John and Jan Portman Professor in Biomedical Engineering
Associate Chair for Emory
Vascular Mechanobiology and Nanomedicine, Role of mechanosensitive genes, miRNAs and epigenetics in atherosclerosis, RNA-based therapeutics, nanomedicine, endothelial mechanobiology
From Mechanobiology to RNA-based Therapeutics and Nanomedicine: Dr. Jo and his lab study how mechanical force associated with blood flow regulates vascular biology and cardiovascular disease, especially atherosclerosis, aortic valve (AV) calcification, and abdominal aortic aneurysms. His lab developed a mouse model of flow-induced atherosclerosis and in vitro shear stress systems to understand the role of flow in endothelial cells and atherosclerosis. Using the animal model, his lab discovered numerous mechanosensitive genes (mRNAs and microRNAs) that are regulated by disturbed flow and their role in atherosclerosis and AV calcification. Recently, his lab has shown that disturbed flow regulates mechanosensitive genes by controlling epigenomic DNA methylation patterns and that inhibition of a key enzyme DNMT by 5-Aza-deoxycytidine can prevent atherosclerosis in mice. His lab has begun taking steps to translate these animal studies toward the clinic by developing better gene and drug therapies using nanotechnology-based delivery approaches and better therapeutic strategies.