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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Thank You to Our Phenomenal Gullbrand Lab Summer Students
August 18, 2023
As the summer draws to a close, we'd like to thank our exceptional summer students, Penn URF-funded undergraduate Aira Bazaz and Drexel med student Caitlin Barrett for all their hard work! Both Cait and Aira have contributed immensely to the productivity and the culture of our lab this summer, and fortunately for the whole lab, they will both be continuing part time in the lab this fall.

Gullbrand Lab Receives Penn University Research Foundation Grant
April 03, 2023
Congratulations to Dr. Gullbrand for earning funding from the University of Pennsylvania's University Research Foundation. The Research Foundation Grant is designed to "help faculty perform novel, pioneering research to determine project feasibility and develop preliminary data to support extramural grant applications." The Gullbrand Lab will be using this funding over the next year to investigate how the spine field can predict the success of cell therapies for intervertebral disc degeneration using biomarkers and a variety of imaging techniques.

Congratulations to Matthew Fainor and Coauthors
March 28, 2023
Congratulations to Matthew Fainor and coauthors for the paper "A tunable calcium phosphate coating to drive in vivo osseointegration of composite engineered tissues" published in the Cells Tissues Organs as part of their Young Investigators Award Issue!

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.

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