Musculoskeletal Research Lab Earns Spotlight at National Meeting

Oct. 12, 2012
Matt Hilton, Ph.D., (far right) and research colleagues

The URMC laboratory of Matthew J. Hilton, which studies the molecular gatekeepers for cartilage development and disease, has an inordinate number of researchers receiving awards and making presentations at the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research annual meeting, which begins today in Minneapolis.

Graduate student Zhaoyang Liu won an ASBMR Young Investigator Award and will have a podium presentation to discuss her work into the molecular signals that regulate joint cartilage in the development of osteoarthritis. Liu is one of 50 Young Investigators recognized by the approximately 10,000 meeting attendees for their top-ranking abstracts. Anthony J. Mirando is co-author on Liu’s study.

In addition, graduate students Timothy Rutkowski and Cuicui Wang each won ASBMR Young Investigator Travel Grants, given to top researchers selected for oral or plenary poster presentations. The grant pays for their travel to the meeting.

Rutkowski conducted a genetics study proving that a gene known as Hes1 is a key to regulating cartilage formation. Cuicui is applying the lab’s prior knowledge of an important signaling pathway toward accelerated fracture healing. Teng Long and Yufeng Dong will also present data on their work into bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells, the earliest cells that form cartilage, bone, fat, and connective tissues.

“Collectively, three-quarters of our laboratory submissions will be highlighted by ASBMR,” said Hilton, an associate professor in the URMC Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and the Center for Musculoskeletal Research (CMSR), whose lab has more than $3 million in funding. “It’s a welcome success and a tribute to the quality of the grad students and to the support of the CMSR.”

Hilton joined the University of Rochester Medical Center in 2007. He was among the first scientists to discover the importance of the Notch signaling pathway to the skeletal system. Notch represents a family of proteins expressed on the surface of cells, and in the context of skeletal diseases his lab studies how the pathway can be manipulated to develop new therapies or regenerate cartilage and bone.

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