The Skeletal Development and Regeneration Research Laboratory of Jennifer J. Westendorf, Ph.D., 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.

Our lab focuses on the molecular and epigenetic basis for skeletal formation, bone and cartilage regeneration, and primary and metastatic bone tumors. Our research is revealing novel insights into numerous musculoskeletal diseases and aids the validation of new molecules as treatment targets. Our 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.

Focus areas

Our main research projects are:

  • Protein Phosphatase Phlpp1 in Cartilage Development and Osteoarthritis Progression. Read more.
  • Histone Deacetylases in Bone Development and Bone Diseases. Read more.
  • Canonical and Noncanonical Wnt Signaling in Osteoblast and Osteoclast Function. Read more.
  • Chromosomal Translocations and Cancer. Read more.


Our lab is affiliated with several Mayo Clinic research groups, including:

About Dr. Westendorf

In addition to serving as principal investigator of the lab, Dr. Westendorf is a professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and a professor of orthopedics at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Science in Rochester, Minnesota. She is the Margaret Amini Professor of Orthopedic Regenerative Medicine Research at Mayo Clinic and is chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Dr. Westendorf's distinguished career includes numerous leadership roles, awards and board positions. She was on the faculty at the University of Minnesota from 2000 to 2007 before returning in 2007 to Mayo Clinic, where she had earned her Ph.D. She was a V Scholar in 2002 and received the ASMBR Fuller Albright Award in 2009, the Mayo Clinic Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences Dean's Recognition Award in 2016, and the Orthopaedic Research Society's Women's Leadership Forum Award. Dr. Westendorf has served on editorial boards of several journals and as a member of the advisory council for the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Dr. Westendorf believes that diversity brings great value and productivity to teams and understands that there are many dimensions of diversity and intersectionality. She aims to promote an inclusive and equitable culture so that all can excel at Mayo Clinic. She is the first director of Mayo Clinic's Office of Research Equity, Inclusion and Diversity.