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Richard F. Loeser, Jr., MD

Director, UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center
Joseph P. Archie, Jr. Eminent Professor of Medicine, Division of Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology

Specialty Areas: cartilage cell biology, redox regulation of cell signaling, aging and the development of osteoarthritis, integrin function in cartilage, vitamin K-dependent proteins in the joint, osteoarthritis biomarkers and phenotypes, osteoarthritis interventions including exercise and weight loss

Chronology: Virginia Tech, 1977-1980; MD, West Virginia University, 1984; Residency, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, 1984-1987; Fellowship, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, 1987-1989; Instructor, Internal Medicine, Bowman Gray School of Medicine, 1989-1991; Assistant Professor of Internal Medicine (Rheumatology), Bowman Gray School of Medicine, 1991-1996; Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Rheumatology), Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 1996-1999; Associate Professor of Internal Medicine (Rheumatology), Rush Medical College, 1999-2002; Professor of Internal Medicine (Rheumatology), Rush Medical College, 2002-2005; Professor of Internal Medicine (Molecular Medicine and Rheumatology, Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Head, Section of Molecular Medicine, Wake Forest University School of Medicine; 2005-2014; Professor, Wake Forest University Translational Science Institute., 2005-2014; Director of Translational Research, The Sticht Center on Aging, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, 2008-2014; Distinguished Professor of Medicine (Rheumatology), Director of Basic and Translational Research, Thurston Arthritis Research Center, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2014-2017, Director, Thurston Arthritis Research Center, 2017-Present.

Description of research and/or clinical interests: Dr. Loeser’s primary research goal is to discover the basic mechanisms relevant to joint tissue destruction in osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis (OA) is the leading cause of pain and disability in older adults. A better mechanistic understanding of OA is needed in order to develop interventions that can slow or stop disease progression before advanced joint tissue destruction occurs.

Dr. Loeser’s lab uses a combination of in vitro experiments using human joint tissue cells and in vivo experiments in rodent models to study cell signaling pathways that regulate anabolic and catabolic activity responsible for joint tissue remodeling and destruction. The lab is particularly interested in determining how reactive oxygen species regulate chondrocyte signaling downstream of integrins, cytokines and growth factors through the oxidation of specific cysteine residues in kinases and phosphatases as well as other intracellular proteins. The lab is studying how oxidative stress that occurs with aging and joint injury can alter the activity of these signaling pathways.

Dr. Loeser’s clinical research interest is in exercise and weight loss interventions for knee OA as well as the potential role of gut microbiota in OA.  He has been involved in OA biomarker studies that have included metabolomics work and recently in a multidisciplinary effort to define OA phenotypes.

Selected Bibliography:  

Selected Reviews:

a. Katz JN, Arant KR, Loeser RF. Diagnosis and treatment of hip and knee osteoarthritis: A review. JAMA 2021; 325: 568-578.

b. Coryell PR, Diekman BO, Loeser RF. Mechanisms and therapeutic implications of cellular senescence in osteoarthritis. Nat Rev Rheumatol 2021;17: 47-57.

c. Deveza LA, Loeser RF. Is osteoarthritis one disease or a collection of many? Rheumatology 2018; 57: iv34-iv42.

d. Loeser RF, Goldring SR, Scanzello CR, Goldring MB. Osteoarthritis: A disease of the joint as an organ. Arthritis Rheum 2012; 64:1697-1707. Osteoarthritis: a disease of the joint as an organ – PubMed (

Selected Integrin studies 

a. Huang G, Chubinskaya S, Liao W, Loeser RF. Wnt5a induces catabolic signaling and matrix metalloproteinase production in human articular chondrocytes. Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 2017: 25:1505-1515.

b. Wood ST, Long DL, Reisz JA, Yammani RR, Burke EA, Klomsiri C, Poole LB, Furdui CM, Loeser RF. Cysteine-mediated redox regulation of cell signaling in chondrocytes stimulated with fibronectin fragments. Arthritis Rheumatol 2016; 68;117-126.

c. Nelson KJ, Bolduc JA, Wu H, Collins JA, Burke EA, Reisz JA, Klomsiri C, Wood ST, Yammani RR, Poole LB, Furdui CM, Loeser RF. H2O2 oxidation of cysteine residues in c-Jun N-terminal kinase 2 (JNK2) contributes to redox regulation in human articular chondrocytes. J Biol Chem 2018; 293: 16376-16389

d. Loeser RF, Kelley KL, Armstrong A, Collins JA, Diekman BO, Carlson CS. Deletion of c-Jun N-terminal kinase enhances senescence in joint tissues and increases the severity of age-related osteoarthritis in mice. Arthritis Rheumatol 2020;

Selected Aging and Oxidative Stress studies 

a. Collins JA, Wood ST, Nelson KJ, Rowe MA, Carlson CS, Chubinskaya S, Poole LB, Furdui CM, Loeser RF. Oxidative stress promotes peroxiredoxin hyperoxidation and attenuates pro-survival signaling in aging chondrocytes. J Biol Chem 2016; 291:6641-6654.

b. Bolduc JA, Collins, JA, Loeser RF. Reactive oxygen species, aging, and articular cartilage homeostasis. Free Radic Biol Med 2019; 132: 73-82

c. Collins JA, Wood ST, Bolduc JA, Nurmalasari NP, Chubinskaya S, Poole LB, Furdui CM, Nelson KJ, Loeser RF. Differential peroxiredoxin hyperoxidation regulates MAP kinase signaling in human articular chondrocytes. Free Radic Biol Med 2019; 134: 139-152

d. Li T, Chubinskaya S, Esposito A, Jin X, Tagliafierro L, Loeser R, Hakimiyan AA, Longobardi L, Ozkan H, Spagnoli A. TGF-β type 2 receptor-mediated modulation of the IL-36 family can be therapeutically targeted in osteoarthritis. Sci Transl Med. 2019; 8;11(491).

Complete list of published work in My Bibliography:
Richard Loeser, MD