Professor of ACCM, Cell Biology, Biomedical Engineering, and Pediatrics, and member of the Center for Cell Dynamics
NIH Biosketch
Romer Lab Web Site

Lew Romer has been an attending physician in the PICU since 2000. He is also a Co-Leader of the Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Program. As a senior faculty member in the PICU, Dr. Romer ensures that patients receive timely and outstanding quality of care. He oversees a patient’s entire care team, which includes fellows, junior faculty, residents, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, and Child Life specialists. He also forms treatment plans collaboratively with colleagues and other consultants in the treatment of pediatric patients with pulmonary hypertension.

Dr. Romer has a research program that focuses on the study of endothelial cells – the cells that line all blood vessels. Endothelial cells are finely tuned to regulate the delivery of nutrients to cells, to serve as a barrier between the bloodstream and the tissues that make up all organ systems, and to ensure the unimpeded supply of blood flow. His laboratory team investigates endothelial cell adhesion and signaling during health and disease, and works on tissue engineering blood vessels for both regenerative medicine and diagnostic drug-testing applications. Understanding how to optimize blood vessel function is a ubiquitous theme in the care of patients with critical illness. His work will increase our knowledge of how to improve blood vessel function, both through medications that regulate vessel caliber and by engineering new blood vessels that can increase blood supply to organs at-risk. He is also involved in research efforts to examine specific pharmacotherapies for pulmonary hypertension in children.

Dr. Romer sees himself as both a micro- and macro-environmentalist. On the micro scale, he studies the matrix environment in which cells live and how it changes the behavior and effectiveness of cells that form blood vessels. This microenvironment changes as a result of disease and disease therapy. He hopes to restore this microenvironment to normality or even to a state of super-normal potential for regeneration. On the macro scale, he is interested in creating a supportive educational environment for all caregivers in the PICU who must deal with extremely stressful situations. He believes that if we can create optimal educational tools and environmental cues for trainees and practitioners, we can better equip them to deal with the extremely challenging events that occur in the PICU. This will enable clinicians to focus better and provide better care.

In his job, Dr. Romer enjoys taking care of children and their families and coordinating the team effort that it requires. He also enjoys teaching, scientific and translational research, and helping to foster the professional development of colleagues. When he is away from work, he enjoys Jewish studies, community service, thinking about the challenges that as yet have no answers, drawing, painting, bicycling, and making music.


Dr. Romer attended Dartmouth College for undergraduate studies and then Dartmouth Medical School. He earned his MD in 1981 and went on to receive pediatric training at the University of Utah Primary Children’s Hospital. After a three-year stint in private practice as a general pediatrician/ NICU director/ PICU co-director/ and children’s air and ground transport service director in Northern Lower Michigan, he did a fellowship in pediatric critical care at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (1987-1989) and a research fellowship in integrin-mediated adhesion and signaling at the Wistar Institute (1989-1990).  His early years as a journeyman faculty investigator were spent in the lab of Professor Keith Burridge at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, while Dr. Romer served as the Division Chief and Fellowship Director for Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.

Professional Activities

  • Fellow, American Academy of Pediatrics
  • American Board of Pediatrics, Subspecialty Board, Critical Care Medicine-renewal
  • American Society of Cell Biology
  • Society of Critical Care Medicine
  • Association of University Anesthesiologists
  • American Heart Association (Atherosclerosis and Basic Science Councils)
  • Pediatric Pulmonary Hypertension Network (PPHNet) – JHU Representative and Co-Chair, Clinical Trials Committee
  • Guidelines Committee, Surviving Sepsis Campaign of the Society for Critical Care Medicine and the European Society
  • STEEM (Signaling from Tissue-Engineered Extracellular Matrices) Gordon Conference Faculty
  • Biophysical Journal, former Editorial Board Member
  • Ad hoc reviewer – Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of Cell Science, Experimental Cell Research, Biophysical Journal, Acta Biomaterialia, Circulation Research, Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Pediatric Blood and Cancer
  • Graduate and Postgraduate Biomedical Education Mentoring (please see list below)

Selected Publications 

  1. Unegbu, C, Noje, C, Coulson, J, Segal, J, Romer, L. State of the Art Review: Pulmonary Hypertension Therapy and a Systematic Review on Efficacy and Safety of PDE-5 Inhibitors. Pediatrics. February 24, 2017.
  2. Serbo JV, Kuo S, Lewis S, Lehmann M, Li J, Gracias, D, Romer, L.H. Patterning of Fibroblast and Matrix Anisotropy within 3D Confinement is Driven by the Cytoskeleton. Advanced Healthcare Materials. 2016; 5, 146-158. PMID: 26033825
  3. Soucy PA, Hoh M, Heinz W, Hoh J, Romer L. Oriented matrix promotes directional tubulogenesis. Acta Biomaterialia, 2015, Jan. 11:264-73. PMID: 25219769
  4. Pandey D, Hori D, Kim JH, Bergman Y, Berkowitz DE, Romer LH. NEDDylation promotes endothelial dysfunction: Role for HDAC2 J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2015 Feb 2;81C:18-22. PMID: 25655932
  5. Pandey D, Bhunia A, Oh YJ, Chang F, Bergman Y, Kim JH, Serbo J, Boronina TN, Cole RN, Van Eyk J, Remaley A, Berkowitz DE, Romer LH. OxLDL triggers retrograde translocation of arginase 2 via ROCK and mitochondrial Processing Peptidase. Circ Res. 2014 June 5 115:450-459. PMID: 24903103
  6. Chang, F, Lemmon, C, Lietha, D, Eck, M, and Romer, L. Tyrosine Phosphorylation of Rac1: A Role in Regulation of Cell Spreading. PLoS ONE, 2011;6(12):e28587. PMID: 22163037
  7. Lemmon CA, Chen CS, Romer LH. Cell traction forces direct fibronectin matrix assembly. Biophys J. 96:729–738, 2009, PMID: 1916731.
  8. Chang F, Lemmon CA, Park D, Romer LH. FAK potentiates Rac1 activation and localization to matrix adhesion sites: A role for betaPIX. Mol Biol Cell 18(1):253–64, 2007, PMID: 22163037.
  9. Rajfur Z, Roy P, Otey C, Romer LH, Jacobson KA. Chromophore-assisted laser inactivation (CALI) of EGFP fusion proteins: probing the connection between the stress fiber and the focal adhesion. Nat Cell Biol 4:286–93, 2002, PMID: 11912490.
  10. Burridge K, Turner CE, Romer LH. Tyrosine phosphorylation of paxillin and FAK in cell adhesion. J Cell Biol 119:893–904, 1992, PMID: 1385444.

Laboratory Members/Key Associates

Fellows/Students/Fellows (program affiliation in parentheses)
Qianru Jin, BS – Graduate Student (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
Meghan Bernier, MD – Postdoctoral Fellow (Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, ACCM, Children’s Center T32)
Thorsten Leucker, MD, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow (Cardiology, Department of Medicine, Cardiology T32)
Anil Bhatta, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow (ACCM and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
Jayson Pagaduan, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow (ACCM and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
Xing Chen, PhD – Postdoctoral Fellow (ACCM and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering)
Andrea Wecker, BS, MS – Research Specialist
Max Rossberg, BS – Research Assistant
Ariel Jacob, BS – Research Assistant

Faculty/Research Associates/Instructors
Deepesh Pandey, PhD, Assistant Professor, ACCM


David Gracias, PhD (Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Chemistry and INBT, Johns Hopkins University)
Dan Berkowitz, MD (ACCM, Johns Hopkins University)
Larissa Shimoda, MD (Department of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University)
Alexander Bershadsky, PhD (Mechanobiology Institute, Singapore National University)
Vicky Nguyen, PhD (Mechanical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University)
Scot Kuo, PhD (Cell Biology and Biomedical Engineering, Johns Hopkins University)
Christopher Lemmon, PhD (Mechanical Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University, and former Romer Lab trainee)
Tricia Soucy, PhD (Bioengineering, University of Louisville, and former Romer Lab trainee)

Graduate and Postgraduate Biomedical Education Mentorship

Pediatric Residency Program, JHU-SOM, faculty in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship, PCCM, JHU-SOM, subspecialty training in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine
T32 ACCM Program, ACCM, JHU-SOM, postgraduate research training
T32 Cardiology and Critical Care, Pediatrics and ACCM, JHU-SOM, postgraduate research training
T32 Children’s Center, Pediatrics, JHU-SOM, postgraduate research training
T32 Biomedical Engineering Graduate Program, BME, JHU-SOM, predoctoral research training
T32 Cell and Molecular Medicine Graduate Program, CMM, JHU-SOM, predoctoral research training
T32 Pulmonary and Critical Care, JHU-SOM, postgraduate research training
T35/R25 Summer Undergraduate Training in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine


  • Selection of work among the most influential research contributions from the Department of ACCM at JHU (published on the SAAAPM website)
  • Selection of work by the Faculty of 1000 (F1000) November 11, 2010, top 2% of publications in biology, for Biophys J 2010 Nov 3
  • America’s Best Doctors (2007)
  • Senior International Fellowship, NIH Fogarty International Center (1999–2002)
  • Michael Visiting Professorship, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel (1999)
  • Physician’s Recognition Award, American Medical Association (1998–2001)
  • Jefferson-Pilot Fellowship Award (faculty research award), UNC SOM (1995)
  • Davis Award, American Lung Association, NC Chapter (1994)
  • UNC Chapel Hill nominee for competition for Pew Scholars Program (1992)
  • Junior Faculty Development Award, UNC (1991)

A Special PPHNet Webinar: “Optimizing Selection of Drug Therapy for Pediatric PH: Guide or Guess?”

  Download MP3

Guest speaker:
R.M.F. Berger, MD, PhD
University Medical Center Groningen

Introduced and moderated by:
Steve Abman, PhD
University of Colorado

Panel discussion by:
Paul Hassoun, PhD and Jim Casella, PhD
Johns Hopkins University