Principal Investigator

foster-1D. Brian Foster Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Cardiology
Director, Laboratory of Cardiovascular Biochemistry
The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

Brian hails from Canada, born in Québec City, Québec (Oui, c’est vrai!). He graduated from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, with a Ph.D. in biochemistry. There, he studied both smooth muscle and cardiac muscle contractile proteins, caldesmon and troponin I (TnI) respectively, in the Laboratory of Dr. Jennifer Van Eyk. He moved to Boston where he received an American Heart Association Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue the study of his favorite proteins from a structural perspective. Under Dr. William Lehman of the Boston University School of Medicine and Dr. Albert Wang, formerly of the Boston Biomedical Research Institute, Brian investigated the conformation of caldesmon on reconstituted thin filaments, and its regulation by phosphorylation, using 3D helical image reconstruction of electron micrographs he acquired in the lab of Dr. Roger Craig. He also showed that the C-terminus of troponin I plays a role in proper thin filament activation by examining the effect of mutant troponin, bearing a TnI truncation, on actin-tropomyosin structures in the presence or absence of Ca2+.

Brian came to The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Division of Cardiology seeking new opportunities apply his training in biochemistry to some of the big issues in heart disease. First under Dr. Eduardo Marbán, then as a junior faculty Research Associate under Dr. Brian O’Rourke, he spent much of his time searching for identity of the elusive cardioprotective MitoKATP channel. It was at this time that he began to embrace the techniques and technologies of proteomics that ultimately led to the discovery of mitoROMK – the strongest candidate yet for the pore-forming subunit MitoKATP. Brian also teamed up with Dr. Anthony Cammarato to conduct the first ever proteomic analysis of the Cardiac tube of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster.

Now as an Assistant Professor, in the Division of Cardiology, Brian continues to make proteomics an integral part of his research, as you will see from the description of the lab core projects. His interests are broad, ranging from cardioprotection by preconditioning, to understanding the sarcomeric cardiomyopathies and heart failure. There are themes, however. He is particularly interested the interplay between the myofilaments, the major consumers of ATP in the heart, and the major source of ATP – the mitochondria. And though he hasn’t abandoned his reductionist roots in protein chemistry, he is now intent on understanding the properties of protein and post-translational modification networks, particularly in the context of cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

Current Lab Members

Kyriakos Papanicolaou, PhD
Kyriakos Papanicolaou, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow

Kyriakos, a native of beautiful sunny Cyprus, also comes to Hopkins by way of Boston, where he trained in the lab of Dr. Kenneth Walsh, Director of the Whitaker Cardiovascular Institute of the Boston University School of Medicine. His doctoral thesis examined the role of heart mitochondrial membrane proteins called mitofusins, particularly with respect to their influence on the mitochondrial permeability transition that marks the onset of cell death by necrosis. He also showed that mitofusins 1 and 2 are essential for postnatal metabolic remodeling in the heart. We are happy to have him on board.

Lauren Parker
Lauren Parker
Undergraduate Researcher

Lauren is a rising junior studying Molecular and Cellular Biology at the Johns Hopkins undergraduate campus, where she is also a Woodrow Wilson Research Fellow. Originally from Richmond, VA, she has always had a strong interest in science and medicine and has enjoyed studying retinoid signaling in heart failure. When she’s not in the lab, she spends much of her time training as a member of the Johns Hopkins University Varsity Swim Team in continuation of her 16 year-long swimming career.

Alumni Lab Members

Trainee Lab Position Years Present Occupation
Jasma Rucker B.S. Research Specialist 2004-2015

Registered Nurse, Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, MD

Ni Yang, M.D. Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow 2015-2016

Attending Physician, Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China

Yuejin Li M.D., Ph.D. Postdoctoral Fellow 2012-2016

Assistant Professor of Biology, Morgan State University

Paul Wijnker, Ph.D. Visiting Graduate Student 2011

Postdoctoral Fellow, VU University Medical Center, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Anthony Nastasi Undergraduate Researcher 2013

Stanford Medical School, Stanford, CA

Andrew Hwang Undergraduate Researcher 2014-2015

JHU Graduate

Nicita Mehta Undergraduate Researcher 2015-2016

JHU Graduate

Charles Crepy D’Orleans Undergraduate Researcher 2017-2018

Life sciences consulting at Insight Strategy Advisors, New York, NY.

Aisha Frazier M.D. Fellows Research Rotation 2010-2011

Pediatric Cardiologist, Jefferson University Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, DE.

Yusufu Kamara, B.S. Post-Baccalaureate Training 2011-2012

Physician, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA