The intervertebral disc is a complex, avascular tissue that separates opposing vertebrae, permitting a range of motions and accommodating high biomechanical forces applied to the spine. The interaction between the semifluid interior of the disc and the tight molecular lattice of the surrounding ligament-like tissues provide spinal stability. Disturbing this relationship results in disc degeneration, a condition that can lead to excruciating back/neck pain and loss of function, and which often requires costly surgical interventions. Drs. Risbud’s work focusses on determining how disc cells can survive and function in this low oxygen - high osmotic pressure environment using molecular techniques. A second area of study is to elucidate the effect of factors (cytokines) that cause inflammation of the cells that populate the disc. These studies are yielding new insights into the pathogenesis of degenerative disc disease and providing a range of new targets for drugs to prevent and control disc degeneration and back pain.
Makarand V. Risbud, PhD
James J. Maguire Jr. Professor of Spine Research
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Co-Director Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine Graduate Program
1025 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107