Areas of Research
Cancer Biology group studies the cellular and molecular basis of cancer using in vitro and in vivo models. Projects encompass studies of mutations in proto-oncogenes or in tumor suppressor genes that allow a cancerous cell to grow and divide without the normal controls imposed by the cell cycle. There is a strong emphasis on translating research discoveries into clinical trials.
Computational Biology & Systems Biology
Computational Medicine is an emerging field that uses computational and experimental techniques to solve problems from genomics, genetics, molecular biology and medicine. The Computational Medicine Center’s strengths are in the areas of non-coding RNAs and pattern discovery. The Daniel Baugh Institute (DBI) for Functional Genomics/ Computational Biology has been established in the Department of Pathology, Anatomy and Cell Biology, Thomas Jefferson University, to provide an interdisciplinary base for research and education in these rapidly evolving fields. Research interests of the group center on the development and use of quantitative system-wide "omic" datasets towards integrative modeling and computational analysis of the dynamics of biological systems.
Matrix Biology, Musculoskeletal & Connective Tissue
Matrix Biology is a multidisciplinary field focusing on the dynamics of the extracellular matrix (ECM) and defining the bidirectional interactions with the surrounding cells necessary for multicellular life. This rapidly growing field integrates cellular and molecular biology as well as biochemical techniques to understand the role of extracellular molecules that collectively form the ECM. These molecules encompass diverse and essential biological processes including adhesion, intercellular signaling, development, stem cell biology, differentiation, and regenerative medicine. Many matrix constituents have been implicated in pathobiological roles such as cancer and fibrosis. Research conducted by the laboratory of Drs. Iozzo, Fertala, Menko, Uitto and Astrof exemplifies the very forefront of matrix biology.
Historically, Jefferson scientists have played a major role in unraveling the complexities of the extracellular matrix of both the soft and hard tissues. Within the past three decades, these individuals have significantly contributed to the understanding of normal tissue development, function and architecture and provided many new insights into the causes of diseases that assail bone, cartilage and the intervertebral disc. Leadership provided by Drs. Shapiro, Risbud, Fertala, Hickok, Freeman and Tomlinson in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery have positioned Thomas Jefferson University as one of the top institutions in the world in musculoskeletal disease. Currently, ongoing studies in the department are focused on four key areas of musculoskeletal research: intervertebral disc disease, osteoarthritis, approaches to limit musculoskeletal infections due to biofilm formation and adaption of bone to mechanical loads. A T32 training grant from NIH/NIAMS supports graduate students working in musculoskeletal and connective tissue research.
Mitochondrial Metabolism & Pathology
Mitochodondiral disease is a group of disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, the organelles that generate energy for the cell. The purpose of the MitoCare Center for Imaging Research and Diagnosis is to exploit microscopic imaging and other advanced technologies to delineate the multiple emerging mechanisms by which mitochondria are involved in normal tissue function and human diseases such as heart disease, metabolic diseases, neurodegenerative disorders, cancer and primary mitochondrial disease. MitoCare is committed to training students and post-doctoral fellows in the practice of science at the highest level.
Neurodegenerative Disorders & Vision
The vision and neurodegenerative research group is comprised of basic scientists and clinician researchers with expertise in ophthalmology and neurology. Areas of interest include understanding: the genetics of congenital abnormalities of the eye; environmental and genetic basis of diseases like age-related macular degeneration; role of metabolic transporters in maintaining normal visual function, lens development and posterior capsule opacification, impact of Parkinson's on the visual system; molecular basis of cancers in the visual system such as uveal melanoma and retinoblastoma; and molecular pathogenesis of the neurodegenerative diseases such as spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson's disease. Investigators in this group conduct innovative research aimed at identifying the biochemical, physiological and molecular/genetic factors contributing to the cause and progression of ocular and neurodegenerative diseases and are working to develop effective new treatments for these devastating disorders.
Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine
The Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine (TERM) is an emerging multidisciplinary field involving biology, medicine and engineering and is focused on restoring, maintaining or enhancing tissue and organ function. The program is directed toward providing the students with formal instruction in both the classroom and laboratory. This provides students with sufficient background experience to pursue and develop a scholarly scientific research project. Tissue Engineering & Regenerative Medicine offers a unique environment where instructors, staff and administration work as a team to make our students' educational and research experience memorable and productive. The program is organized by internationally recognized scientists who are faculty in a number of basic science and clinical departments within Thomas Jefferson University. The graduate program provides sufficient flexibility so that graduating students can pursue a career in education research in an academic setting or industry.