Commitment to Research
The faculty of biochemistry is primarily focused on training young scientists in musculoskeletal research. As a member of the Graduate College, we offer both doctoral and master's-level degrees. Over the past 28 years we have graduated more than 70 PhDs. Our master's-level program was recently revised and has begun to graduate its first students. Since 1996, we have been funded by an NIH grant for training in cartilage research. This training grant was originally linked to our NIH-funded Special Center of Research (SCOR) in osteoarthritis.
The research of members of our group include cartilage gene expression and regulation, cell signaling pathways, cartilage matrix assembly, degradation and repair (e.g. influence of growth factors and cytokines), cell-matrix interactions via receptors, models for chondrocyte and cartilage culture and bioengineering, the biochemical and biological basis for differences between human articular cartilage derived from different joints (e.g., ankle versus knee) or different regions within the same cartilage (surface, middle and deep layers), cartilage lubrication and wear, serum and joint fluid markers of joint disease processes and animal models of degenerative joint diseases.
Commitment to Education
Each student and postdoctoral fellow is assigned a specific faculty mentor, but is encouraged to collaborate with other members of the faculty to learn additional techniques. Broader education beyond the mentor's laboratory is facilitated through the weekly connective tissue workshops, formal pathobiochemistry seminars and interactions with visiting scientists. The annual Rush University Forum for Research and Clinical Investigation provides opportunities for trainees to speak and/or present posters and for interdepartmental and intercollegiate interactions. Rush University has hosted many of the yearly meetings of the Midwest Connective Tissue Workshop, providing students and postdoctoral fellows the opportunity to interact with scientists in this field, present posters, give formal presentations and make contacts for future postdoctoral or junior faculty positions. Approximately 100 investigators, not only from the Midwest, but also from other parts of the United States, and often, international scientists, are in attendance. Ultimately, our trainees are encouraged to present their research at national meetings such as the annual meeting of the Orthopedic Research Society.
Recognized Environment of Excellence
The SCOR enabled the department to attract world-renowned scientists in the cartilage field. Working as a cohesive research team, they have contributed major advances to our understanding of the composition, normal metabolism, aging and degeneration of human articular cartilage. This research team has developed a unique ability to obtain, on a regular basis, samples of joint tissues from normal human donors and patients with osteoarthritis. The program faculty consists of a group of highly interactive faculty from the departments of Biochemistry, Orthopedic Surgery, Medicine (Section of Rheumatology), and Anatomy and Cell Biology, most of whom have been working together for more than 10 years. There is a long-standing collaboration with The Gift of Hope Organ and Tissue Donor Network to obtain human articular cartilage and intervertebral disc tissues on a weekly basis. Our trainees have the unique opportunity to conduct research on living cells from normal and degenerating human articular cartilage.
Inquiries about our predoctoral and postdoctoral programs should be addressed to:
Thomas M. Schmid
Director of Graduate Education
Department of Biochemistry
1735 W. Harrison St.
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: (312) 942-3051
Photo caption: Di Chen, MD, PhD, chairman