Life Sciences Seminar: New horizons in degenerative disc disease
New horizons in degenerative disc disease: When drugs, biomaterials, and CRISPR meet
Dr. Karin Wuertz-Kozak
Kate Gleason Endowed Professor
Department of Biomedical Engineering, RIT
Degenerative disc disease and associated back pain is a huge socioeconomic problem. My laboratory aims to better understand the cellular mechanisms underlying degenerative disc disease and to utilize this knowledge for the development of novel treatment options that allow for tissue regeneration and pain reduction.
Degenerative disc disease and associated back pain is a huge socioeconomic problem. Despite the high prevalence and treatment costs, current treatment strategies are not satisfactory. Surgical treatments for disc-related chronic back pain are invasive and expose the patients to high treatment risks, whereas the more conservative treatment strategies only aim at relieving the symptoms but do not treat the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms, thus often resulting in recurring pain. Opioids, which are commonly used to treat back pain, may reduce pain sensation in the short term, but they carry high risks of misuse and addiction. Consequently, there is an urgent need to develop novel treatment options for patients suffering from degenerative disc disease. Limited knowledge of the molecular processes that govern the disease, failure to identify suitable drug targets and the harsh microenvironment of the intervertebral disc all contribute to the slow progress in the field. My laboratory thus aims to better understand the cellular mechanisms underlying degenerative disc disease and to utilize this knowledge for the development of novel treatment options that allow for tissue regeneration and pain reduction. In this talk, I will provide an overview of some of our latest research results and how they may be used to ultimately help back pain patients.
Prof. Dr. Wuertz-Kozak is a pharmacist by training, holds a Ph.D. in Human Biology from the University of Ulm in Germany, and an MBA in Leadership and Sustainability from the University of Cumbria in the UK. After a Postdoc at the University of Vermont in the US, Prof. Dr. Wuertz-Kozak was a group leader at the University of Zurich and the ETH Zurich in Switzerland. Before joining RIT in October 2019, she was appointed as Assistant Professor at ETH Zurich for 3 years, where she was the recipient of the Swiss National Science Foundation Professorship Award. At RIT, Prof. Dr. Wuertz-Kozak currently holds the position of Kate Gleason Endowed Full Professor and leads the Tissue Regeneration and Mechanobiology Laboratory. She currently teaches BIME 370 “Introduction to Biomaterials” and BIME 670 “Tissue Engineering” and will offer the lab course BIME 670 “Practical Methods in Tissue Engineering” from 2021 on. She is involved in RIT’s Institutional Biosafety Committee and is a member of the PHT180 Leadership Team.
Beginners, undergraduates, graduates. Those with interest in the topic.
When and Where
This is an RIT Only Event