Mentors/Preceptors

The five themes of the Skeletal Disorders Training Program (SDTP) represent the main focus of the faculty participating in this training program and are intended to provide context for applicants, highlighting common interests and interactions within each theme. Indeed, based on such interactions and shared interests, some faculty overlap more than one theme.

Venn diagrams illustrate faculty mentors’ overlapping research interests across the SDTP’s five thematic areas: Metabolic and Local Regulation of the Skeleton; Skeletal Immunology; Tumor-Skeleton Interactions; Genetics and Development of the Skeleton; and Skeletal Biomechanics and Repair.

STDP faculty mentors are drawn from 2 schools and 9 academic departments throughout the university:

  • Biomedical Engineering, School of Engineering & Applied Science
  • Cell Biology and Physiology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Internal Medicine
  • Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Pathology and Immunology
  • Pediatrics
  • Radiation Oncology
  • Surgery

They also represent a wide range of research interests:

  • Bone-immune and hematopoietic system interactions
  • Cancer-bone cell interactions
  • Cell signaling
  • Inflammatory osteolysis
  • Mechanobiology
  • Mouse and human genetics
  • Osteoblast, osteoclast, chondrocyte, tenocyte and intervertebral disc biology
  • Skeletal biomechanics, development and regeneration
  • Stem cell and structural biology

The laboratories of 14 of our 28 mentors are housed in the Musculoskeletal Research Center (MRC) premises, greatly facilitating interactions; furthermore, the School of Medicine enjoys a single, physically interconnected campus that contains the laboratories of all mentors.

The SDTP has fostered a culture of collegiality and interactivity among our faculty, which is attested by co-authorship in publications, participation in the many educational activities of this program, and frequent service by SDTP mentors on thesis or advisory committees of SDTP and other MRC trainees, interactions that have also facilitated entry of new faculty into skeletal biology.

Choosing a Mentor

Our large mentor pool offers a wide range of research training opportunities, both pre-doctoral and post-doctoral, within the SDTP’s five thematic areas.

Pre-doctoral

Pre-doctoral trainees may have a general idea of the research area they would like to pursue but insufficient knowledge of the human resources and mentorship opportunities available through this program.

To help students make the most appropriate choice of mentor and to encourage interactions, the Division of Biology & Biomedical Sciences (DBBS) and Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) require PhD or MD/PhD students to undergo two to three 3-month-long rotations in different laboratories during their first year of training, before choosing their thesis mentor, and are typically appointed to this program in their second year.

After earning candidacy for graduation, pre-doctoral trainees form a thesis committee consisting of 6 DBBS members, which must include the mentor. Likewise, BME students assemble thesis committees composed primarily of, though not exclusively limited to, BME faculty, and follow the same evaluation procedures as DBBS students.

Post-doctoral

Since applicants for post-doctoral positions typically have specific orientation towards a certain mentor or laboratory at the time of application, they are not required to rotate in other labs.

Within 6 months of appointment, post-doctoral trainees assemble a training advisory committee constituted by 5 faculty chosen by the trainee from among the program mentors (or other faculty whose expertise more closely aligns with the research topic), and include the trainee’s mentor.

The scope of this committee is similar to that of a pre-doctoral student thesis committee and is designed to provide additional guidance to the trainee towards achieving the goals of the research project and fulfill all the requirements of the training program. These advisory committees serve a crucial role in the trainee’s scholarly development within this program, and their feedback to the trainee and mentor is a fundamental component of the trainee’s yearly evaluation.

Mentors by Thematic Area

Metabolic and Local Regulation of the Skeleton

These researchers are focused on how bone cells are regulated by hormones and local factors and by interactions with other systems.


Kyunghee Choi, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Immunology

  • Graduate Program Affiliations: Immunology; Molecular Cell Biology; Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities: Dr. Choi studies hematopoietic and vascular development and regeneration.  She utilizes an in vitro differentiation model of pluripotent stem cells, such as embryonic stem (ES) and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, and early mouse embryos to address self-renewal, lineage commitment, and differentiation of hematopoietic and vascular systems. Using hindlimb ischemia, cancer and a mouse model of rheumatoid arthritis she also investigates mechanisms regulating hematopoietic and vascular regeneration and hematopoietic stem cell traits in pathologic conditions. Dr. Choi has trained 15 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

Roberto Civitelli, MD, Schoenberg Professor of Medicine, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cell Biology and Physiology

  • Graduate Program Affiliations: Molecular Cell Biology; Molecular Genetics and Genomics
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities: Dr. Civitelli’s research interests are focused on bone and mineral metabolism in health and disease, both at the clinical and basic science levels. He is currently investigating the role of connexins in bone modeling and response to mechanical load, the interactions between Smad and Wnt signaling in postnatal bone homeostasis, and the role of cadherins in osteogenic cell differentiation, response to bone anabolic stimulators, and in cancer metastasis. He has trained many graduate and undergraduate students (2 DBBS students graduated in the past 5 years), and postdocs. Dr. Civitelli also maintains an active clinical practice in osteoporosis and metabolic bone diseases.

Clarissa Craft, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: None
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Craft’s research investigates the biochemical cues transmitted from extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins to the cells they surround, and how disturbances in either ECM organization or composition can lead to cellular and tissue dysfunction. Ongoing ECM-related projects are focused on (1) mechanisms by which the ECM supports nerve sprouting in the craniofacial and appendicular skeleton, (2) exploration of diabetes-induced perturbations in the ECM, and (3) characterization of ECM deposition by periosteal cells, especially Schwann cells, during physiologic bone accrual (loading) and pathologic bone healing (fracture). In the past 3 years, Dr. Craft has served as co-mentor to 2 postdoctoral research fellows, including a SDTB trainee, and 1 PhD student.

Keith Hruska, MD, Professor of Pediatrics, Medicine, and Cell Biology and Physiology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: None
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Hruska has made seminal contributions to signal transduction in osteoblasts and osteoclasts. His research activities are currently focused on the causes and treatment of the chronic kidney disease – mineral bone disorder, and the role of phosphorus as a cardiovascular disease risk factor.  As a nephrologist and former head of the Division of Pediatric Nephrology, Dr. Hruska brings expertise on the effects of kidney diseases on the skeletal system, at the clinical, translational and basic science levels. He has trained 13 post-docs in the past 10 years.

Daniel Link, MD, Wolff Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Immunology

  • Graduate Program Affiliations: Immunology; Molecular Cell Biology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Link studies mechanisms of disease pathogenesis for hematological malignancies and the mechanisms regulating normal hematopoiesis. This includes defining the signals generated by stromal cells that regulate hematopoiesis, and conversely, signals generated by hematopoietic cells that regulate bone metabolism. Dr. Link is also involved in clinical studies on congenital hematologic disorders, and was part of the consortium that sequenced the myeloid leukemia genome. He has trained over 30 graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. Dr. Link’s forefront research on the hematopoietic/stromal cell interface brings unique expertise and a truly interdisciplinary approach to bone marrow biology, with a strong translational angle.

Erica Scheller, DDS, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Cell Biology and Physiology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology; Molecular Cell Biology; Neurosciences
  • Research Area and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Scheller studies the function of nerves and fat within bone. These understudied components of the skeletal niche have important implications for local metabolic homeostasis, fracture risk, and disease pathophysiology. Her lab is currently focused on defining the relationship between neuropathy and skeletal disease, particularly in the context of diabetes. They also seek to identify mechanisms underlying neural regulation of marrow adipose tissue biology, a unique adipose tissue depot with putative beige-like characteristics that has the potential to contribute to both local and systemic energy metabolism. Dr. Scheller runs a joint laboratory with Dr. Clarissa Craft that was established in 2016. So far, they have mentored one post-doctoral fellow and are actively recruiting additional trainees.

Steven Teitelbaum, MD, Messing Professor of Pathology and Immunology and Medicine

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology
  • Research Area and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Teitelbaum’s laboratory focuses on the mechanisms of osteoclastic bone resorption, and has recently extended his interests to the interactions between bone, fat and energy metabolism. He is a world leading bone biologist and mentor, having trained more than 70 graduate students and fellows during his career, including some of the mentors on this program (Drs. Abu-Amer, Faccio, and Veis Novack). He has ongoing collaborations with a majority of this SDTP faculty.

Skeletal Immunology

These investigators study the interactions between the immune system and the skeleton. Although primarily focused on basic biology, this research theme spans translational and clinical studies on non-malignant disorders involving abnormal osteoclast activation.

Yousef Abu-Amer, PhD, Key Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities: Dr. Abu-Amer investigates the molecular mechanisms underlying IKK complex in osteolysis and bone metabolism, the role of TAK1 (activator of the IKK complex and MAP kinases) in skeletal development and pathologies, and systemic NF-κB dysregulation and its effect on skeletal development. Also in collaboration with Drs. John Clohisy and Ryan Nunley, two practicing surgeons in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Dr. Abu-Amer is also involved in translational studies investigating the molecular mechanisms of periprostetic osteolysis. He has trained 6 pre- and post-doctoral trainees.

Daved Fremont, PhD, Professor of Pathology and Immunology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics

  • Program Affiliation: Computational and Molecular Biophysics; Immunology; Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis; Biophysics
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Fremont is a structural biologist and protein biochemist with a distinguished record of training graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at Washington University. While his interests are broad he has a major commitment to bone cell biology as it was his laboratory that solved the crystal structure of RANK ligand (RANKL). On this basis, Dr. Fremont has designed single chain RANKL peptides whose capacity to inhibit osteoclast formation and function is being assessed. He has a strong training record that includes 6 graduate students and 6 post-docs in the past 10 years.

Gabriel Mbalaviele, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Mbalaviele joined the Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases in 2011, successfully transitioning from industry, and has rapidly established a new line of research on the inflammasome and innate immunity in bone homeostasis. He has also recently discovered an unexpected role of PARP1 in osteoclastogenesis. He is a co-founder of Confluence Discovery Technologies, a contract research organization focused on drug development and located in the CORTEX Bioscience District adjacent to the WU medical campus.

Deborah Veis (Novack), MD, PhD, Professor of Medicine, Pathology and Immunology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Immunology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities: Dr. Veis (Novack) focuses on the role of NF-κB in osteoclastogenesis and bone resorption and the role of this pathway in pathological osteolysis and in the host response to metastasis, modeling both inhibition and activation of the pathway. She also studies the role of mitochondria in osteoclast biology. As a board-certified pathologist with expertise in bone, Dr. Veis has also collaborated with clinicians on studies related to bone disease. Dr. Veis’s training record includes 5 pre- and post-doctoral trainees and serving on more than 20 PhD thesis committees. Furthermore, as Director of the MRC Histology and Histomorphometry Core, Dr. Veis trains clinical and translational researchers in quantitative analysis of bone specimens. She functions as Educational Activities Coordinator for this program.

Tumor-Skeleton Interactions

These scientists are focused on the molecular mechanisms by which breast cancer and other solid tumors metastasize to the bone, and the role of the bone microenvironment in driving tumor growth and metastasis.


David Curiel, MD, PhD, Distinguished Professor of Radiation Oncology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities: Dr. Curiel is interested in gene therapy in a variety of conditions, focusing on the development of vectors capable of efficient and specific gene delivery to target cells through genetic engineering of recombinant adenovirus vectors. He is currently testing adenoviral vectors to modulate the tumor microenvironment in pre-clinical studies, and their applicability to human neoplastic disorders. Dr. Curiel brings unique expertise in a growing area of research highly relevant to skeletal metastasis. He has a strong record of training, having mentored about 30 among graduate students and post-docs in the past 10 years.

Sheila Stewart, PhD, Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Molecular Genetics and Genomics; Biochemistry; Computational and Systems Biology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Stewart studies how age-related changes in the tumor microenvironment contribute to tumorigenesis. She has identified a senescence associated secretory phenotype that increases local osteoclastogenesis and tumor cell seeding to regions with senescent osteoblasts.  Current activity centers around the hypothesis that bone metastasis is related to the creation of an immune-suppressive microenvironment that allows cancer cells to grow unabated. Dr. Stewart has mentored 8 PhD students, 4 post-doctoral fellows and 4 undergraduate students.

Roberta Faccio, PhD, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Cell Biology and Physiology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Immunology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities: Dr. Faccio is investigating how aberrant immune functionality can modulate tumor growth in bone independent of osteoclasts, and has demonstrated a role of tumor derived myeloid cells in bone tumor growth. Dr. Faccio has also identified a novel role for phospholipase C gamma 2 (PLCγ2) as central mediator of osteoclast differentiation and function, and of the inflammatory process in arthritis. A previous trainee of Dr. Teitelbaum’s, Dr. Faccio has mentored 6 PhD students, one of whom SDTP trainee and 6 post-doctoral fellows.

Russell Pachynski, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Division of Oncology; Member, Bursky Center for Human Immunology and Immunotherapy Programs (CHiiPs)

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: None
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Pachynski’s lab focuses broadly on tumor immunology and translational immunotherapy, with a particular focus on prostate cancer. One aspect of this research is on leukocyte trafficking: we were the first to identify a novel innate chemoattractant, chemerin, as a potential target for immunomodulation in cancer. Using a number of mouse models, we have shown that augmentation of chemerin in the tumor microenvironment can act to recruit immune effector cells and thereby significantly reduce tumor growth. We have ongoing studies evaluating chemerin modulation and other immunotherapies in models of prostate cancer that metastasizes to the bone. Translational studies include evaluation of the immune microenvironment in human prostate primary and bone metastases. Dr. Pachynski is also Principal Investigator on several immunotherapy trials in metastatic prostate cancer, including the first clinical trial evaluating personalized neoantigen vaccines in human prostate cancer patients. He has trained several undergraduates, post-baccalaureates, and post-doctoral fellows, and works closely with the multidisciplinary prostate cancer community at Washington University.

 


Katherine Weilbaecher, MD, Langenberg Professor of the Science and Practice of Medicine

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Molecular Genetics and Genomics
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Weilbaecher is a successful physician-scientist who studies the molecular basis of tumor reprogramming of the bone microenvironment. Current activity focuses on the role of the β3 integrin signaling in the process of bone metastasis, pathologic bone loss, HTLV-1 adult T-cell leukemia and multiple myeloma bone marrow colonization.  She has developed 4 clinical trials to prevent and treat breast cancer bone metastases directly resulting from her laboratory research. Dr. Weilbaecher is also a practicing breast cancer oncologist at Siteman Cancer Center, and has mentored hematology fellows, MD/PhD students and post-doctoral fellows with basic research projects into the mechanisms of bone metastasis.

Genetics and Development of the Skeleton

These are investigators from different disciplines whose common interest is the genetic bases of skeletal disorders and skeletal development.


Audrey McAlinden, PhD, Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

  • Graduate Program Affiliation:  Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. McAlinden studies mechanisms regulating cartilage development and homeostasis, and long-term goals of discovering novel therapeutic targets for osteoarthritis. Current projects focus on the function of non-coding RNAs (microRNAs, non-coding RNAs) in modulating cartilage cell differentiation and anabolic and catabolic processes in chondrocytes. Dr. McAlinden is currently mentoring one SDTP post-doc.

Steven Mumm, PhD, Associate Professor of Medicine

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: None
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  The focus of Dr. Mumm’s research is the molecular genetics of metabolic bone diseases and skeletal dysplasias, in conjunction with Dr. Whyte, who manages the clinical aspects of this research endeavors.   Current investigation includes high bone turnover diseases linked to RANK signaling mutations, and variants of genes involved in phosphorus homeostasis increase the risk of atypical femoral fractures. Dr. Mumm has contributed to training several MDs from around the world, as well as WU clinical fellows. Recently, he functioned as co-mentor to one Internal Medicine Resident recipient of a Mentor-in-Medicine grant, a highly competitive program.

David Ornitz, MD, PhD, Alumni Endowed Professor of Developmental Biology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology; Molecular Cell Biology; Neuroscience
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Ornitz studies the FGF signaling pathway regulation of development and regeneration in the inner ear, lung, heart, and skeletal system. Dr. Ornitz is the Director of the Mouse Genetics Core of the CCBMB, and in this function he provides guidance in mouse engineering, including new gene editing approaches (CRISPR/Cas9 and TALEN), while continuing to develop new mouse models for skeletal research that are shared among MRC investigators. Dr. Ornitz has trained more than 20 postdoctoral fellows in the past 10 years.

Timothy Peterson, PhD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Genetics

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Genetics and Genomics; Biochemistry, Biophysics, and Structural Biology Program; Computational and Systems Biology Program; Molecular Cell Biology Program
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  The Peterson lab is interested in genomic and metabolomic approaches to understand biology and drug mechanisms. In particular, they have a longstanding interest in the bisphosphonates (e.g., alendronate (Fosamax)), which are widely used drugs to treat diseases involving bone. Through this work, they have characterized several related novel factors that they have named The TBONE pathway. They are doing both genomic screening with the bisphosphonates as well as other clinical drugs such as antidepressants (e.g., selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors – SSRIs, such as fluoxetine (Prozac)) to identify mechanisms for their drug action on the skeleton and other organ systems. They currently have one graduate student, one PhD, and several undergraduates in the lab. Additionally, Dr. Peterson has helped to train several graduate students, postdocs and med students while he was a trainee himself. More information can be found at http://petersonlab.wustl.edu

Michael Whyte, MD, Professor of Medicine, Genetics and Pediatrics

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: None
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Whyte’s research interests include the cause and treatment of heritable skeletal disorders in children and adults. He directs the Center for Metabolic Bone Disease and Molecular Research at Shriners Hospital, which serves as a national resource for the diagnosis, treatment, and investigation of disorders of bone and mineral metabolism and skeletal dysplasias in children. In conjunction with Dr. Mumm, Dr. Whyte has contributed to the training of numerous physicians from around the world, as well as medical students, residents and post-docs.  His participation to this program offers unique training opportunities for clinically oriented trainees.

Skeletal Biomechanics and Repair

These researchers explore the effects of mechanical and metabolic factors on cartilage, bone and tendons and how they can be repaired and/or regenerated.


Farshid Guilak, PhD, Simon Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Biomedical Engineering, and Developmental Biology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Biomedical Engineering
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Guilak’s research program focuses on osteoarthritis, using a highly collaborative, multidisciplinary approach to investigate the role of biomechanical and biological factors in the onset and progression of osteoarthritis, with a particular emphasis on the development of new molecular and cell-based therapies. He investigates the disease at different scales, ranging from clinical studies of joint loading, weight loss, nutrition, and exercise in patients, to animal models of osteoarthritis, to tissue-level models of cartilage physiology and pathology under mechanical loading, and to the cellular and subcellular levels to understand the transduction pathways involved in mechanical signaling. He has an outstanding record of training graduate and undergraduate students.

Spencer Lake, PhD, Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Biomedical Engineering

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Biomedical Engineering
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities: Dr. Lake’s research in orthopaedic biomechanics seeks to understand multiscale structure-function relationships of musculoskeletal soft tissues and joints. Ongoing projects include elucidation of mechanisms governing multiscale tendon mechanics, use of advanced imaging techniques to quantify microstructural properties of loaded connective tissues, and investigation of causes/treatments for post-traumatic joint contracture. Dr. Lake teaches courses in the School of Engineering and Applied Science. Throughout his research career, he has mentored many graduate students (PhD and MS), undergraduate research assistants, medical students, and orthopaedic surgery residents.

Gretchen Meyer, PhD, Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy, Neurology, Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedic Surgery

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology Program and Biomedical Engineering
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Meyer’s research focuses on skeletal muscle physiology and pathophysiology, specifically the role of fat-muscle cross-talk in muscle degeneration and regeneration. Dr. Meyer contributes expertise in mechanical and histological analysis of muscle structure/function to the MRC Core facility and collaborates with a number of investigators within the MRC community and beyond to explore the interaction between muscle and other tissue types. Dr. Meyer currently has 2 pre-doctoral trainees and 2 doctor of physical therapy (DPT) trainees. She teaches skeletal muscle physiology in the DPT and PhD curricula in the Program in Physical Therapy.

M. Farooq Rai, PhD, MSCI, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, Cell Biology & Physiology

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Rai is interested in identifying the molecular mechanisms that orchestrate early changes in the knee joint after injury and lead to the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis. Dr. Rai has been trained in cellular and molecular biology, and has extensive experience in developing and studying mouse models of cartilage repair and osteoarthritis, and in using RNA screening techniques to identify early osteoarthritis in patients with knee injury. In the past 10 years, Dr. Rai has trained 2 postdocs and several undergraduate students and laboratory staff. Dr. Rai is an early career track translational scientist, and works closely with clinician-scientists and rheumatologists to identify early molecular events in tissue repair and disease.

Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD, Reynolds Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

  • Graduate Program Affiliation:  Biomedical Engineering
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. O’Keefe’s research interests encompass inflammatory skeletal disorders, development and cartilage and bone repair.  He is also pursuing the role of β-catenin signaling in the regulation of chondrocyte phenotype and its role in bone regeneration and in the development of osteoarthritis. Dr. O’Keefe is also a practicing surgeon, specialized in the management of bone and soft (connective) tissue tumors, skeletal reconstruction, and primary and revision total hip and total knee arthroplasty. He is a successful physician-scientist and an accomplished teacher, having mentored numerous post-docs and graduate students.

Lori Setton, PhD, Lopata Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Orthopaedic Surgery, and Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science

Graduate Program Affiliation: Developmental, Regenerative and Stem Cell Biology; Molecular Cell Biology Program; Biomedical Engineering

Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Setton’s research focuses on understanding the mechanisms for degeneration and regeneration of soft tissues of the musculoskeletal system, including the intervertebral disc, articular cartilage, and meniscus. Her lab employs tools of mechanical engineering, materials synthesis, and cell and molecular biology to advance use of drug depots and biomaterials as therapies for musculoskeletal pathology. She has a stellar record of training graduate and undergraduate students.


Matthew Silva, PhD, Peterson Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering

  • Graduate Program Affiliation: Molecular Cell Biology; Human and Statistical Genetics; Biomedical Engineering
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  Dr. Silva’s research interest is focused on skeletal mechanobiology, as it relates to bone structure and strength. He is an expert in biomechanics and finite element analysis. Dr. Silva offers unique and much sought after expertise to the skeletal biology research community, and leads the Musculoskeletal Structure and Strength Core of the MRC. In the past 10 years, he has trained 5 PhD students and 8 post-doctoral fellows, including 2 SDTP trainees. He teaches graduate courses Orthopaedic Biomechanics (with a focus on bone) in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

Simon Tang, PhD, Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

  • Graduate Program Affiliation:  Biomedical Engineering
  • Training Record and Ongoing Activities:  The focus of Dr. Tang’s research is the intervertebral disc, and its degeneration with aging and in pathologic conditions, such as diabetes, and how such degeneration can be repaired. He applies finite element analyses, multiscale tissue mechanics, and the functional imaging of skeletal tissues for regenerative medicine. Dr. Tang has trained one SDTP postdoctoral fellow.