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The Thurston Arthritis Research Center’s Basic and Translational Research program is investigating the underlying mechanisms that promote the development and progression of conditions relevant to rheumatology, allergy and immunology.

Basic and Translational Research — Faculty and Primary Focus:

Dr. Richard Loeser is a physician and researcher.
Richard Loeser, MD, is a renowned physician, thought leader, investigator, and director of the UNC Thurston Arthritis Research Center.

Richard F. Loeser, Jr., MD (Director):
Joseph P. Archie, Jr., Eminent Professor of Medicine
Mechanisms responsible for joint tissue destruction in osteoarthritis, including the role of aging and oxidative stress and cell signaling stimulated by matrix fragments acting through integrin receptors.
-More information about about Dr. Loeser’s lab.

Scott Commins, MD, PhD:
Associate Professor of Medicine

Food allergy to red meat; including why allergic reactions are delayed 3-6 hours after eating, and the role that tick bites may have in initiating allergic response to the carbohydrate galactose-alpha-1,3-galactose (“alpha-gal”).
-More information about about Dr. Commins’ lab.

Scott Commins, MD, PhD, (right) is a leading allergist and thought leader investigating an allergy to meat, which is believed to be related to tick bites.

Brian Diekman, PhD:
Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering

The mechanisms by which aging and genetics contribute to osteoarthritis risk and how regenerative medicine technologies may lead to novel treatment strategies.
-More information about Dr. Diekman’s lab

Onyinye Iweala, MD, PhD:
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Glycolipids, unconventional T cells, and their role in alpha-gal red meat allergy and epigenetic regulation of allergic, anti-parasitic, and regulatory immune responses.

Microscopic image of cells.
Much of the Basic and Translational work performed at the Thurston Arthritis Research Center involves studying cellular changes that can lead to cartilage damage.

-More information about Dr. Iweala’s lab.

Lara Longobardi, PhD:
Assistant Professor of Medicine

The mechanisms leading to osteoarthritis development, especially the role of chemokines in cartilage and bone generation after injury, and how they affect pain response.
-More information about Dr. Longobardi’s lab

Doug Phanstiel, PhD:
Assistant Professor of Cell Biology and Physiology

The manner in which DNA loops regulate monocyte differentiation, both in healthy cells and in the context of rheumatoid arthritis.
-More information about Dr. Phanstiel’s lab.

Erin Steinbach, MD, PhD: 
Assistant Professor of Medicine
Defining the regulatory landscape (epigenetics) of intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) as a mechanism of barrier dysfunction during peanut allergy; identifying biomarkers and IEC molecular signatures that predict clinical outcomes in peanut allergy.
-More Information about Dr. Steinbach’s lab.

Additional Research Faculty and Primary Focus:

Dan Bracey, MD, PhD: (Orthopedics) 
Hip and knee arthroplasty, tissue biorepository, tissue engineering, bone regeneration, xenotransplantation

Matthew Fisher, PhD (Biomedical Engineering)
Biomechanics, growth, tissue engineering, large animal models.

Duncan Lascelles, PhD (Translational Pain Research)
Neurobiology, pharmacology, regenerative medicine

Janet Rubin, MD (Endocrinology and Metabolism) 
Metabolic bone diseases

Lauren Schnabel, PhD, DVM: (Comparative Medicine)
Regenerative  and biologic therapies, musculoskeletal injury, orthopedic biofilm infection, large animal models.

Maya Styner, MD (Endocrinology and Metabolism)
Metabolic bone disease, osteoporosis, lipodystrophies, and general endocrinology

Jenny Ting, PhD (Genetics)
Innate immunity, dendritic cell function, cell death, autophagy, signal transduction

Barb Vilen, PhD (Microbiology and Immunology)
Mechanisms of tolerance in systemic lupus erythematosus

Morika Williams, PhD, DVM (Comparative Medicine)
Mechanisms by which early life injury and pain contribute to osteoarthritis-associated pain, especially role of neuroimmune cell responses and how they affect pain

Ming-Feng Hsueh, PhD (Cell Biology and Physiology)
Translational musculoskeletal and aging biology, utilizing cutting-edge multi-omic technologies to pioneer new therapeutic strategies for regenerating damaged joint tissue, with a particular focus on osteoarthritis (OA)