This is an application for Dr. Daniel Clark for a Mentored Clinical Scientist Research Career Development Award (K08). Dr. Clark has been training to establish himself as an investigator in basic science research of osteoimmunology, and this award will provide Dr. Clark with the support and opportunities necessary to reach his career goal of being an independent researcher. In pursuit of his career goal, the K08 award will allow Dr. Clark to: (1) to become an expert in osteoimmunology; (2) develop an independent research program through novel application of osteoimmunology to the investigation of periodontal disease; (3) create a productive and impactful publication record; (4) enhance grant writing skills and create a record of successful utilization of past and current awards. Towards his career goal, Dr. Clark has established a transdisciplinary team to provide their expertise in research training and mentorship in career development. Primary mentor Dr. Ralph Marcucio (expert in bone biology) and co-mentor Dr. Mary Nakamura (immunologist and expert in osteoimmunology) will provide foundational training in osteoimmunology, and co-mentor Dr. Yvonne Kapila (leading dentist-scientist and periodontal basic science researcher) will provide expertise and guidance for osteoimmunological applications to periodontal disease research. In addition, collaborators Drs. Marina Sirota, Eben Alsberg, and Saul Villeda will provide their expertise of bioinformatics, cell-based therapeutics, and aging biology respectively. Immune system dysfunction increases with age and is associated with an increased prevalence and severity of inflammatory conditions in elderly populations, including periodontal disease. The cellular and molecular process regulating the inflammatory response that become perturbed by age are unknown. Dr. Clark's long term goal is to identify cellular and molecular targets for immunomodulatory treatment of periodontal disease. The objective of this proposal is to understand how a key cellular regulator of the innate inflammatory response, macrophages, interacts with mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) and Th17 cells, to regulate inflammation in bone and how these processes become dysregulated with age. Dr. Clark will utilize primary cell lines from young and old mice and a periodontal disease mouse model to investigate (1) the extent to which macrophages and MSCs interact through triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells-2 (TREM2) to downregulate inflammation; (2) the extent to which an aged macrophage phenotype drives pathogenic Th17 cell expansion; (3) and demonstrate the effect of immunomodulation with cell-based therapeutics that target age-related perturbations to rejuvenate the immune response in periodontal disease. Further single cell analysis and bioinformatics techniques will produce transcriptomic datasets to identify gene expression signatures associated with aging and inflammatory dysregulation. Findings from this project will improve our understanding of immune regulation in bone, introduce novel targets for therapy, and provide Dr. Clark with a novel independent research program.
Proper regulation of inflammation within bone is critical for preventing disease and healing from injury. A dysregulated immune response becomes more prevalent in elderly populations and results in a susceptibility to numerous conditions, including periodontal disease. The goal of this project is to understand the age-related perturbations that occur to the cellular and molecular regulators of the innate immune response in bone.