Our research focuses on the hormone and regulatory signals that control the formation and function of mesenchymal tissues in normal skeletal growth and in disease.
1) G-protein coupled receptor signaling: We use artificial hormone systems (RASSLs, or receptors activated solely by synthetic ligands) to dissect the roles of G-protein signaling in tissue development and function. We are using this method to develop a new mouse model to understand how GPCRs regulate bone formation. In addition, our model is revealing new effects of the skeleton in hematopoiesis, metabolism, and bone bioenergetics.
2) Human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells: We are using a unique cohort of human iPS cells from different genetic diseases of abnormal bone formation. These cells are the first human models for some of these diseases, and are helping us identify the key cellular and molecular interactions that control the formation and function of major mesenchymal tissues in the skeleton, including bone, cartilage, fat, muscle, and vascular cells. We are also creating iPS cell derived tissues for tissue engineering, small molecule screening, and regenerative medicine
3) Genomics: We are using state-of-the-art high-throughput sequencing methods to identify genes that may cause variations in skeletal disease phenotype using human patients. These candidates are validated using a combination of human and mouse models.
Understanding the regulators of skeletal formation promise to improve our understanding of these diseases and may provide insights for improving skeletal health and repair. In addition, the results will help develop new regenerative therapies and identify new methods to grow skeletal tissues in vitro for transplants.