Pilot Grants

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University of Colorado Interdisciplinary Joint Biology Program

The goal of the University of Colorado Interdisciplinary Joint Biology Program (CUIJBP) is to foster innovative collaborative research amongst multiple disciplines to advance our understanding of the etiology of inflammatory and degenerative joint diseases.

We are pleased to announce our 2021 Pilot Project Awardees (in order of PI last name):


RNA Profiling and Multispectral Immunohistochemical Analysis of Complement and Other Innate Immune Factors in the Synovium Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Injury

Nirmal K. Banda, PhD and Rachel M. Frank, MD

The two primary aims of this pilot project will be to quantitate complement gene expression and innate immune factors from synovial tissue and blood after ACL injury and to determine, using multispectral immunohistochemistry, complement protein expression and innate immune cells in synovial tissue at the time of ACL injury.


Examination of Body Mass Index and Inflammation as Contributors to End Stage Osteoarthritis

Patrick Carry, MS and Cheryl Ackert-Bicknell, PhD 

Using a Mendelian randomization design, the primary aims this study are to test the causal effect of inflammation and early onset (childhood) BMI on end stage OA (occurrence of total knee and/or total hip joint arthroplasty) in the UK biobank. Building on prior work, this project will also aim to test whether prior injury history modifies the association between inflammation and end stage OA.


Determinants of Nickel Sensitization in Joint Failure Patients

Shaodong Dai, PhD, Karen Pacheco, MD, MSPH and Craig Hogan, MD

The primary aims of this project will be to compare Ni2+ specific CD4+ T cell repertoires in synovial fluid compared to blood from implant failure patients and to determine DR53 or other HLA restriction of Ni2+specific APCs in joint tissue compared to blood.


Examining the role of inflammation and early synovial immune cell infiltration in the development of the OA of obesity

Lacey Favazzo, PhD, Michael Zuscik, PhD, Cheryl Ackert-Bicknell, PhD and Larry Moreland, MD

The primary aim of this project is to investigate whether pro-inflammatory dysregulation of the synovium takes place in obese human subjects prior to evidence of histological damage.


The Impact of Pulmonary Silica Exposure on the Initiation of Autoimmune Responses in the Lung in the Development of Autoimmune Arthritis

Amy McKee, PhD, Andrew Fontenot, MD and Kristi Kuhn, PhD

The primary aim of this project is to develop a pre-clinical animal model to explore the role of the lung and environmental exposures in the initiation of rheumatoid arthritis. We will determine if pulmonary exposures to silica particles precipitate or enhance the development of autoimmune arthritis in mice. This study will enhance our understanding of early mechanisms in disease pathogenesis and inform development of early interventional strategies for rheumatoid arthritis.