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Heather Jacobs

Class 2013
Education BS, University of Maryland College Park

Dr. Jennifer Elisseeff

Research Interests

My lab is involved in many aspects of tissue engineering including studying the extracellular matrix and reconstruction of the eye and cartilage using diverse biomaterials. My thesis project focuses on implementing a hyaluronic acid binding protein to enhance lubrication of the cartilage surface.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a major glycosaminoglycan in the synovial fluid, and interacts with molecules at the cartilage surface to provide a low friction surface. In osteoarthritis (OA), cartilage tissue is destroyed and hence the synergistic interactions of synovial fluid lubricants such as HA with the tissue surface are lost. Intra-articular injection with HA is a common therapy to supplement natural HA; however, the clinical benefit of HA injections in patients remains unclear. Recently, we designed a strategy to non-covalently attach HA to the cartilage surface via a polymer-peptide binding system, mimicking the function of PRG4 (a glycoprotein) found on the healthy cartilage surface. We have shown that this technology enhances in vivo HA retention and in vitro cartilage lubrication in previous work (Singh, 2014).
In my thesis work, I am applying the HABpep technology to a mouse model of OA to study functional recovery. In addition to analysis of the cartilage surface for proteoglycan content, I am using PCR and immunohistochemistry to examine major signaling pathways involved in inflammation and cartilage repair.


Beachley VZ, Wolf MT, Sadtler K, Manda SS, Jacobs H, Blatchley MR, Bader JS, Pandey A, Pardoll D, Elisseeff JH. Tissue Matrix Arrays for high-throughput screening and systems analysis of cell function. Nature Methods doi:10.1038. PMID:26480475