Our Research

Sherk Lab 

Childhood obesity became more common over the last 30 years. Factors associated with obesity are also associated with lower bone quality during youth. This, combined with bone loss with aging and menopause, can markedly increase fracture risk over a lifespan. Optimizing strategies to improve both whole body metabolic health and bone health are of utmost importance. A vulnerable population for rapid bone loss is those with limb loss. There is an unmet need for prosthetic and rehabilitation strategies to preserve musculoskeletal function after amputation. Our active research areas are outlined below.

High fat diet and exercise on bone development and bone quality.We use rodent models of diet induced obesity during the initial obesity development phase, as well as after weight loss attempts and subsequent weight regain. Our studies focus on the metabolic benefits of exercise in bone and marrow. We are also investigating osteogenic factors in lean and overweight adolescent girls. Collaborations with Drs. Paul MacLean, R. Dana Carpenter, Virginia Ferguson, Chelsea Heveran, Sumeet Garg, Nancy Hadley-Miller, Karin Payne, Clifford Rosen

Preventing bone loss after amputation. We use a rodent model of amputation to test novel rehabilitation strategies for the preservation of health after limb loss. Collaborations with Drs. Richard Weir, Jason Stoneback
Sex steroids on bone health. We are challenging the established dogma regarding the effects of estrogen and breast cancer therapies on bone quality. Collaborations with Drs. Paul MacLean, Elizabeth Wellberg, T. Rajendra Kumar