Name and Title
D. Rick Sumner, The Mary Lou Bell McGrew Presidential Professor for Medical Research and Chair, Department of Cell & Molecular Medicine (formerly, Anatomy and Cell Biology)

Rush Medical College, Rush University Medical Center

Specific Area of Interest
Bone regeneration, bone remodeling, role of bone in osteoarthritis

What are you currently working on?
We are currently working on the use of biomarkers for early detection of peri-implant osteolysis and pharmacologic approaches to treating this condition, factors that control or affect matrix maturation during remodeling, and developing micro computed tomography for novel assessment of articular cartilage and bone mineral density.

What has been the biggest challenge/issue for you lately in your research?
Aside from the obvious (challenging funding situation), the biggest challenge is balancing the need for narrow focus while maintaining a broad, exploratory viewpoint.

What project(s) are you looking forward to in the near future?
I’m looking forward to exploring genetics of bone density, structure, composition and regeneration, as well as the possible role of the gut microbiome in peri-implant osteolysis.

What advice would you give investigators who are just starting out in the field?
Figure out how to be broad and focused at the same time.  The most common error is trying to do too many things well and not establishing yourself as the expert in a particular area.

Is there anything in your career/research that, if you had it to do over, you would change?
On the one hand, my technical preparation for what I ended up doing was less than ideal.  So, it would have been helpful to be better at molecular and cell biology.  On the other hand, perhaps, better technical training would have been limiting.  Who knows!

June 2017