Musculoskeletal Systems Biology Lab Awarded NIH Grant of $2.2M Over Five Years

The Musculoskeletal Systems Biology Lab (MSBL) has been awarded an NIH grant of $2.2M over five years to support their work identifying genes linked to osteoporosis risk.

"Supported by this NIH award, our lab is conducting one of the largest screens of genes linked to osteoporosis risk performed to date. Our hope is that identifying the genes that underlie osteoporosis risk will lead to clues about how to control bone regeneration, and bring relief to patients in the form of new treatments," says Ronald Kwon, PhD, Director of the Musculoskeletal Systems Biology Lab.

Osteoporosis is a disease of bone fragility that affects 1 in 3 women and 1 in 5 men over the age of 50. With advances in genome sequencing, scientists have begun to identify genetic variants – sequences of DNA that vary among individuals – that protect some individuals from osteoporosis, and make others more susceptible to this disease. However, in most cases, it is not known how these genetic variants affect osteoporosis risk.

To help address this barrier, the Musculoskeletal Systems Biology Lab has developed a rapid pipeline for the prediction of human skeletal gene function. The lab has pioneered new techniques for imaging zebrafish skeletons and established methods for gene editing using CRISPR that enable rapid screening and mutation in zebrafish - the model for the lab's osteoporosis research.