Johns Hopkins University
|Courtesy of Lester Spence, Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0|
#1 - Johns Hopkins University
Fiscal 2013 NIH funding: $574.85 million
Fiscal 2012 NIH funding: $645.69 million
Change in funding: -$70.84 million
Number of awards in 2013: 1,281
Number of awards in 2012: 1,273
Among some of the most important new biomedical research to come out of Johns Hopkins last year was a study published Oct. 24 in Cell, which uncovered a new obstacle in the fight against HIV/AIDS. The study found that levels of potentially active, dormant forms of HIV hiding in infected immune T cells may be 60 times greater than what scientists previously believed. This so-called latent reservoir of functional proviruses is left behind after drug therapy with antiretrovirals has halted viral replication, stopping the course of the disease. Though the findings mean that it might be more difficult to find a cure for HIV/AIDS, it could encourage scientists to develop alternative approaches to designing drugs for HIV, which affects an estimated 1.18 million people in the U.S. and 34 million people worldwide.
Other investigators at Johns Hopkins are making inroads in genetic disorders. In September, a team of scientists published a study in Science Translational Medicine that detailed a compound capable of normalizing the development of the cerebellum in a mouse model of Down syndrome with a single injection. Abnormalities in the cerebellum are thought to have some connection to the disease. Given at birth, a one-time dose of a drug that supercharged the Sonic hedgehog pathway, which is involved in growth and development, normalized the growth of the cerebellum through adulthood and boosted learning and memory in mice. The researchers are now searching for more targeted ways to safely harness the power of Sonic hedgehog in the cerebellum to potentially treat Down syndrome.
Johns Hopkins scientists are also working on new ways to treat deadly cancers. A team at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center has developed a method that involves using cell lines derived from patients' own tumors that could help doctors choose the most effective chemotherapy drugs for them. Researchers injected cells from human pancreatic cancer and ovarian cancer into mice genetically engineered to advance tumor growth. After removing the tumors, which grew into human cancer cells, scientists tested and identified two anticancer drugs among 3,100 that were most effective in killing cells in one of the pancreatic cancer cell lines. The researchers next want to try this approach in humans to find personalized cancer drugs.