This summer I am working on a project investigating the role of Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor (EGFR) signals in the degradation of cartilage matrix in Dr. Caroline Dealy’s laboratory here at the UConn Health Center. More specifically, I am studying the dynamics of articular cartilage matrix breakdown in response to mechanical strain as well as genetic gain and loss of EGFR signaling function in the knees of transgenic mice. My hope is to use these rodent models to draw parallels between osteoarthritis of the knee with that of the TMJ, as both joints share several key molecular components within their respective cartilage matrices. So far my research experience has been very enjoyable and with the help and guidance of a current graduate student here at UConn, I have learned a lot of new hands-on laboratory techniques and procedures including tissue sectioning and immunohistochemical staining. I expect that the results of this project will provide useful insight into the mechanisms of articular cartilage degeneration and may identify select molecular players as potential targets for therapeutic intervention of knee or TMJ osteoarthritis. My summer research is being funded through an AADR Student Research Fellowship, and I look forward to presenting the results of this project at the 2013 annual AADR meeting in Seattle, Washington.