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Functional Genomics Study of Osteoporosis


Principal Investigator: Yao-Zhong Liu, M.D., Ph.D.,
Research Associate: Chun-Hui Yi, M.D., Ph.D. , Research Associate
Postdoc Fellow: Li-Jun Tan, Ph.D.

Research Focus

Our research is primarily focused on functional genomics study of osteoporosis. The major approach for the study is DNA microarray-based research that assays gene expression at the whole transcriptome level. Currently, under the support of an NIH SCOR Program Project "Genome-wide and Specific Gene Expression Study of Osteogenic Cells", we are performing a DNA microarray study of peripheral blood monocytes (PBMs) and bone marrow mesenchymal stem cells (BMMSCs) in subjects with osteoporosis (i.e., low bone mineral density (BMD)) and healthy controls (i.e., those with high BMD). PBMs and BMMSCs are precursors of osteoclasts (bone resorption cells) and osteoblasts (bone formation cells), respectively. By comparing genome-wide gene expression of PBMs and BMMSCs in subjects with high vs. those with low BMD, we are hoping to identify those genes and genetic pathways associated with osteoporosis.     

Another area of our research is genetic study of periodontitis. Periodontitis is a dental disease characterized by chronic and progressive loss of periodontal tissue (connective tissue that supporting the teeth) and oral bone. Under the support of an NIH RC2 project, we are performing a pilot study to extract and quantitate genomic DNA from buffy coat samples from periodontitis subjects and normal controls, which are provided by our collaborators, Dr. Robert Genco's group at University of Buffalo. This study will make preparation for an incoming genome-wide association study of periodontitis.