John Bright, PhD

Senior Investigator
Methodist Research Institute
Indiana University Health
1800 N. Capitol Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46202
P: 317.962.8722
F: 317.962.9369
Laboratory: 317.962.5659

Current Projects
Recent Publications
Abbreviated Biography
Curriculum Vitae


The neuroscience research laboratory investigates mechanisms in the regulation of growth and immune and inflammatory responses relevant to multiple sclerosis (MS), cancer and stem cells of the brain. We use molecular biology and bioinformatics tools to discover novel inflammatory signatures of MS for drug targeting.

We generate stem cell-derived brain cells and test their use in transplantation therapy for brain diseases. We study the nature of tumor stem cells and their significance to the development of brain cancer. We use novel nuclear receptors and nutraceuticals to regulate immune and stem cells for the treatment of MS, cancer and inflammatory diseases of the brain. We use relevant knockout and transgenic mice to study inflammation and cancer in the brain.

Current Projects

Neuroimmunology of Multiple Sclerosis
The immune system has evolved to discriminate self from non-self, thereby protecting the host from infection and malignancy. Nevertheless, a breakdown in this immune-regulatory process often results in the pathogenesis of chronic infectious diseases, malignant tumors and organ-specific autoimmune diseases. While IL-12 family pro-inflammatory cytokines promote pathogenesis of organ-specific autoimmune diseases, anti-inflammatory cytokines confer recovery.

Neural Stem Cells and CNS Disease
The spontaneous recovery of CNS disorders such as multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, stroke and trauma is hindered by the limited ability of vertebrate CNS to regenerate lost cells, replace damaged myelin and re-establish the functional neuronal connections. Stem cells with self-renewal and multi-lineage differentiation property have the potential to replace or repair damaged CNS.

Brain Tumor Cells
Brain tumor stem cells are a rare population of tumor cells that can reconstitute a new tumor with all the cell types represented in the tumor of origin. These tumor stem cells are putatively responsible for the transplantability, drug resistance, radioresistance and aggressive invasive and metastatic properties of tumors.

Molecular Medicine for Cancer
The tight regulation of growth factor-dependent cell proliferation, cell survival and programmed cell death are critical in maintaining tissue homeostasis. The spontaneous or pathogen-induced alterations in cell signaling can lead to deregulated growth and resistance to apoptosis.

Recent Publications

  1. Kanakasabai S, Casalini E, Walline CC, Mo C, Chearwae W, Bright JJ. Differential regulation of CD4(+) T helper cell responses by curcumin in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. J Nutr Biochem. Mar 6 2012. Link
  2. Walline CC, Kanakasabai S, Bright JJ. IL-7Ralpha confers susceptibility to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Genes Immun. Jan 2011;12(1):1-14. Link
  3. Kanakasabai S, Walline CC, Chakraborty S, Bright JJ. PPARdelta deficient mice develop elevated Th1/Th17 responses and prolonged experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. Brain Res. Feb 28 2011;1376:101-112. Link
  4. Chakraborty S, Kanakasabai S, Bright JJ. Constitutive androstane receptor agonist CITCO inhibits growth and expansion of brain tumour stem cells. Br J Cancer. Feb 1 2011;104(3):448-459. Link
  5. Mo C, Chearwae W, Bright JJ. PPARgamma regulates LIF-induced growth and self-renewal of mouse ES cells through Tyk2-Stat3 pathway. Cell Signal. Mar 2010;22(3):495-500. Link
  6. Kanakasabai S, Chearwae W, Walline CC, Iams W, Adams SM, Bright JJ. Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor delta agonists inhibit T helper type 1 (Th1) and Th17 responses in experimental allergic encephalomyelitis. Immunology. Aug 2010;130(4):572-588. Link

Abbreviated Biography

Dr. Bright earned his BSc, MSc, and MPhil degrees in Zoology while at Madurai Kamaraj University in Tamil Nadu, India. He received his PhD in Biochemistry from the University of Kerala in Trivandrum, India in 1993 and then served as a post-doctoral fellow for two years at the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology in Hyderabad, India.

Dr. Bright immigrated to America in 1994 and spent two years as a post-doctoral fellow in the Neurology Department at Vanderbilt. From 1996-98, he worked as a Research Associate in the Neurology department, supported by an advanced postdoctoral fellowship from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. From 1998-99 Dr. Bright served on the Vanderbilt faculty as an Instructor of Neurology, becoming a tenure-track Assistant Professor of Neurology in 1999. He also served as Assistant Professor of Pharmacology and as a member of the Vanderbilt Ingram Cancer Center. After six years on the faculty at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Dr. Bright moved to Indianapolis in 2005 as the Senior Investigator and founding director of the Neuroscience Research Laboratory at the Methodist Research Institute.

Dr. Bright's research interests are relevant to cancer, stem cells, inflammation, and autoimmune diseases of the brain. His research has been funded by the NIH and NMSS, and he participates in grant reviews for the NIH and other foundations. Dr. Bright has received several honors and awards for his work, which has been published in peer-reviewed journals. He is a member of the American Association of Immunologists, the American Association for Cancer Research, the International Society of Neuroimmunology, and the International Society for Stem Cell Research.

Dr. Bright's Curriculum Vitae