The Musculoskeletal (MSK) Creative Hub has completed the evaluation of the pilot projects submitted in response to the first request for Applications (RFA). Applications were reviewed by an internal study section composed of UAMS faculty with expertise in the fields of MSK, nutrition, and physiology. Applications were chosen for funding based on the applicant(s)’ standing in the field and the ability for driving the proposed study; integration of the research project with the goals of the MSK Hub; and potential success of future submission for extramural funding.
The 3 meritorious projects are listed below:
Project Focus: The role of the NAD salvage pathway in articular chondrocyte metabolic homeostasis
Ryan Porter, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor whose lab is focused on musculoskeletal regenerative medicine, with particularly emphasis on the appendicular skeleton (long bones and synovial joints). Within this general theme, there are multiple directions with relevance to cancer therapy. For example, we are interested in improving the management of skeletal defects that result from surgical tumor removal or radiation therapy. Some of this work involves the application of culture-expanded mesenchymal stem cells and their secreted extracellular vesicles for improving defect repair; for patients that have undergone cancer treatment, it will be critical to understand the potential of these exogenous biologics for promoting cancer recurrence. In addition to stem cell-based therapeutics, we are also developing drug delivery strategies that target cartilage; such strategies have the potential to improve drug targeting of skeletal cancers (e.g., chondrosarcoma, osteosarcoma).
Maria Schuller Almeida, Ph.D., is a professor with a background in marine biology. She received her degree from the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar, Portugal. Prior to joining UAMS, she conducted research in the mineralization of oysters in her native Portugal and the National History Museum in Paris, France. Her current research focus is on the effects of anti-oxidant defense mechanisms on bone health and disease.
Project Focus: Role of Extrachromosomal Circular DNA in Bone
Jesus Delgado-Calle, Ph.D., research focuses on understanding the mechanisms by which myeloma cancer cells alter the biology of other cells in the tumor niche with the final goal of identifying targetable factors for the treatment of multiple myeloma. Current projects in his laboratory investigate the effects of Wnt and Notch signaling between myeloma cells and bone cells on tumor growth, cancer cell dormancy, and bone destruction. Moreover, he collaborate in studies examining the role of bone cells in cancer-induced bone pain and muscle weakness, and the deleterious effects that glucocorticoids have in the skeleton. Other projects in his laboratory investigate the crosstalk between bone and adipose tissues that regulates body fat and whole-body metabolism.
The Delgado-Calle laboratory investigates the mechanisms by which myeloma cancer cells alter the biology of other cells in the tumor/bone marrow microenvironment, particularly osteocytes, with the final goal of identifying targetable factors for the treatment of multiple myeloma and its associated bone disease. His lab employs a combination of in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo mouse models to study tumor biology and characterized the effects of tumor cells on bone remodeling.
Intawat Nookaew, Ph.D. is a Biomedical Informatics Associate Professor with the following research and disease priorities.
- Brain, Breast, GI, Head and Neck, Multiple Myeloma, Thoracic/ Lung
Research Focus Area:
- Informatics, Detection, Carcinogenesis, Diagnosis/ Prognosis
- Systems biology and Bioinformatics
- RNA/DNA modification
- Long read DNA sequencing
- Large-scale data analysis and visualization and Deep learning
Project Focus: TGFβ as a regulator of Lipocalin 2 in mediating osteocyte-intrinsic and -extrinsic energy metabolism
Neha Shashank Dole, Ph.D., has established her laboratory in the UAMS Department of Physiology and Cell Biology and holds an assistant professor position in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UAMS. Dr. Dole is funded through the Mentored Career Development Grant from the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). She is a journal reviewer and a member of the Endocrine Society, the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, and the Orthopaedic Research Society.
Dr. Dole’s other service and leadership efforts focus on developing the next generation of scientists and leaders. She has served on the early-stage investigator committee of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) and organized Career Development Workshop for Postdocs and graduate students at the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) Musculoskeletal Biology Workshop. In the past, she has also served as the Chair of the Junior Investigator Committee at UCSF.
Dr. Dole’s honors include a Young Investigator Award- IBMS, the ASBMR Harold M. Frost Young Investigator Award, the AIMM-ASBMR John Haddad Young Investigator Award, ORS-Alice JeeAward, and the ASBMR Most Outstanding Basic Abstract Award.