Sarah Elizabeth Gullbrand, PhD

faculty photo
Research Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
Department: Orthopaedic Surgery

Contact information
Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center
3900 Woodland Ave.
Research, A214
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 203-260-3089
BS (Biomedical Engineering)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute , 2009.
PhD (Biomedical Engineering)
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute , 2014.
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Description of Research Expertise

I am currently a Research Scientist in the Translational Musculoskeletal Research Center at the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center, with a co-appointment as a Research Assistant Professor in the McKay Orthopaedic Research Laboratory in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. My general research interests include cross-talk between the intervertebral disc and adjacent spinal tissues (including the vertebral bone and facet joints) during degeneration, regenerative therapeutics for the treatment of disc degeneration, and novel non-invasive imaging modalities for orthoapedic tissues. As a graduate student, I was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to pursue my thesis research on enhancing intervertebral disc nutrition as a potential therapeutic strategy for the treatment of disc degeneration. My thesis work with Dr. Eric Ledet illustrated for the first time that convective transport induced by mechanical loading can enhance the uptake and clearance of small molecules in the healthy and degenerative disc. This work was awarded the 2015 ISSLS Prize for Lumbar Spine Research in Bioengineering, the most prestigious award in the field of spine research. My postdoctoral research with Dr. Robert Mauck at the University of Pennsylvania furthered my interests in disc regeneration and was focused on evaluating novel tissue engineered therapeutics for disc degeneration in translational animal models. This work was supported by a VA Career Development Award (CDA-1), and our publication on the long-term in vivo evaluation of a tissue engineered disc replacement in Science Translational Medicine was featured by numerous news outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Popular Science. In the fall of 2019, I was awarded a VA RR&D CDA-2 to study the contribution of vertebral endplate remodeling and altered disc nutrition on the progression of disc degeneration, and the role of disc nutrition in the non-operative treatment of patients with back pain.

Selected Publications

SE Gullbrand, BS Orozco, M Fainor, K Meadows, R Hilliard, M Boyes, S Mahindroo, RL Mauck, DM Elliott, TP Schaer, HE Smith: Intervertebral disc degeneration instigates vertebral endplate remodeling and facet joint pathology in a large animal model. European Cells and Materials 47: 125-41, 2024.

Christopher J. Panebianco; Tala Azar; Michael Duffy; Talayah Johnson; Annemarie Lang; Madhura Nijsure; Karthikeyan Rajagopal; Jaime Santillan; Margaret Tamburro; Robert Mauck; Lou Soslowsky; Eileen Shore; Jamie Shuda; Sarah Gullbrand: Evaluating Learning On A Limb: A High School Orthopaedic Research Outreach Workshop. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society 0757, 2024.

Ana P Peredo, Tonia K Tsinman, Edward D Bonnevie, Xi Jiang, Harvey E Smith, Sarah E Gullbrand, Nathaniel A Dyment, Robert L Mauck: Developmental morphogens direct human induced pluripotent stem cells toward an annulus fibrosus‐like cell phenotype. JOR Spine 7(1): e1313, 2024.

Anna N Smith, Joseph B Ulsh, Richa Gupta, My My Tang, Ana P Peredo, Tim D Teinturier, Rob L Mauck, Sarah Gullbrand, Michael W Hast: Characterization of degradation kinetics of additively manufactured PLGA under variable mechanical loading paradigms. Journal of the Mechanical Behavior of Biomedical Materials 153: 106457, 2024.

Matthew Fainor; Galina Dulatova; Sage Frehner; Harvey Smith; Robert Mauck; William L. Heaton; Sarah Gullbrand: Characterizing Discogenic Cell Based Tissue Engineered Disc Replacements. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society(2013), 2024.

Austin C. Jenk; Eric A. Schweppe; Elisabeth A. Lemmon; Sarah E. Gullbrand; Robert L. Mauck: Viscous Hyaluronic Acid Carriers Enhance The Stability Of Therapeutic Mechanically-Activated Microcapsules. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society(1352), 2024.

Mohammed S. Abdullah; Bijan Dehghani; Julie Engiles; Caitlin Barrett; Kevin Burt; Robert Mauck; Harvey Smith; Thomas Schaer; Sarah Gullbrand: In Situ And In Vivo Mechanoactivation Of Anti-inflammatory Tension-activated Repair Patches. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society(1006), 2024.

Hunter Levis; Ameerah Lawal; Sarah Gullbrand; Robert Bowles: CRISPRa Of Novel Gene, ZNF865, Amplifies Cartilage Deposition In Engineered Disc. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society(2011), 2024.

Rachel Bonfini; Matthew Fainor; Jean-Aloïs U. Delpla; Kazi Safowan Shahed; Sarah Gullbrand; Guha Manogharan; Michael W. Hast: Primitive Architecture Fosters Cell Proliferation And Provides Mechanical Strength In 3-D Printed Polycaprolactone. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society(1362), 2024.

Sarah E. Gullbrand; Ali Kiapour; Michael Hast; Brianna Orozco; Matthew Fainor; Stanton Godshall; Rachel Hilliard; Thomas Schaer; Robert Mauck; Harvey Smith: Mechanisms Of Facet Degeneration Adjacent To Engineered Discs Implanted With Plate Fixation. Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Orthopaedic Research Society(0126), 2024.

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Last updated: 06/24/2024
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