Olsen Laboratory

Bjorn R. Olsen , MD, PhD, Dean for Research and Professor of Developmental Biology; Hersey Professor of Cell Biology

The Olsen laboratory studies skeletal and vascular morphogenesis, growth, and remodeling/repair. Work is currently directed at three project areas.

In the first project, we are studing skeletal morphogenesis and growth.  We are interested in genes that control differentiation of mesenchymal cells to chondrocytes and osteoblasts, the control of spatial patterns of mesenchymal condensations during skeletal development and tooth formation, the molecular mechanisms controlling the formation of ossification centers, the regulation of proliferation and differentiation of chondrocytes in growth plates, and molecular mechanisms responsible for accrual of bone mass and remodeling of the vertebrate skeleton in response to mechanical stress.  In addition to using knock-out, knock-in, and conditional knock-out mice in studies of specific genes, we make extensive use of genetic approaches in mice and humans.  This includes mapping of inherited disorders, gene identification, and mutation detection.

In the second project, we are investigating the molecular basis for vascular morphogenesis, using a combination of human genetics of vascular tumors and malformations and studies of cells in culture.  In addition, we are studying mice with inactivated alleles for collagens that are expressed in vascular cells, and using conditional knock-out techniques to inactivate VEGF and its receptors in mice.

In the third project, we are studying genetic causes of degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) in humans and mice.  The approach involves identification of mutations responsible for early-onset osteoarthritis as part of inherited osteochondrodysplasias and cellular/molecular analyses of pathogenetic mechanisms.

Laboratory Personnel


Dolrudee Jumlongras
Agnes Berendsen
Tatiana Besschetnova

Postdoctoral research fellows
Negin Katebi
Massashi Nagao
Xuchen Duan
Garif Yalak
Gili Naveh
Wei Huang

Research associates
Donald J. Glotzer
Vladimir Volloch
Karen Cox
John Martin

Graduate student(s)
Kai Hu
Hamid Barkhordar
Jonathan Foster

Research assistant 
Sofiya Plotkina

Administrative assistant
Yulia Pittel, 617-432-2359