2021 Team Science Awardees

Congratulations to the winners of the first-ever ICTR Team Science Award!

 

We are pleased to announce the 2021 recipients of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Clinical and Translational Research Team Science Award. These awards, provided by the Community Collaborations Core, are designed to recognize the great work that Johns Hopkins researchers have been doing as interdisciplinary teams. They are also intended to highlight best practices and to share lessons learned in Team Science.

The award has been given to three teams:

  • Targeted Nanomedicine
  • Outcomes After Critical Illness and Surgery- Mental Health Group
  • Prostate Cancer Research Team

Additionally, we are recognizing a Promising New Team, the Neural Port Project.

Please see below to learn about these inspiring teams!


Targeted Nanomedicine

The “Targeted Nanomedicine team” was born out of an initial collaboration between the Dr. Sujatha Kannan and Dr. Kannan Rangaramanujam labs to begin to address the largely unmet need for pharmacological interventions for perinatal brain injury. It has now expanded to involve several labs across campus. Currently, therapeutic avenues are limited, resulting in high rates of cerebral palsy after perinatal insult. Through this initial collaboration, nanoparticle-drug conjugates were developed to target drug delivery to microglia and remediate microglial-driven inflammatory cascades responsible for injury in many neurological conditions characterized by neuroinflammation. To do this, the team conjugates their drug of interest to hydroxyl-terminated poly(amidoamine) dendrimers. Utilizing this approach, they have been able to take previously poor drug candidates for the brain and make them effective by improving brain penetration and bioavailability. Currently, the team is conducting interdisciplinary IND-enabling preclinical work via a milestone-driven U01 grant.

This project combines expertise in drug discovery, chemical engineering, and preclinical disease modeling to:

  1. Optimize the drug-conjugate itself.
  2. Develop and conduct pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamics assessments.
  3. Conduct dose-finding preclinical work in a large animal model of neonatal neuroinflammation.
Team Member
Affiliation
Role on Team
Kannan Rangaramanujam, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, OphthalmologyPrincipal Investigator
Sujatha Kannan, MDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicinePrincipal Investigator
Barbara Slusher, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Neurology/Johns Hopkins Drug DiscoveryCo-Investigator
Frances Northington, MDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, PediatricsCo-Investigator
Nirnath Sah, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicinePostdoctoral Fellow
Jinhuan Liu, BSNJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicineLab Manager
Amanda Fowler, BSJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicineLab Technician
Alicia Chime, BSJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicineLab Technician
Anjali Sharma, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, OphthalmologyResearch Associate
Wathsala Liyanage, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, OphthalmologyPostdoctoral Fellow
Elizabeth Khoury, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Anesthesiology and Critical Care MedicineResearch Associate
Tony Wu, BSJohns Hopkins WSE: Chemical and Biomolecular EngineeringGraduate Student
Rana Rais, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, NeurologyCo-Investigator
Jesse Alt, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins Drug DiscoveryStaff Scientist
Debbie Flock, BSJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, PediatricsLab Manager
Victoria Turnbill, BSJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, PediatricsLab Technician

Check out some of the work that the Targeted Nanomedicine team is most proud of:

  • Kannan S, Dai H, Navath RS, Balakrishnan B, Jyoti A, Janisse J, Romero R, Kannan RM. Dendrimer-based postnatal therapy for neuroinflammation and cerebral palsy in a rabbit model. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Apr 18;4(130):130ra46. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3003162. PMID: 22517883; PMCID: PMC3492056.
  • Nance E, Kambhampati SP, Smith ES, Zhang Z, Zhang F, Singh S, Johnston MV, Kannan RM, Blue ME, Kannan S. Dendrimer-mediated delivery of N-acetyl cysteine to microglia in a mouse model of Rett syndrome. J Neuroinflammation. 2017 Dec 19;14(1):252. doi: 10.1186/s12974-017-1004-5. Erratum in: J Neuroinflammation. 2018 Jan 12;15(1):14. PMID: 29258545; PMCID: PMC5735803.
  • Turk BR, Nemeth CL, Marx JS, Tiffany C, Jones R, Theisen B, Kambhampati S, Ramireddy R, Singh S, Rosen M, Kaufman ML, Murray CF, Watkins PA, Kannan S, Kannan R, Fatemi A. Dendrimer-N-acetyl-L-cysteine modulates monophagocytic response in adrenoleukodystrophy. Ann Neurol. 2018 Sep;84(3):452-462. doi: 10.1002/ana.25303. PMID: 30069915; PMCID: PMC6454885.

Outcomes After Critical Illness and Surgery—Mental Health Group

The interdisciplinary Mental Health team within the Outcomes After Critical Illness and Surgery (OACIS) research group came together to study delirium during critical illness and long-term mental health outcomes in survivors of critical illness. Their pioneering collaborative work led to the discovery that up to 80% of patients who survive critical illness live with new or worsened mental health and cognitive outcomes, contributing to the term Post-Intensive Care Syndrome. Since this important discovery, additional team members were added to continue advancing ways to understand and improve mental health outcomes in survivors of critical illness and their families. Specifically, the scientific goals of this multi-disciplinary team are to:

  1. Understand long-term mental health and cognitive outcomes of critical care survivors
  2. Improve awareness among patients, families, and clinicians about post-intensive care syndrome – including negative mental health impacts.
  3. Promote best practices in the ICU to help protect patient’s mental health and cognitive function.
  4. Design and test evidence-based interventions to improve patient outcomes.
Team Member
Affiliation
Role on Team
Dale Needham, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins School of MedicinePrincipal Investigator
Megan Hosey, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Physical Medicine and RehabilitationPrincipal Investigator/Co-Investigator
Karin Neufeld, MD, MPHJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesPrincipal Investigator/Co-Investigator
O. Joseph Bienvenu, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesCo-Investigator
Ann Parker, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins School of MedicinePrincipal Investigator/Co-Investigator
Alison Turnbull, PhDJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, EpidemiologyPrincipal Investigator/Co-Investigator
Elizabeth Colantuoni, PhDJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, BiostatisticsBiostatistician
Victor Dinglas, OtherJohns Hopkins School of MedicineSenior Research Staff/Manager/Supervisor

 

Check out some of the work that the OACIS Mental Health Group is most proud of:

  • Needham, D. M., Davidson, J., Cohen, H., Hopkins, R. O., Weinert, C., Wunsch, H., … & Harvey, M. A. (2012). Improving long-term outcomes after discharge from intensive care unit: report from a stakeholders’ conference. Critical care medicine, 40(2), 502-509.
  • Bienvenu, O. J., Friedman, L. A., Colantuoni, E., Dinglas, V. D., Sepulveda, K. A., Mendez-Tellez, P., … & Needham, D. M. (2018). Psychiatric symptoms after acute respiratory distress syndrome: a 5-year longitudinal study. Intensive care medicine, 44(1), 38-47.
  • Hosey, M. M., Wegener, S. T., Hinkle, C., & Needham, D. M. (2021). A Cognitive Behavioral Therapy-Informed Self-Management Program for Acute Respiratory Failure Survivors: A Feasibility Study. Journal of Clinical Medicine, 10(4), 872.

Prostate Cancer Research Team

Their molecular-patho-epidemiology team came together because mentors recognized their mutual interest in intraprostatic inflammation in the etiology and progression of prostate cancer—from the pathology perspective and from the epidemiology perspective—and introduced them. (Mentorship and endorsement matters!!!) From this initial team in 1999, they have expanded to include cancer biologists, geneticists, and clinicians from multiple clinical specialties, plus students and fellows. Among other achievements, their team conducted the first prospective (temporally correct) study showing that intraprostatic inflammation is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer in men without an indication for biopsy. The team’s current goals continue to be to identify molecular indicators of prostate cancer risk and progression to lethality, especially molecular factors that may explain the profound racial disparity and to develop those markers for use in prevention, predicting prognosis, and guiding intervention.

 

Team Member
Affiliation
Role on Team
Elizabeth Platz, ScDJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, EpidemiologyPI/Co-PI/Co-I
Angelo De Marzo, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, PathologyPI/Co-PI/Co-I
Alan Meeker, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, PathologyPI/Co-PI/Co-I
William Nelson, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, OncologyPI/Co-PI/Co-I
Srinivasan Yegnasubramanian, MD, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, OncologyPI/Co-PI/Co-I
Corinne Joshu, PhDJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, EpidemiologyPI/Co-PI/Co-I
Shawn Lupold, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, UrologyPI/Co-PI/Co-I
Jiayun Lu, PhDJohns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, EpidemiologyBiostatistician

 

Check out some of the work that the Prostate Cancer Research Team is most proud of:

  • Platz EA, Kulac I, Barber JR, Drake CG, Joshu CE, Nelson WG, Lucia MS, Klein EA, Lippman SM, Parnes HL, Thompson IM, Goodman PJ, Tangen CM, De Marzo AM. A Prospective Study of Chronic Inflammation in Benign Prostate Tissue and Risk of Prostate Cancer: Linked PCPT and SELECT Cohorts. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Oct;26(10):1549-1557. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-17-0503. Epub 2017 Jul 28. PMID: 28754796; PMCID: PMC5626618.
  • Heaphy CM, Yoon GS, Peskoe SB, Joshu CE, Lee TK, Giovannucci E, Mucci LA, Kenfield SA, Stampfer MJ, Hicks JL, De Marzo AM, Platz EA, Meeker AK. Prostate cancer cell telomere length variability and stromal cell telomere length as prognostic markers for metastasis and death. Cancer Discov. 2013 Oct;3(10):1130-41. doi: 10.1158/2159-8290.CD-13-0135. Epub 2013 Jun 18. PMID: 23779129; PMCID: PMC3797255.
  • Marrone MT, Joshu CE, Peskoe SB, De Marzo AM, Heaphy CM, Lupold SE, Meeker AK, Platz EA. Adding the Team into T1 Translational Research: A Case Study of Multidisciplinary Team Science in the Evaluation of Biomarkers of Prostate Cancer Risk and Prognosis. Clin Chem. 2019 Jan;65(1):189-198. doi: 10.1373/clinchem.2018.293365. Epub 2018 Dec 5. PMID: 30518666; PMCID: PMC7375195.

 

Neural Port Project* (Promising New Team)

Their research project originated from the collaboration of a reconstructive surgery student and a biomedical engineering PhD student with a shared interest in designing implantable electrodes to monitor neural activity in January 2020. Both parties initially expressed interest in improving the lives of amputees and individuals suffering from limb loss and its aftereffects (including loss of sensation, phantom limb pain, etc.). They decided that approaching the problem from both the clinical and engineering perspective would not only be most efficient, but it would also be more inclusive of a variety of scientific perspectives and ideas. As a whole, their team aims to bridge the gap between what happens in the lab and what happens in the operating room. The team is currently investigating a unique reconstructive surgery that could potentially lead to improved signal amplification for prosthesis control in amputees and to reduced neuropathic pain in amputees and others suffering from nerve damage. They are also currently investigating how surgical reconstruction (drastic changes in tissue) can lead to changes in the signal acquisition post-regeneration for interfacing humans with robotic prostheses.

Team Member
Affiliation
Role on Team
Alexis Lowe, PhD candidateJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Biomedical EngineeringTeam Lead (exploratory research)
Connor Glass, MD candidateJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Plastic SurgeryTeam Lead (translational research)
Ana Rosu, BS candidateJohns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, Biomedical EngineeringResearch Assistant (animal signal acquisition)
Alyssa Lee, BS candidateJohns Hopkins Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, Molecular and Cellular BiologyResearch Assistant (animal tissue processing/analysis)
Jacky Tian, MS candidateJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Biomedical EngineeringCo-investigator (electrode design and development)
Shipeng Wang, MS candidateJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Biomedical EngineeringCo-investigator (tissue imaging)
Martin Prados, BS candidateJohns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, Biomedical EngineeringResearch Assistant (electrode design and development)
Sami Tuffaha, MDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Plastic SurgeryCo-principal Investigator
Nitish Thakor, PhDJohns Hopkins School of Medicine, Biomedical EngineeringCo-principal Investigator

Check out some of the work that the Neural Port Project is most proud of:

  • Poster presentation at ASPN Nerve Week (Jan 2021) TITLE: Vascularized Denervated Muscle Targets Deliver High Quality Signal Amplification AUTHORS: Nicholas von Guionneau, Connor Glass, Alexis Lowe, Alison Wong, Thomas G.W. Harris, Nitish V. Thakor, Sami Tuffaha
  • Review Paper published in Bioelectronic Medicine (Feb 2021) TITLE: Cut Wires: the electrophysiology of regenerated tissues AUTHORS: Alexis Lowe, Nitish V. Thakor
  • Conference Paper published at IEEE Neural Engineering (Apr 2021) TITLE: Laser Speckle Contrast Imaging Insufficiently Sensitive to Detect Changes in Muscle Blood Flow During Electrical Stimulation AUTHORS: Alexis Lowe, Maria Rivera-Santana, Kiara Quinn, Yucheng Tian, Alyssa Lee, Nitish Thakor
For more information about the Team Science Award, please visit the Community and Collaborations Core website or contact the team at ICTRTeamScience@jh.edu.