To See the World in a Dividing Cell

If you are interested in supporting our research or our Summer Academic Research Experience (SARE) program for disadvantaged Baltimore youth, please contact Doug ( or Sarah Farrell, Director of Development, Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences (

Lab announcements:

Aug 31, 2016: Congratulations to Eric Schiffhauer for receiving the Isaac Morris Hay and Lucille Elizabeth Hay Graduate Fellowship Award!

Jul 11, 2016: We learned today that Doug will be the 2017 recipient of the Ruth Kirschstein Diversity in Science Award from the American Society of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB).  This "award was established to honor an outstanding scientist who has shown a strong commitment to the encouragement of under-represented minorities to enter the scientific enterprise and/or to the effective mentorship of those within it." 

Jul 5, 2016: We welcome high school student Marina Martinez from Brussels, Belgium.

Jun 20, 2016: We welcome SARE Scholars Shivone Dixon (Baltimore Polytechnic Institute) and Grace Ayole (SEED School of Maryland) to the lab.

Jun 8, 2016: We introduce Jenny Nguyen, our new doctoral student from the Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences Department.  Welcome, Jenny!

Summer, 2016: We welcome Danny Shade, Adam Warrick, and Michael Hufker into the lab.  Danny comes from JHU, Adam is from Indiana University Bloomington, and Michael is from University of Maryland College Park. 

Mar 21, 2016: Corrine Kliment just received the Stetler Award from The Pearl M. Stetler Research Fund for Women Physicians. Awards are $65,000 for a designated year of research in a postgraduate program. $1,000 is provided for supplies and equipment. Congrats, Corrine! 

Mar 4, 2016: Corrine Kliment was just awarded the Baurenschmidt Award from the Eudowood Board.  Congrats, Corrine!  You can read more about Corrine's work in this ASCB write up.

Jan 27, 2016: Today, Hoku defended his thesis on the Regulation of Non-muscle Myosin II.  Congratulations Dr. West-Foyle! 

Jan 4, 2016: We welcome our new postdoctoral fellow Dustin Thomas.  Dustin just completed his doctoral research at the Cleveland Clinic.  Welcome Dustin!

Dec 28, 2015: We welcome our newest member Adira Avonelle West-Foyle into the lab family!  Adira was born Dec 28, 2015.  Congratulations Hoku and Emily!

Dec 14, 2015: Please check out our ASCB Celldance Video.  We attempted to present how you go from basic science discovery to making an impact on a disease, in this case on pancreatic cancer.  The Celldance Videos are designed to communicate our science stories through live cell imaging for a general audience.  The press release may be found here.   

Oct 10, 2015: Corrine Kliment's abstract entitled Cytoskeletal and Mitochondrial Genes as New Targets in the Protection of Airway Epithelial Cells Against Cigarette Smokewas selected by the American Society for Cell Biology as one of the "Best Cell Stories of 2015".  Fourteen were selected from the pool of 1242 abstracts for the "Honors" list.  Congrats, Corrine!

Oct 10, 2015: Congratulations to Corrine Kliment for her "Best Basic Science Presentation" at the Young Investigators in Respiratory Research Conference in Atlanta.  Congratulations, Corrine!

Aug 22, 2015: Check out this video on our 4-HAP work on ScIQ, TYT's New Science Channel: Enjoy!

Aug 13, 2015: Doug Robinson will receive the Biophysical Society's 2016 Emily M. Gray Award for 'Significant Contributions to Education in Biophysics'.

Jun 10, 2015: Check out Mariya Khan's animatic depicting the design constraints of a dividing cell.  Please make sure your sound is turned on. 

May 21, 2015: Doug Robinson was selected as the School of Medicine's 34th recipient of the Johns Hopkins University Professors' Award for Excellence in Teaching in the Biomedical Sciences.  

Mar. 15, 2015: We welcome our new BCMB doctoral student Priyanka Kothari to the lab.  Priyanka, welcome to the lab family!

See our newest press releases:

Cellular 'Cruise Control' Systems Let Cells Sense and Adapt to Changing Demands

Cells are the ultimate smart material. They can sense the demands being placed on them during critical life processes and then respond by strengthening, remodeling or self-repairing, for instance. To do this, cells use “mechanosensory” systems similar to the cruise control that lets a car’s engine adjust its power output when going up or down hills. Researchers are uncovering new details on cells’ molecular cruise control systems. By learning more about the inner workings of these systems, scientists hope ultimately to devise ways to tinker with them for therapeutic purposes.  Please check out the rest of the story on National Insitute of General Medical Science's BioBeat.

Proteins Pull Together As Cells Divide: Group dynamics, not star proteins, drive mechanics of crucial cell process

Like a surgeon separating conjoined twins, cells have to be careful to get everything just right when they divide in two. Otherwise, the resulting daughter cells could be hobbled, particularly if they end up with too many or two few chromosomes. Successful cell division hangs on the formation of a dip called a cleavage furrow, a process that has remained mysterious. Now, researchers at Johns Hopkins have found that no single molecular architect directs the cleavage furrow’s formation; rather, it is a robust structure made of a suite of team players. This work appeared online in Current Biology on February 19, 2015.  Please click here for the rest of the story.

Under Pressure: Mechanical stress is a key driver of cell-cell fusion, study finds

Just as human relationships are a two-way street, fusion between cells requires two active partners: one to send protrusions into its neighbor, and one to hold its ground and help complete the process.  Researchers have now found that one way the receiving cell plays its role is by having a key structural protein come running in response to pressure on the cell membrane, rather than waiting for chemical signals to tell it that it’s needed. The study, which helps open the curtain on a process relevant to muscle formation and regeneration, fertilization, and immune response, appears in the March 9 (2015) issue of the journal Developmental Cell.  Please click here for the rest of the story.

Stiffening Up Cancer Cells

A new screen uncovers compounds that alter cell mechanics. Could these compounds someday treat cancer from an unexpected angle? Find out by reading the story in Biotechniques.

New Cancer-Fighting Strategy Would Harden Cells to Prevent Metastasis

Existing cancer therapies are geared toward massacring tumor cells, but Johns Hopkins researchers propose a different strategy: subtly hardening cancer cells to prevent them from invading new areas of the body. They devised a way of screening compounds for the desired effect and have identified a compound that shows promise in fighting pancreatic cancer. Their study appeared January 20, 2015 in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.  Please click here for the rest of the story.