Research

Areas of Interest

The laboratory is composed of very skilled clinician scientists, basic science researchers, and biomedical engineers, which provides a multidisciplinary approach to address this complex disease process. To that effect, the lab is divided into six main areas of interest: gene- and cell-based therapy, biology of disc degeneration, biomarker discovery, mechanobiology, tissue Engineering, and biomechanics. Read more about what our faculty and trainees are working on here.

Lab Capabilities and Resources

Facilities and Resources

The Ferguson Laboratory has approximately 3,500 square feet devoted to biochemistry, histology, tissue culture, and biomechanical testing. In addition, the lab’s faculty, staff, and trainees have 1,000 square feet of office space. Our team also collaborates with researchers in other labs—the Department of Orthopedics and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, including the Mechanobiology Laboratory, and Human Engineering Research Laboratory. The University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Biological Imaging, UPMC Investigational Drug Service, and Magnetic Resonance Research Center are also utilized as needed.

Equipment

The lab has several key pieces of equipment dedicated to our team’s research in molecular biology, assisting them with the analysis of genetic material. The state-of-the-art robotics laboratory if outfitted with equipment for testing kinematics and biomechanics. 

Wet Lab

The general wet lab area facilitates protein analysis, gene expression, and various ELISAs. It includes the following: one chemical fume hood, standard air, vacuum, gas, and water provided to bench work stations, three bio safety cabinets, Bio-Rad polyacrylamide slab gel electrophoresis equipment and accessories, agarose gel electrophoresis facilities, three benchtop centrifuges, Perkin Elmer plate-reading spectrophotometer, PCR Workstation, Bio-Rad iQ5 PCR system, and gramatic and microgramatic balances.  

Histology

The histology section of the lab houses two cutting workstations, a cryostat and tissue preparation stations, and a paraffin embedder. This allows the lab to utilize immunohistochemistry (IHC), immunofluorescence (IF), and other staining techniques. A microscopy room includes a Nikon Eclipse TS100 inverted microscope, a Nikon Eclipse E800 fluorescent transmission microscope, a stereo microscope for dissection, and an RTse SPOT camera. Visualization of IHC or IF can be accomplished within the lab, but expert support also exists from the university in the form of its core imaging facility, the Center for Biological Imaging.  

Tissue Culture

The tissue culture space consists of three sterile hoods, four HERACell 150i’s, and one ThermoForma Series II Water Jacketed CO2 incubator. Tissue culture facilities enable cell and organ culture.  

Biomechanics

The biomechanics region holds a Staubli RX90 serial-linkage robot, NDI Polaris motion capture system, a 5-camera Vicon motion capture system, a benchtop axial testing machine, a dissolved oxygen probe, 4-wire RTD temperature sensor, BK Precision programmable power supply, a HERACell 150i with 1-21% O2 capability, standing drill press, band saw, and work bench. These tools are helpful for prototype design and modification of existing fixtures, but design and fabrication are supported by machine and electronic shops within the School of Medicine and the School of Engineering.

Collaborators