The Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Diseases of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) is a unique academic research facility, dedicated to the study of osteoporosis and its treatment. It is one of the largest research units of its kind in the United States, and is nationally and internationally recognized as a center of excellence and a unique resource.

UAMS established the center in 1994 as the result of extensive planning and support of by the College of Medicine at UAMS and by the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System. The center has a faculty of 10 and a technical and administrative staff of over 30. The faculty of the center has a combined research experience of almost 200 years, has a collective record of more than 1,000 publications, and it represents a highly synergistic team with complimentary expertise in molecular and cellular biology, molecular genetics, the biology of bone as a tissue, and the clinical diagnosis and treatment of osteoporosis. The research of the center is supported by several grants from the National Institutes of Health (including a Program Project continuously funded by the National Institute of Aging during the last 15 years), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and Tobacco Settlement funds from the State of Arkansas. The total extramural funding of the center in the last 15 years has exceeded $30 million.

The goal of the research of the center is to improve the understanding of the pathophysiology of the bone fragility syndrome of osteoporosis, and develop optimal therapies for its treatment. Through interrelated projects supported by shared cores, the investigators of the center work to elucidate the cellular, molecular and genetic mechanisms that underlie loss of bone and strength, search for the mechanism of existing therapies, and develop novel ones for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis. The central research theme is that the fundamental problem in osteoporosis is aberrant bone cell number, which depends both on the birth rate, reflecting the frequency of division of the appropriate precursors, and the lifespan, reflecting the timing of death by apoptosis (Publication Link); and that the aging of bone itself and oxidative stress, and acceleration of oxidative stress by the aging of other organs and tissues, are responsible for the development of this condition (Publication Link).


Stavros C. Manolagas, M.D., Ph.D., is the Director of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at UAMS and the founder and director of the Center for Osteoporosis and Metabolic Bone Disease Disorders. He is also the chief of the endocrinology section at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System (CAVHS). He joined UAMS in December 1993, after nine years at the University of California at San Diego and six years at Indiana University. He has spent over 35 years in the study of bone and mineral metabolism and the interactions between the endocrine, hematolymphopoietic, and skeletal systems. His current research focus is the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for the development of osteoporosis with old age, menopause, and androgen deficiency; the role of oxidative stress in bone; and the development of new therapies for osteoporosis.

Robert L. Jilka, Ph.D., is a Professor of Medicine and a CAVHS Research Career Scientist with over 30-years experience in bone cell biology and service in the VA, and he joined Dr. Manolagas in 1990 in Indianapolis. He transferred with him to UAMS and is the Associate Director of the Center. His current work is on the regulation of osteoblast apoptosis, and the actions of oxidized lipids and parathyroid hormone on bone.

Robert S. Weinstein, M.D., is a Professor of Medicine and CAVHS staff physician. He is also the director of the densitometry clinical service and the bone histomorphometry laboratory of UAMS. He joined the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and the Osteoporosis Center in August 1994 from the Medical College of Georgia in Augusta, where he had been working exclusively in the area of bone and mineral metabolism for 20 years. He has extensive experience in bone histomorphometry and densitometry, and has been responsible for adapting these technologies for the study of animal models of osteoporosis. His research examines the mechanisms of the adverse effects of steroids on bone mass and strength and the role of the vasculature and skeletal hydration on bone fractures.

Charles O’Brien, Ph.D., is a Professor and a CAVHS Research Scientist and the director of the UAMS transgenic mouse core facility. He is a molecular biologist trained at Oklahoma and Yale Universities. He joined the Center in 1994, and his work focuses on the molecular control  osteoclastogenesis and bone turnover in health and disease. Dr. O’Brien is the Director of the UAMS Genetic Models Core.

Maria Schuller Almeida, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor with a background in marine biology. She received her degree from the Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas de Abel Salazar, Portugal. Prior to joining UAMS seven years ago, she conducted research in the mineralization of oysters, in her native Portugal and the National History Museum in Paris, France. Her current research focus is on the effects of anti-oxidant defense mechanisms on bone health and disease.

Haibo Zhao, M.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Medicine.  He received his M.D. and Ph.D. from Tongji Medical University in China and did his post doctoral work in the University of Turku in Finland. Prior to joining UAMS in 2009, he worked for eight years at Washington University, St. Louis. His research focus is osteoclast biology, lysosomes, and autophagy.

Elena Ambrogini, M.D. Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor and a staff physician at CAVHS. She received her medical and Ph.D. degree at the University of Pisa, where she completed her first endocrinology fellowship. She joined the division of Endocrinology and Metabolism and the Osteoporosis Center in 2007 as a post- doctoral research fellow. She later completed an internal medicine residency end endocrinology clinical fellowship at UAMS. She joined as faculty in April of 2015. Her current research focus is the pathogenesis of age related bone loss and the common molecular mechanisms between atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.

Li Han, M.D., is an Instructor with an M.D. degree from Beijing Medical University, China, and she has conducted research with the group since 1996.

Joseph Goellner, B.S., is an Instructor with a B.S. degree from the University of Missouri at Columbia, in biology. He has spent over 30 years developing in vivo research models supporting a number of different therapeutic areas.  He has been with the group since 2003.  Prior to this appointment, he was the co-director of the transgenic core facility for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals in St. Louis, Missouri. He is the Managing Director of the UAMS Genetic Models Core Facility.