Our research focuses on the mechanism of soft tissue (cartilage and tendon) repair following traumatic and overuse injuries. In particular we are investigating the role of multipotent progenitor cells in regulating the innate inflammation pathway that precedes connective tissue regeneration. We have discovered that interactions between hyaluronan synthases and scavenger receptors such as TLR2 and 4 modulate the transformation of progenitor cells to tissue phagocytes, with concurrent gene expression and cell surface marker profiles typical of M1 or M2 macrophages. In ongoing work, we are exploring the potential for therapeutic modulation of these pathways to promote long-term healing and prevent chronic conditions such as osteoarthritis and tendinopathies.
Our lab utilizes both in vivo (rodent models) and in vitro (cell culture) techniques. Biochemical approaches include transcriptomic assessment of gene expression and cellular pathway crosstalk, FACS and confocal microscopy for cell identification and standard histological techniques for evaluation of tissue pathology.
The lab is funded through grants from NIH (NIAMS) and the private sector.
Jun Li, PhD
Division of Rheumatology
Department of Biochemistry
Research Assistant, Sports Medicine, Rush University Medical Center
PhD Candidate, Bioengineering (UIC 2016)