National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases

For Immediate Release
Thursday, January 2, 2003

Contact: Ray Fleming/Zain Iqbal
Office of Communications 
and Public Liaison 
(301) 496-8190

Five new grants funded by the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) at the National Institutes of Health will boost NIAMS' investment in stem cell research. These studies focus on using adult stem cells to treat bone and muscle that may have been altered by disease. Scientists are also looking at how stem cells may regenerate or repair these tissues.

"Research on stem cells is important in the search for prevention and cure of debilitating musculoskeletal diseases," said Stephen I. Katz, M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIAMS. "These studies will have a solid impact on the variety of diseases that may be treated in the future."

These grants were funded as a result of a Request for Applications, "Basic and Applied Stem Cell Research for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases," which resulted from the conference, Stem Cell Biology: Potential and Promise, in June 2000.

Stem cells are versatile, specialized cells that scientists hope can lead to treatment of many types of diseases.

The five new grants are described below:

  • Matricellular Proteins and Mesenchymal Stem Cells, Kurt D. Hankenson, D.V.M., Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. This study investigates the growth factors and hormones that influence how stem cells develop, which should guide the development of therapies in bone diseases.
  • Muscle Regeneration Through Stem Cell Transplantation, Johnny Huard, Ph.D., Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pa., University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Health Systems. Stem cells are sometimes used in the body for regeneration. This study further examines the potential of stem cells from muscle for treating problems of musculoskeletal structure.
  • Epidemiology of Connective Tissue Progenitor Populations, George F. Muschler, M.D., Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, Ohio. This study examines how musculoskeletal stem cells contribute to the repair and remodeling of connective tissue.
  • Stem Cell Therapy for Diseases of Bone in a Mouse Model, Christopher Niyibizi, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh, Pa. This project uses a mouse model of osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease) to evaluate possibilities of regeneration or repair of bone marrow using mouse stem cells.
  • Development of a GFP Sensitive Apoptosis Marker Gene, David W. Rowe, M.D., University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington, Conn. This investigation will follow programmed cell activity-specifically, the life and death of a cell-and show how that activity generates a form of stem cells that are a factor in maintaining adult bone mass.

The mission of the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Institutes of Health (NIH), is to support research into the causes, treatment and prevention of arthritis and musculoskeletal and skin diseases, the training of basic and clinical scientists to carry out this research, and the dissemination of information on research progress in these diseases. For more information about NIAMS, call the information clearinghouse at (301) 495-4484 or (877) 22-NIAMS (free call) or visit the NIAMS Web site at

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