Massachusetts General Hospital

Harry E. Rubash, MD

Harry E. Rubash, M.D.

Edith M. Ashley Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Harvard Medical School

2012-13 Chief's Report

Musculoskeletal Genetics & Regenerative Bio Laboratory

Under the direction of Jenna Galloway, Ph.D., the Musculoskeletal Genetics and Regenerative Biology Laboratory (MGRBL) began its first year at the Center for Regenerative Medicine and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. The Laboratory uses unique model systems (such as zebrafish) and stem cells to understand the biology of tendons and ligaments and to develop regenerative medicine approaches to treat musculoskeletal injuries.


Dr. Jenna Galloway is a principal faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute (HSCI), which is part of the Musculoskeletal Research Cooperative. Spearheading this collaborative effort are several lead researchers in the fields of aging, musculoskeletal, and stem cell biology, including Drs. Andrew Brack, Henry Kronenberg, and David Scadden. The group is pioneering an integrated approach to studying the musculoskeletal system with the goal of applying this knowledge to target therapeutic pathways for improved injury outcomes.


The MGRBL was established in November 2012, making it an exciting and busy year. It is located in the 4th floor of the Simches Building along with the Zebrafish Facility, which holds over 2,000 aquarium tanks. The Laboratory successfully recruited several members, including Matthew King, the lab manager, and Jessica Chen, a joint PhD student with Cliff Tabin in Harvard University’s Biological and Biomedical Science Program (BBS). There are also two talented postdoctoral fellows: Erin Betters, who received her PhD from Yale, and Rishita Shah, who received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. This summer the lab is also training two undergraduates, Gia Ciccolo from Bucknell University, and Andrew Maul from Juniata College, who participated in the MGH and the HSCI/HHMI summer research programs.


Mr. Jing-Sheng Li, the lab’s core bioengineer, will join the PhD program at Boston University’s Health Science Department. Under the supervision of Dr. Li and Dr. David Felson of BU Medical Center, he will conduct his thesis research on the prevention of OA in overweight patients. Mr. Li and orthopaedic residents have completed the study that identified an optimal muscle suturing technique to repair muscle lacerations. Dr. Hosseini and Mr. Gadikota have been conducting a series of biomechanical tests of various posterolateral structure reconstruction techniques using the robotic testing system. They have also completed a study on the effect of biceps tendon loading on medial compartment cartilage contact forces of the knee.


Science in the lab is flourishing with members quickly laying the foundation for several major projects in tendon and ligament regenerative medicine. Dr. Erin Betters, who is pioneering the use of human stem cells in the lab, is successfully generating the reagents and protocols for their study and use in musculoskeletal applications. Dr. Rishita Shah is studying tendon and ligament regeneration with the goal of defining the cell types and factors contributing toward improved injury response. Jessica Chen is focusing on defining the mechanism of action, of a small molecule that expands tendon progenitor cells. Matthew King is developing live imaging analysis platforms for studying musculoskeletal attachment formation.


Musculoskeletal Genetics and Regenerative Biology Laboratory, MGH

(L – R) Jessica Chen, BS, Harvard BBS PhD candidate, Jenna Galloway, PhD, Erin Betters, PhD, Matt King, BS and Rishita Shah, PhD


Altogether the lab has had a fun and productive first year. Jessica Chen received a travel award and presented a poster of her work at the International Society of Developmental Biology. The lab was also awarded an HSCI Seed Grant. We look forward to the next exciting and successful year!

Next: Shoulder Biomotion Laboratory >