The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Albertson Receives 1.76M NIH Grant to Study Shaping of Skull and Facial Skeleton

Craig Albertson, biology and M2M, has received a five-year, $1.76 million National Institutes of Health grant to study the development of the craniofacial skeleton, work he says will address a significant knowledge gap. Albertson explains, “While we know a lot about how the skull and facial skeleton form, we know comparatively very little about how the head is shaped over development.”

For related work, Albertson and co-principal investigator Rolf Karlstrom, biology and M2M, also received a three-year, $747,000 National Science Foundation grant to investigate the molecular cues that allow bone to sense and respond to its mechanical environment. Albertson says, “It’s long been known that bone is a dynamic tissue that can respond to all sort of environmental cues including nutrition, hormones, exercise or mechanical use, but the cellular and molecular mechanisms that enable this ability are not well known. We have some nice assays set up where we can make fish chew on hard or soft food. We’ve shown that just that mechanical influence over a couple of months is sufficient to change the shape and density of bone in predictable ways.”