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Story Tips: Engineering Students Pursue Cutting-Edge Research

the alternative form of Vitamin D also increased the production of nerve growth factor but was non-toxic.

Next, she tested the drug on lab rats, but the results were inconclusive. She is now trying to determine whether this compound can slow the growth of cancer. Her faculty supervisors are Henry Brem, Department of Neurosurgery; and Gary Posner in the Department of Chemistry.

Modeling A Heart Disease On A Computer

Mahesh Shenai, a 21-year-old senior from Bloomfield Hills, Mich., used his research award to create an advanced two-dimensional computer model depicting a common heart disease called myocardial ischemia.

By using a computer to simulate the electrical activity that takes place in diseased heart tissue, the biomedical engineering major hopes to help pinpoint the cause of spontaneous and fatal cardiac conditions called arrythmias. He is working with Nitish Thakor, a professor in Johns Hopkins' Department of Biomedical Engineering.

Delivering DNA Via Polymer Nanospheres

Kevin Janes, a 21-year-old senior from Ridgewood, N.J., used his research award to conduct experiments in gene therapy. The biomedical engineering major works with polymer nanospheres, microscopic globs of plastic surrounding bits of DNA. After the spheres are injected into the bloodstream, the plastic disintegrates, leaving behind DNA that may produce a protein missing in the body. This could help restore normal function to diseased cells.

Using laboratory mice, Janes has been trying to trace where this corrective DNA settles in the body. If it is the liver, for example, that indicates this technique might be useful for treating liver diseases. Janes' faculty sponsor is Kam Leong, a biomedical engineering professor who pioneered the use of these nanospheres.


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Contact: Phil Sneiderman
prs@jhu.edu
410-516-7160
Johns Hopkins University
7-Apr-1999


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