Gullbrand Laboratory

Welcome to Gullbrand Laboratory

The Gullbrand Lab studies how aberrant structure-function relationships across the spine contribute to the initiation and progression of degenerative disc disease. Our work spans multiple length scales across model systems of disease and human tissue. We probe spinal tissues by employing a suite of biomechanical and bioimaging tools, elucidating connections between tissue structure and degeneration of intervertebral discs, vertebral bones, cartilage endplates, and facet joints. Our group also focuses on utilizing this knowledge to inform the development of tissue-engineering-based approaches for disc regeneration. Central to this work, in collaboration with Harvey Smith, MD and Robert Mauck, PhD, is the translation of a whole tissue engineered intervertebral disc replacement towards clinical application in human patients. 

The Gullbrand lab is uniquely situated in the Translational Musculoskeletal Research Center at the Philadelphia Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center.

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The Gullbrand Lab Presents at ORS 2023
February 10, 2023
Congratulations to the Gullbrand Lab on their 4 podiums and 3 posters at the Orthopaedic Research Society's 2023 Conference in Dallas, Texas! Of note, Dr. Sarah Gullbrand was invited to present the lab's work on intervertebral disc-facet degenerative crosstalk alongside experts from other tissue areas in an inaugural "Cell, Tissue, and System Crosstalk in Joint Disease" panel. In the "Biomaterials - Disc and OA" session, our surgical collaborator Dr. Harvey Smith presented the thesis work of Dr. Ana Peredo describing a novel system for annular patch repair, and Dr. Gullbrand presented the thesis work of Dr. Victoria Muir describing a strategy to restore intervertebral disc height through injection of a granular hydrogel into the nucleus pulposus. Congratulations to Research Engineer Brianna Orozco on successfully giving her first invited talk and to Matthew Fainor and Janai Augustin for their engaging poster presentations covering recent biomaterial modifications to the lab's total tissue-engineered disc replacements. See everything the Gullbrand Lab presented in more detail on Twitter!

Dr. Sarah Gullbrand Presents at the VA Horizons Seminar Series
January 18, 2023
On Wednesday, Dr. Sarah Gullbrand presented on the extensive crosstalk between intervertebral disc, endplate, and facet degeneration discovered during our small and large animal model work as well as in our characterizations of human donor tissue. The presentation was part of the inaugural VA Horizons Seminar Series with the intention of uniting the diverse research division of the Corporal Michael J. Crescenz VA Medical Center under a shared sense of intellectual community.

Brianna Wins Best Biomechanics Poster at the 2022 PCMD Symposium
November 16, 2022
Research Engineer Brianna Orozco was recognized at the 2022 Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders Symposium with an award for best biomechanics poster. This award was presented to Brianna for her outstanding work characterizing "Intervertebral Disc and Facet Cross-talk in a Rabbit Puncture Model of Disc Degeneration."

Dr. Sarah Gullbrand Wins the ORS Spine Section Early Stage Investigator Award
November 10, 2022
Congrats to one of our very own! Dr. Sarah Gullbrand was awarded the Orthopaedic Research Society Spine Section Early Stage Investigator Award at this year’s Philadelphia Spine Research Symposium for her outstanding contributions to the spine field and the overall quality of her trainees.

The Mauck-Gullbrand Spine Group Presents at PSRS 2022
November 09, 2022
Members of the Mauck-Gullbrand Spine group presented to the international spine community at ORS PSRS 2022, and enjoyed reconnecting with our colleagues for the first time since the Covid-19 pandemic. Our clinical collaborator, Dr. Harvey Smith, gave a podium talk highlighting the thesis work of former PhD student Dr. Ana Peredo translating the use of tension-activated annular repair patches in a goat cervical model. Other members of the group presented on structure-function relationships between the disc, endplate, and facet joints in a rabbit disc injury model (Brianna Orozco), the translation of total tissue-engineered disc replacements in a goat cervical model (Dr. Sarah Gullbrand), and the use of hydroxyapatite coating to induce discrete areas of bone formation in composite tissues (Matthew Fainor). Collaborative work developing an injectable granular hydrogel for NP repair with Dr. Victoria Muir and an annular repair patch with Zurimed were also presented by Brianna Orozco and Dr. Sarah Gullbrand, respectively.

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