Cell and Molecular Biology

The Department of Orthopaedics researchers study differentiation and tumorigenesis in bone marrow stem cells and osteoblasts.  These studies utilize individual and tissue culture facilities, as well as a newly equipped shared Cancer Center facility with isolation rooms for primary cell culture and virus-mediated gene transfers.  Molecular biology resources are state-of-the-art.  Experienced staff run the day-to-day activities at a range of core facilities - the Center for Advanced proteomics Research, the Flow Cytometry Faiclity, the Molecular Resource Facility with deep-sequencing capability, the Bioinformatics Core, and the Center for Applied Genomics.


Cell and Tissue Biomechanics

Facilities include a newly established lab with precision bone tissue machining equipment and electromechanical testing machines convenient to the cell culture facilities described above.  Monotonic and fatigue biomechanical testing is accomplished in a wide range of loads (up to 250 N) and frequency (up to 100 Hz), and is being used to study the biological effects of exogenous agents and mechanical loading on bone tissues and cells.  Testing of larger tissue samples can be accommodated in the Whole Bone and Joints Biomechanics Lab.

Hard Tissue Histology

Orthopaedics researchers utilize this departmental resource for the preparation and analysis of hard and soft tissue histological sections.  A full range of facilities is available for tissue dissection, fixation, dehydration, plastic embedding, sectioning, polishing, slide preparation and histology. Staining, in situ hybridization, and immunohistochemistry are routinely performed. Decalcification of samples is also implemented in preparation for soft tissue histology in the newly equipped core general histology facility located n the Cancer Center.



Core facilities include a Nikon A1 confocal microscope acquired through a NIH-shared instrumentation grant. The A1 is a fully-automated confocal system for capturing high-quality images of tissues, and dynamic cellular and molecular events at high speed (i.e., live-cell imaging). For in vivo molecular event detection in whole-body scans of rodent models, Xenogen IVIS-200 optical imaging system provides imaging of fluorescence and bioluminescence through tags that are either administered or genetically engineered. For in vitro isolation of protein, DNA and RNA from histological sections and cultures, a Zeiss PALM laser-capture miscroscope utilizes an integrated imaging workstation to allow precise dissection of tissue and cell populations. For structural and mineral density analysis of bones and tissues, 3D micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) scanning is accomplished by departmental bioengineering staff at the micro-CT core.  Reconstruction of scans and comprehensive analysis are completed with specialized computing facilities within the department.

Whole Bone and Joint Biomechanics

Expert bioengineers test the performance and endurance of endoprostheses, such as hips, knees and fracture fixation devices, by replicating the in vivo loading conditions that these orthopaedic devices sustain in patients.  Novel bone-forming (osteogenic) agents are tested to enhance the fixation of the implants, and to accelerate the healing process after injury or surgical intervention. A servohydraulic mechanical testing machine (MTS), a 6-camera motion analysis system (Optotrak Certus), and custom computer algorithms (Matlab/Labview) are routinely employed to perform the biomechanical tests and process the resulting data.