Positions

Associate Professor
Orthopedic Surgery
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, TX, US
Associate Professor
Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine
Associate Director
Center for Skeletal Medicine and Biology
Baylor College of Medicine
Adjunct Associate Professor
Department of Medicine
Vanderbilt University
Member
Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas, United States

Education

Postdoctoral Fellowship at Baylor College of Medicine
Molecular and Human Genetics
PhD from Claude Bernard University

Professional Interests

  • Mechanisms of bone development, remodeling, repair and cancer cell metastasis

Professional Statement

Our research program aims toward understanding the biological mechanisms that control bone development, remodeling, repair and cancer metastasis, with the goal to develop novel therapeutic strategies preventing or treating skeletal diseases.

The first focus area in our laboratory is on the etiology of the skeletal maladies observed in individuals with neurofibromatosis type I (NF1). Some of these patients exhibit skeletal abnormalities that can be associated with high morbidity, including tibia bowing, fracture non-union and dystrophic scoliosis. Our work, mainly based on the development of preclinical mutant mouse models, provided evidence that the skeletal defects associated with NF1 result from primary osseous abnormalities of endochondral bone formation, caused by loss of NF1 function in osteochondroprogenitor cells. It also identified several molecular targets of neurofibromin signaling that are currently used for the design of novel targeted therapeutic strategies to improve bone mass, bone strength and bone repair in children with NF1. Our findings have led us to demonstrate the importance of the RAS-MAPK pathway during growth plate development, bone modeling, bone mineralization, and bone healing. It is also a very translational area of research which is currently transitioning toward clinical directions in collaboration with orthopaedic surgeons and the industry.

Our second major focus area is the influence of the autonomic nervous system as a regulator of bone remodeling and skeletal cancer metastasis. The skeleton is an organ that is richly supplied with blood vessels but also nerves. These nerves can be sensory (the pain you feel when you hurt your bones) or autonomic. The latter type regulates body involuntary functions such as heart rate or breathing. Several studies within the past 10 years revealed the role of these nerves in regulating the process of bone remodeling. Our current emphasis is on the role of the endogenous sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems in the regulation of bone homeostasis, and on addressing the biological and clinical relevance of our previous findings. This has led us to study conditions including aging, chronic stress and depression and their impact on bone remodeling and skeletal breast cancer metastasis. It has also led us to investigate the link between the inner ear vestibular system, known as the organ of balance and spatial orientation, and bone remodeling.

Selected Publications