Biomedical Engineering Graduate Seminar

Wednesday, February 22 at 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm
Dental Science Building, Galagan 14B
801 Newton Road, Iowa City, Iowa

"Estrogen’s Effects on Fibrocartilage Growth and Homeostasis: An Important Signaling Molecule for Musculoskeletal and Craniofacial Tissue Regeneration and Maintenance" Jennifer Robinson Postdoctoral Research Scientist Columbia University Common pathological conditions including osteoporosis and osteoarthritis afflict women at a 2-6X higher incidence highlighting a sexual dimorphism in musculoskeletal and craniofacial diseases. In particular, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) degeneration, characterized by decreased cellularity and matrix degradation of the mandibular condylar fibrocartilage, is prevalent in women over 50.  It is well established that estrogen exhibits profound impacts on the structure and function of musculoskeletal tissues. In young individuals, the hormone promotes growth plate fusion to halt bone growth during puberty. On the other hand, loss of estrogen during menopause has implications in cartilage and bone degeneration leading to osteoarthritis and osteoporosis, respectively. While the role of estrogen signaling has been widely studied in bone and hyaline cartilage, there is a limited understanding of estrogen’s role on fibrocartilage growth and homeostasis. Thus, my work investigates the hypothesis that estrogen signaling via estrogen receptor alpha (ERα) and estrogen receptor beta (ERβ) play differential roles on the growth and homeostasis of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) in male and female murine models. Dr. Robinson will discuss the important role estrogen plays through these main signaling receptors on chondrogenesis and the inhibition of matrix degradation through the use of microbiology techniques, extracellular matrix property analysis, and functional bite force assays. Further, I will highlight the exciting avenues of future study in developing inductive biomaterials that utilize estrogen receptor modulators to promote regeneration via chondrogenesis and inhibit fibrocartilage degeneration. Elucidating the role of estrogen-signaling on fibrocartilage remodeling and homeostasis will enable the development of targeted therapeutics and tissue engineering strategies to promote regeneration and combat irreversible degeneration with implications in other soft and hard tissues for multiple musculoskeletal and craniofacial applications. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa–sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact Joshua Lobb in advance at or 319-384-0671.

Contact Info: Joshua Lobb,, 319-384-0671