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Musculoskeletal Research

Research to better understand musculoskeletal health is critical, as diseases and disorders in this area of medicine are becoming more common as the U.S. population ages, and the musculoskeletal system is essential for good health at every stage of life. Specifically, the musculoskeletal conditions of sarcopenia, osteoporosis and arthritis continue to increase as do the demand for hip and knee replacements. The overall economic burden of musculoskeletal conditions is greater than that of cancer, stroke and cardiac arrest combined.

Focused Research Support

Research service cores are available to support Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health investigators and collaborative medical research partners working in this area of medicine. Research support for animal imaging and analysis, musculoskeletal histology, musculoskeletal biobanking, and clinical care and mobility is currently available.

The center supports two yearly initiatives for internal pilot funding. One mechanism supports multidisciplinary research projects led by a team of collaborative PIs. The objective is to support creative research and discoveries by teams of experts. This initiative is open to members of the Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health.

Collaborative Funding Opportunities

A second mechanism has a goal to bring together members of the centers to collaborate and develop novel concepts that advance the mission of the Indiana University School of Medicine and the research goals of the funding centers. Projects should be cross-disciplinary in novel areas of investigation with a goal to generate data in support of future collaborative funding opportunities. Participating centers include the Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health, the Melvin and Bren Simon Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Stark Neurosciences Research Institute, the Indiana Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases, and the Herman B. Wells Center for Pediatric Research. This initiative opens yearly.

Research Service Cores

Research service cores are available to support Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Health investigators and collaborative medical research partners working in this area of medicine. Service cores provide centralized shared research resources offering access to instruments, technologies and services as well as expert consultation and other services to scientific and clinical investigators on the IU School of Medicine—Indianapolis campus. Research support for animal imaging and analysis, musculoskeletal histology, musculoskeletal biobanking, and clinical care and mobility is available.

Thematic Research Teams

Focused research teams are composed of basic, translational and clinical researchers, including medical and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and orthopaedic fellows. These cross-departmental research teams also include experts in genetics and precision medicine, trauma, rehab, regeneration, mechanobiology and bone/muscle crosstalk, musculoskeletal cancer, and pediatric musculoskeletal disease.

Six dedicated research teams are actively pursuing specific research focuses, and new teams and subgroups are welcome. Individuals interested in joining or supporting one of the research teams can contact the center.

  • Cancer in Bone and Muscle
    The rising burdens of musculoskeletal diseases include various types of cancer in bone. The Cancer in Bone and Muscle research team focuses on the interactions between bone and cancer, especially breast and prostate cancer as well as multiple myeloma. Additionally, these investigators are interested in understanding the interaction of bone cancers to muscle cachexia and vice-versa.

    Team Leaders: Ed Greenfield, PhD and Teresa Zimmers, PhD

  • Lifestyle Modifications Physical Activity and Nutrition
    The lifestyle modification team’s research focuses on the lifestyle, nutrition and behavioral modifications that impact musculoskeletal health and physical function, specifically in regards to nutrition and mobility. The goals of this research is to better understand how musculoskeletal health and physical function affect the overall health of the population and how chronic diseases impact musculoskeletal health.

    Team Leaders: Ranjani Moorthi, PhD and Andrew Coggan, PhD

  • Pediatric Musculoskeletal Disease
    The pediatric musculoskeletal disease team is investigating the causes of childhood musculoskeletal diseases, including those that affect bone and muscle such as diabetes, obesity and the sarcomas with special interest on osteosarcoma. The goal is better understand the causes of pediatric musculoskeletal disease and how they relate to other childhood illnesses.

    Team Leaders: Linda A. DiMeglio, MD and Erik A. Imel, MD

  • Precision Medicine
    The precision medicine team is focused on genetic musculoskeletal diseases, including X-linked hypophosphatemia, autosomal dominant hypophosphatemia, and genomic, metabolomics, protemic determinants of bone density, osteoporosis and sarcopenia in aging and chronic disease. These investigators are focusing on the causes of these diseases and working to develop treatments and cures.

    Team Leaders: Todd C. Skaar, PhD and Ken E. White, PhD

  • Mechanobiology
    Mechanobiology plays a crucial role in the functional physiology of all musculoskeletal tissues. The process of mechanotransduction can be divided into four distinct steps: (1) mechanocoupling, (2) biochemical coupling, (3) transmission of signal, and (4) effector cell response. The Mechanobiology research team focuses on these steps and their functions outcomes at the molecular, cellular, systemic, and organismal levels. 
    Team Leaders: William R. Thompson, PhD, DPT and Joseph Wallace, PhD
  • Trauma Regeneration and Rehabilitation
    Focusing on developing patient-specific interventions, the Trauma, Regeneration and Rehabilitation team investigators are working to treat patients sustaining musculoskeletal injury, specifically injuries that result in acute and chronic musculoskeletal disease. These treatment goals include acute interventions, regenerative interventions for both bone and muscle, and eventually identifying the optimal means of rehabilitation for the patient to resume a normal lifestyle.

    Team Leaders: Melissa Kacena, PhD and Roman Natoli, MD, PhD

  • MuscleBone Crosstalk
    Bone and muscle are not only functional, biomechanical organs, but also endocrine organs regulating many physiological processes. The Muscle-Bone Crosstalk team investigates the mutual interactions among bone, muscle, and distant tissues in development, normal physiology and disease.

    Team Leaders: Andrea Bonetto, PhD and Uma Sankar, PhD