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.


KyriakosKyriakos 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.

Yuejin_croppedYuejin Li, M.D., Ph.D.

Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow

Yuejin, from Dalian, China, is visiting from the lab of Dr. Anne Murphy of Pediatric Cardiology…two floors above the Foster Lab. She earned her M.D. from the China Medical University in Shenyang, where she specialized in pediatrics, before moving to Florida State to obtain a Ph.D. in integrative biology. With her training in cardiac physiology, she is examining the effects of novel mutations in cardiac Troponin I on cardiac muscle function. While her transgenic mice are…doing what comes naturally, she has fearlessly embraced muscle protein biochemistry, along with all the protein purification that it entails. She’s a natural.

Jazz picJasma Rucker, B.S.

Research Specialist

Jasma was Philadelphia-born and Baltimore-raised. She attended Baltimore Polytechnic Institute before going on to obtain her BS in biology from the University of Pittsburgh. Not so long ago, she started at Johns Hopkins as a greenhorn Lab Technician, new to protein chemistry and proteomics and innocent in the ways of lab management. A few short years later, she has risen to the level of Research Specialist and she runs a tight ship. Jasma is also pursuing a Master’s in Public Health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is an avid reader and despite ties to both Philly and Pittsburgh, is a loyal Baltimore Ravens fan.

Anthony NastasiAnthony Nastasi

Summer Student

Anthony is finishing his freshman year in Johns Hopkins University’s top notch biophysics program and is chomping at the bit to do bench research.  He has expressed a desire to tackle big problems in the field of cardiovascular disease,  so we have tailored a project for him that should arouse his interest…and keep him fairly busy. He sports an enthusiasm that is infectious and will be a valuable addition to the lab.