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Robert G. Rohwer Ph.D.

Academic Title: Associate Professor
Primary Appointment: Neurology
Additional Title(s): Director, Molecular Neurovirology Laboratory, Veteran Affairs Medical Research Service; President, Baltimore Research and Education Foundation, Inc.
Location: Baltimore VA Medical Center, Room 151
Phone: (410) 605-7000 ex. 6462 (office)
Phone: (410) 605-7000 ex 6466 (lab)

Research Interests:

Robert G. Rohwer, Ph.D., is director of the Molecular Neurovirology Laboratory at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, and Associate Professor of Neurology at the University of Maryland, School of Medicine. He is also President of the Baltimore Research and Education Foundation, Inc. Dr. Rohwer received his Ph.D. in Biophysics from the California Institute of Technology, and trained as a Staff Fellow and Special Expert at the National Institutes of Health under Dr. Carleton Gajdusek, who won the Nobel prize for his pioneering work on the transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE’s), a class of fatal neurodegenerative diseases.
For the past 30 years Dr. Rohwer has conducted research on the TSE diseases, including: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, which infects humans; scrapie, which infects sheep and goats; and Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), a newly emergent disease that infects both cattle and humans. BSE when it infects humans is known as variant-Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease. His work has focused on the physical and chemical properties of the TSE agent, the etiology and pathogenesis of the disease, detection and elimination of TSE infectivity from human- and animal-derived materials, management of TSE risk in commercial and public health environments, and development of effective and sensitive diagnostics for TSE infection. Dr. Rohwer’s studies on the kinetics of inactivation of the TSE agents have provided the scientific foundations for disinfection guidelines in the USA and worldwide. Recently, he and his laboratory team have conducted critical experiments which establish the level, distribution and transmissibility of TSE infectivity in blood. The results of these efforts are being used to shape governmental policies on TSE risk management around the world. 
Dr. Rohwer consults on the management of TSE risks for the World Health Organization, the European Commission, Health Canada, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the American Red Cross, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and numerous commercial clients in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, agribusiness and related industries.


Gregori L, Gurgel PV, Lathrop JT, Edwardson P, Lambert BC, Carbonell RG, Burton SJ, Hammond DJ, Rohwer RG  Reduction of the endogenous TSE infectivity present in blood by adsorption to selective affinity resins (Lancet, in press) 

Gregori L, Lambert BC, Gurgel PV, Gheorghiu L, Edwardson P, Lathrop JT, MacAuley C, Carbonell RG, Burton SJ, Hammond D, Rohwer RG  Reduction of TSE infectivity from human red blood cells using prion protein affinity ligands  (Transfusion, in press)

Alexeeva I, Elliott EJ, Rollins S, Gasparich G, Lazar J, Rohwer RG. 2006. Absence of Spiroplasma or Other Bacterial 16S rDNA Genes in Brain Tissue of Hamsters with Scrapie. J. Clin Microbiol. 44(1):91-7.

Elliott EJ, MacAuley C, D’Addio V, Rohwer RG. 2005. Carotid Artery Transfusion in the Hamster. Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science 44(6):27-9

Jafri MS, Farhang S, Tang RS, Desai N, Fishman PS, Rohwer RG, Tang CM, Schmitt JM. Sept-Oct 2005. Optical coherence tomography in the diagnosis and treatment of neurological disorders. J Biomed Opt.10 (5): 51603.

Elliott EJ, MacAuley C, Robbins D, Rohwer RG. 2005.  Working Safely with the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies.  Anthology of Biosafety, vol. VII.  Jonathan Y. Richmond, Ed. American Biological Safety Association, Mundelein, IL.

Gregori, L, McCombie, N, Palmer D, Birch P, Spermino-Coker SO, Giulivi A, Rohwer, RG.  2004.  Effectiveness of Leukoreduction for Removal of Infectivity of Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies from Blood.  Lancet 364(9433): 529-31.

Rohwer, RG, Drohan, W.  2004 Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and Prions in the Blood Supply. (Interview). Clinical Advances in Hematology & Oncology 2.2: 84-87.

Gregori L, Maring JA, MacAuley C, Dunston B, Rentsch M, Kempf C, Rohwer RG.  2004 Partitioning of TSE infectivity during ethanol fractionation of human plasma.  Biologicals  32:1-10.

Miekka SI, Forng RY, Rohwer RG, MacAuley C, Stafford RE, Flack SL, MacPhee M, Kent RS, Drohan WH.  2003 Inactivation of viral and prion pathogens by γ-irradiation under conditions that maintain the integrity of human albumin.  Vox Sanguins 84: 36-44.

Holada K, Vostal J, Theisen P, MacAuley C, Gregori L, Rohwer RG.  2002 Scrapie infectivity in hamster blood is not associated with platelets.  J. Virol. 76(9): 4649-4650.

Brown P, Rohwer RG, Dunston BC, MacAuley C, Gajdusek DC, Drohan WN. 1998. The distribution of infectivity in blood components and plasma derivatives in experimental models of transmissible spongiform encephalopathy. Transfusion 38: 810-816.

Blum M, Budnick MO, Chait EM, Vax WE, MacAuley C, Rohwer RG. 1998. A bovine spongiform encephalopathy validation study for aprotinin and bovine serum albumin.  Bio Pharm 11: 28-34. 

Rohwer RG. 1998. Can CJD be transmitted through the blood supply? Canadian Medical Association Journal 158: 716-717.

Cervenakova L, Rohwer RG, Williams ES, Brown P, Gajdusek DC. 1997. High sequence homology of the PrP gene in mule deer and Rocky Mountain elk.  Lancet 350: 219-220.

Rohwer RG. 1996. The management of risk from exposure of biomedical products to nthe spongiform encephalopathy agent(s).  In: Transmissible Subacute Spongiform Encephalopathies: Prion Diseases. Ed: L. Court, B. Dodet.  Elsevier, Paris.  pp. 471-478.

Rohwer RG. 1996. Analysis of risk to biomedical products developed from animal sources (with special emphasis on the spongiform encephalopathy agents, scrapie and BSE).  In:  Development of Biological Standards: Viral safety and evaluation of viral clearance from biopharmaceutical products.  Eds.: F. Brown, A.S. Lubiniecki.  Karger, Basel.

Rohwer RG. 1992. Alzheimer's disease transmission: Possible artifact due to intercurrent illness. Neurology 42: 287-288.

Rohwer RG.  1991. The scrapie agent - A virus by any other name.  In:  Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies, Scrapie, BSE and Related Disorders. Ed: B.W. Chesebro.  Current Topics in Microbiology and Immunology #172, Springer Verlag, Heidelberg, pp. 195-232.

Chang J, Rohwer RG. 1991. Clostridium difficile infection in adult hamsters.  Laboratory Animal Science 41: 547-551.

Rohwer RG. 1989.  Review: Novel Infectious Agents and the Nervous System, Ciba Foundation Symposium 135. Trends in Neurosciences 12: 415.

Duguid JR, Rohwer RG, Seed B.  1988. Isolation of cDNAs of scrapie modulated RNAs by library subtraction.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 85: 5738-5742.
Hoffmann PM, Rohwer RG, MacAuley C, Bilello JA, Hartley JW, Morse HC III.  1987. Transmission in NFS/N mice of the heritable spongiform encephalopathy associated with the grey tremor mutation.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 84: 3866-3870.

Brown P, Rohwer RG, Gajdusek DC. 1986. Newer data on the inactivation of scrapie virus or Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease virus in brain tissue. Journal of Infectious Diseases 153: 1145-1148.

Rohwer RG. 1986.  Estimation of scrapie nucleic acid MW from standard curves for virus sensitivity to ionizing radiation.  Nature 320: 381.

Rohwer RG. 1986. An explanation for the resistance of the scrapie agent to growth in cell culture.  Discussions in Neuroscience 3: 100-107.

Rohwer RG. 1984. Virus-like sensitivity of the scrapie agent to heat  inactivation. Science 223: 600-602.
Rohwer RG. 1984. Scrapie infectious agent is virus-like in size and susceptibility to inactivation. Nature 308: 658-662.

Brown P, Rohwer RG, Gajdusek DC. 1984. Sodium hydroxide decontamination of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease virus. New England Journal of Medicine 310: 727.

Rohwer RG. 1984. Scrapie-associated fibrils. Lancet II:8393, 36.

Merz PA, Rohwer RG, Kascsak R, Wisniewski HM, Somerville RA, Gibbs CJ Jr., Gajdusek DC. 1984. Infection-specific particle from the unconventional slow virus diseases.  Science 225: 437-440.

Masters CL, Rohwer RG, Franko MC, Brown P, Gajdusek DC. 1984. The sequential development of spongiform change and gliosis of scrapie in the golden Syrian hamster.  Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 43: 242-252. 
Rohwer RG. 1983.  Scrapie inactivation kinetics: an explanation for scrapie's apparent resistance to inactivation. A re-evaluation of estimates of its small size. In: Virus non Conventionnels et Affections du Systeme Nerveux Central, Eds.: L.A. Court, F. Cathala.  Masson, Paris,
pp. 84-113.

Brown P, Rohwer RG, Amyx H, Gajdusek DC. 1983. Laboratory and hospital disinfection of spongiform encephalopathy viruses. In: Virus non Conventionnels et Affections du Systeme Nerveux Central, Eds.: L.A. Court, F. Cathala.  Masson, Paris, pp. 509-517.

Goudsmit J, Rohwer RG, Silbergeld EK, Neckers LM, Gajdusek DC. 1983. Scrapie in hamsters:  Clinical disease and disturbances in the serotonergic pathway.  In: Virus non Conventionnels et Affections du Systeme Nerveux Central, Eds.: L.A. Court, F. Cathala.  Masson, Paris, pp. 454-463.

Brown P, Rohwer RG, Green EM, Gajdusek DC. 1983. The effect of chemicals, heat, and histopathologic processing on high infectivity hamster-adapted scrapie virus.  In: Virus non Conventionnels et Affections du Systeme Nerveux Central, Eds.: L.A. Court, F. Cathala.  Masson, Paris, pp. 156-163.