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About John M. Finke

I am a biochemist and use a combination of biology, chemistry, and physics to solve difficult problems in biochemistry. I am interested in the how our immune system regulates and responds to misfolded proteins linked to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's Disease. Simply put, does the immune system speed up or slow down the progression of Alzheimer's?
My lab uses a range of scientific tools, including surface plasmon resonance microfluidic sensors, fluorescence spectroscopy, chromatography, Western Blots, and computer simulations to study difficult protein interactions. We use these methods to investigate laboratory model protein systems of neurological disease, protein-based drugs, and proteins in human tissue. We are also initiating research to investigate protein passage through the blood-brain barrier.
My lab investigates how intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) helps Alzheimers Disease patients and use this knowledge to develop improved Alzheimers Disease treatments. IVIG does show efficacy with Alzheimer's patients but on too limited a scale for current use as a drug. Because IVIG is a very complex drug, identifying the components that help Alzheimers patients is a critical and challenging problem.
To solve this problem, our lab has developed surface plasmon resonance (SPR) microfluidic sensors that are designed to specifically isolate and study specialized IVIG antibody subgroups. At UWT, we seek to employ our SPR method to measure two antibody properties that could benefit Alzheimers patients by reducing neuroinflammation: (1) antibody targeting to Alzheimer's brain plaques and (2) attached anti-inflammatory sugar groups. Specifically, we aim to determine if these two properties are found on the same antibody subgroup in IVIG. We also aim to determine if this critical antibody species is missing in late-stage Alzheimers patients and individuals genetically predisposed to AD.
A successful outcome of these studies could directly lead to an improved Alzheimers therapy via enrichment of IVIG antibodies with these special anti-inflammatory properties and/or design of non-antibody drugs to replicate the key IVIG properties. In parallel, we also hope to better understand how a healthy immune system prevents neuroinflammation in the aging brain.


Present Assistant Professor, University of Washington Tacoma School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences

Curriculum Vitae


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Honors and Awards

  • 2005, Faculty Start-Up Award, Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation
  • 2002, National Research Service Award (GM064936-01), NIGMS/NIH
  • 2001, La Jolla Interfaces in Science Postdoctoral Fellowship, Burroughs Welcome Foundation
  • 1998, Growth Regulation and Oncogenesis Training Award (5-T32 CA 09523-15), NIH/NCI
  • 1998, Graduate Research Travel Award, University of California at San Diego


  • TESC 490 Biology of Aging
  • TESC 410 Environmental Science Senior Seminar
  • TESC 406 Introduction to Biochemistry II
  • TESC 405 Introduction to Biochemistry I
  • TESC 200 Environmental Seminar
  • TESC 141 General Chemistry I

Videos (1)

Articles (27)