Amber Stern, Assistant Professor in our Civil & Mechanical Engineering Department, has been awarded $75,000 in funding to investigate Modeling Osteocytes at the Subcellular Level within a Mineralized Microenvironment: Changes in Osteocyte Mechanotransduction with Age and Osteoporosis. She is one of three inaugural recipients of the American Society for Bone and Mineral research (ASBMR) Mentored Career Development Awards (MCDA). The MCDA awards recognize ASBMR members who are young investigators with “. . . the demonstrated potential and desire to become independent, self-directed researchers.” Through the results of the research proposed in Dr. Stern’s grant, our understanding of the manifestation and progression of osteoporosis will be expanded. If her hypothesis is confirmed, and old and osteoporotic osteocytes are found to still be viable and the strains necessary to activate the cells simply do not reach the cells, this will be a high impact finding capable of changing clinical approaches in the treatment of bone diseases such as osteoporosis.
Dr. Amber Stern, UMKC SCE Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has received a 2012 John Haddad Young Investigator Award. Each year, the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) selects up to 10 investigators to receive a ASBMR John Haddad Young Investigator Award. The competitive award provides Dr. Stern funds to travel to the April 2012 AIMM-ASBMR meeting and present her research as part of the Young Investigator’s session. Dr. Stern’s research in mineralized tissue and osteocyte biology aims to provide mechanistic insight into changes at the cellular and molecular level of bone that contribute to the genesis of osteoporosis as it furthers our understanding of how the osteocyte responds to loading and how this response changes with age. This new knowledge will aid the identification of new biological targets for intervention and aid in designing new pharmaceuticals and/or modifying current treatment paradigms to more effectively combat osteoporosis based on a new and better understanding of the mechanisms at play.
Dr. Stern’s research aims to also provide in vitro models for researchers to use to test pharmaceutical agents for treating osteoporosis. Long term, this will help lead to the discovery of tools that focus on the mechanism underlying the development of osteoporosis at the cellular and molecular level, and within the context of bone biomechanics. The data has the potential to impact the development of genetic and pharmacologic treatments for osteoporosis that account for the biomechanics of normal bone tissue function by targeting the specific mechanisms that cause osteoporosis. Thus Dr. Stern’s research has the potential to change the current paradigm of treating the consequences of osteoporosis to treatments that may actually prevent or reverse the progression of osteoporosis by targeting and correcting the specific cellular mechanisms that become dysfunctional within osteoporotic bone.
SCE congratulates Dr. Stern on receiving a 2012 John Haddad Young Investigator Award!