Elizabeth G. Laird
My research goals are to characterise the mechanisms of collagenous tissue development, repair and renewal. Current research interests include understanding the dynamics of collagen synthesis and turnover, the role of stem cells in musculoskeletal homeostasis and the role of glucose in musculoskeletal ageing. Tissues of interest are primarily tendon and ligament but include cartilage, bone, cornea and intervertebral disc, as well as fibrotic tissue.
This research is important because age-related degeneration and loss of function in musculoskeletal tissues is associated with chronic joint pain, limited movement, tendinopathy, ligament damage, intervertebral disc degeneration and osteoarthritis. There is both a loss of tissue integrity and propensity to fibrosis indicating that homeostasis of the collagenous extracellular matrix is lost with age. Understanding the molecular processes that create functional musculoskeletal tissues during development and growth, and which malfunction or cease to operate in aged tissues is key to developing new strategies for tissue engineering, to activate intrinsic stem cell repair mechanisms and to develop beneficial pharmaceutical, dietary or exercise-based interventions in an increasingly aged society.