About the Lab

The Skeletal Development and Regeneration Research Laboratory of Jennifer J. Westendorf, Ph.D., at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, studies the molecular underpinnings of musculoskeletal diseases to help advance the rational design of new treatment regimens.

Millions of people visit their doctors each year for musculoskeletal ailments. Osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and back pain are common bone and joint diseases that present huge economic and social burdens to society.

Genetic, environmental and biomechanical factors all affect the development and progression of these diseases.

Dr. Westendorf's Skeletal Development and Regeneration Research Laboratory focuses on the molecular and epigenetic basis for skeletal formation, bone and cartilage regeneration, and primary and metastatic bone tumors.

Focus areas

Current projects in Dr. Westendorf's lab focus on:

  • Pathophysiology and molecular biology of osteoarthritis
  • The role of epigenetic factors (e.g., Hdacs) in bone and cartilage formation
  • Wnt pathways in bone remodeling and repair
  • Sarcomas (primary tumors of the skeleton), leukemia and metastasis-associated bone disease

Significance to patient care

Research conducted by Dr. Westendorf and her team in the Skeletal Development and Regeneration Research Laboratory is revealing novel insights into numerous musculoskeletal diseases. Their research aids the validation of new molecules as treatment targets.

The lab's ultimate goal is to increase knowledge that leads to the rational design of novel therapeutics for such diseases as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, craniosynostosis, heterotopic ossification, arthrogryposis and bone cancers.

About Dr. Westendorf

Jennifer Jane (Jennifer) Westendorf, Ph.D., is the Margaret Amini Professor of Orthopedic Regenerative Medicine Research.

Dr. Westendorf received her B.A. from the University of Minnesota at Morris and her Ph.D. from Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She performed postdoctoral training with Scott W. Hiebert, Ph.D., at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and Vanderbilt University.

Dr. Westendorf was on faculty at the University of Minnesota from 2000 to 2007 before returning to Mayo Clinic in Rochester in 2007. She was a V Scholar in 2002 and received the ASMBR Fuller Albright Award in 2009 and the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean's Recognition Award in 2016.

Dr. Westendorf has numerous roles within and outside of Mayo Clinic. She is the vice chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and a member of several Mayo Clinic research subcommittees. She is the director of the NIH/NIAMS-funded T32 training program in musculoskeletal research at Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Westendorf serves on the editorial boards of several journals. She served as a member and chairperson of several National Institutes of Health study sections and as a member of the board of directors of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) and the Orthopaedic Research Society.

Dr. Westendorf's research accomplishments in her Skeletal Development and Regeneration Research Lab have been recognized with several national awards, including multiple NIH training fellowships (F31, F32, K01), an HHMI/OREF medical scientist training grant, the John Haddad Award and the Harold M. Frost Award.

Dr. Westendorf also has trained numerous graduate students and postdoctoral fellows through education opportunities in her lab.

Affiliations

Dr. Westendorf's Skeletal Development and Regeneration Research Lab is affiliated with several Mayo Clinic research areas: