University or Institution

Cornell University

Area of Research:

The broad objectives of this research are to investigate recombinant lubricin and mucin therapeutics for the treatment of musculoskeletal diseases, including osteoarthritis, orthopedic infection and wound healing.

Primary Mentor:

Heidi Reesink, VMD, PhD, DACVS-LA Harry M. Zweig Assistant Professor in Equine Health Assistant Professor of Large Animal Surgery E-mail: [email protected]

Mentor Team:

Matthew Paszek, PhD Associate Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Cornell University E-mail: [email protected]

Lawrence Bonassar, PhD Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor in Biomedical Engineering Cornell University E-mail: [email protected]

Description of Potential Research Projects:

Several project opportunities exist for residency-trained veterinary specialists interested in investigating lubricin therapeutics for musculoskeletal diseases, including but not limited to osteoarthritis, orthopedic infection and wound healing. Lubricin, also known as proteoglycan 4, is one of the body’s most effective boundary lubricating molecules, critical for effective joint lubrication and anti-biofouling properties of tissues such as cartilage. Evidence is mounting to suggest that lubricin has critical biological signaling roles in joint development and chondrocyte homeostasis and that lubricin can mitigate immune cell activation and inflammation in joints, prevent synovial and capsular fibrosis and impair bacterial adhesion and virulence. The glycosylation and expression of lubricin is altered in diseases such as post-traumatic osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis which may impair its biological and mechanical functions.

Our groups have recently developed recombinant lubricin therapeutics with human, equine and canine species- specificity. Based on the specific interests of the fellow, potential research projects involve in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo models to investigate lubricin therapy in joint disease, orthopedic infection or immune-engineering. Techniques commonly employed in the lab to answer these questions include: molecular biology/transcriptomics; mammalian and bacterial cell culture; biochemical assays; metabolomics/glycomics; recombinant protein production and purification; histology and immunohistochemistry, microscopy and biomechanics. There are opportunities to develop skills in study design; statistical analyses; grant preparation; abstract and manuscript preparation and analysis of -omics datasets. The interdisciplinary nature of the labs provide opportunities to work with and collaborate with other trainees in engineering, glycomics, biology and veterinary/human clinical studies.

Additional Training Opportunities:

Cornell University offers a rich training environment for residency-trained veterinary specialists interested in musculoskeletal disease with established collaborations between the clinical sciences and engineering departments on the Ithaca campus and Weill Cornell Medical College/the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City. The proposed research will be carried out in the Departments of Clinical Sciences, Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and Biomedical Engineering in Ithaca, NY.

Veterinary trainees have opportunities to present and participate in several seminar series on campus, including the Center for Vertebrate Genomics work-in-progress seminar series, the Stem Cell Club seminar series, and Program in Infection and Pathobiology in the College of Veterinary Medicine; in addition to Biomechanics and other relevant work-in-progress seminars in the College of Engineering. In addition to weekly lab group meetings and journal clubs, there are also interdisciplinary meetings between the mentors’ lab groups, including cartilage lubrication, cartilage mechanics, and lubricin/mucin bioengineering working groups. Residency- trained specialists are encouraged to attend the weekly large animal surgery section case rounds presentations and resident pathophysiology seminar series courses during the academic year. An additional short course covering grant writing, biostatistics, and other professional development topics is offered during the academic year.

Contact Information for Interested Potential Trainees:

Heidi Reesink, VMD, PhD, DACVS-LA Harry M. Zweig Assistant Professor in Equine Health Assistant Professor of Large Animal Surgery E-mail: [email protected]