Dr. Walczak received his M.D. degree in 2002 from the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland. He then completed a Research Fellowship in cell-based therapy for neurodegenerative disorders at the University of South Florida. He went on to complete a fellowship in cellular imaging at Johns Hopkins University.
In 2008, Dr. Walczak joined the faculty of the Department of Radiology and currently he serves as an Assistant Professor of Radiology at Johns Hopkins University.
Address The Russell H. Morgan Department of Radiology and Radiological Science
Division of MR Research
Institute for Cell Engineering
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
Broadway Research Building, Room 649
733 N. Broadway
Baltimore, MD 21205
Dr. Walczak's research focuses primarily on monitoring noninvasively the status of stem and progenitor cells transplanted into the disease-damaged central nervous system. One of the core problems in cell-based therapy of neurological disorders is that the immature, naïve stem cells are typically used in adult or senescent patients. Developmental cues that guide stem cell development in embryogenesis are no longer present in this environment. Thus, for appropriate migration, differentiation, and functional integration of transplanted cells, their development likely will need to be guided by exogenous factors. We believe that progress in this field depends greatly on access to technology that can provide, in real time and noninvasively, information about the number, position, and stage of differentiation of the grafted cells.
To address this issue, our laboratory is using both high-end noninvasive imaging technologies--MRI and bioluminescence (BLI)--and advances in contrast agent development and molecular biology. We label the cells with MR contrast agents, such as iron oxide nanoparticles, to precisely determine the position of the cells after transplantation. By modifying the cells using BLI and MR reporter genes, as well as the use of specific promoter sequences, we can extract information about cell survival and differentiation.