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Robby D. Bowles

Phone: 801-581-2915
Office: BPRB 108 G

Robby D. Bowles

Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering;
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Orthopaedics
Assistant Professor
º Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award
° Kewaunee Postdoctoral Achievement Award, Center for Biomolecular & Tissue Engineering, Duke University
º Postdoc, Biomedical Engineering, Duke University
º Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, Cornell University
º BSE, Bioengineering, University of Pennsylvania


Tissue Engineering, Regenerative Medicine, Gene Therapy, CRISPR, Immunoengineering, Back Pain,

Current Research

Our lab is focused on engineering cell function to better control tissue development in engineered tissues. We use recent advances in CRISPR genome engineering and epigenetic control of gene expression to precisely control cell activity in engineered tissues. We are specifically interested in applying these techniques for use in tissue engineering, gene therapy, and immunoengineering to modulate tissue development and intervertebral disc degeneration for the treatment of back pain. Back pain is a leading cause of disability, which has a huge economic burden and causes great suffering to the patient. Our key focus is modulating the interactions between the biomechanics of the intervertebral disc, the inflammatory environment in the intervertebral disc, and the peripheral nervous system in these patients.

Current Projects:
1. CRISPR Cell Engineering - Engineer cells to promote functional tissue development in pathological environments.
2. Intervertebral Disc Tissue Engineering - Engineer intervertebral disc tissue that thrives in an inflammatory environment and produces a mechanically functional and restorative tissue
3. Mechanisms of Back Pain - Study the interactions between the mechanics of the intervertebral disc, the peripheral nervous system, and inflammation to better understand the underlying molecular events that lead to back pain.

Book Chapters:

Bowles, RD; Bonassar, LJ. Intervertebral Disc. Comprehensive Biomaterials, Ed. Ducheyne, Healy, Hutmacher, Grainger, Kirkpatrick, Elsevier Press, 2011.

Bowles, RD; Masuda, K; Bonassar, LJ; Setton, LA. Tissue Engineering for Regeneration and Replacement of the Intervertebral Disc. Principles of Tissue Engineering, Ed. Lanza, Langer, Vacanti, Elsevier Press, 2013.

Selected Publications

Stover JD, Farhang N, Berrett KC, Gertz J, Lawrence B, Bowles RD, CRISPR Epigenome Editing of AKAP150 in DRG Neurons Abolishes Degenerative IVD-Induced Neuronal Activation. Mol Ther 2017 Sep 6;25(9):2014-2027

Farhang N, Brunger JM, Stover JD, Thakore PI, Lawrence B, Guilak F, Gersbach CA, Setton LA, Bowles RD, * CRISPR-Based Epigenome Editing of Cytokine Receptors for the Promotion of Cell Survival and Tissue Deposition in Inflammatory Environments. Tissue Eng Part A 2017 Aug;23(15-16):738-749

Bowles RD, Setton LA, Biomaterials for intervertebral disc regeneration and repair. Biomaterials 2017 Jun;129:54-67

Bowles RD, Mata BA, Bell RD, Mwangi TK, Huebner JL, Kraus VB, Setton LA, In vivo luminescence imaging of NF-?B activity and serum cytokine levels predict pain sensitivities in a rodent model of osteoarthritis. Arthritis Rheumatol 2014 Mar;66(3):637-46

Francisco AT, Mancino RJ, Bowles RD, Brunger JM, Tainter DM, Chen YT, Richardson WJ, Guilak F, Setton LA, Injectable laminin-functionalized hydrogel for nucleus pulposus regeneration. Biomaterials 2013 Oct;34(30):7381-8

Bowles RD, Gebhard HH, Dyke JP, Ballon DJ, Tomasino A, Cunningham ME, Härtl R, Bonassar LJ, Image-based tissue engineering of a total intervertebral disc implant for restoration of function to the rat lumbar spine. NMR Biomed 2012 Mar;25(3):443-51

Bowles RD, Gebhard HH, Härtl R, Bonassar LJ, Tissue-engineered intervertebral discs produce new matrix, maintain disc height, and restore biomechanical function to the rodent spine. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2011 Aug 9;108(32):13106-11

Bowles RD, Williams RM, Zipfel WR, Bonassar LJ, Self-assembly of aligned tissue-engineered annulus fibrosus and intervertebral disc composite via collagen gel contraction. Tissue Eng Part A 2010 Apr;16(4):1339-48