Micaela Mathiak, M.D.
Institute of Pathology
Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel, Germany
"I met Renato as a walk-in to his lab when I was looking for a research position at Thomas Jefferson University in the summer 1995. I was lucky enough to be taken on as a visiting researcher to begin with and shortly after he offered me a post-doc position. During my relatively short (~ one year) fellowship I published a first-author paper in Cancer Research on the role of perlecan in cancer growth. Upon returning to Germany, I completed my training in Pathology in Bonn and now work in the Department of Pathology in Kiel (since 2004).
Doing research on proteoglycans, gave me the opportunity to gain a vast knowledge of a variety of methods such as cell culture, Northern, Southern and Western blottings ... The weekly lab meetings – cleverly planned for Mondays to give us the opportunity to get results over the week - were very focussed, well-structured and fruitful. I definitely thank Renato and all my co-workers for their support during this time. On top of that, I was introduced to new computer techniques such as email (we are speaking of the mid-nineties), to Indian food, to many other world-renowned pathologists besides Renato, to South Philly and the Italian Market, the Art Museum, the Philadelphia Orchestra, to US history, and an all-american blizzard, to Philly cheese steaks and much, and much more….
The experiences I had were and still are very special to me."
Charles Reed Ph.D.
Director, Protein Engineering
"I met Dr. Iozzo as a graduate student, when he collaborated with my thesis advisor. As part of the project, I visited his lab and met several lab members. We spoke candidly several times during this collaboration and he mentioned there was fellowship opening in his lab. An opportunity to be a fellow in a lab led by a leader in his field is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Following my defense, I began a fellowship in his lab focusing on decorin and its anticancer potential. Multiple rapid publications followed, as well as opportunities to mentor undergraduate students, participate in grant writing, assist in organizing meetings, and broaden my skill sets in new biological areas. A significant moment in my career development was when Dr. Iozzo sponsored me for appointment to a junior faculty position at Jefferson. I am now Director of Protein Engineering with Intrexon, a rapidly growing biotech company. My graduate background in structural biology and in postdocoral work in proteoglycans and murine cancer models gained in the Iozzo lab has been of immense value to me and has allowed me to wear multiple hats in the biotech space successfully. The responsibilities and opportunities gained from my time in the Iozzo lab were major developmental milestones in my career path; I recommend a fellowship for anyone interested in the field."
Roza Adany, M.D., Ph.D.
"I spent almost two years in Dr. Iozzo's laboratory in 1989-1990 as a Fogarty International Fellow. It was a very exciting period not only in my career, but also in the development of techniques used in tumor biology. The emerging field of molecular biology and the new techniques were introduced into the tumor matrix research. Renato was very innovative not only at the level of creating research hypotheses, but also at applying the most modern and adequate techniques to answer key questions. I remember how excited we were when we first used Northern blot technique to detect the overexpression of the decorin gene in colon cancer samples and created a quantitative PCR system to measure the degree of methylation in the same gene. After coming back to my home country of, Hungary, I was able to utilize methodologies in studying fibrin deposition and FXIII production in different tumors in connection with tumor progression. In 1993 I became the head of the Department of Preventive Medicine and I could extend my studies to the direction of preventive interventions and founded the first Faculty of Public Health in the history of the Hungarian higher education at the University of Debrecen. Presently I am the Head of the Department and the Dean of the Faculty. Now I am also acting as the Vice President of the Medical and Health Science Center."
Suzanne Grässel, Ph.D.
Director, Experimental Orthopaedic Section
University Hospital in Regensburg, Germany
"I met Dr. Iozzo as a post doc through the head of my institute in Münster, Germany, Prof. Kresse who collaborated closely with him. Following my doctoral thesis defence I grabbed the opportunity to join his team in June 1992 as there was an opening for a postdoctoral position in his lab. I started to work on the structural characterization of the perlecan gene and its regulation. The following two years in his lab were filled with valuable new experimental and scientific experiences and broadened my skill sets in new biological areas. Besides immense gain of scientific knowledge my personal horizon benefited from meeting interesting and very diverse persons in his lab from all over the world. Valuable friendships developed during my time in his lab which lasted on for years and left lasting and unforgettable memories.
All in all, the responsibilities and opportunities I was offered during my postdoctoral time from 1992 to 1994 in the Iozzo lab were major professional milestones in my scientific career.
Since several years I am head of the Experimental Orthopedic section at the University Hospital in Regensburg, Germany. It is always a great pleasure for me to meet with Dr. Iozzo at different occasions as last summer in Davos at the XXII FECTS-meeting where we had a great time and lots of fun."
Silvia Goldoni, Ph.D.
Imperial College of London
"I joined Dr. Iozzo's lab at Thomas Jefferson University in September 2002 as a Post-doctoral fellow. I had worked on a molecular biology of cancer project as a student and became interested in studying aspects of the tumour micro-environment. I was thrilled to be able to work in a leading lab in the field. My project was focused on understanding the mechanism of action of decorin in inhibiting cancer growth both in vitro and in vivo. Thanks to a solid and established project as well as Dr. Iozzo's mentorship, I was able to achieve my first first-author publication within one year. Many other publications followed, highlighting the productivity of the lab and the interest in our research. A key experience for my career was that Dr. Iozzo involved me in writing successful NIH grants. One particular grant, on the role of Lrig1 in tumour growth, lead to my promotion to Research Assistant Professor on the basis of my contribution. I'm now conducting a mechanobiology project as Research Associate at Imperial College London, a position that I would not have obtained without the publication track record from Dr. Iozzo's lab and the interdisciplinary cell signalling, cell micro-environment and matrix biology knowledge gained in his lab."
Daniela Seidler, Ph.D.
Faculty Member, Institute of Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry
University of Münster, Germany
"I met Dr. Iozzo as a post doc at a conference in the UK, when he collaborated with my former adviser. We spoke several times during this collaboration and he mentioned there was fellowship opening in his lab. An opportunity to be a fellow in a lab led by a leader in the proteoglycan and matrix biology fields helped me to continue to work on decorin and be directly involved in cancer biology. Two rapid publications followed, as well as opportunities to mentor undergraduate students and broaden my skill sets in new biological areas. I am now assistant professor in the Institute of Physiological Chemistry and Pathobiochemistry at the University of Münster, Germany with a group of four PhD students. My postdoctoral work in proteoglycans and cancer models gained in the Iozzo lab has been of immense value to me and has allowed me to build up my own research group successfully in Germany. The responsibilities and opportunities gained from my time in the Iozzo lab were major developmental milestones in my career path; I recommend a fellowship for anyone interested in the proteoglycan and cancer field."
Jason J. Zoeller, Ph.D.
Research Fellow, Harvard
"I completed my doctoral research as a student in the Cell & Developmental Biology Ph.D. Program under the advisement of Dr. Iozzo (2004-2009). As a graduate student, I investigated the role of perlecan during developmental angiogenesis. Our work identified a requirement for perlecan during angiogenic blood vessel development and established perlecan function via VEGF-VEGFR2 modulation during blood vessel formation. These studies also represent one of the first applications of the zebrafish as a model organism applied to matrix biology. Throughout my study with Dr. Iozzo, I made contributions to the ongoing endorepellin and decorin projects as well. Combined, I first-authored four, and co-authored two, research publications as well as one review article under the mentorship of Dr. Iozzo. I completed my Ph.D. and graduated from Thomas Jefferson in May 2009.
I currently am a Research Fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Joan Brugge in the Department of Cell Biology at Harvard Medical School. I enjoy every minute while working on breast cancer research with a focus on combating drug resistance. I recently completed my second year, and I am a 2011 recipient of a United States Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Fellowship (2011-2014). I am an active member of the Harvard community, I serve as a Faculty Reviewer for The Harvard Undergraduate Research Journal and I participate in the Stand-Up-2-Cancer (SU2C), Breast Program Project and Breast SPORE. I currently reside in Boston’s Fenway neighborhood and always enjoy fine dining, theater, travel, sports and time with friends and family."
Thomas Scholzen Ph.D.
Director, Fluorescence Cytometry Unit
Research Center Borstel, Germany
"I joined the Iozzo lab in September 1992 shortly after finishing my thesis at the Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics in Berlin, Germany. At that time, I was looking for an opportunity to focus my work on basic cancer research. Therefore, I was very pleased when Dr. Iozzo offered me a postdoctoral position to work on a challenging project dealing with the modulation of cancer cell proliferation by the proteoglycan decorin. The following two years that I spent in the Iozzo lab were a great and very productive experience and provided the basis for my future career in the field of cell proliferation. Since 1994 I am working at the Research Center Borstel, where I am now head of the Fluorescence Cytometry unit. I especially remember the open, friendly but also critical atmosphere at which scientific discussions in the Iozzo’s lab took place. At lab meetings sometimes even single constituents of incubation buffers were discussed. Although tedious on occasion, in this way all lab members were well informed about all ongoing projects and could contribute to other projects by constructive suggestions. Thus, the success of a scientific project was not only the success of the involved researchers but was somehow felt to be the achievement of the whole group. I would like to thank all my former colleagues for a great time. I also enjoyed Philadelphia and in particular the environment of the Thomas Jefferson University, giving me the he opportunity not only getting to know the "American way of life" but also to meet colleagues coming from all over the world."
Angela worked as a Research Assistant to Dr. Iozzo for 6 years, from 2005-2011. She recieved her B.S. in Biology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004, and her B.F.A. in Painting and Drawing from Tyler School of Art in 2011. Angela is an artist who currently resides in Philadelphia, PA. www.angelamcquillan.com
"Working for Dr. Iozzo was a great experience. This lab is a very creative environment where I learned many different laboratory techniques. This is a very productive lab, everybody works very hard while also having fun. This is the type of lab to join if you are self-motivated and able to come up with unique and innovative ideas. Dr. Iozzo does everything he can to share his knowledge and advance your career. In my opinion, the best part of working in this lab was the people. I made good lifelong friends from many different places of the world. Not only did I learn science, but I got to know people from diverse backgrounds and I have some wonderful memories. Dr. Iozzo is a great mentor and friend."
From: City of Joy, Kolkata, India
MS Biomedical Sciences, Thomas Jefferson University (ongoing)
Research scholar: Plant Biotechnology, Bose Institute, Kolkata
MS Plant Sciences: BHU, India
BSc. Presidency College, Kolkata
"I feel fascinated by the idea of being a ‘cell- architect’ able to see inside the cells at the ultimate quark level molecular biology that dictates all the downstream functions of the cell and organism as a whole. My fascination with tumor-cells started in the Iozzo lab in 2009. As humans get influenced by their surroundings so do cells. Even “good cells” become “bad” in a “bad neighborhood”: this is what happens during Cancer progression. So studying the molecular changes in the extracellular matrix i.e. the micro environment of the cells which influences the intracellular function and behavior of cells is very vital.
I like to spend my free time with my husband watching movies and cooking hot spicy dishes. Browsing journals and Youtube works great while I try to gain expertise on new softwares and astrology in the backdrop of Pandora-Violin."
Cindy Ketterer, M.D.
"I had the opportunity to work for Dr. Iozzo in his lab at The University of Pennsylvania in 1986 investigating cell surface proteoglycans in colon cancer. Part of this experience allowed me to observe and participate in autopsies which was a great introduction to Anatomy. With and eye toward Medical School, it was very valuable to be included on a publication of the data we generated. I have since moved on to University of Texas Medical School, Houston and residency in General Surgery at Graduate Hospital, Philadelphia. Currently I am in private practice in Houston, Texas. Dr. Iozzo gave me my start in Medicine and I have great affection for him and the time in his lab."
Maurizio Mongiat, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor (Tenured)
Dept. of Molecular Oncology and Translational Research
National Cancer Institute
"I met Dr. Renato Iozzo for the first time in 1998 at a Gordon Research Conference in New England. One Year later I joined his laboratory at the TJU. I was part of his team for three years and an half working in a project involving the discovery of novel binding partners of perlecan protein core. By means of innovative techniques at the time we have found many molecular partners for perlecan, including endostatin, the well-known anti-angiogenic molecule. Further investigations led to the discovery that a fragment of perlecan itself, named endorepellin, displayed anti-angiogenic properties. These studies led to many publications some of which have been highlighted by Faculty of 1000 for scientific merit and have the highest citation index of all my publications.
Working in Dr. Iozzo's lab has been a one in a lifetime opportunity; besides being very scientifically productive I had the opportunity to meet and supervise many students from the University of Manchester , UK who have greatly and cleverly collaborated in the development of these studies. I had the opportunity to learn how to properly write papers and grant applications. Indeed I received the prestigious American-Italian Cancer Foundation of New York Fellowship in 2000 and this fellowship was renewed the following year. I am truly grateful to Dr. Iozzo for the opportunity he has given me to work in his lab and grow as a scientist. I currently have a tenured position at the CRO-IRCCS of Aviano, a National Cancer Institute in the North East of Italy. The Institute is located just at the foot of the mountains Dr. Iozzo used to say "I come from". I can most highly recommend joining Dr. Iozzo's lab to everyone interested in the studies on the role of microenvironmental components in tumor progression."
Alex Nystrom, Ph.D.
University of Freiburg, Germany
"I discovered Dr Iozzo's research during my PhD studies at Lund University, Sweden, where I was studying angiogenesis. Later, close to my graduation, when I saw an ad for a post doc opening in the Iozzo lab for studying endorepellin, I immediately applied.
At first I was working on endorepellin signaling mechanism; after a while I also became involved in decorin projects. My stay in the Iozzo lab was very successful resulting in two first author publication, a co-authorship in JCB, and a review. Dr Iozzo is a great mentor -enthusiastic, supportive, and with a brilliant and critical scientific mind. I really enjoyed my time in his lab, it was a fast-paced environment with no hesitation to adapt new techniques to answer questions or solve problems. Looking back at my time there – I think I learned something new everyday. At present I am at the University of Freiburg; I am still in the extracellular matrix field but have left perlecan for collagens. I would highly recommend any aspiring cancer- or matrix- biologist to apply to the Iozzo lab."
Rachel Oldershaw, Ph.D.
Lecturer, University of New Castle, UK
"I came to Dr Iozzo's research group in July 2000 from the UK to carry out a year's research project. At that time I was an undergraduate student studying biochemistry at the University of Manchester. Dr Iozzo had been instrumental in establishing a project placement programme between his group and the University of Manchester where students in their third year of study had the opportunity to carry out a research project in his laboratory. I was immediately entrusted with my own research project investigating the interaction of the core protein of the perlecan with other basement membrane proteins and the role that these interactions played in cancer pathology. During this time Dr Iozzo included me on the authorship of research articles as recognition for my contribution to the project; this was an incredible achievement for someone at this stage in their career. The year that I spent with Dr Iozzo not only enabled me with the broad range of laboratory skills required to progress with my scientific research career but also gave me the confidence to independently manage my research projects.
When I returned to the UK I finished my undergraduate degree and began a PhD studentship with Professor Tim Hardingham who was a collaborator of Dr Iozzo's in the field of proteoglycan research. My PhD focused on the use of adult stem cells to repair cartilage defects and this expanded to include the investigation of embryonic stem cell differentiation. I currently work at Newcastle University in the UK where I head up my own research group.
I am certain that the time I spent in Dr Iozzo's laboratory laid the foundation for my scientific career and opened a number of opportunities which would otherwise not have been available to me. I look back at that time with fond memories. "
Michael Naso, Ph.D.
Associate Director, Biologics Research
Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Johnson and Johnson
"I met Dr. Iozzo (or Professor, as I used to call him) in 1990 while working in an adjacent lab. He was able to scam me into doing a few western blots for him to characterize some proteins that were being expressed from a cell line he was developing. It got me into trouble with my boss, but eventually I ended up leaving that lab and joining Prof. Iozzo's lab as a technician. The following year, he helped get me into the doctoral program, because my undergraduate grades weren't that good as a result of too much beer, pizza, and girl chasing in college. I always wanted to do science and medical research, and although I didn't finish my degree in his lab, I got my true start with Prof. Iozzo. It was a lively crew back then, and the interactions I had with him and all the lab members laid the foundations for my training. Much to his dismay, I'm sure, I did not end up pursuing an academic career. Instead, I went right into drug discovery in big Pharma. Currently, I lead a group of 11 scientists that support antibody drug discovery efforts at all levels: from target discovery to lead candidate selection to post-product launch. We support all therapeutic areas, including oncology, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, neuroscience, immunology, and infectious disease. It's a blast. I will never forget Prof. Iozzo, and will always have fond memories of my time with him and his group"
"I worked in Dr. Iozzo's lab for ten years. I was his research assistant foremost, but my responsibilities also included most of the RNA work, managing the lab, maintaining the radiation safety and keeping the mouse lines. Working with Dr. Iozzo was challenging and exciting, there were always several projects going on, and there was an exchange of ideas in between the different project groups. Out of the box thinking was encouraged and welcomed, and it did reveal rewarding lines of enquiry. I found it invigorating. Although the work was intense, we had time for fun, which gave us the added benefit of becoming good friends; we shared dinner parties, weddings and birthdays; because of the large contingency of Europeans in the group, the FIFA World Cup was an event enjoyed together. Dr. Iozzo is a good mentor that will push your abilities to excellence, he is fair and generous with credit, and is always available to troubleshoot with you."
Yanusz Wegrowski, Ph.D.
Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne
"I joined Dr Iozzo's group in autumn 1994 for a year. I had known his papers and his scientific achievements long before this time and I had been intrigued by the fact that he had published numerous important JBC papers as "the one author study". His personality was quite fascinating to me and I realized that I met a very unique person with broad and profound knowledge.
The atmosphere in his lab was always very friendly and entertaining. Renato had the great quality to engage and interest his staff not only in their own projects - but also in the research of colleagues. We formed a very good team. This is so important and vital to achieve quick progress.
Renato often analysed particular results himself, like for example, sequencing data. As a pathologist he often took a scalpel and dissected the transgenic mice. He had also the ability to easily manage several leading projects at the same time. During my work with him I learned many techniques regarding molecular biology, cloned mouse biglycan gene and prepared the building of the knockout mouse creation by homologous recombination. To this day, I cherish some touching memories of his "mouse academy" and of his sense of humour.
After returning to my laboratory - I set up my own group to study different aspects of proteoglycans biology. We meet from time to time at different congresses and for me - it is still a great pleasure to listen to his talks and informal witty conversations. In the domain of extracellular matrix - Dr Iozzo is definitely a person deserving the highest esteem."
"In 2010 I graduated from Haverford College with a Bachelor of Arts having majored in Political Science and minored in Spanish. I am currently entering my second year of medical school at Jefferson Medical College. Previous laboratory experience includes work in Dr. Carolyn Felix's research lab at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia as a recipient of a Howard Hughes Scholarship. My projects included using new panhandle PCR methodology for the detection of MLL(Mixed Lineage Leukemia; Myeloid Lymphoid Leukemia) translocations, sequencing three of twenty designated substrates of the MLL genome that would be used to located enhanced cleavage hot spots caused by native enzyme topoisomerase, and performing MTT cytotoxicity assays to determine the pre-clinical in vitro effects of Ribavirin and GSK3 inhibitor, two molecularly targeted agents, on MLL cell lines and screen for potential synergistic cytotoxic interactions between these two drugs and determine the pharmacodynamic targets modulated by these molecularly targeted agents. As a first year medical student I was accepted into the College within a College- Clinical and Translational Research Program at Jefferson Medical College. This program is geared towards graduating physician-scientists by integrating research into all four years of medical school. I choose to carry out the principle research component of the program in Dr. Renato V Iozzo's lab in the department of Pathology Anatomy and Cell Biology at Thomas Jefferson University. I will be working for 9 weeks this summer and intermittently throughout my remaining three years of medical school. My work in the lab is focused on investigating the molecular interactions of endorepellin and VEGFR2, and its signaling consequences."
Chris Willis, Ph.D.
Chris recieved his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Delaware in 2006, and went on to complete a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Maryland School of Medicine in 2011. Chris currently works on VEGFR2 receptor antagonism and signaling by endorepellin, and the in vivo role of endorepellin in endothelial cells. Chris likes Philadelphia sports teams, the beach, Las Vegas, exercising, cooking/eating out, outdoor concerts.
University of Frankfurt, Dr. Liliana Schaefer's Laboratory, Doctoral Studies
Chiara is a Post-Doctoral fellow in Dr. Iozzo's laboratory following two different projects on decorin with the aim of better understand its biology, in particular its interactions with the receptor Met as well as VEGFR2. Moreover she is studying the activity of endorepellin and its role in angiogenesis. Chiara is a sociable person and is used to spending her free time hanging out with her friends. She loves travelling, She is an amateur lover of theatre and a huge fan of Bologna Virtus basketball team. She has played a lot of sports but her favorites are swimming and volleyball.
Atul Goyal, Ph.D.
"I received a Ph.D. in Medical Biotechnology from PGIMER, Chandigarh, India in 2007 and pursued first 2 years of post doctoral research at Penn State University, Hershey, PA before joining Dr. Iozzo lab. Currently, I am a post doctoral fellow in Dr.Iozzo's laboratory and my work is focused on the biology of endorepellin. In particular, my major role is in elucidating the molecular pathways by studying the interaction of endorepellin with VEGFR2 and alpha2beta1 integrin receptor and its down stream signalling confirming its role as an anti-angiogenic molecule. I strongly feel that Dr. Iozzo has not only been a mentor at work but also a person who has instilled a lot of positive outlook and ways to develop the analytical skills to diagnose problems and devise viable solutions. "
Arnold Junior Tatsinkam, Ph.D.
I completed my Ph.D studies at Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom in 2015. My passion and keen interest to progress as a researcher within the field of matrix biology eventually led me to the Iozzo Lab, as a first year postdoctoral researcher. Here, I will focus mainly on exploring outside-in signaling pathways triggered by ECM proteoglycans including perlecan and decorin vis-à-vis their regulation in tumorigenesis-related processes such as autophagy and angiogenesis. In my short time here, I have become quickly integrated within the team and am equally independent as well. This is thanks to Dr. Iozzo, his infectious dynamism and creativity, and also thanks to my colleagues, their collective welcoming spirit is constantly present.
"I started my Ph.D. studies in the Cell and Developmental Department at Thomas Jefferson in September 2011. In the short time that I’ve been here, I have already learned a great deal and made good friends. The people at Thomas Jefferson are very helpful and welcoming. I am currently in the lab of Dr. Renato V. Iozzo, where the focus is on the relationship between the extracellular matrix and cancer progression. In his lab, I will learn a great deal about the cell’s microenvironment and how this niche influences cell behavior, with special emphasis on delineating the molecular relationship that exists between tumoral and stromal components. More specifically, my future thesis will focus on the role of decorin, a small leucine rich proteoglycan, on counteracting oncogenic activity by attenuating signaling pathways crucial for tumorigenesis in the context of tumor-stroma interactions. Although I am still in the early stages of identifying a thesis project, it will most likely involve elucidating the mechanism by which decorin affects one of a subset of recently identified and promising genes that were found to be differentially regulated by decorin in mammary breast carcinoma xenografts. Therefore, I am confident that being part of this lab, while under the mentorship of Dr. Iozzo, will allow me to become a great scientist.
When I am not studying or in lab, I mostly spend my time with my three children. Some of the things we enjoy are roller skating, bike riding and reading funny poems. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful and supportive family. Just as they are my inspiration, I aim to be theirs."
Maria is an M.D./Ph.D. student in Dr. Iozzo’s laboratory whose work focuses on the regulatory role of decorin in autophagy. Her recent findings demonstrate that decorin is an autophagy-inducible proteoglycan and that its absence impairs cardiac autophagy. Following completion of her graduate studies, Maria plans to return to medical school and eventually pursue a residency in pathology.
Danielle provides administrative support to Dr. Iozzo’s laboratory in the form of general office duties including answering phone calls, general computer work, ordering of office supplies and general laboratory duties as assigned as well.
George R. Dodge, PhD
Director of the Translational Musculoskeletal Research Program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Philadelphia; Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Associate Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania, Perleman School of Medicine.
I am an established investigator with a career long commitment to translational musculoskeletal research and, in particular, on cartilage as it relates to osteoarthritis and drug discovery. In general, my research focuses on chondrocyte biology, biomechanics, tissue engineering related to musculoskeletal tissues and organs. Fundamentally, my research addresses the translational area of degenerative joint diseases and focuses on extracellular matrix, cartilage cell biology, cartilage tissue engineering, and response to injury. A graduate of McGill University in Montreal Canada, under the mentorship of Professor A. Robin Poole, I formed a solid basis for a career in studying cartilage and joint-related diseases. Many great years in Montreal while learning from a large number of really talented extracellular matrix scientists helped prepare my return to Philadelphia for another new and exciting research adventure. In 1989 I returned to the United States and joined as a Post Doctoral Fellow, followed by my first academic appointment as Assistant Professor in the lab of the recognized leader in matrix biology, Professor Renato Iozzo. These were very fun and exciting days and as Renato’s first Post Doc I think we both had a lot to learn. Many visitors and technicians came through the lab to enhance that experience. Special memories are vivid of my Hungarian colleagues Ilona Kovalsky and Roza Adany. In these “early” days together we explored the seminal work in characterizing the gene and unique protein properties of the heparan sulfate proteoglycan, perlecan. At the time, it was still not clear of itsits gene structure nor its specialized protein characteristics well known. It is still shocking to think that I actually ran the gels and read, by hand, most of the perlecan RNA DNA sequence. Some 3 or more years of what was a remarkable and productive time, I left the Renato’s Team team and the Department of Pathology and Cell Biology and joined the Division of Rheumatology and worked with Sergio Jimenez (also at Jefferson Medical College). In Rheumatology I enhanced my already strong commitment to studying arthritis and the extracellular matrix and explored new bioengineering approaches that related to tissues of the musculoskeletal system. The Jefferson years were very formative and memorable and together with the days pioneering it in Montreal at the Joint Disease Laboratory at the Shriners Hospital set me on a trajectory of leading my own research program and building on old experiences and forging ahead with new research which continues today.
Fast forward many years, I went on to establish my own research program and currently I am Director of the Translational Musculoskeletal Research Program at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Philadelphia; Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Associate Professor of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pennsylvania, Perleman School of Medicine. I also am Director of the VA Shared Research Resources Core and lead with Dr. Oren Friedman a new program in otorhinolaryngology-related tissue engineering at Penn called the Otorhinolaryngology Translational Regenerative Research Program.
I have a broad range of translational orthopaedic and musculoskeletal- based research interests and nurtured innovative collaborations which have implications in a variety of clinical areas. A cross-disciplinary approach continues to be the cornerstone of my research agenda.