Bjorn R. Olsen, MD, PhD
Dean for Research and Professor of Developmental Biology; Hersey Professor of Cell Biology
Bjorn R. Olsen, MD, PhD
Dr. Bjorn R. Olsen has made major contributions to the fields of extracellular matrix biology, genetics, and cell and developmental biology. These contributions have earned him international recognition and acclaim.
A native of Skien, Norway, Dr. Olsen received his medical and doctoral degrees from the University of Oslo in 1967, where he became a faculty member at the Anatomical lnstitute and conducted molecular studies on the structure of collagen. In 1971, he came to the United States to work with Dr. Darwin Prockop, and one year later joined the faculty of the Department of Biochemistry, chaired by Dr. Prockop, at Rutgers Medical School, now UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, where he was promoted to the rank of professor in 1976.
In 1985 Dr. Olsen was appointed the Hersey professor of anatomy and cellular biology at Harvard Medical School; this was changed to Hersey professor of cell biology when the Anatomy and Physiology departments were merged to form the Department of Cell Biology. Since 1996 he has also been senior member of the staff at the Forsyth Institute and professor of developmental biology at HSDM, where he is now dean for research.
Dr. Olsen has published more than 350 papers in professional journals. He is a member of and has held leadership positions in several professional organizations, including the International Society for Matrix Biology (as one of the founders and as president), and serves or has served on the editorial boards of several major journals, including the Journal of Cell Biology, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Development. He is currently editor-in-chief of Matrix Biology and founder and editor-in-chief of BioMed Central’s Journal of Negative Results in Biomedicine.
Fields of Interest
Over the past 35 years, Dr. Olsen has made groundbreaking contributions to research into the roles of the extracellular matrix in embryonic development, and skeletal and vascular cell and molecular biology. His research has furthered our understanding of diseases from dwarfism to congenital vascular anomalies, osteoporosis, osteoarthritis, corneal dystrophy and retinal degeneration. His studies have uncovered fundamental roles of collagens, transcription factors, and receptors that affect not only skeletal development, but also angiogenesis and blood vessel morphogenesis.
Professional Awards and Recognition
Dr. Olsen’s honors include election to the Norwegian Academy of Sciences and ScanBalt Academy, honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Oslo and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, the Humboldt Research Award from Germany, the H.C. Jacobæus Prize, and the Senior Research Prize of the American Society of Matrix Biology.