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Recent news from The Johns Hopkins University

This section contains regularly updated highlights of the news from around The Johns Hopkins University. Links to the complete news reports from the nine schools, the Applied Physics Laboratory and other centers and institutes are to the left, as are links to help news media contact the Johns Hopkins communications offices.

 

Cancer Cells Don’t Engage in ‘Drunken’ Walks as They Spread Through the Body in 3D

Because of results seen in flat lab dishes, biologists have believed that cancers cells move through the body in a slow, aimless fashion, resembling an intoxicated person who cannot walk three steps in a straight line. This pattern, called a random walk, may hold true for cells traveling across two-dimensional lab containers, but Johns Hopkins researchers have discovered that for cells moving through three-dimensional spaces within the body, the “drunken” model doesn’t hold true.

Simulated Blindness Can Help Revive Hearing Loss, Researchers Find

Minimizing a person’s sight for as little as a week may help improve the brain’s ability to process hearing, neuroscientists have found.

Children’s Brain Imaging Data Bank Could Become a ‘Google’ Tool for Doctors

When an MRI scan uncovers an unusual architecture or shape in a child’s brain, it’s cause for concern: The malformation may be a sign of disease. But deciding whether that odd-looking anatomy is worrisome or harmless can be difficult. To help doctors reach the right decision, Johns Hopkins researchers are building a detailed digital library of MRI scans collected from children with normal and abnormal brains. The goal, the researchers say, is to give physicians a Google-like search system that will enhance the way they diagnose and treat young patients with brain disorders.

MedImmune, JHU Agree to Five-Year Research Deal

MedImmune, AstraZeneca’s global biologics research and development arm, and The Johns Hopkins University have entered into a five-year $6.5 million research collaboration.

Johns Hopkins Students Win Inventors Contest’s Top Prizes for Heart Treatment Device and Cancer Test

A Johns Hopkins undergraduate biomedical engineering student team that devised a two-part system to improve the way life-saving shocks are delivered to hearts earned first-prize in the undergraduate division of a national Collegiate Inventors Competition. In the graduate-level competition, Isaac Kinde, a Johns Hopkins medical student, received third-place honors for developing a test to detect ovarian and endometrial cancers as part of a team at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.

Biosensor Could Help Detect Brain Injuries During Heart Surgery

Johns Hopkins engineers and cardiology experts have teamed up to develop a fingernail-sized biosensor that could alert doctors when serious brain injury occurs during heart surgery. By doing so, the device could help doctors devise new ways to minimize brain damage or begin treatment more quickly. In the Nov. 11 issue of the journal Chemical Science, the team reported on lab tests demonstrating that the prototype sensor had successfully detected a protein associated with brain injuries.

T. Boone Pickens Announces $20 Million Gift

Texas energy entrepreneur and financier T. Boone Pickens plans to give $20 million to The Johns Hopkins University to support daring but potentially vision-saving research at the university’s Wilmer Eye Institute.

High Risk-High Reward Research Grants from the NIH Go to Two Johns Hopkins Scientists

Two Johns Hopkins faculty members–Natalia Trayanova and Hans Tomas Bjornsson–have been chosen to receive prestigious National Institutes of Health grants allocated for biomedical research projects that face significant challenges but could lead to major health care payoffs. The Johns Hopkins researchers are among 78 grant recipients nationwide announced Sept. 30 under the High Risk-High Reward Program supported by the National Institutes of Health Common Fund.

Five Johns Hopkins Engineering Doctoral Students Named 2014 Siebel Scholars

Five Johns Hopkins graduate students, recently named to the 2014 class of Siebel Scholars, are pushing the boundaries of medical technology to develop new and improved ways to diagnose and treat cancer, heart disease and other serious health problems. The students are trying to turn stem cells into healthy blood vessels, are testing biological reactions within microscopic droplets and are using advanced imaging techniques to detect disease at an early, treatable stage.

In recognition of their research skills, academic achievements and leadership qualities, the five PhD candidates are being honored as Johns Hopkins’ 2014 Siebel Scholars. The merit-based Siebel program provides $35,000 to each student for use in his or her final year of graduate studies.

Researchers Aim to Use Light—Not Electric Jolts—to Restore Healthy Heartbeats

When a beating heart slips into an irregular, life-threatening rhythm, the treatment is well known: deliver a burst of electric current from a pacemaker or defibrillator. But because the electricity itself can cause pain, tissue damage and other serious side-effects, a Johns Hopkins-led research team wants to replace these jolts with a kinder, gentler remedy: light. In a paper published Aug. 28 in the online journal Nature Communications, five biomedical engineers from Johns Hopkins and Stony Brook universities described their plan to use biological lab data and an intricate computer model to devise a better way to heal ailing hearts.

Johns Hopkins Researchers Find Sympathetic Neurons Engage in “Cross Talk” With Cells in the Pancreas During Early Development

The human body is a complicated system of blood vessels, nerves, organs, tissue and cells each with a specific job to do. When all are working together, it’s a symphony of form and function as each instrument plays its intended roles. Biologist Rejji Kuruvilla and her fellow researchers uncovered what happens when one instrument is not playing its part.

Johns Hopkins Receives Grant From Medtronic for Student Engineering Program Focused on Medical Devices for Developing Countries

Medtronic, one of the world’s largest medical technology companies, has entered into an innovative partnership with The Johns Hopkins University, agreeing to provide $200,000 a year for up to three years and skilled mentoring to help biomedical engineering students design new healthcare solutions for underserved patients in developing countries.

Solving DNA Puzzles is Overwhelming Computer Systems, Researchers Warn

Imagine millions of jigsaw puzzle pieces scattered across a football field, with too few people and too little time available to assemble the picture. Scientists in the new but fast-growing field of computational genomics are facing a similar dilemma. In recent decades, these researchers have begun to assemble the chemical blueprints of the DNA found in humans, animals, plants and microbes, unlocking a door that will likely lead to better healthcare and greatly expanded life-science knowledge. But a major obstacle now threatens the speedy movement of DNA’s secrets into research labs, two scholars in the field are warning.

Johns Hopkins Summer Program Hooks Baltimore City Teens on Science

Biophysics Research for Baltimore Teens, a paid summer internship program, aims to give city high school students from low-income communities a head start in science careers by exposing them to the thrills of university-level bio-medical lab work.

Johns Hopkins Students’ Device Aims to Avert Repeated Breast Cancer Surgeries

When a breast tumor is detected, many women opt to have a lumpectomy, which is surgery designed to remove the diseased tissue while preserving the breast. But during this procedure, doctors cannot learn right away whether all of the cancerous tissue has been removed, with no microscopic signs that cancer cells were left behind. Because of this delay, one in five of these women—up to 66,000 patients annually in the U.S. alone—must return for a second surgery to remove remaining cancer. These follow-up operations boost healthcare costs and can lead to delays in receiving other treatments such as radiation and chemotherapy. To reduce the need for these second surgeries, four Johns Hopkins graduate students have designed a device to allow pathologists to quickly inspect excised breast tissue within 20 minutes, while the patient is still in the operating room.

Australian Nurse, Scientist, Educator to Lead School of Nursing

Patricia M. Davidson, a global leader in cardiac health for women and indigenous peoples, has been appointed the fourth dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing.

Johns Hopkins Students Win Two Top Awards in National Biomedical Engineering Contest

Johns Hopkins student-built devices—a blood clot detection system and a concealable, hands-free breast pump—have won two of the top three awards in a national contest that recognizes innovative biomedical engineering designs that have high commercial potential and social impact.

New ‘Out of This World’ Space Stethoscope Valuable Here on Earth, Too

A team of students at the Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering has designed for NASA a new stethoscope that delivers accurate heart- and body-sounds to medics who are trying to assess astronauts’ health on long missions in noisy spacecraft.

Johns Hopkins University Commencement, Thursday, May 23

The event will take place, rain or shine, from 8:40 a.m. to approximately noon on Thursday, May 23, on Homewood Field. The ceremony will feature remarks from President Ronald J. Daniels and a speech by Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, the conferring of all degrees, and the bestowing of honorary degrees.

Diagnosis: ‘Irrationality in Health Care’

The debate over American health care didn’t end with the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Now that the law is in place and its provisions are slowly becoming reality, the discussion has shifted to questions regarding whether the benefits are worth the costs, and whether we will actually be a healthier nation once every citizen has health insurance. Johns Hopkins University health economist Douglas E. Hough hopes his new book, which looks at the state of American health care through the lens of behavioral economics, will be helpful in framing this new wave of discourse in a more productive way.

Johns Hopkins Team Deploys Hundreds of Tiny Untethered Surgical Tools in First Animal Biopsies

By using swarms of untethered grippers, each as small as a speck of dust, Johns Hopkins engineers and physicians say they have devised a new way to perform biopsies that could provide a more effective way to access narrow conduits in the body as well as find early signs of cancer or other diseases. In two recent peer-reviewed journal articles, the team reported successful animal testing of the tiny tools, which require no batteries, wires or tethers as they seize internal tissue samples.

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa to speak at Johns Hopkins’ Commencement Ceremony

Dr. Alfredo Quiñones-Hinojosa, a renowned neuroscientist and neurosurgeon at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, will be the featured speaker at the university’s Thursday, May 23, commencement ceremony. He will address graduates from all Johns Hopkins schools at the morning university-wide event at the Homewood campus at which their degrees are officially conferred.

Low-Cost ‘Cooling Cure’ Could Avert Brain Damage in Oxygen-Starved Babies

When babies are deprived of oxygen before birth, brain damage and disorders such as cerebral palsy can occur. Extended cooling can prevent brain injuries, but this treatment is not always available in developing nations where advanced medical care is scarce. To address this need, Johns Hopkins undergraduates have devised a low-tech $40 unit to provide protective cooling in the absence of modern hospital equipment that can cost $12,000.

Computer Model May Help Athletes and Soldiers Avoid Brain Damage and Concussions

Concussions can occur in sports and in combat, but health experts do not know precisely which jolts, collisions and awkward head movements during these activities pose the greatest risks to the brain. To find out, Johns Hopkins engineers have developed a powerful new computer-based process that helps identify the dangerous conditions that lead to concussion-related brain injuries. This approach could lead to new medical treatment options and some sports rule changes to reduce brain trauma among players.

Cancer-Fighting Nanostructures Concept Earns CAREER Award for Johns Hopkins Engineer

A Johns Hopkins engineer who is designing cancer-fighting nano-size structures that could assemble themselves and deliver treatment to diseased tissue has received a Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award from the National Science Foundation. Honggang Cui, an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Johns Hopkins, has been given this honor, which is accompanied by nearly $500,000 that will be disbursed over five years.

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