Research Team

Karl J. Jepsen

Henry Ruppenthal Family Professor and Associate Chair of Research, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Professor, Biomedical Engineering, College of Engineering

Director, Michigan Integrative Musculoskeletal Health Core Center

Chair, Laboratory and Research Safety Committee

Dr. Jepsen earned a BS and MS in Mechanical Engineering at Wayne State University in Detroit, and an MS and PhD in Bioengineering from the University of Michigan. He conducted his post-doctoral training at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, where he then served as Assistant Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics. In 1999, he accepted a position in the Department of Orthopaedics at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He returned to Michigan in September, 2011.

His research program focuses on understanding how complex physiological systems such as the skeletal system establish function during growth and maintain function during aging. Having a better understanding of how complex systems work is expected to benefit efforts to reduce fracture risk by identifying the genetic and environmental factors that impair (or promote) specific components of the functional adaptation process that compromise (or improve) musculoskeletal health. A pattern in the way individuals coordinate their traits was identified in a mouse model and then successfully translated to the human skeleton. This pattern or network of trait interactions has experimental value in that genetic factors regulating each component of the network can be teased out and studied. The network also has tremendous clinical value because it means a person's fracture risk can be predicted earlier in life and will provide insight into novel prophylactic therapies. Evaluating acquired trait sets is expected to provide a more flexible, personalized approach to identifying novel biomechanical and biological pathways contributing to bone fragility.

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Erin Bigelow, Research Lab Specialist

Erin coordinates studies in the laboratory. She works on the ATLAS project, and also as part of the nanoCT core. Erin holds an M.S. in Comparative Medicine and Integrative Biology from Michigan State University. Erin has been with the lab since 2009.

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Basel A. Khader, Ph.D.

Basel holds a PhD in Mechanical and Industrial Engineering from Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. During his PhD, Basel developed a novel injectable Glass Polyalkenoate Cement and investigated the roles of germanium and magnesium oxide in silica-based bioactive glass for use in orthopaedic applications.

His expertise includes; biomaterials, materials and biomedical engineering, glass science, mechanical testing and design, cell culturing and animal models.

Basel joined the Orthopaedic Surgery Research Department, School of Medicine in 2018.

Currently, Basel investigates biomaterials and their biological responses for orthopaedic applications, specifically the Ti alloy rod debris for early-onset scoliosis, collaborating with the Orthopaedic Surgery Pediatric Research Group at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital at Michigan Medicine.

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Michael Casden

Michael is a senior at the University of Michigan studying movement science. He plans to attend medical school following graduation.

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Andrea Clark, CT-Core coordinator

Andrea runs the nanoCT/microCT core for the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories. She assists the Jepsen lab with nanoCT scanning and analysis. Andrea holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from Michigan State University. Andrea joined the lab in 2017 with a wealth of experience in microscopy imaging.

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Rob Goulet, Computer Research/IT

Rob is the computer research specialist for the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories. He helps the Jepsen lab with setting up and maintaining both hardware and software systems for research. He is developing the ATLAS project database as well we several other research interfaces used within the lab. Rob holds a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Rob has been with the ORL for 3 years.

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Bonnie Nolan, Animal Coordinator

Bonnie is an animal tech for the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories. She coordinates all of the animal care and study information for the Jepsen lab. She also assists several other labs within the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories. She has been part of the ORL for 17 years.

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Carol Whitinger, Histology

Carol manages the histology unit located within the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories. Carol helps the Jepsen Lab with developing protocols for plastic and paraffin embedding, sectioning samples, and staining tissues. Carol performed histology studies in industry for 14 years before returning to the ORL in 2014.

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Natalie Mijal, Administrative Assistant Sr

Nat is support staff for the basic research faculty within the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories. She assists the lab with procurement, travel arrangements, and administrative details. Nat has been with the ORL since 2017.

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Sharon Vaassen, Research Manager

Sharon is the research administrator for the Orthopaedic Surgery Department at the University of Michigan. She handles all of the grant submissions and other administrative needs for the Jepsen lab. She has been with Orthopaedic Surgery for 24 years.

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Post-Doctoral Training: Stephen H. Schlecht, Ph.D.; Melissa Ramcharan, Ph.D.; Eugene Manley Jr., Ph.D.; Yueqin "Michelle" Yang;

Ph.D. Students: Daniella Patton, PhD., Melissa Ramcharan, Ph.D.

Masters Students: Richard W. Nakkula Jr., M.S.E.; Ferrous Ward

Undergraduate Students: Amber Cathey; Antonio Ciarelli, Camden Fuller; Zachary Gala; Noah J. Mathis; Drew Moss; Monica Patel