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Musculoskeletal Health PhD Degree

The Musculoskeletal Health Sciences PhD Degree is a full PhD program approved by the Indiana Board of Higher Education in August 2019 and funded by the Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health. This program is based out of the Indiana University School of Medicine—Indianapolis (IUPUI) campus and is an interdisciplinary effort that involves IU School of Medicine as well as the School of Health and Human Sciences and the Biomedical Engineering program (also on the IUPUI campus).

All Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health members who are members of the Graduate Faculty are eligible to serve as student mentors.

Through their choice of electives, students can focus on various areas of musculoskeletal sciences, including biomedical engineering, bioinformatics, whole animal bone biology, mechanobiology or cell and molecular biology.


Learn more about the PhD program in musculoskeletal health here.

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Musculoskeletal Health Courses

GRAD-G801 Cell Biology of the Neuromusculoskeletal System is offered during the summer session. This is a four credit hours course that meets twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00-11:00 am). The course is designed to present the fundamentals of neuromusculoskeletal cell biology. The course objectives are designed to provide learners with a solid framework for understanding mechanisms, diseases, and treatments associated with the neuromusculoskeletal system as they advance in their education and training. The course is co-directed by Drs. Carol Witczak, Brian Pierchala and Lilian Plotkin, and team-taught by experts on neuro, muscle, and bone biology.

MSHS-B842 Musculoskeletal Disease & Injury is offered in the fall semester. This three credit course on musculoskeletal diseases and injuries covers pathologies associated with the musculoskeletal system and their impacts on the human population. This course is designed to prepare graduate students to perform innovative and clinically relevant research in the field of musculoskeletal health. The rational for the course is based in a need for graduate students specializing in biomedical research on clinically relevant topics to have a strong foundational knowledge in the musculoskeletal diseases and traumatic and activity-related injuries to joints, bones, and muscle. The course will include a mix of didactic lectures and small group sessions. This course is directed by Dr. Margaret McNulty.

ANAT-G 819 Basic Bone Biology is offered every other year in the spring semester (currently offered in even-numbered years). This three credit course provides an introduction to basic bone biology, including bone morphology, composition, and physiology; cell biology of bone cells; measurement techniques; adaption to the mechanical and metabolic environments; regulatory factors and mineral homeostasis; and growth and development. This course is directed by Dr. Matt Allen.

MSHS-B815 Research in Musculoskeletal Health (variable credits)

Skeletal Muscle in Health and Disease will be offered in the spring semester beginning in 2023 as a three credit course directed by Drs. Carol Witczak and Jeff Brault.

Open Labs

The investigators below are eligible to serve as mentors for students pursuing the Musculoskeletal Health PhD and currently have an opening in their lab to accept new mentees. For more information, please visit the investigator's faculty profile via their name below. 

Matthew R. Allen, PhD

Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology

Ed Greenfield, PhD

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Melissa A. Kacena, PhD, MS, BS

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

Brian Pierchala, PhD

Sherry Sonneborn Professor of ALS Research

Lilian I. Plotkin, PhD

Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology

Uma Sankar, PhD

Associate Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology & Physiology

Joseph Wallace, PhD

Professor of Biomedical Engineering

Steven S. Welc, PhD

Assistant Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology, and Physiology

Carol A. Witczak, PhD

Associate Professor of Anatomy, Cell Biology and Physiology

Xue Yuan, PhD

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery

Teresa A. Zimmers, PhD

H.H. Gregg Professor of Cancer Research

Andrew Coggan, PhD

Associate Professor - School of Health and Human Sciences