"Studies of basic bone biology have given us important insights into how bone is built up and broken down normally in the body, and how this balanced process can go awry," said NIAMS Director Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D. "These new Core Centers for Musculoskeletal Disorders boost the critical mass of talented investigators working on these problems." Core Centers, he added, promote cooperation between basic science and clinical investigators and enrich the effectiveness of ongoing and new research.
NIAMS is heavily invested in studies of the skeleton and associated connective tissues. Its areas of interest include skeletal development, metabolism, mechanical properties and responses to injury. Among the disorders the institute studies are osteoporosis, osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) and Paget's disease of bone (enlarged and deformed bones). Other NIAMS-supported studies focus on low back pain, osteoarthritis, joint replacement, and sports medicine and musculoskeletal fitness.
The New York center, under the leadership of Timothy M. Wright, Ph.D., will bring together two groups of investigators to examine the relationship between skeletal composition, structure and function. These factors control skeletal integrity and are important at all levels of skeletal organization, from individual molecules to the entire skeletal system. The center will provide its scientists with the tools and training to study the chemical composition, morphology and mechanical properties of bone. It will conduct its activities in three research areas: analytical microscopy, infrared imaging and mechanical testing.
"We are hopeful that breakthroughs in musculoskeletal disorders will be made possible through this center," said Dr. Wright. "Our NIAMS-sponsored center will encourage collaboration in a setting that offers the most advanced research tools available."
Karl L. Insogna, M.D., will lead a team of 26 investigators at the Yale Core Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders, who share the goal of using animal models to better understand the basic mechanisms of musculoskeletal disease. The center has created three core facilities to support their work: a molecular core to carry out animal genetic expression studies relevant to human musculoskeletal disease; a physiology core to support biochemical and other analyses of the skeletons of experimental animals; and a cell core to culture bone-building and bone-destroying cells for animal studies.
The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, a component of the National Institutes of Health, leads and coordinates the federal medical research effort in musculoskeletal disease by conducting and supporting research projects, research training, clinical trials, and epidemiological studies, and by disseminating health and research information.