Lab Spotlight: Locke Immunopathology and Granuloma Modeling Lab

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Read about the people from Ohio State University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering in our Spotlight Story Series. Read about our labs' latest research, our students' plans for the future, courses offered by faculty, and other stories.


In this spotlight, get to know Landon Locke, PhD, and the research he and his lab conduct in the Locke Immunopathology and Granuloma Modeling Lab

Landon Locke stands with his lab
From left to right, Sabahattin Bicer, Sarah Seman, Landon Locke, PhD, and Jonah Mitchell.

About Landon Locke, PhD 

Tell us a bit about yourself

a black and white photo grainy of a young man wearing a football uniform
Max Padlow

I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Ohio State University. Beyond my professional identity, I have a rich tapestry of family history and personal interests. One fascinating connection I have to Ohio State is through my great uncle, Max Padlow. He was not only a varsity end at Ohio State for two years but was also part of the 1933 basketball team that tied for the Big Ten Title. Max's athletic journey extended beyond college, as he went on to play professional football for the Cleveland Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the original Cincinnati Bengals. His legacy in sports is something my family is proud of.

Delving further into my roots, my relatives were among the first people of European descent to settle in southwest Ohio in the 1800s following the Revolutionary War. This deep-rooted connection to the region is evident in the fact that my family still resides in southwest Ohio today.

Outside of academia and my family history, I have a creative side. I’m a musician and songwriter, composing and performing music. Collaborating with talented songwriters from various parts of the country, I have successfully published multiple songs.

What is your area of expertise?

What drove me to Biomedical engineering as a physics major is bioimaging research.  Bioimaging is an incredibly interesting field given the amazing things it can reveal about tissues and cells and how it can be applied to any disease to help us understand the root causes.  My expertise sits at the intersection of bioimaging, host-pathogen interaction, and cell-based modeling. 

What are your degrees/degree awarding institutions?

My BS in Physics is from Wittenberg University in Springfield, OH and my PhD is in BME from the University of Virginia. 

What awards are you proud to have?

I am proud to have been awarded a Fellowship in 2021 through the Parker B. Francis Foundation which selects fellows who are performing research dedicated to lung health.  I am also proud of our recent grant through the Ann Theodore Foundation Breakthrough Sarcoidosis Initiative (ATF-BSI)

 


About the Locke Immunopathology and Granuloma Modeling Lab 

How many members make up your lab? Students/postdocs?

Currently there are four full-time members of the lab, Dr. Locke; Research Associate II, Sabahattin Bicer; graduate student, Sarah Seman; and Research Assistant, Jonah Mitchell.

Please give a layperson-friendly overview of the research done in your lab 

Locke watches while a research assistant uses a pipette
Jonah Mitchell

Our lab seeks to better understand a rare lung disease called sarcoidosis. Sarcoidosis induces the formation of immune cell clusters known as granulomas. However, given the lack of accurate models of this disease, it is unknown how these granulomas form or persist over time.  By obtaining patient cells from a simple blood draw, our objective is to stimulate the patient's immune cells using a granuloma model to replicate this intricate process under controlled conditions, allowing us to study, visualize, and analyze the factors behind this aberrant behavior. Through this investigation, we aim to identify crucial insights that can pave the way for much-needed targeted therapies to interrupt and alleviate the disease process.

Why is this research important to you and/to the world/to communities?

This work is important to us because we have a chance to help people suffering from this disease.  Sarcoidosis disproportionately affects people of color as well as females.  We believe that by leveraging our granuloma model we have a chance to not only uncover new information about how our immune system reacts to threats such as pathogens, but also provide the sarcoidosis research community with actionable information regarding why certain individuals from certain demographics tend to get this disease and how to treat it with greater precision than current steroid-based treatments. 

What are some of your long-term goals with this research?

The short answer is we hope to have a meaningful translational impact in the lives of patients.  In 10 years we hope that our model will shed light on the mysterious heterogeneity of sarcoidosis. For example, are there multiple diseases that we lump together to call sarcoidosis?  We also envision our model could be used to not only predict the future severity of disease at the resolution of the individual patient, but also inform on which drug or drug treatment combination is best for treating their disease.

Researcher sits at a microscope while pipetting cells
Sabahattin Bicer

What excites you about this research?

What excites me is the ever-evolving nature of our research and pushing the boundaries of our model to ask more nuanced questions. For example, granulomas appear to “radiate” out a disease signature to harm surrounding lung areas.  How do they do this and why do only some granulomas do this?  Granulomas can occur in multiple tissues and organs.  Are they the same across these different sites in the body?  Is the trigger something we inhale on a daily basis and if so, why is sarcoidosis so rare? There will never be a shortage of questions. 

What technologies are you excited to use in your lab?

Sarah: I enjoy using the confocal microscope that we have, as it allows us to get very clear images and data for analysis, and it also takes incredibly cool looking images. I am looking forward to using 3D hydrogels to advance our current sarcoidosis model to more closely mimic the physiological property of the lung as well as including other cell types that interact with granulomas such as epithelial cells and fibroblasts.

Who are you collaborating with in this research?

Dr. Elliott Crouser is an excellent physician-scientist and collaborator to our lab who provides expertise related to sarcoidosis.  He leads the sarcoidosis clinic here at OSU and has been on the frontlines of research and clinical management guidelines in sarcoidosis for over 20 years.  Dr. Crouser is Co-PI along with Dr. Locke on the Milken Project. 

What findings and/or innovations have come out of your lab/research?

Researcher wearing lab coat and gloves does work
Sarah Seman

Sarah: I am working on generating a multi-cell type model of sarcoidosis that until now has not been published or tested. The goal is that this model will more closely mimic natural conditions allowing for a clearer picture of the disease, which can lead to better understanding and treatments for patients.

What’s the biggest accomplishment that came out of your lab recently?

As a new lab we have spent a lot of time optimizing methods needed for our model.  We have shown that we can freeze or cryopreserve patient cells so that we can later perform studies in batches. This could also open the door to having other sites around the country that have sarcoidosis clinics ship cells to our lab to achieve a higher throughput.

 

Thank you to Landon Locke, PhD for taking the time to share a bit about your research and lab with us!

Categories: ResearchFaculty