Newswise — LOS ANGELES – Jay R. Lieberman, MD, chair and professor of orthopedic surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California has received a five-year, $2.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases to research gene therapy to enhance repair of extensive bone injuries. Examples of these types of injuries include fractures with extensive bone loss, non-healing fractures, failed spinal fusion and revision of total joint replacement.

Lieberman will genetically manipulate human bone marrow cells to overproduce bone morphogenetic protein (BMP), which is a protein that spurs progenitor cells to produce bone.

“There are a number of bone injuries that are very difficult to repair and lack satisfactory solutions,” Lieberman says. “My goal with this grant is to determine whether genetically modifying human bone marrow cells to overproduce BMP will help heal large bone defects in an animal model and, ultimately, provide a better alternative for repairs in humans.”

Lieberman’s study will determine the efficacy and safety of the gene therapy as well as establish a cellular dose of the genetically manipulated cells that can be scaled up for potential use in humans.

An abstract of the grant, 2R01AR057076-06A1, is available on the NIH RePORTER website.



Founded in 1885, the Keck School of Medicine of USC is among the nation’s leaders in innovative patient care, scientific discovery, education, and community service. It is part of Keck Medicine of USC, the University of Southern California's medical enterprise, one of only two university-owned academic medical centers in the Los Angeles area. This includes the Keck Medical Center of USC, composed of the Keck Hospital of USC and the USC Norris Cancer Hospital. The two world-class, USC-owned hospitals are staffed by more than 500 physicians who are faculty at the Keck School. The school today has approximately 1,650 full-time faculty members and voluntary faculty of more than 2,400 physicians. These faculty direct the education of approximately 700 medical students and 1,000 students pursuing graduate and post-graduate degrees. The school trains more than 900 resident physicians in more than 50 specialty or subspecialty programs and is the largest educator of physicians practicing in Southern California. Together, the school's faculty and residents serve more than 1.5 million patients each year at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital, as well as USC-affiliated hospitals Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and Los Angeles County + USC Medical Center. Keck School faculty also conduct research and teach at several research centers and institutes, including the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, the Eli and Edythe Broad Center for Stem Cell Research and Regenerative Medicine at USC, the USC Cardiovascular Thoracic Institute, the USC Roski Eye Institute and the USC Institute of Urology.

In 2017, U.S. News & World Report ranked Keck School of Medicine among the Top 40 medical schools in the country. For more information, go to


This press release references support by the National Institutes of Health under award number 2R01AR057076-06A1 ($2,284,028 over five years). One hundred percent of the project’s funding will be federally funded.

Grant No Link: 2R01AR057076-06A1