Led by principal investigator Merry Jo Oursler, Ph.D., the Cell Biology of Bone Laboratory at Mayo Clinic investigates the role of osteoclasts in bone metabolism and bone loss.

Osteoclasts are large, multinucleated cells that are responsible for bone degradation in all vertebrate animals, including people. As people get older, increased osteoclast activity can cause osteoporosis, which can lead to debilitating pain and bone fractures. The rate at which bone is lost depends mostly on the number of osteoclasts present on bone.

Research in our lab is aimed at better understanding the molecular mechanisms by which osteoclasts differentiate and how osteoclasts contribute to the replacement of the bone they remove. Our goal is to develop better therapies to prevent or treat potentially debilitating health problems associated with bone loss, bone pain and bone fractures.

The main research projects in our lab include:

  • Osteoclast stimulation of osteoblast recruitment and differentiation
  • Osteoclasts as a source of Wnt proteins in the bone microenvironment
  • Anti-adhesive mucine PODXL role in osteoclast formation and activity
  • Balance of canonical and noncanonical Wnt signaling control of bone metabolism and alteration in aging

About Dr. Oursler

Dr. Oursler is a professor of medicine and an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota. In addition to her lab's research projects, Dr. Oursler's research interests include age-related bone loss, novel therapies to promote bone formation, and bone loss related to menopause and cancer.