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Laboratory of D. Rick Sumner, PhD

D. Rick Sumner, PhD, is a professor and chairperson of the Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology and director of the Rush MicroCT and Histology Core.

Over the past 30 years, our lab has been funded through the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Defense, NASA, industry, private foundations and philanthropic gifts. Our lab frequently interacts with other groups at Rush as well as with labs throughout the United States and internationally.

D. Rick Sumner, PhD Professor & Chair and Ankur Naqib, PhD, Supervisor Bioinformatician

D. Rick Sumner, PhD Professor & Chair and Ankur Naqib, PhD, Supervisor Bioinformatician


Research focus

Our specific areas of research interest are bone regeneration, orthopedic implant fixation and the role of bone in osteoarthritis. Currently, our projects are focused on the following:

  • Genetics of bone regeneration
  • Effects of premature birth on postnatal bone growth
  • Early detection and treatment of particle-induced peri-implant osteolysis
  • Cartilage and bone in osteoarthritis

Many of these projects rely on advanced imaging techniques performed here at Rush and in several national laboratories, including micro-computed tomography, backscatter scanning electron microscopy and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR). Other major methods include histology, mechanical testing, biomarkers and proteomics.


  • NIH R21AR075130: "Role of the Gut Microbiome in Implant Loosening" Principal investigator: Dr. Sumner
  • NIH T32AR073157: "Post-Doctoral Training in Joint Health" Principal investigator: Dr. Sumner
  • NIH R01AR079179: "Systems Genetics of Bone Regeneration" Multiple Principal Investigator
  • NIH R21HD102026: "Establishing a New Model of Bone Health in Formerly Premature Individuals" Multiple Principal Investigator
  • Little Giraffe Foundation: "Preventing Metabolic Bone Disease of Prematurity" Principal investigator: Dr. Sumner
  • NIH K01AR073923: "Sclerostin Regulation of Skeletal Mineralization and Phosphate Metabolism" Co-Sponsor (Ryan Ross, PI)
  • NIH K01AR077679: "Role of Periostin Expressing Cells in Intramembranous Bone Regeneration" Sponsor (Frank Ko, PI)
  • NIH P30AR079206: "Chicago Center on Musculoskeletal Pain (C-COMP)" Co-Investigator (Anne-Marie Malfait, PI)
  • NIH R01AR060364: "Molecular Pathways of Pain Generation in Osteoarthritis" Co-Investigator (Anne-Marie Malfait, PI)


A listing of Sumner’s research can be found on PubMed.

Recent postdoctoral fellows/instructors/faculty

Frank Ko, PhD

My current work is to determine the origin of intramembranous bone regeneration and the genetic basis of spontaneous high bone mass phenotype.  I use rodent models and assess their microarchitectural, functional, and biological properties.  Through these studies, I hope to enhance our scientific knowledge to improve osseointegration, fracture healing, and bone biology.

I completed my BS in Bioengineering at Rice University, PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Cornell University, and postdoctoral training in molecular biology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital.  I began my postdoctoral training at Rush in 2018.

Dr. Brittany Wilson with her postdoctoral mentor, Dr. Rick Sumner at the Anatomy Connected 2023 awards ceremony

Dr. Brittany Wilson with her postdoctoral mentor, Dr. Rick Sumner at the Anatomy Connected 2023 awards ceremony

Brittany M. Wilson, PhD

I am working on an extension of my dissertation project to use biomarkers for early detection of peri-implant osteolysis after primary total joint arthroplasty. I am now concentrating on using proteomics while my previous efforts were geared toward evaluating candidate biomarkers using ELISA.

The major objective of this work is to verify a biomarker panel for early diagnosis of peri-implant osteolysis, which may postpone the need for revision total joint arthroplasty and allow for non-surgical rescue of implant fixation.

I am originally from the southwest suburbs of Chicago and completed undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago where I was awarded a Bachelor of Science in biology with minor study of kinesiology and a Bachelor of Art in psychology. I completed my graduate education at Rush University in the spring of 2019.