Translational Research and Regenerative Medicine

Translational Research and Regenerative Medicine

Iannis E Adamopoulos BSc(Hons), M.Phil, D.Phil

Division of Rheumatology, Allergy and Clinical Immunology
School of Medicine, University of California at Davis

Osteoimmunology (see also: biochemistry, dermatology, immunology and osteoimmunology)

Our laboratory studies the interface between the skeletal and immune systems, a newly emerging area of research called “osteoimmunology”. Haematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow give rise to both T cells which are important in inflammation and osteoclasts that regulate bone resorption. Differentiation and activation of osteoclasts from their precursors is tightly regulated by cytokines and growth factors such as receptor activator of nuclear factor kappa beta (RANKL), tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and various interleukins. Receptor engagement of these molecules results in signaling cascades and transcriptional changes that give rise to medical conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis and osteopetrosis. Using in vivo gene transfer of immune cytokines IL-23 and IL-17, we have established new arthritis animal models that highlight the importance of these immune cytokines in arthritis initiation and bone homeostasis. Using in vitro assays, we continue our attempts to define the cellular and molecular mechanisms that take place in this fascinating interplay of the immune and skeletal systems.

For more information, please contact Dr IE Adamopoulos or visit

Jennifer Cassano DVM, PhD

VM: Medicine & Epidemiology

(See also: Immunology and Infectious Diseases)

Dr. Cassano is an equine field service clinician in the Department of Medicine & Epidemiology with a 50% clinical appointment in the VMTH. As the director of the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory part of the Veterinary Institute for Regenerative Cures, Dr. Cassano oversees the preparation of all the stem cells used in various clinical trials underway at UC Davis. Her research seeks to better understand how modulation of the immune response can be harnessed in therapeutic treatments, combining the areas of immunology and regenerative medicine. Potential projects include evaluating mesenchymal stem cells antimicrobial properties and financial aspects of regenerative medicine in equine practice. Dr. Cassano hopes to mentor highly motivated students interested in getting involved in clinically oriented research. Students will be involved with all phases of the project, including publication. 

 For more information and to discuss potential projects please contact Dr. Cassano at

Kristin Grimsrud, DVM, PhD

Assistant Clinical Professor, Dept of Pathology, School of Medicine 

Associate Director of Vivaria and Veterinary Care, Mouse Biology Program (MBP)

(See also: Anesthesia/Pain Managment, Genetics/Genomics, Pharmacology/Toxicology)

Dr. Grimsrud is a laboratory animal veterinarian and her research focuses on translational medicine and animal model optimization and development. Her current major research efforts are in collaboration with the Knockout Mouse Project, Metabolic Mouse Phenotyping Center and Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center. Additionally, she is involved in a variety of microbiota bariatric surgery research projects that utilize mouse models. Lastly, Dr. Grimsrud has a strong interest in translational clinical pharmacology where she investigates variation in pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics in special populations (e.g. burn patients, pediatrics) and assess the influences of polymorphisms on drug efficacy.

Research projects that students could be involved with relate to studies to optimize anesthesia and analgesia protocols, optimizing superovulation techniques in rodents and a variety of other projects related to the genetically engineered rodent models and microbiota/gnotobiotic research.

Contact Information:


Office Phone: 530-757-3220

Peter J. Havel, DVM, PhD

Department of Molecular Biosciences
School of Veterinary Medicine and Department of Nutrition
Director, Endocrinology and Metabolism Core
Mouse Metabolic Phenotyping Center

(See also: Biochemistry, Endocrinology/Metabolism, Gastroenterology, Pharmacology/Toxicology)

Our highly translational research program is actively investigating the regulation of energy homeostasis and carbohydrate/lipid metabolism, and involvement of endocrine systems in the pathophysiology of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. My laboratory is studying the mechanisms regulating the secretion of pancreatic and gastrointestinal, and adipocyte hormones. The role of endocrine, metabolic, and dietary factors in regulating energy balance, insulin action, and lipid/carbohydrate metabolism is studied in animal models (rodents and nonhuman primates) and humans. We are conducting studies on the prevention and treatment of diabetes in a rat model of type 2 diabetes developed in our laboratory (UCD-T2DM Rat) that is more similar in pathophysiology to type 2 diabetes in humans than other available models (Am. J. Physiol., 2008). We have used the UCD-T2DM model for 15 additional published studies on the pathophysiology of T2DM and for investigating pharmacological and surgical approaches for the treatment and prevention of T2DM. We have been involved in clinical studies and experiments in animal models investigating the effects of bariatric surgery procedures on how these endocrine changes are involved in improvements of carbohydrate and lipid metabolism and the resolution of type 2 diabetes observed after surgery. Another major focus of the research is the role of diet composition (such as dietary fat and fructose) in the development and progression of obesity, diabetes, and dyslipidemia including studies in animal models and clinical studies in humans. In addition, our laboratory has been conducting translational studies funded by the NIH, ADA, and pharmaceutical/ biotechnology industry sources at the California National Primate Research Center in a diet-induced rhesus monkey model of metabolic syndrome with insulin resistance and dyslipidemia (Clinical. Trans. Sci., 2011, ILAR Journal, 2017) as extensions of our studies in rodent models and as preclinical investigations that generate data and hypotheses that are then tested in clinical studies in humans. We have demonstrated that consumption of fructose, but not glucose-sweetened beverages for 10 weeks increases visceral adiposity and lipids and decreases insulin sensitivity in humans (J. Clin. Invest., 2009). We also recently completed a comprehensive NIH-funded dose-response study of the metabolic effects of sugar- sweetened beverages (Am. J. Clin. Nutr., 2015) and are currently studying the metabolic effects of dietary sugars under ad libitum versus energy-balanced conditions.

Amir Kol, DVM, PhD

VM: Pathology, Microbiology & Immunology

(See also: Biochemistry/Cellular Biology)

My research is in the field of stem cell biology and translational regenerative medicine. Our group is specifically focused on the use of pluripotent stem cells in naturally occurring diseases in companion animals as platforms to conduct high level translational research to facilitate the development of novel regenerative medicine therapeutics for human and veterinary use. Ongoing projects in the lab include the regulatory networks that govern canine somatic cell reprogramming to induced pluripotent stem cells, and cellular replacement treatments for canine diabetes mellitus . Our group is always looking for the brightest and most enthusiastic future scientists that are eager to realize the incredible potential and promise of regenerative medicine. 

Contact information:

Nancy E. Lane, MD

Professor of Medicine and Rheumatology
Director: UC Davis Center for Musculoskeletal Health
Director: Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health (BIRCWH)

(See also: Epidemiology, Arthritis, Anesthesia/Pain Management)

Dr. Lane is translational scientist in musculoskeletal diseases, specifically osteoporosis and osteoarthritis including laboratory base models for over 20 years.  Her research has included evaluating how agents to treat osteoporosis affect bone quality, performs proof of concept phase 2 on an NIH funded clinical trial to determine how treatment with PTH could stimulate new bone formation in glucocortioid induced osteoporosis and if an antibody to nerve growth factor could reduce pain in osteoarthritis.                                                                                                                                             

Dr. Lane also has performed epidemiologic studies of osteoarthritis of both the knee and hip in men and women. Dr. Lane has received mentoring awards and currently is the director of UC Davis's K12 program on Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women's Health.  Dr. Lane has mentored over 30 trainees in her academic career and has published over 300 articles or chapter.

Currently, Dr. Lane performs preclinical laboratory based studies to determine how bone active agents are used to treat osteoporosis and change bone quality and bone strength; and how a novel hybrid compound, LLP2A-­‐Ale, can direct mesenchymal stem cells to the bone surface and augment bone formation in bone disease states including osteoporosis, osteonecrosis and fracture healing.

Mentees are welcome to work on all aspects of this on‐going research.

Please visit Dr. Lane’s website at and  the  website  for  the  Center for  Musculoskeletal  Health  at

Mike Mienaltowski, DVM, Ph.D.

Tendon repair, stem/progenitor cell biology

College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences (See also: Orthopaedics/Biomechanical Engineering, Genetics/Genomics and Genetics/Genomics)

My primary research interests include:

(1) the development, maturation, and repair of musculoskeletal connective tissues like tendon and ligament

(2) cellular mechanisms behind broiler muscle pathology

(3) the roles of the microbiome in proper gut transition in foals from birth to weaning.

In my musculoskeletal research projects, I am particularly interested in how differences in niche affect cells within the environment in growth and repair. Moreover, I am interested in the physiology of usage and elite performance as well as pathophysiology from over-usage, acute and chronic injury for all musculoskeletal tissues on all species as they might be related to use, environment, or genetics, and as they might be related to the manipulation of niche and collagen regulation genes. Furthermore, because the proper development of the musculoskeletal system  depends greatly upon proper foal growth and foal growth subsequently depends upon appropriate nutrition, I am interested in understanding how gut microbes facilitate healthy gut transitions in the foal.More information can be found at:

Contact information for Dr. Mienaltowski:  e-mail:

David J. Segal, Ph.D.

Genome Center, Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, Pharmacology, and MIND Institute

(See also: Neurology/Neurobiology, Genetics/Genomics, Biochemistry/Cellular Biology)

Research in the Segal Lab revolves around engineering zinc finger, TALE, and CRISPR/Cas nucleases and transcription factors. Almost every disease has a genetic component. Often this information is used only to determine how condemned a person is to develop disease. We would like to use the genetic information to fix the disease. A guiding principle for our work has been to study how nature does what it does, then attempt to use that knowledge to make useful tools to improve public health. We continue to develop new methodologies for genome editing. Our most recent efforts focus on creating epigenomic editing tools that can precisely manipulate epigenetic information at specific loci. Such tools can be used for the long-term control of gene expression for both research and therapeutic applications. Angelman syndrome is a rare neurogenetic disease that is the textbook example of an imprinting disorder. We are using artificial transcription factors to activate the epigenetically silenced gene in in the brains of mice and other animal models. 

Please visit Dr. Segal's website at:

Aijun Wang, PhD

UC Davis Medical Center, Department of Surgery (see also: Biochemistry/Cellular Biology, Orthopedics, Surgery)

My name is Aijun Wang. I am an assistant professor at the Department of Surgery, School of Medicine. My research interests center on engineering stem cells and biomaterials to develop novel regenerative medical therapies, especially surgical treatments for congenital anomalies. Since my employment as Co-Director of the Surgical Bioengineering Laboratory and an Assistant Professor at the University of California Davis School of Medicine in 2012, my lab has successfully combined tissue-engineering technologies with the most advanced fetal intervention, and developed novel biomaterial and stem cell-based treatments (including nanofibrous materials, fetal membrane, decelluarized extracellular matrix, iPSC-derived stem cells, placenta-derived stem cells) for devastating structural and genetic birth defects, such as spina bifida, hemophilia and congenital diaphragmatic hernia. Currently, we are extensively using the mouse, rat, guinea pig, rabbit and sheep experimental models to develop novel regenerative therapies. We are also adapting these novel therapies we developed in the lab for the treatment of naturally occurring diseases in companion animals.

Please visit Dr. Wang’s website at or the  website  for  the  Surgical Bioengineering Laboratory at

Contact Dr. Wang:

Joshua Wood, PhD, MBA, PMP

Associate Director of Laboratory Operations, Mouse Biology Program (MBP)

(See also: Genetics/Genomics, Biochemistry/Cellular Biology)

My research focuses on optimizing genetic engineering techniques to generate novel animal models. STAR Students in my labs will get an opportunity to work on projects encompassing animal husbandry, genetic engineering and design, pronuclear injection & electroporation, embryo transfer, cryopreservation and recovery, as well as genotyping and sequencing. STAR students will also get an opportunity to learn the business operations and the challenges faced by a large research and production laboratory. In addition to developing new and complex animal models, we are also actively researching previously unmanipulated regions of the genome including enhancers and long noncoding RNAs. As a members of the Knockout Mouse Project, Mutant Mouse Resource and Research Center, Mutant Metabolomic Phenotyping Center, Cancer Center Shared Resource, and Designated Campus Core Facility we offer the opportunity to do fast paced, high throughput research on novel animal models.

Contact Information:


Wei Yao, MD

Associate Director, Center for Musculoskeletal Health
Internal Medicine, University of California at Davis Medical Center

Dr. Yao is a distinguish bone biologist focus on translational research using animal models on bone diseases to evaluate bone active agents on bone metabolisms.  One of Dr. Yao’s research focuses for the past nine years is to investigate bone regenerative approaches using mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs), including bone targeted delivery and activation of MSCs, use of genetic modified MSCs or novel bone specific, osteogenic peptides for bone regenerative medicine.  Dr. Yao’s research group has performed many studies to test this approach in animal models of primary osteoporosis, aging, glucocorticoid-induced bone fragility, fracture healing and in inflammatory arthritis.  Dr. Yao has been using bone seeking agent to delivery MSCs to bone in an IND-enabling study.  Dr. Yao has collaborated with many pharmaceutical companies, including Eli Lilly, Pfizer, P&G, Glaxo and Smith Kline and Amgen et al, in their bone - active drug developments over the past 20 years.

Please visit Dr. Yao's website for more information -