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Portrait of Dr. Frank

Joseph A. Frank MD, MS
Senior Investigator
Chief, Frank Laboratory
Chief, Laboratory of Diagnostic Radiology Research
Director, Imaging Sciences Training Program
Radiology and Imaging Sciences
Adjunct Senior Investigator, IRP
National Institutes of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering

Academic Degrees
BA, State University of New York at Stony Brook
MS, State University of New York at Stony Brook
MD, State University of New York at Stony Brook


Phone: 301-402-4314

Frank Laboratory, Radiology and Imaging Sciences
Scott R. Burks, PhD, Staff Scientist
Saejeong Kim, PhD, Staff Scientist
L. Christy Turtzo, MD, PhD, Staff Scientist HJF
Bobbi K. Lewis, BA, Research Assistant
Zsofia Kovacs, PhD
William Tu, PhD
Pamela Tebebi, MS
Joseph Tracey, MS
Ben Nguyen, MS
Michele Bresler, BS
Blerta Milo, BS
Neekita Jikaria, BS
Rashida Williams, BS
Steven Bradford, BA

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NIH Clinical Center Senior Staff

Joseph A. Frank MD, MS


Dr. Joseph A. Frank earned his medical degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook in 1981 and trained in Internal Medicine at the University Hospital, Boston University Medical Center from 1981-1984. Dr. Frank was trained in the National Cancer Institute Medical Oncology fellowship program at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) from 1984-1985 and is board certified in Internal Medicine and Medical Oncology. Between 1985-1992 Dr. Frank was the Director of MRI Research in the Diagnostic Radiology Department of the Clinical Center. He became a tenured senior investigator in the Clinical Center in 1989. In 1992, Dr. Frank moved to the Office of Intramural Research, Office of the Director, NIH, to take a position as Chief of the Laboratory of Diagnostic Radiology Research (LDRR), a congressionally mandated program. He is now the Chief of the Frank Laboratory in Radiology and Imaging Sciences, Clinical Center. He is also a Senior Investigator in the Intramural Research Program, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering. Dr. Frank received his undergraduate degree in Chemistry at the SUNY at Stony Brook and a research Master of Science degree in Chemistry in 1977. His graduate student advisor from 1973-1978 was Dr. Paul Lauterbur, the 2003 Nobel Laureate for Physiology and Medicine. Dr. Frank's research in the Lauterbur laboratory was performing in vivo NMR zeugmatographic imaging studies in mice with implanted tumors. His thesis focused on evaluating the NMR relaxation properties of paramagnetic agents, myocardial infarction and shock lung damage in experimental models.

The Frank Laboratory's present major translation research interest is in the area of development of techniques to improve cell therapy for regenerative medicine by using cellular and molecular imaging to track cells, and with pulsed focused ultrasound (pFUS) to enhance homing permeability and retention (EHPR) of cells in targeted tissue. The Frank Laboratory pioneered techniques using FDA approved superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles (SPIO) complexed to transfection agents (TA) to magnetically label cells for cellular MRI. This method of magnetic cellular labeling is not toxic to cells and has resulted in MR imaging being used to monitor the temporal spatial migration of labeled cells as part of cellular therapy. The SPIO-TA nanoparticle complexes are presently in early phase clinical trials. The laboratory's translational research is focused on using imaging approaches in combination with stem cells or immune cells that serve as delivery vehicles for gene therapy or theranostic nanoparticles to track targets and treat diseases. The Frank lab is using cellular MRI to evaluate the appropriate route of delivery, provide feedback into the preferred sites of engraftment and aid in determining the optimal dosing schedule and numbers of cells to be used to achieve the therapeutic outcome. Molecular and cellular biology approaches are also being developed to improve stem cell survival and homing to target tissues. He is also evaluating the use of stem cell therapy as a neuroregenerative treatment of traumatic brain injury. Dr. Frank's laboratory is now investigating the use of pFUS, a nondestructive, noninvasive technique with stem cell infusion to EHPR of cells to targeted areas of pathology as part of a regenerative medicine and treatment approach using cellular therapies. Application of this combined pFUS with stem cells reveals improvement in clinical function and survival in acute kidney injury models when compared to stem cells alone. The pFUS and stem cells therapeutic approach is being investigated in various experimental models of kidney diseases, muscular dystrophy, cardiac diseases and treatment of tumors.

Dr. Frank has trained over 25 post-doctoral and radiological fellows in translational research techniques. Dr. Frank has presented at national and international meetings in the area of cellular and molecular imaging. He has served on the Society of Molecular Imaging Board of Councilors and Board of Governance Committee for International Society of Magnetic Resonance In Medicine. Dr. Frank is a Fellow of the International Society of Magnetic Resonance In Medicine.

Selected Publications

Dr. Frank is an internationally known clinician scientist in the area of MRI, neuroimaging and molecular and cellular imaging. He has published over 308 peer-reviewed publications and 19 book chapters and monographs. He is a scientific reviewer for over 15 different scientific journals in the area of imaging and experimental medicine.

Naumova A, Modo M, Moore AV, Murry C, Frank JA. Clinical imaging in regenerative medicine Nature Biotechnology 2014;32:804-18.

Turtzo LC, Lescher J, Janes L, Dean DD, Budde MD, Frank JA. Macrophage and Microglial Response after Focal Traumatic Brain Injury in the Female Rat. Journal of Neuroimmunology 2014;11:82.

Kim SJ, Chaudhry A, Lee I, Frank JA. Effects of Long-Term Hypoxia and Pro-survival Cocktail in Bone Marrow Derived Stromal Cell Survival. Stem Cells and Development 2014;23:766-75.

Burks SR, Ziadloo A, Kim SJ, and Frank JA. Noninvasive pulsed focused ultrasound allows spatiotemporal control of targeted homing for multiple stem cell types in murine skeletal muscle and the magnitude of cell homing can increased through repeated applications. Stem Cells 2013;31:2551-60.

Gustova M, Frank JA, Annala AJ, D’Apuzzo M, Thu MS, Khankaldyyan V, Metz M, Abramiants Y, Herrmann K, Najbauer J, Brown C, Barish ME, Aboody KS and Moats RA. MRI Tracking of Ferumoxytol-labeled Human Neural Stem Cells: Studies leading to Clinical Use. Stem Cell Translational Medicine 2013;2:766-75.

Dadashzadeh ER, Hobson M, Bryant LH, Dean DD, Frank JA, Rapid Spectrophotometric Technique for Quantifying Iron in Cells Labeled with Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide Nanoparticles: Potential Translation to the Clinic Contrast Media and Molecular Imaging 2013;8:50-6.

Budde MD and Frank JA. Examining Brain Microstructure Using Structure Tensor Analysis of Histological Sections. Neuroimage 2012;63:1-10.

Turtzo LC, Budde MD, Gold E, Lewis BK, Janes L, Watson WD, Frank JA, The Evolution of Traumatic Brain Injury in a Rat Focal Contusion Model by MRI. NMR in Biomedicine 2013;26:468-79.

Burks SR, Hancock HA, Ziadloo A, Chaudhry A, Dean DD, Gold E, Lewis BK, Frenkel V, Frank JA, Investigations Cellular and molecular responses to focused ultrasound in mouse model PLoS ONE 2011;6:e24730.

Budde MD, Janes L, Gold E, Turtzo LC, Frank JA, The Contribution of Gliosis to Diffusion Tensor Anisotropy and Tractography following Traumatic Brain Injury in the Rat: Validation with Fourier Analysis of Histological Sections. Brain 2011;134:2248-60.

Thu MS, Bryant LH, Coppola T, Jordan EK, Budde MD, Lewis BK, Chaudhry A, Varma NRS, Arbab AS, Frank JA, Self-Assembling Nanocomplexes by combining Ferumoxytol, Heparin And Protamine For Cell Trafficking by MRI. Nature Medicine 2012;18:463-7.

Ziadloo A, Burks S, Gold E, Lewis BK, Chaudhry A, Frenkel V, Frank JA. Enhanced Homing of Bone Marrow Stromal Cells to the Murine Kidneys Using Non-Invasive Pulsed Focused Ultrasound Exposure. Stem Cells 2012;30:1216-27.

Cole JT, Yarnell, A, Kean W, Gold E, Lewis B, M. Ren M, McMullen DC, Jacobowitz D, Pollard HB, O’Neill JT, Grunberg NE, Dalgard CL, Frank JA, Watson WD. Craniotomy: True sham for traumatic brain injury, or a sham of a sham. Journal of Neurotrauma 2011;28(3):359-69.

Budde MD, Frank JA, Neurite Beading is Sufficient to Decrease the Apparent Diffusion Coefficient Following Ischemic Stroke Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2010;107:14472-7.

Balakumaran A, Pawelczyk E, Ren J, Sworder B, Chaudhry A, Gromel N, Smith M, Lewis BK, Childs, R, Frank JA, Robey PG. Superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles labeling of bone marrow stromal (mesenchymal) cells does not affect their “stemness”. PLoS ONE 2010:5:e11462.

Song HT, Jordan EK, Lewis BK, Liu W, Ganjei J, Klaunberg B, Despres D, Palmieri D, Frank JA. MRI and Bioluminescence imaging for Detection of Human Metastatic Breast Cancer in the Nude Rat. Journal of Translational Medicine 2009;7:88.

Pawelczyk E, Jordan EK, Balakumaran A, Chaudhry A, Gromel N, Smith M, Lewis BK, Childs R, Robey PG, Frank JA, In Vivo Uptake of Intracellular Label by Tissue Macrophages from Prelabeled Bone Marrow Stromal Cells: Quantitative Analysis and Implications for Cellular Therapy. PLoS ONE 2009;4:e6712.

Liu W, Dahnke H, Rahmer J, Jordan EK, Frank JA, Ultrashort T2* Relaxometry for Quantitation of Highly Concentrated Superparamagnetic Iron Oxide (SPIO) Nanoparticle Labeled Cells. Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2009;61:761-6.

Pawelczyk E, Arbab AS, Chaudhry A, Balakumaran A, Robey PG, Frank JA, In Vitro Model of BrdU or Iron Oxide Nanoparticle Uptake by Activated Macrophages from Labeled Stem Cells: Implications for Cellular Therapy. Stem Cells 2008;26:1366-75.

Arbab AS, Janic B, Knight RA, Anderson SA, Pawelczyk E,Iskander ASM, Rad AM, Bur M, Read EJ, Pandit SD, Frank JA. Detection of Migration of locally implanted AC 133+ stem cells by Cellular Magnetic Resonance Imaging with Histological Correlation. Federation of American Society of Experimental Biology Journal 2008;22:3234-46.

Frank, JA, Kalish, H, Jordan, EK, Anderson, SA, Pawelczyk E, Arbab, AS. Color Transformation and Fluorescence of Prussian blue positive cells: Implications for histological verification of cells labeled with superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles. Molecular Imaging 2007;6:212-8.

Arbab AS, Rad AM, Iskander A, Jafari-Khouzani K, Brown SL, Churchman JL, Ding G, Jiang Q, Frank JA, Soltanian-Zadeh H, Peck DJ. Magnetically Labeled Sensitized Splenocytes to Identify Glioma by MRI: A Preliminary study Magnetic Resonance in Medicine 2007;58:519-26.

Arbab, AS, Pandit, SD, Anderson, SA, Yocum, GT, Bur, M, Frenkel V, Read, EJ, Frank, JA, Magnetically Labeled Endothelial Progenitor Cells trafficking to Tumor Angiogenesis by MRI and Confocal Microscopy. Stem Cells 2006:24:671-78.

Khakoo AY, Pati S, Anderson SA, Reid W, Elshal MF, Nguyen A, Malide D, Combs CA, Stetler-Stevenson W, Frank JA, Reitz M, and Finkel T., Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells Exert potent anti-tumorigenic effects in a model of karposi sarcoma. Journal of Experimental Medicine 2006;203:1235-47.

Anderson SA, Lee K, Frank JA. Gadolinium Fullerenol as a paramagnetic contrast agent for cell labeling. Investigative Radiology 2006;41:332-338.

Anderson, SA, Glod, J, Arbab, AS, Noel, M, Fine, HA, Frank, JA., Non-invasive MR imaging of magnetically labeled stem cells to directly identify neovasculature in a glioma model. Blood 2005;105:420-5.

Arbab AS, Yocum GT, Rad, AM, Khakoo AY, Read EJ, Frank JA. Labeling of Cells with Ferumoxides-Protamine Sulfate Complexes does not Inhibit Functional or Differential capacity of Hematopoietic or Mesenchymal Stem Cells. NMR in Biomedicine 2005;18:383-9.

Arbab, AS, Yocum, GT, Kalish, H, Jordan, EK, Khakoo, A, Anderson, SA, Read, EJ, Frank, JA, Magnetic Cell Labeling with Protamine Sulfate complexed to Ferumoxides for Cellular MRI. Blood 2004;104:1217-1223.

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This page last updated on 07/06/2017

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