Yolanda Fortenberry headshot

Yolanda Fortenberry

Assistant Professor of Honors and Pharmacology and Physiology
Address: University Honors Program
2100 Foxhall Road NW
Ames Hall, Room 101P
Washington, District Of Columbia
[email protected]

Dr. Yolanda Fortenberry received her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Louisiana State University Medical School in New Orleans. Her graduate studies focused on the regulation of peptide hormone synthesis in the secretory pathway.  She then went on to do her post-doctoral training at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine under Dr. Frank Church.  Her work at UNC focused on investigating the regulation of blood coagulation. Dr. Fortenberry has been a faculty member at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in the department of Pediatric-Hematology since 2006.   


Dr. Fortenberry’s laboratory focuses on the development of RNA aptamers to be used as therapeutics and on the regulation of blood coagulation by serine protease inhibitors (serpins). Currently, she has three ongoing projects. 1) The development of Plasminogen activator inhibitor 1 (PAI-1)-specific RNA aptamers, 2) The development of novel RNA-based anticoagulant aptamers molecules that mimic the activity of low molecular weight heparins, and 3) the development of an oxy-hemoglobin specific RNA aptamers that will prevent the polymerization of hemoglobin polymers.  If successful, these molecules have can potentially be used to treat individuals suffering from sickle cell disease. Her work has been funded by the American Heart Association, the National Institutes of Health and the National Hemophilia Foundation.  

Selected Publications (Peer-reviewed scientific articles)

Purvis SH, Keefer JR, Fortenberry YM, Barron-Casella E, and Casella JF (2016) Identification of aptamers that inhibit the polymerization of hemoglobin S in solution and in sickle cell erythrocytes. Nucleic Acid Therapeutics (submitted)

Pathak A, Brandal S and Fortenberry YM (2016) Intracellular Expression of PAI-1 Specific Aptamers Alters Breast Cancer Cell Migration, Invasion, and Angiogenesis PLOS one (in press)

Martin EW, Buzza, MS, Driesbaugh KH, Liu S, Fortenberry YM, Leppla SH, and Antalis TM. Targeting the membrane-anchored serine protease testisin with a novel engineered anthrax toxin prodrug to kill tumor cells and reduce burden (2015) Oncotarget. 2015 Oct 20; 6(32):33534-53

Fortenberry YM (2014) The role of serpins in tumor cell migration.  Biol Chem. 2015 Mar; 396(3):205-13

Damare J, Brandal S and Fortenberry YM (2014) PAI-1 specific RNA Novel PAI-1 specific RNA aptamer that inhibits PAI-1’s interaction with tPA  Nucleic Acid Ther 24 (4) 239-249.

Fortenberry YM PAI-1 inhibitors: A patent review (2006-present).  Exp. Opin. Ther. Patents (2013) Jul 23(7):801-815.

Brandal S, Blake CM, Sullenger BA and Fortenberry YM (2011) Effects of Plasminogen Activator Inhibitor-I on cell adhesion, migration, and tube formation. Nucleic Acid Ther. Dec 21 (6): 373-81.

Fortenberry YM, Cook AB, and Church FC (2011) Protein C inhibitor inhibits Factor VIIa when bound to Tissue Factor.  J. Thrombosis and Haemostasis Apr 9(4) 861-3

Rau JC, Mitchell JW, Fortenberry YM and Church FC (2011) Heparin Cofactor II: Discovery, Properties, and Role in Controling Vascular Homeostasis.  Seminars in Thrombosis and Hemostasis Jun;37(4):339-48

Emadi A, Ross AE, Cowan KM, Fortenberry YM, Vuica-Ross M (2010) A chemical genetic screen for modulators of asymmetrical 2.2’-dimeric naphthoquinones cytotoxicity in yeast. PLoS One. 2010 May 26;5(5):e10846.

Fortenberry YM, Brandal S, Bialas RC, and Church FC (2010) Protein C inhibitor regulates both cathepsin L activity and cell-mediated tumor cell migration.  Biochim Biophys Acta 2010 Jun; 1800 (6) 580-90.

Blake CM, Sullenger BA, Lawrence DA and Fortenberry YM (2009) Antimetastatic potential of PAI-1-specific RNA aptamers.  Oligonucleotides Mar. 14.

Inventions and Patents

Deoxy hemoglobin specific RNA aptamer (provisional)

Antithrombin specific RNA aptamer (pending)