.”

Publications

Terez Shea-Donohue, PhD, Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, was among the co-authors on “Fundamentals of Neurogastroenterology: Basic Science” in Gastroenterology, 2016 Feb 18 [Epub ahead of print].

July 2016

Honors and Awards

Nevins Todd, MD, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, was chosen by the SOM Class of 2016 to receive the Student Council Award for Best Pre-clinical Faculty at the 2016 graduation ceremony, held May 19 at the Hippodrome Theatre.

In the News

The Center for Vaccine Development (CVD), jointly with campus administration, held a very successful NIH site visit on March 16 for approximately 60 NIH grants management personnel. This all-day Q & A allowed the CVD to showcase what they do and how they do it from grant submission to grant award. Following the Q & A, the participants toured the CVD laboratories, recruitment area, and regulatory suite for an up-close-and-personal meeting with CVD’s distinguished faculty.

June 2016

Events, Lectures and Workshops

Stephen Davis, MBBS, Professor & Chair; Matthew Weir, MD, Professor; Emerson Wickwire, PhD, ABPP, CBSM, FAASM, Assistant Professor; Steven Prior, PhD, Assistant Professor; Rana Malek, MD, Assistant Professor; Lina Melhem, MD, Clinical Assistant Professor; Braxton Mitchell, Jr., PhD, MPH, Professor; Kashif Munir, MD, Assistant Professor; Toni Pollin, PhD, Associate Professor; and Ava Port, MD, Assistant Professor, all from the Department of Medicine, participated as either a lecturer or roundtable discussant at the American Diabetes Association’s 2nd Annual Diabetes Research Summit, held at the Sheppard Pratt Conference Center in Towson on March 5.

Grants and Contracts

Thomas Blanpied, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, received a one-year, $53,900 administrative supplement from the National Institute of Mental Health for “Internal Dynamics of the Postsynaptic Density.” The supplement will support an upcoming joint US/Japan workshop awarded under an NIH program entitled the US–Japan Brain Research Cooperative Program (BRCP). The meeting is titled “Current Trends and Future Directions of Synaptic Plasticity Research,” and will be held in the SMC Campus Center June 22–25. Half of the workshop’s invited participants will come from the United States and half from Japan.

Mark Rizzo, PhD, Associate Professor, and W. Gil Wier, PhD, Professor, both from the Department of Physiology, received a four-year, $1,543,438, multi-PI award from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for “Creation of Optical Biosensor Mice for Longitudinal Studies of Vascular Function.”

In the News

Steven Fisher, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine, had a summary of his research on “Novel Models to Study Effect of High-Altitude Hypoxic Exposure and Placental Insufficiency on Fetal Oxygen Metabolism and Congenital Heart Defects” highlighted on the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs website in support of American Heart Month in February. This important work was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program, and can be found at http://cdmrp.army.mil.

May 2016

Publications

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, and her lab colleagues Josh Whitt and Jenna Montgomery, all from the Department of Physiology, co-authored “BK Channel Inactivation Gates Daytime Excitability in the Circadian Clock” in Nature Communications, 2016, Mar 4;7:10837. Dr. Meredith also gave invited seminars on this work at Baylor College of Medicine, Duke University, Brown University, and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

March 2016

Events, Lectures and Workshops

Paul Welling, MD, Professor, Department of Physiology, was the keynote lecturer at the 8th International Aldosterone Meeting in Zermatt, Switzerland in October, and was a featured lecturer at the American Society of Nephrology Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA, in November. His talks highlighted recent discoveries of his laboratory on the molecular bases of sodium and potassium balance, which are transforming our understanding of salt retention in hypertension.

February 2016

Events, Lectures and Workshops

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, presented “New Approaches to Understanding How the Hypothalamus Controls Adaptive and Integrative Behavior: A Biophysical Mechanism that Gates Daytime Excitability in the Circadian Clock” at the Society for Neuroscience meeting in Chicago in October. She also gave an invited seminar on “Big Time for BK: Mechanisms of Circadian Rhythm in Neuronal Activity” at The University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus in November.

Honors and Awards

Curt Civin, MD, Associate Dean for Research, Director of the Center for Stem Cell Biology & Regenerative Medicine, and Professor of Pediatrics and Physiology, was selected to receive the 2015 American Society of Hematology Mentor Award, which was presented at the ASH Annual Meeting in December 2015.

Publications

Mordecai Blaustein, MD, Professor, Department of Physiology, was among the co-authors on “Arterial Alpha-2 Na+ Pump Expression Influences Blood Pressure: Lessons From Novel, Genetically-Engineered Smooth Muscle-Specific Alpha-2 Mice” in American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulation Physiology, 2015 Sep;309(5):H958-68.

Andrea Meredith, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, and members of her lab Betsir Zemen, Michael Lai, Joshua Whitt, andZulqarnain Khan, along with Guiling Zhao, PhD, Associate Professor in the department, co-authored “Generation of Kcnma1fl-tdTomato, a Conditional Deletion of the BK Channel a Subunit in Mouse” in Physiological Reports, 2015, Nov 3(11): e12612.

Terez Shea-Donohue, PhD, Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, was among the authors on “IL-25 or IL-17E Protects Against High-Fat Diet-Induced Hepatic Steatosis in Mice Dependent Upon IL-13 Activation of STAT6” in Journal of Immunology, 2015 Nov 15;195(10):4771-80.

Guiling Zhao, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Physiology, found a new signaling pathway of STIM1 (stromal interaction molecule 1) in the heart, and the results of the work, done in collaboration with colleagues at Duke, were published in PNAS as “STIM1 Enhances SR Ca2+ Content Through Binding Phospholamban in Rat Ventricular Myocytes. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, USA, 2015;112(34):E4792-801. W. Jonathan Lederer, MD, PhD, Professor of Physiology and Director of BioMet, was the corresponding author. This paper was chosen as Editor’s Choice by Science Signaling.

January 2016

"Stephen Davis, MBBS, the Theodore E. Woodward Endowed Chair and Professor in the Department of Medicine, oversees the GCRC, and is working to expand the number of researchers who use it. I’m confident that his efforts will result in an increase in activity for the center, and a consequent boost in our knowledge on many important scientific questions. He himself has used the GCRC to understand more about the mechanisms that defend against hypoglycemia, or falling blood sugar levels. This issue plays a role in many diabetes complications, including blindness, kidney failure and coma. He and his colleagues have found areas in the brain that blunt the body’s ability to protect itself against hypoglycemia; he has also identified promising treatments to counteract these mechanisms.”

Honors and Awards

Mordecai Blaustein, MD, Professor, Department of Physiology, was elected a 2015 “Fellow of the American Physiological Society” as part of its inaugural class of Fellows.

Kenneth Fahnestock, MA, Administrator, Department of Physiology, was recognized at the third annual Johns Hopkins Carey Business School Recognition Luncheon as one of the recipients of the Stegman Award. This award acknowledges those who attained a 4.0 grade point average for their excellence in Administrative Science while pursuing a Master’s degree at Johns Hopkins University.

Peter Tuo Li, an MD/PhD student in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Blanpied in the Department of Physiology, was awarded The Glaser Prize in Imaging for 2015 for his image showing color-coded trajectories of the movement of individual GFP-tagged transmembrane proteins in the plasma membrane of a cultured rat hippocampal neuron (each filled circle indicates the first position of a trajectory). Together they delineate the morphology of a femtoliter-sized protrusion known as the dendritic spine, an important site of excitatory synaptic transmission.

Events, Lectures and Workshops

Terez Shea-Donohue, PhD, Professor; Vlado Antonic, PhD, Research Associate; Neemesh Desai, Research Assistant; Rex Sun, Graduate Student;Isabel Jackson, PhD, Assistant Professor; and Zeljko Vujaskovic, MD, PhD, Professor, all from the Department of Radiation Oncology, along with Søren Bentzen, PhD, DMSc, Professor, Department of Epidemiology & Public Health, presented “Factors Involved in the Transition From Acute to Delayed Gastrointestinal (GI) Syndrome in a Murine Model of Partial Body Irradiation” and  “Novel Animal Model of Combined Injury and Multiple Organ Failure Caused by Radiation and Peripheral Tissue Trauma: Preliminary Results” at the annual meeting of the Radiation Research Society, held September 19–22 in Weston, FL.

Publications

Steven Fisher, MD, Professor, Department of Medicine, was a co-author on “The Stress of Maternal Separation Causes Mis-Programming in the Postnatal Maturation of Rat Resistance Arteries” in American Journal of Physiology—Heart and Circulatory Physiology, 2015 Nov;309(9):H1468-78.

Terez Shea-Donohue, PhD, Professor, Department of Radiation Oncology, was among the co-authors on “Type 2 Immunity-Dependent Reduction of Segmented Filamentous Bacteria in Mice Infected with the Helminthic Parasite Nippostrongylus brasiliensis” in Microbiome, 2015 Sep 17;3:40.

Jixin Zhong, MD, Assistant Professor (lead author), and Sanjay Rajagopalan, MBBS, FACC, FAHA, the Melvin Sharoky Endowed Professor in Cardiovascular Medicine, both from the Department of Medicine, were among the co-authors on “Dipeptidyl Peptidase-4 Regulation of SDF-1/CXCR4 Axis: Implications for Cardiovascular Disease” in Frontiers in Immunology, 2015 Sep 25;6:477.