Orthopedic Bioengineering and Tissue Engineering Approaches to Study Hyaluronan
The objective of this project is to elucidate the role of hyaluronan in the “gut-joint axis” using preclinical models and tissue-engineering inspired approaches. The gut-joint axis is the set of relationships and mechanisms that link the health of the synovial joint (e.g., knee) to the gut microbiome. Manipulation of the murine gut microbiome is one method by which researchers evaluate the influence of microbes on synovial joint structure and function. Hyaluronan plays a role in intestinal permeability and synovial joint physiology so could be a pillar of the gut-joint axis. Hyaluronan can also act as a pro- or anti-inflammatory signal depending on its molecular weight. This project will use complementary approaches involving genetic mouse models with deficient hyaluronan synthesis and hyaluronan-based biomaterials to probe the role of hyaluronan signaling in the gut-joint axis.
• Expertise in cell and molecular biology, biomaterials, and biochemistry
• Familiarity with ethical use of preclinical (mouse) models or willingness to learn
• Ability to independently design, conduct, and document experiments
• Critical thinking, curiosity, and creativity in multidisciplinary research
• Strong oral and written communication
Julie Liu, School of Chemical Engineering
• Pendyala M, Woods PS, Brubaker DK, Blaber EA, Schmidt TA, Chan DD. Endogenous production of hyaluronan, PRG4, and cytokines is sensitive to cyclic loading in synoviocytes. PLoS One. 2022;17(12):e0267921. Epub 20221228. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0267921. PubMed PMID: 36576921; PMCID: PMC9797074.