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Steven S. An, PhD

Associate Professor

Departmental Affiliation(s):

Environmental Health Sciences

Contact Information

615 N. Wolfe Street
Room E6646
Baltimore , Maryland   21205


SciVal Experts Research Profile


PhD , Brown University , 2000
MS , Albany Medical College


My main research interest is focused on the airway smooth muscle cell and its role in the pathologic narrowing of the airways in asthma. I bring to this research specific expertise in cell-based analyses of smooth muscle contraction, having previously trained in the labs of Dr. Chi-Ming Hai (Brown University) and Dr. Jeffrey J. Fredberg (Harvard University). Over the years, I have also helped design and develop a suite of novel quantitative methods and, importantly, have applied them to address a range of fundamental questions in physics and biology that have direct bearing on our understanding of respiratory mechanics and lung disease.

My current work comprises both basic and translational research focusing on the cellular and molecular basis for airflow obstruction in asthma and exploring new intervention strategies. Molecular targets include: 1) HSP20; 2) Nrf2 pathways; and 3) novel G-protein coupled receptor expression, signaling and function in the lung.  

My lab has the unique capability to measure, at the single cell level, changes in stiffness using Magnetic Twisting Cytometry (MTC), contractile force using Fourier Transform Traction Microscopy (FTTM), and discrete molecular-level remodeling dynamics of the living cytoskeleton using Spontaneous Nanoscale Tracer Motions (SNTM). These state-of-art nanotechnologies are readily applicable to a wide variety of cell types and, in combination of multiple genetic, chemical and mechanical manipulations, have broad research applications that are at the interface of cell biology, physics and medicine.

An lab is supported by grants from National Institutes of Health: P01HL114471, R01HL107361, R01HL058506, R01AG041265, and R01DK035385.

Honors and Awards

Ann Woolcock Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions and Future Promise in Asthma Research, American Thoracic Society, 2006

Faculty Research Initiative Fund Award, Johns Hopkins University, 2007

American Asthma Foundation (Sandler) Award, 2010

Pilot Grant from Johns Hopkins Engineering in Oncology Center at the Institute for NanoBioTechnology, 2011

Developmental Project Award, the Johns Hopkins University In Vivo Cellular and Molecular Imaging Center (ICMIC), School of Medicine, 2011 & 2013 

Teaching Excellence, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2012 & 2013

Chairperson, Cardiovascular and Respiratory Sciences Integrated Review Group, Center for Scientific Review Special Emphasis Panel, 2013

Program Chair-Elect, Respiratory Structure and Function Assembly, American Thoracic Society, 2013

Program Chair, Respiratory Structure and Function Assembly, American Thoracic Society, 2014

respiratory biology, lung disease, asthma, airway hyperresponsiveness, airway smooth muscle, GPCR, cytoskeleton, cancer, nanotechnologies

    Publications with highest impact factors

  • Trepat X, Deng L, An SS, Navajas D, Tschumperlin DJ, Gerthoffer WT, Butler JP, and Fredberg JJ (2007) Universal physical responses to stretch in the living cell. Nature 447:592-595.

  • Deshpande DA, Wang WCH, McIlmoyle EL, Robinett KS, Schillinger RM, An SS, Sham JSK, and Liggett SB (2010) Bitter taste receptors on airway smooth muscle bronchodilate by localized calcium signaling and reverse obstruction. Nature Medicine 16:1299-1304.

  • An SS, Robinett KS, Deshpande DA, Wang WC, and Liggett SB (2012) Reply to: Activation of BK channels may not be required for bitter tastant-induced bronchodilation. Nature Medicine 18:648-651.

  • Garzon-Muvdi T, Schiapparelli P, Ap Rhys CM, Guerrero-Cazares H, Smith C, Kim DH, Kone L, Farber H, An SS, Levchenko A, and Quinones-Hinojosa A. (2012) Regulation of brain tumor dispersal by NKCC1 through a novel role in focal adhesion regulation. PLoS Biology 10(5):e1001320.

  • Mattison JA, Wang M, Bernier M, Zhang J, Park SS, Maudsley S, An SS, Santhanam L, Martin B, Faulkner S, Morrell C, Baur JA, Peshkin L, Sosnowska D, Csiszar A, Ungvari Z, Herbert RL, Tilmont EM, Pearson KJ, Lakatta EG, and de Cabo R. (2014) Resveratrol prevents high fat/sucrose diet-induced central arterial wall inflammation and stiffening in nonhuman primates. Cell Metabolism 20:183-190.


    We are currently looking for talented students and post-doctoral fellows to join our efforts to elucidate the pathogenesis of obstructive lung diseases, central aterial stiffening induced by diet and aging, and metastatic-invasion of cancer (spanning brain, breast, lung, melanoma and prostate).