Lab Members


Principle Investigator/Lab Director

Daniela-Cihakova-head-shot Daniela Čiháková, M.D., Ph.D., D(ABMLI)

Dr. Cihakova’s Hopkins profile

Daniela Čiháková, MD, PhD, D(ABMLI) is an Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins’ Department of Pathology, Division of Immunology and a Director of the Immunologic Disorders Laboratory. Dr. Čiháková has a joint appointment in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is an ABMLI board certified clinical laboratory immunologist and a director of Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified Immune Disorders Laboratory at the Johns Hopkins University. In addition, she is a director of a World Health Organization collaborating center in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Dr. Čiháková is a faculty member in the Graduate Program in Pathology and the Graduate Program in Immunology at the Johns Hopkins University. She received her MD in 1998 and PhD in 2003 from the Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Noel Rose at the Johns Hopkins University in 2006. She has been a tenure track Assistant Professor since 2008, and an Associate Professor since 2015. Dr. Čiháková is a member of the editorial board of Clinical Immunology and serves on the American Heart Association Study Section. In most of her research, she focuses on the pathogenesis of myocarditis and its sequela, inflammatory dilated cardiomyopathy. Dr. Čiháková’s other interests are the pathogenic role of SSA/SSB antibodies in the development of congenital complete heart block and the susceptibility to Candida infections in patients with autoimmune polyendocrinopathy-candidiasis-ectodermal dystrophy. Her research has been supported by NIH (NHBLI), the Myocarditis Foundation, Children’s Cardiomyopathy Foundation, W.W. Smith Charitable Trust, Mirowski Discovery Award, the National Organization for Rare Diseases, American Autoimmune Related Disease Association (AARDA), and the Johns Hopkins Catalyst Award.


Senior Research Specialist

 Monica Vladut-Talor, MSc. 

Role: Manage, coordinate, and supervise the day-to-day operations of the research laboratory, in the Department of Pathology, JHU.
Conduct all sample processing for Epigenetic study in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MRSA). Participate in all aspects of the research lab, maintain budges, orders, contracts and renew all biohazard registrations and relevant protocols. Conduct all mice genotyping and oversee the management of the animal colony. Preform all assays involved in the Confirmatory Double blinded placebo-controlled efficacy Trial of a gluten-free diet in a subgroup of persons with Schizophrenia who have high levels of anti-gliadin antibodies.

Professional Training: MSc. degree in Microbiology, University of Ottawa, Canada, (1985). Joined the laboratory of Noel Rose at School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University in 1987. Instrumental in obtaining the Clinical Laboratory License for the Immunologic Disorders Clinical Laboratory at JHU in 1988. Run the CLIA and CAP certified Immunologic Disorders laboratory from 2008-2016 under the directorship of Dr. Daniela Cihakova.

Main interests: Contribute and support research in the laboratory with special emphasis in investigating autoimmune myocarditis and autoimmune thyroid disease. Help establish and participate in collaborative and ongoing studies within and outside of JHU.Perform, expand, validate, and collaborate to bring in-house a large repertoire of tests that help in the diagnosis and subsequent treatment of patients with autoimmune diseases.


Postdoctoral Fellows

WBB-PHOTO William Bracamonte-Baran, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Bracamonte-Baran earned his MD degree (2004) and completed the Internal Medicine residency (2008) at the Central University of Venezuela. Then started a tenure as Assistant Professor in the same University with appointments in the Department of Physiology and Internal Medicine, dedicating his clinical practice and basic research to diagnostic medicine, autoimmune diseases, biomathematics and cardiovascular physiology. In 2011 moved to Madison, Wisconsin, earning his PhD on Immunology (2015) at the University of Wisconsin, focusing on transplant immunology, making novel insights on the tolerogenic impact of allogeneic-derived exosomes, reprogramming of dendritic cells and exosome-dependent induction of anergy mediated by PDL1/PD1 axis. Since October 2015 he is working in the Department of Pathology (Division of Immunology) at Johns Hopkins University (Dr. Daniela Čiháková’s lab) focusing on the study of heart-resident innate lymphoid cells and its role in autoimmunity and inflammatory heart diseases.


 Guobao (Paul) Chen, Ph.D.

Guobao earned his B.S. in Life sciences (Molecular Cell Biology concentration) from National University of Singapore, Singapore. He continued to pursue a Ph.D. from National University of Singapore Immunology Program in the laboratory of Professor Jinhua Lu on the gene transcription control of C1q, the recognition component of the complement system. His work led to the discovery of the molecular mechanism behind the synchronized expression of the three subunit genes of C1q through a central regulatory cis-element. In Cihakova lab, Guobao is currently investigating the role of cardiac fibroblasts in post-cardiac injury inflammation and remodeling process through two cardiac injury mouse model: the experimental autoimmune myocarditis mouse model and myocardial infarction mouse model.


Taejoon Won, Ph.D.

Taejoon received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Pharmacy at Chung-Ang University, Seoul, South Korea in 2005 and 2010, respectively. His work has focused specifically on developing novel prevention and treatment strategies for a wide range of immune-mediated diseases such as atopic dermatitis, postmenopausal osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, type 1 diabetes, asthma, and cancer. In the atopic dermatitis project, Taejoon found oral administration of probiotics Lactobacillus plantarum CJLP133 is effective in establishing immune balance and improving skin condition in both children and animal models. On account of the probiotics CJLP133’s treatment efficacy, it has since been patented worldwide, commercialized in South Korea, and approved by the U.S. FDA. Taejoon has served as a Postdoctoral Fellow at Dr. Yasmina Laouar’s lab in the University of Michigan where he studied the role of TGF-β on the mucosal innate immune system including innate lymphoid cells, dendritic cells, and macrophages. Taejoon joined the Cihakova lab July 2017 and started studying the role of anti-SSA/SSB autoantibodies in congenital heart block development and the role of IL-4 receptor signaling in dilated cardiomyopathy development.


 Ph.D. Candidates


David Matthew Hughes, B.S.

David Hughes graduated with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Virginia Tech in 2017.  During the early years of his undergraduate he performed work on the plasma processing of fluids in the lab of Dr. Muhammad Malik at Old Dominion University in between academic terms.  Afterwards he studied the mechanical properties of polymer blends, and how blending affects polymer strength in the lab of Dr. Jack Lesko at Virginia Tech.  David is a student in the Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering department of the university.  His work in the Čiháková laboratory is focused on using biomaterial scaffolds to transfer regulatory T-cells to the heart, with the goal of alleviating myocardial infarction and myocarditis.



Megan Kay Wood, B.S.

Megan Wood received her B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Arkansas. Her honors thesis focused on synthesizing short 11-15mer peptides, rich in arginine and tryptophan and looking at their antimicrobial activity against bacteria. Following her degree, she worked as a research technician in Wayne Yokoyama’s immunology and pathology laboratory at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. From 2015-2017 she joined the United States Peace Corps and moved to Ghana, West Africa where she worked intimately with nurses and mothers in combating malnourishment and malaria prevention in children under 5. Megan is a student in the department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, where she joined the Cihakova lab. She studies the role of viral infections in the development of myocarditis and complications in the heart after viral clearance. She is also looking at the role mast cells play in immune trafficking during the development of myocarditis.



Xuezhou (Snow) Hou, B.S.

Xuezhou (Snow) Hou grew up in Shanghai, China before earning her B.S. in Biology at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She then spent a year working on a Bill & Melinda Gates foundation project at QIAGEN, developing multiplex isothermal helicase-dependent DNA amplification assays for point-of-care STI detection in resource limited areas. She later joined Dr. David Fredricks’ group at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, studying the roles of bacterial vaginosis associated bacteria in the development of pelvic inflammatory diseases. As an O’Leary Wilson predoctoral fellow PhD student in the Čiháková laboratory, Snow is currently studying the roles of monocytes and macrophages in the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCMi), a sequelae of myocarditis that often results in debilitating outcomes in human patients.


HeeSunChoi HeeSun Choi, M.S.

Hee Sun was born and grew up in Seoul, South Korea. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in Biotechnology from Yonsei University in South Korea. Her work during her master years involved studying TAR RNA-mediated HIV Tat protein folding. In the Čiháková lab, she is currently working on elucidating the role of innate lymphoid cells in the development of pericarditis and the role of immune cells and cardiac resident cells in the pathogenesis of pericarditis.







Past Students


 Nicola Diny, M.S.    Received her Ph.D. May 2017

Nicola received her Bachelor’s degree in Biomedicine and Biotechnology from the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Austria in 2008. She then completed the master’s program in Molecular Medicine at the Charité Berlin in Germany. In Dr. Antje Voigt’s laboratory at the Charité, Nicola studied the protective role of the interferon-stimulated gene 15 (ISG15) in Coxsackie virus B3-induced myocarditis. Since 2011, Nicola has been pursuing her PhD in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. She studies the role of eosinophils in autoimmune myocarditis and in the progression to dilated cardiomyopathy, as well as the pathways that are involved in eosinophil trafficking to the heart.

Dr. Diny is currently a Post Doctoral Fellow at The Francis Crick Institute, London, England.


Jobert Barin Ph.D.   Research Associate in the Cihakova Lab (2012-2016)

Jobert received his Ph.D. degree in Immunology at Johns Hopkins University, School of Medicine, Department of pathology, where he continued as a Post Doctoral Fellow and quickly became Research Associate. His interest was in complex integration of cytokine networks in the development of myocarditis, heart disease and mucosal immunity.

Dr. Barin is currently employed at the FDA as a Senior Staff Fellow in the CDRH