Laboratory of Ryan Ross, PhD

The research of Ryan Ross, PhD, is in the field of skeletal biology. We are particularly interested in the role of mineralization and other bone quality factors that influence skeletal function.

Our work

Mineralization is the final step in the bone formation phase, providing the skeleton with its characteristic strength. Additionally, the mineral within the bone provides an important ion reserve to maintain the necessary calcium and phosphate for numerous biological processes. Our lab is interested in understanding the process of mineralization with the aim of improving treatments for skeletal diseases such as osteoporosis. We are also working to test novel treatment strategies for diseases of aberrant mineralization (osteomalacia).

Mineralization is controlled at the local, bone level, as well as systemically, where several organ systems influence the availability of calcium and phosphate. Recently, it has become apparent that the skeleton is not a silent player in this process and instead produces proteins with hormonal function. As our research has branched into the systemic control of mineralization, we have also become interested in the interaction between the skeleton and non-bone organs and the contributions of these interactions to health and disease.

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Technology and methods

We use a variety of methods to investigate bone quality and mineralization:

  • Micro-computed tomography
  • Mechanical testing
  • Backscattered scanning electron microscopy
  • Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy
  • Dynamic and static histomorphometry
  • Immunochemical staining
  • Cell culture of mineralizing osteoblasts
  • Animal models: surgical, non-surgical and transgenic
  • PCR, ELISA, Luminex

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  • NIH/NIAMS R01AR081151: “Bone and Fat Cross-talk in Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) Treated HIV Patients”  Principal Investigator: Ryan Ross
  • NIH/NIAMS K01AR073923: “Sclerostin Regulation of Skeletal Mineralization and Phosphate Metabolism”  Principal Investigator: Ryan Ross
  • NIH/NIDCR R03DE029873: “Assessing the function role of sclerostin in periodontal disease in XLH”  Principal Investigator: Ryan Ross
  • NIH/NIAMS R21AR079309: “Characterization of a humanized mouse model to study HIV and ARV effects on bone” Principal Investigator: Ryan Ross
  • Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) Subcontract: “The Role of Bone-Derived Hormones in HIV-induced Aging Pathologies”  Subcontract PI: Ryan Ross
  • NIH R01AR080118: “Arthritis Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Research implications for atypical femoral fractures”  Principal Investigator: Ryan Ross

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A full list of Ryan Ross’ research publications can be found on PubMed.

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Our team

Current members

Delia Alkhatib, graduate student

I earned a Bachelor of Science in clinical biochemistry from KAU. Currently, I’m completing my M.Sc. in Integrated Biomedical Sciences in Anatomy and Cell Biology at Rush Medical Center.  
I am happy to call Dr. Ryan’s lab is my home institution since this where I learnt a lot of research skills which gave me benefits within my Master’s journey and my future career. Handwork isn’t enough for success, you need an inspirational leader too.
Indeed, Dr. Ryan is my inspirational leader and great advisor that inspired me and wisely mentored me to be a good researcher.
I am working with Dr. Ryan Ross for my dissertation is focused on X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH), a rare inherited rickets. XLH is diagnosed by shortened stature, leg bowing, low bone mass, periodontitis, low teeth mineralization, and teeth loss. My project involves crossbreeding Hyp female mouse model of XLH with HBM male mouse model to understanding how mutated LRP5 receptor -that is found in HBM model- would prevent the binding of sclerostin protein, which would activate Wnt signaling in hyp mice model. Wnt signaling activation would improve periodontal and dental hard tissues mineralization and density. Moreover, Wnt signaling activation would improve the periodontal soft tissue organization. Methods used to complete this study include micro-computed tomography, ELISA, and histology. The goal of this study is to reduce FGF23 protein, improves phosphate levels, ultimately leading to improves dental and periodontal mineralization and density of XLH models.

Bryan Dulion, research lab tech 2
Niyati Patel, research lab tech 2

I am an all around Chicagoan! Born in the city, raised in the suburbs — I graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a Bachelors in Biology and a Bachelors in Psychology. There after, I continued my education here at Rush to pursue a Masters in Biotechnology and now work in Dr. Ross’s lab.
Of the many ongoing studies we have, my primary focus is on HIV particularly the effects of antiretroviral therapies on bone architecture both in vivo and in vitro. Looking at the loss of bone mineral density(BMD) and deterioration of bone quality, which contributes to fractures.
When I’m not here trying to perfect my CT values, you’ll find me traveling/ curating travel itineraries— fueled by a semester in Rome, venturing ice cream shops, babysitting three amazing kiddos or volunteering at a local children’s hospital. My ultimate goal is to matriculate into medical school and hope to continue research within the realm of pediatrics and/or maternal/fetal health.

Pankaj Shitole, PhD, postdoctoral fellow
Abhayavarshini Sridhar (Abby), graduate student

Growing up, I had the opportunity to live both in the US and various states in India, giving me all the exposure to learn about different things that intrigued me as a child.
I began the pursuit of my career in science, by getting a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnology in India, where I also did my undergraduate thesis in Endocrinology. I then moved to Chicago to get my master’s degree in Medical Biotechnology from the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I studied the Hepatitis B Virus biosynthesis. I also worked at Medpace, a Clinical Research Organization, as a Clinical Research Associate, which helped much understand the bigger picture of research.
I am currently pursuing my PhD at Rush University in the IBS program. This has proved to be a great experience so far and I am sure that it is going to play a significant role in my research career. Ultimately, I aspire to establish my own research lab in the future.
My primary research interest lies in understanding viruses, such as HIV and their effects on the human body, specifically in the musculoskeletal area. Currently, I am interested in understanding the effects of perinatal/neonatal exposure to cART on the bone architecture of infants with HIV infected mothers on cART.
When I am not working in the lab, I enjoy travelling, hiking, photography and learning new languages.

Former members

Kyle Anderson

I am particularly interested in understanding changes in bone biology in specific disease states and unique physiological environments. My work examines a wide variety of topics regarding bone alterations in: Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), X-linked Hypophosphatemia (XLH), hindlimb suspension, and spaceflight related osteopenia. The studies utilize back Scatter Electron Microscopy (bSEM) and microcomputed tomography (µCT) to evaluate changes in bone quality.
The primary objective of my work is to better understand bone mineralization in these specific physiological states and how medications such as bisphosphonates as well as sclerostin-antibody (romosozumab) can better manage them.
While I was born in Chicago, I grew up in southeast Michigan and attended Michigan State University and studied human biology and philosophy. I then attended the University of Michigan for a master’s in physiology with a research focus on adrenal endocrinology. I am now happily back in Chicago as of the fall of 2016 where I began medical school at Rush Medical College.

Kelsey Carpenter

I grew up in southeast Michigan and earned a Bachelor of Science in anthropology at Michigan State University. I then attended Mercyhurst University where I completed a Master of Science in biological and forensic anthropology. My graduate education in the Integrated Biomedical Sciences PhD program at Rush University began in the fall of 2017.
My dissertation research is focused on X-linked hypophosphatemia (XLH), a rare metabolic bone disease. XLH is the most common form of heritable rickets and is first diagnosed in children who present with shortened stature, leg bowing, low bone mass, and increased fracture risk. My project involves using a mouse model of XLH to investigate different treatment options for the disease. Methods used to complete this study include micro-computed tomography, ELISA, quantitative PCR, and histology. The goal of this study is to improve phosphate metabolism and skeletal mineralization, ultimately leading to improved stature, bone mass and overall quality of life for patients with XLH.

Kelsey Carpenter, PhD
Trainees Accomplishments
Kelsey Carpenter accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Van Andel Institute in Grand Rapids MI
She also published a first author paper this year:
Arnold Z. Olali

The success of antiretroviral therapy (ART) has extended the life-span of HIV infected patients to that of the general population. This increased life expectancy is accompanied by increases in a number of co-morbid conditions including osteoporosis and bone fracture. I am interested in understanding effects of HIV, HIV inflammatory mediators, and ART on bone cells and bone quality. In the proposed study we use, micro-computed tomography, ELISA, quantitative PCR, and histology as well as cell culture.
I was born in Kenya, but raised in Maryland. I attended St. Lawrence University in Canton NY where I completed by BS in Conservation Biology. I then completed a Post Baccalaureate Research Education training program in microbiology at the University of Chicago where I studied flavivirus. Now I am at Rush University Medical Center as an Integrated Biomedical Science PhD student.

Arnold Olali, PhD
Trainees Accomplishments
Arnold Olali accepted a postdoctoral fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
He also published a first author paper this year:

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Ryan Ross, PhD
Associate Professor
Department of Anatomy & Cell Biology
Rush University Medical Center
Jelke South
1750 W. Harrison St.
Suite 1413A
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: (312) 563-3859

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