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Julie Glowacki, PhD
Research Scholar: Julie Glowacki, PhD

Senior Scientist and Director, Skeletal Biology Program, Brigham and Women’s Hospital
Professor, Orthopedic Surgery, Harvard Medical School


Accelerating Fracture Healing by Increasing Osteoblast Potential of Adult Human Stem Cells

The overall goal of Glowacki’s work is to identify ways to optimize fracture healing by defining the regulation of human osteoblast progenitor cells, called mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). By learning the mechanisms that influence osteoblast differentiation of MSCs, we seek to establish ways to optimize patients’ healing potential. This information will also define ways to optimize stem cell differentiation for tissue engineering and stem cell therapy applications.

Glowacki’s team uses human MSCs after they are discarded during the course of orthopedic surgery with two goals in mind. The first is to quantify the osteoblast differentiation potential of marrow-derived stem cells for orthopedic patients to determine the effects of clinical parameters on differentiation potential. The second is to maximize osteoblastogenesis with MSCs by treating cells in vitro, with combinations of osteoanabolic and novel agents. This will provide new information about modifiable conditions to optimize in vivo fracture healing in patients. It also applies to bone tissue engineering with human stem cells.


Glowacki is director of skeletal biology at BWH and professor of orthopedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. She received her BA in biology, chemistry, and philosophy from Boston University and her PhD in biological chemistry from Harvard University. Glowacki’s research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, NOAA, and various foundations, concerns mechanisms of congenital and acquired musculoskeletal disorders and their treatment. She has edited or co-authored more than 200 articles, books, and chapters concerning original basic, translational, and clinical research on skeletal development, growth, and aging, and on innovative approaches to skeletal reconstruction.

Glowacki holds eight patents on aspects of skeletal tissue engineering. She has served as a voting member of a U.S. FDA panel, a consultant to NASA and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a board member of numerous scientific journals, and advisor to national and international organizations. Currently, she serves as co-director of the BWH Musculoskeletal Research Center and on the HMS Conflicts-of-Interest Committee. She has received many honors and awards for research contributions, community service, and for training and mentoring aspiring scientists.

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