Brigham & Women's Hospital

Thomas S. Thornhill, MD

Thomas S. Thornhill, M.D.

John B. and Buckminster Brown Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Harvard medical school

2012-13 Chief's Report | BWH Chief's Report 2012-2013 PDF

Skeletal Biology Research (Dr. Julie Glowacki)


Professor Julie Glowacki, Ph.D. is Director of the Skeletal Biology Research Laboratory, which studies basic, clinical, and translational aspects of skeletal pathophysiology, skeletal cell differentiation, effects of age and vitamin D status on bone physiology, mechanisms of chondro/osteoinduction, and tissue engineering approaches for skeletal regeneration. The group studies human bone and cartilage cell differentiation with marrow tissues that are discarded during orthopedic surgery. They have discovered that different aspects of in vitro cell behavior are influenced by age, gender, vitamin D status, obesity, and kidney function of the subject from whom the cells were obtained. The goal is to prevent or reverse bone cell aging by safe and effective means.


The Laboratory is supported by grants from the NIH and other national and international foundations and associations. Much of the research concern various effects of age on osteoblast progenitor cells and focus on ways to mitigate age-related bone loss. Tissue engineering research involves the regulation of chondrocyte and osteoblast differentiation, optimization of Dr. Shuichi Mizuno’s tissue bioreactor, and mechanisms of actions with differentiation agents to enhance histogenesis.


Translational and clinical research continues our multidisciplinary program to improve follow-up management of osteoporosis in fragility fracture patients, expand fracture pathways with other in-hospital caregivers, the natural history of osteoporosis in patients with osteoarthritis, importance of vitamin D status for skeletal health.


Dr. Glowacki continues to serve the department as Co-Chair of the BWH Musculoskeletal Research Center of Excellence, representative to the BWH Biomedical Research Institute’s Research Oversight Committee, and as Professional Standards Officer for BWH Research Staff. She is a member of the Harvard Medical School Standing Committee on Conflicts of Interest and Commitment. She serves on the National Scientific Advisory Council of the American Federation for Aging Research. She is Chair of the Bone Section of the NASA, Human Health and Countermeasures (HHC) Element Standing Panel. She is on the NIH review panel for musculoskeletal SBIR/STTR applications. Since 2011, she has been a member of the Professional Practice Committee, American Societry for Bone and Mineral Research. She was a Science Fair Judge at the Boston Latin Academy, Boston, MA. She received the Outstanding Alumna Award, Girls’ Latin School, and the 2013 Distinguished Senior Faculty Award, Harvard School of Dental Medicine. In the last academic year, Dr. Glowacki published 7 original research papers, 1 report of an ORS session for BoneKey, and a chapter in Evidence-Based Women’s Oral Health, a special issue of the Dental Clinics of North America.


Shuichi Mizuno, Ph.D. studies ways to manipulate chondrocyte behavior by changes in mechanophysiological factors. He continues to refine his patented tissue bioreactor/processor. He developed a novel cell culture system that allows incubation of cells within a semipermeable membrane pouch for manipulation of osmotic and hydrostatic pressure. Recent studies revealed that loading as well as off-loading of hydrostatic pressure affect chondrocyte gene expression. He reported that off-loading pressure maintained upregulation of anabolic genes and downregulation of catabolic ones. The overarching goal of these efforts is to manipulate metabolic function of chondrocytes for tissue regeneration. Since 2011, he has been Adjunct Lecturer at Jikei University School of Medicine Tokyo, Japan. He received a 2012 Musculoskeletal Best Paper Award from the BWH Biomedical Research Institute for Am. J. Physiol-Cell Physiol. 2011;300:C1234. He served as an external examiner of a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Chemical Engineering, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario.


Shuanhu (Joe) Zhou, Ph.D., investigates how aging affects the interactions of marrow skeletal and hematopoietic cells and the declining ability to generate new bone-producing cells. His overall goal is to contribute new information to basic skeletal biology and orthopedic science using human primary cells, and to understand the mechanisms of skeletal aging and to develop new therapeutic opportunities for aging-related skeletal diseases. He is committed to an academic research career in the field of biogerontology and orthopedic science, focusing on adult stem cells, their cellular microenvironment (niche) and skeletal aging. He is developing approaches to keep adult stem cells healthy and to mitigate skeletal aging. In past academic year, Dr. Zhou published 7 peer-reviewed papers in high-impact journals as the first and/or corresponding author or co-author. One of his papers, J Bone Mineral Res. 2012;27:1992, received a 2012 Musculoskeletal Best Paper Award from the BWH Biomedical Research Institute. He is a reviewer for eleven scientific journals and two grant-awarding foundations. In 2012, he was appointed as Affiliated Faculty of Harvard Stem Cell Institute. He serves on the National Scientific Advisory Council of the American Federation for Aging Research.



1. O’Sullivan R, Greenberger JS, Goff J, Cao S, Kingston KA, Zhou S, Dixon T, Houghton FD, Epperly MW, Wang H, Glowacki J. Dysregulated in vitro hematopoiesis, radiosensitivity, proliferation, and osteoblastogenesis with marrow from SAMP6 mice. Exp Hematol. 2012;40:499-509.
2. Zhou S, Glowacki J, Kim SW, Hahne J, Geng S, Mueller SM, Shen L, Bleiberg I, LeBoff MS. Clinical characteristics influence in vitro action of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3 in human marrow stromal cells. J Bone Mineral Res. 2012;27:1992-2000.
3. Hassanein AH, Arany PR, Couto RA, Clune JE, Glowacki J, Rogers GF, Mulliken JB, Greene AK. Cranial particulate bone graft ossifies calvarial defects by osteogenesis. Plast Reconstr Surg. 2012;129:796e-802e.
4. Zhou S, Mizuno S, Glowacki J.  Wnt pathway regulation by demineralized bone is approximated by both BMP-2 and TGF-β1 signaling.  J Orthop Res. 2013;31:554-60. 
5. Glowacki J. Report. Session on Bone Aging at the 2012 Annual Meeting of the Orthopedic Research Society. BoneKey 2012. 9, Article number: 103.
6. Zhou S, LeBoff MS, Waikar SS, Glowacki J. Vitamin D metabolism and action in human marrow stromal cells: Effects of chronic kidney disease. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2012),
7. Zhou S, Geng S, Glowacki J. Histone deacetylation mediates the rejuvenation of osteoblastogenesis by the combination of 25(OH)D3 and parathyroid hormone in MSCs from elders. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. (2012)
8. Gao H, Wu X, Sun Y, Zhou S, Silberstein LE, Zhu Z. Suppression of homeobox transcription tactor VentX promotes expansion of human multipotent hematopoietic stem/progenitor cells. J Biol Chem. 2012; 287:29979-87.
9. Geng S, Zhou S, Bi Z, Glowacki J. Vitamin D metabolism in human marrow stromal (mesenchymal stem) cells. Metab Clin Exp. 2013;62:768-77.
10. Glowacki J, Christoph K. Gender Differences in the Growing, Abnormal, and Aging Jaw. In: Evidence-Based Women’s Oral Health. LR Halpern, L Kaste (Eds), Dental Clinics N America. 2013;57:263-80.

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