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Dr. Blake joined the College in 2009. Before joining Fort Lewis, Dr. Blake was a postdoctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins University, researching the role of Nrf2 in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). His laboratory focuses on the cellular events within pulmonary macrophages and epithelial cells that alter the antioxidant/oxidative balance in cells and the immunological changes induced by inhaled environmental toxins and particulates. His laboratory also focuses on identifying new compounds that inhibit the growth of specific human pathogens such as Leishmaniasis donovani (eukaryotic parasite) or viral pathogens.
Over the past ten years, Dr. Blake has advised over 70 undergraduate and five high school/middle school students. Some of his Fort Lewis student researchers have worked under the National Institute of General Medical Sciences-Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) U-STAR program. Many past graduates have gone on to graduate or medical school after FLC. Dr. Blake is also interested in environmental toxicology and has taught an environmental health and disease course in Costa Rica through the University Studies Abroad Consortium. Dr. Blake received the FLC Skyhawk Award (2012 and 2016) and the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute Immunotoxicology Young Investigator Travel Award (2012).
Summary: This project aims to create a novel microfluidic lung-on-a-chip device that utilizes the unique properties of porous silicon and leverages precision biomaterials and biomanufacturing techniques to better mimic the structural composition of the lung in vitro. The proposed research is relevant to public health because developing a fully organic lung-on-a-chip device will have positive translational outcomes in preventing and treating a wide range of inflammatory and fibrotic pulmonary diseases.
Funding: SC3 SCORE grant, NIGMS, $410K; Faculty Pilot project, BLaST, NIGMS, $60K; PEAQS Functional Nanomaterials grant, NSF, $15K
Publications: Novel Fabrication Approach of a Porous Silicon Biocompatible Membrane Evaluated within an Alveolar Coculture Model, https://engrxiv.org/preprint/view/1917/.
The lab group is comprised of 3 senior FLC undergraduate students.
Summary: Treatments for leishmaniasis, a debilitating and neglected tropical disease caused by these protozoan parasites, are highly toxic, not well tolerated by patients, and are increasingly ineffective due to drug-resistant strains. Intensive work to identify small molecules with a high potency against the parasite that causes leishmaniasis with minimal toxicity to patients is urgently needed. We hypothesize that a natural product found in broccoli, sulforaphane, will inhibit intracellular Leishmania replication in human macrophages by modifying autophagic flux in cells.
Funding: Faculty Pilot project, BLaST, NIGMS $60K; Society of Toxicology, Faculty Research grant, $2K; U-RISE, Fort Lewis College (Kai Brantley)
Publications: Improved synthesis of deoxyalpinoid B and quantification of antileishmanial activity of deoxyalpinoid B and sulforaphane, Bioorganic and Medicinal Chemistry, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36565668/.
Lab groups consist of four seniors, two juniors, and one high school student.
"Synthesis and Antileishmanial Activity of Three Structurally Related Alpinoids through the Activation of Oxidative Stress" Manuscript is currently in preparation. It will be submitted to the Journal of Natural Products by May 2022.
"Novel Fabrication Approach of a Porous Silicon Biocompatible Membrane Evaluated within a Alveolar Coculture Model." 2022. EngrXiv accepted.
"Synthesis and characterization of novel caffeic acid derivatives against Paenibacillus larvae." Journal of Invertebrate Pathology. 2019. doi:10.3390/biom9080312
"Synthesis and characterization of trans-dichlorotetrakis(imidazole)cobalt(III) chloride: a new cobalt(III) coordination complex with potential prodrug properties." Bioinorganic Chemistry and Applications. 2018. doi:10.1155/2018/4560757
"Ablation of the CD9 receptor in Human Lung Cancer Cells using CRISPR/Cas alters Migration to Chemoattractants including IL-16." Cytokine. 2018. doi:10.1016/j.cyto.2018.05.038
Dr. Blake presents "Understanding Vaccines - Vaccine Exemptions and Their Effect on Colorado Children" at the Powerhouse Science Center, Durango, CO, Friday, June 17 at 6 p.m. During this presentation, Blake addresses three major topics: 1) How immunity is produced through vaccinations, 2) What vaccination exemptions are and their effect on vaccination rates in Colorado, and 3) current misconceptions about vaccinations.
"Soluble extracellular Klotho decreases sensitivity to cigarette smoke-induced cell death in human lung epithelial cells," Toxicology in Vitro, 29(7), pp. 1647–1652, 2015.
"Increased levels of soluble extracellular Klotho, generated by the stable overexpression in human lung epithelial cells, decreases sensitivity to cigarette smoke-induced cell death," Toxicology In Vitro, 2015.
"Antiviral Activity of (+)-Sattabacin Against Varicella Zoster," Bioorganic and Medical Chemistry Letters, 2013.
"Sulforaphane inhibits de novo synthesis of IL-8 and MCP-1 in human epithelial cells generated by cigarette smoke extract," Journal of Immunotoxicology, 2011.
"4-Methyl-3-nitro-benzoic acid, a migration inhibitor, prevents breast cancer metastasis in SCID mice," Cancer Letters, 2011.
"Deletion of Keap1 in the lung attenuates acute cigarette smoke-induced oxidative stress and inflammation," American Journal of Respiratory and Cell and Molecular Biology, 2009.
"Autoantibody Profiles of an Asbestos-Exposed Population. "Autoimmunity: Roles, Regulations, and Disorders" Nova Science Publishers, Inc. Hauppauge NY, 2009.
Invited Speaker for the Lifelong Learning Series, "Understanding The Science Behind Vaccines And Their Impact On One's Personal Health."
Keynote Speaker for the Tri-Beta National Convention, "Suppressing Pulmonary Inflammation Initiated By Cigarette Smoke By Activating Nrf2," 2010.