USC Stem Cell scientists are advancing our understanding of how the body develops, maintains and repairs the muscles, cartilage and skeleton. They are also using stem cells to find new regenerative therapies for conditions ranging from difficult-to-heal bone fractures to muscle injury, from birth defects to arthritis.


  • Arthritis and other rheumatoid conditions are the leading cause of disability in the US.
  • Approximately 6.3 million bone fractures occur each year in the US.
  • The most common fracture prior to age 75 is a wrist fracture. In those over age 75, hip fractures become the most common broken bone and can lead to permanent disability.
  • Between 10% and 55% of muscle injuries occur during sports activities.
  • Cleft lip and cleft palate are among the most common birth defects, affecting approximately one or two in a thousand babies.


Muscles and Skeleton News

After surgical rib resection (top), a cartilage and bone bridge form (second from top) and then resolve (third from top) and remodel to regenerate the missing tissue in the gap (bottom). Blue shows cartilage matrix; red shows mineralized matrix. (Images by Stephanie Kuwahara and Max Serowoky/ Mariani Lab)

For large bone injuries, it’s Sonic hedgehog to the rescue

A USC Stem Cell study in NPJ Regenerative Medicine presents intriguing evidence that large bone injuries might trigger a repair strategy in adults that recapitulates elements of skeletal formation in utero. Key …

Nelson Poliran, Jr.

Where are they now? Stem cell master’s program alumnus Nelson Poliran, Jr., a dentist in rural New Mexico

In this series of alumni profiles, we highlight graduates of USC’s master of science program in stem cell biology and regenerative medicine. Our accomplished alumni have pursued many different paths—ranging from a …

Clockwise from top left, Miao Cui, Yulia Shwartz, Olena Zhulyn, and Kyle McCracken

Stem cell scientists explore the mysteries of regeneration at the Junior Faculty Candidate Seminar and Symposium

How can we regenerate tissues that are damaged, lost or diseased in the human body? This was the central question driving the four scientists who presented their research at the Junior Faculty …

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Muscles and Skeleton Videos

The Chen laboratory uses mouse genetics and human stem cells and organoids to study brain development and craniofacial neuroscience. The goal is to develop therapeutic strategies to treat developmental brain and craniofacial disorders.
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