Arthritis Investigator Award
Rush University

Researcher Qiping ZhengHow do you think your research will impact your local community?
My research is focusing on studying the mechanisms of chondrocyte maturation by delineating the cell-type specific enhancer for Col10a1 expression. By doing this we will be able to find the transactivators for Col10a1 expression and for chondrocyte maturation. Meanwhile, the transcriptional repressors may act as partner that antogonist this process and ar the potential therapeutic targets for prevention and treatment of Osteoarthritis (OA) progress. It would be presumptuous to specifically claim that my two-year award would lead to clinically relevant results but my success would indeed further this achievement and advance the purpose of the OA research community. As my research progresses, I am confident that it will ultimately lead to the identification of signaling pathways relevant to osteoarthritis. This will certainly help the 46 million Americans who suffer from arthritis including the 3.7 million Texans who live with the pain of arthritis.

How would you ultimately like to see your research applied?
My research will help to extend our knowledge of signaling pathways (such as BMP/Smad, Ihh/PTHrP and Wnt/beta-catenin pathways) related to chondrogenesis during skeletal development. It will also help to identify the putative transcription factors that impact chondrocyte maturation and Col10a1 expression. These factors might be the therapeutic targets for Osteoarthritis. Ultimately, pharmacological approaches to inhibit chondrocyte hypertrophy may help to delay the progression of established diseases.

What are your impressions of the Arthritis Foundation?
The Arthritis Foundation staff work so wholeheartedly to help not only the people who suffer from Arthritis or related disorders but also the scientists whose goal is to make arthritis-related research their careers. It's also an extremely high honor to get support from the Arthritis Foundation.

What role do you feel the Arthritis Foundation plays in the progress of arthritis research?
The Arthritis Foundation is playing a pivotal role for the progress of arthritis research. I am not sure how much percentile efforts compare to the NIH. However, the Arthritis Foundation is taking every opportunity to keep up with Arthritis research. Letting people know the latest progress regarding prevention, treatment and cure of arthritis. Funding support for scientist's related research and observe their progress through annual reports, etc.

Given the prevalence of arthritis - one in three Americans with the disease - do you have a personal connection that makes the disease more than a statistic to you?
Yes, my mother-in-law suffers from Rheumatoid Arthritis. However, she lives in China.

Considering all the medical conditions in need of your field of research, what are the mysteries surrounding arthritis that interest you most?
Upon OA progress, the factors that constrain articular chondrocytes (AC) maturation are relieved and cells have differentiated into a mature phenotype featuring by expression of hypertrophic hallmarks including Col10a1, a process similar to terminal differentiation of endochondral ossification. Our hypothesis here is that the transcriptional repressors will act as partner that antagonize this process and are the potential therapeutic targets for prevention and treatment of OA progress. Therefore, our interest is to study the mechanisms of chondrocyte maturation by delineating the cell-type specific enhancer for Col10a1 expression and to find the transcription factors that inhibit chondrocyte hypertropy and delay the progression of established diseases.

When you're not in the lab, where can you most often by found?
Mostly at home.

Favorite non-medical book you read last?

Favorite music and artist?
Right now, my son's guitar singing.

If you weren't a medical researcher, what would yoube doing now?
Back in China, doing farm work if the land is still available.

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