This is another in an ongoing series of profiles of faculty members who have recently achieved tenure and/or promotion. These profiles are intended to provide illustrations of how some reach that goal.
“If you work hard, think creatively and hire talented people in your lab, the rest should fall into place,” said Dallas, who is a member of the Center of Excellence in Dental and Musculoskeletal Tissues at UMKC.
Dallas came to UMKC in 2001 from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Cell-Matrix Research at the University of Manchester in England. She is an accomplished researcher whose work is important to the understanding of bone diseases including osteoporosis (a disease of low bone density) and osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease). She has been the principal investigator on National Institutes of Health grants totaling nearly $8 million in direct costs and co-investigator on another $10 million in grant support. She has authored 35 peer-reviewed journal articles, eight book chapters and seven invited review articles and more than 100 meeting abstracts, many of which have been given as prestigious oral presentations at national and international meetings.
“Doing scientific research can be like being paid to do your hobby,” said Dallas, who directs the Microscopy Core and Histology Core Facility for the Mineralized Tissue Research Program. “Research is always moving forward and each day is different.”
Dallas is a pioneer in the use of time-lapse movie imaging — or dynamic imaging — to visualize the behavior of bone cells and the assembly of protein structures between cells that comprise bone tissues. Her work has been cited more than 2,000 times.
Her live cell imaging work using collagen tagged with a green fluorescent protein has shown for the first time how bone cells cooperate to build a network of collagen fibers; it shows that the process is driven by the active movement of the cells. Her lab also has examined the dynamic properties of bone cells and has filmed a specialized bone cell called an osteocyte as it becomes embedded in the mineralized bone. Her work has shown that this embedding process is highly dynamic and that osteocytes may chemically communicate with other bone cells and instruct them to increase or decrease bone formation.
Dallas has many years of service on an NIH Study Section and has served on the Education Committee and the Women in Bone and Mineral Research Committee of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research. She currently serves on the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research Editorial Board.
“The most rewarding aspects of my career are the thrill of discovering an exciting new aspect of bone cell biology; stimulating scientific discussions with colleagues, students and postdocs and the opportunity to interact with scientists from all over the world.”