Marc Wein, MD, PhD
Marc Wein, MD, PhD
MGH Research Scholar 2024-2029
Physician Investigator, Endocrine Division, Massachusetts General Hospital
Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School

Improving Osteoporosis Treatments by Studying Osteocyte Dendrites

As an endocrinologist specializing in osteoporosis and metabolic bone diseases, I understand the dire need for new therapies to restore skeletal integrity in our aging population. Fractures due to fragile bones cause pain, lack of independence and even death.

Bone strength is determined by the balance between bone formation by osteoblasts and bone destruction by osteoclasts. Imbalance in this delicate interplay ultimately leads to osteoporosis.

Because of this complex process, new drug targets for osteoporosis are desperately needed.

Osteocytes, cells buried within our bones, can sense hormones and then relay information to osteoblasts and osteoclasts. Osteocytes possess an elaborate network of cellular extensions called dendrites that are used to communicate with the cells on bone surfaces.

The goal of our research is to understand the circuits used by the osteocytes to orchestrate bone remodeling. Surprisingly little is known about how osteocytes become buried within bone and form their beautiful network of dendrites.

By studying osteocyte dendrites in close detail, we will identify new strategies to restore and rejuvenate these structures, which are lost in patients with osteoporosis. Highly synergistic approaches involving cells, animal models and human samples will be used to reach this goal.

This work will lead to fundamental new advances in our understanding of how bone deteriorates with age, allowing us to develop “next generation” osteocyte dendrite-rejuvenating treatments for osteoporosis.

Support from the MGH Research Scholar Award will ignite this emerging translational bone biology research program, thereby invigorating the Mass General skeletal biology research community and, ultimately, discovering new strategies to treat patients with osteoporosis throughout the world.

I’m so honored to receive this award to support our research towards new cures for osteoporosis. It’s wonderful to be able to work every day in such a stimulating and supportive environment.

Marc Wein, MD, PhD
MGH Research Scholar 2024-2029