MEET THE KEYNOTE: JACQUE COLE
Jacque Cole is an Assistant Professor in the Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, and she is the director of the Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Lab (OML). She received a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering (B.M.E.) degree from Auburn University in 2001 and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering (with minors in Biomedical Engineering and Biometry) from Cornell University in 2004 and 2007, respectively. She then completed two postdoctoral fellowships at the University of Michigan in Chemistry (2007-2010) and Orthopaedic Surgery (2010-2013). In 2015, she received an NIH K12 award through the Northwestern University Program in Movement and Rehabilitation Sciences to study the physiological mechanisms of bone loss following stroke, and she recently received an NIH R21 to investigate the parallel development of bone and muscle impairments in the shoulder following neonatal nerve injury, a collaborative project with Dr. Kate Saul (NC State Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering). The overall goal of Dr. Cole’s research is to improve current therapeutic strategies for treating and preventing bone loss associated with aging, disease, and injury.
Vascular function is vital for bone health, yet it is often overlooked in skeletal research. Bone will not develop or heal without a functional vascular network, and a number of clinical conditions involve both vascular decline and bone loss, including aging, obesity, and stroke. However, exactly how the vasculature interacts with bone is not well understood, such as how particular aspects of bone are altered by changes in vascular signaling and blood flow. My lab perturbs vasculature systemically with established mouse models of obesity and stroke to determine the impact of vascular changes on bone metabolism and mechanics. We believe that osteovasculature is a novel therapeutic target for treating and preventing bone loss in several clinical contexts. Understanding more about the expression of various cytokines, particularly those involved in tissue crosstalk (e.g., bone-vasculature, muscle-bone, muscle-vasculature), will expand our understanding of the mechanisms involved in these processes and will be critical for developing drugs or physical therapies to mitigate bone loss with vascular-related conditions like obesity and stroke. Understanding how osteovasculature changes with obesity and stroke and how that impacts bone metabolism and mechanics, as well as the physiological mechanisms involved with exercise or exercise-like interventions, are critical first steps for developing new rehabilitation strategies that address the bone loss experienced with these conditions.