Dr. Robyn J. Barst Pediatric PH Research and Mentoring Fund Grant Winner 2016

Meghan Bernier, MDMeghan Bernier, MD

T32 Research Fellow
The Johns Hopkins Hospital
Title: “LOX-1: A Therapeutic Target for Pulmonary Hypertension in Lung Endothelium”
Term: December 1, 2016 – November 30, 2016

Christen White Cranford Pediatric PH Research and Mentoring Grant

Summary of Research Project:

Inflammation – the body’s reaction to disturbance or infection – is present in pulmonary hypertension and can be increased during episodes when the disease worsens. One common molecule affected by inflammation is low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.  Inflammation causes LDL cholesterol to become oxidized and react with a special receptor (LOX-1) on the lining of blood vessels. As a consequence of this interaction, an important chemical for blood vessel health – nitric oxide – is decreased, and injury to vessels increases, including fibrosis and overgrowth of muscle cells. These changes prevent relaxation of blood vessels in the lung, and make pulmonary hypertension worse. We will study this sequence of events in the special lining of the lungs’ blood vessels that closely interacts with smooth muscle cells causing blood vessel constriction and impaired blood flow to the lungs. Available amounts of the LOX-1 receptor will be targeted, and we will then study the effects of these changes on the chemicals and proteins that alter blood vessel health. Additionally, mice lacking the LOX-1 receptor will be studied in an animal model of pulmonary hypertension to the effects of its absence on the progression and severity of pulmonary hypertension. LOX-1 receptor and the molecules that it interacts with are promising targets for new and novel drug therapies for patient suffering from pulmonary hypertension.

Curriculum Vitae

Education/Training

2002-2006: BS in Biology, The University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
2006-2010: MD in Medicine, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington, DC
2010-2013: Resident in Pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
2013-2016: Fellow in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
2016-present: Research Fellow, Department of Anesthesia and Critical Care Medicine, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD
2016-present: Science of Clinical Investigation Training Program, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD

Honors/Awards

2006: Graduated with Distinction, The University of Virginia
2010: Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society, Georgetown University School of Medicine
2014: Paul S. Lietman Global Health Travel Fellowship, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
2017: Society of Critical Care Medicine Gold Snapshot Award
2017: Society of Critical Care Medicine In Training Travel Grant

Research Support

2015-2017: NRSA 5T32HD044355-12, T32 training in Pediatrics, PI Dr George Dover, Role: Research Follow
2017-2018: Pearl M Stettler Research Fund for Women Physicians

Selected Publications

  1. Huetsch J, Suresh K, Bernier M, Shimoda L. Update on Novel Targets and Potential Treatment Avenues in Pulmonary Hypertension. American Journal of Physiology-Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology 2016; ajplung.00302.2016.
  2. Noje C, Bernier M, Costabile P, Klein B, Kudchadkar S. Pediatric critical care transport as a conduit to terminal extubation at home: a case series and systematic review. Pediatric Crit Care Med. 2016 Oct 2