My Research: Bones self-regulate their pattern and shape during growth. This process is remarkable when you consider that bone adapts to a changing mechanical environment shaped by an individual's level of activity throughout their entire life. We understand that part of this process is mediated by bone stem cells known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSC) and signaling proteins that govern the process through which MSC choose to become a bone cell. However, it is unknown how MSC decide where to migrate and under what circumstances do they choose to become a bone cell and start making new bone. We believe that developing an understanding of how MSC migrate and then differentiate into a bone cell are critical to treating the following bone diseases: First, treatment for childhood bone cancers (sarcoma) often leads to bone that does not heal and can fracture easily. We believe that both of these problems are due to the failure of MSC to migrate into the sites of surgical intervention and then re-start the process of normal bone turn-over (i.e. destruction followed by formation). Second, failure of total hip or knee implants leads to significant health complications in older adults and is on the cusp of being a public health crisis. Implant failure is thought to be due to poor integration of the metal implant with the surrounding bone; a process that we have shown is dependent on having healthy MSC next to the implant.
My Non-Science Life: My partner and I have been together for almost 10-years and we are very involved with our respective families. We are both active runners and enjoy competing in local 5K races. I have lived in central New York for 18-years. We both love the Adirondacks and visit at least once a year. I have kept aquarium fish since 7-years of age, with two tanks (1 x in my office and 1x at home) stocked with African rift lake cichlids. I am also an avid reader, when time permits (I have been reading the fantasy novels of Terry Pratchett, recently).