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2021 President’s Frontier Award Recipient & Finalists

Andrew Holland, an associate professor in the School of Medicine’s Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. His research focuses on how cells achieve faithful distribution of their genetic material during mitosis. Andrew and his lab are working to improve the efficacy of antimitotic drugs in the treatment of cancer. His research on Polo-like kinase 4 (PLK4) inhibitors has revealed that cancer cells can be targeted directly without damage to healthy ones—a finding that could usher in the next generation of antimitotic drugs. Andrew’s work also focuses on his discovery of the ‘mitotic surveillance pathway,’ a cellular fail-safe that stops growth of cells that take too long to divide, which has been shown to cause primary microcephaly. The Holland lab researches the role USP28 inhibitors, an essential component of the pathway, have on the potential treatment of developmental growth disorders. Andrew’s research efforts, mentorship, community involvement, and established and ongoing success show that he is a force in his field and will continue on this stellar trajectory.

“In your work you have truly defined the pioneering spirit of Johns Hopkins…Your groundbreaking research into the role of centrosomes in cell division–that most basic function of life–has not only broadened our understanding of human physiology but has also revealed incredible potential to help us address a wide range of illnesses, from microcephaly to cancer, by making it possible to spare healthy cells while targeting malignant ones,” says President Ron Daniels.

Sapna Kudchadkar, associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine in the School of Medicine, is working to establish a center of research excellence to improve short and long-term neurocognitive, psychosocial, and physical outcomes for hospitalized children and their families. Using non-pharmacologic approaches, Sapna’s work has the power to improve PICU outcomes for critically ill children at Johns Hopkins and around the world through the more than 200 hospitals that have implemented her PICU Up! program.

Anthony Leung, associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology in the Bloomberg School of Public Health, will be bringing together artificial intelligence—to analyze and predict RNA structure and function—and biophysics—to dissect SRD mechanisms to understand how RNA folds into structures and triggers degradation. The outcomes of Anthony’s innovative research show promise for large-scale impact in efficacy of RNA therapeutics and potential collaborations with virology, oncology, and neuroscience.

Laura Wood, associate professor of pathology in the School of Medicine, will collaborate with engineers to create novel three-dimensional multi-omics analyses of human pancreatic tissue. Laura’s innovative research has focused on the early stages of pancreatic cancer detection and prevention by studying pre-cancerous lesions to further understand tumorigenesis. This novel multi-omics approach will lead to comprehensive molecular and cellular characterization of human pancreatic neoplasms and has the potential to understand pancreatic cancer detection in never-before-seen ways.

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