Rocky S. Tuan, PhD
Professor of Bioengineering

Dr. Tuan is a Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and a Professor of Bioengineering and Mechanical Engineering and Material Science and a member of the Cellular and Molecular Pathology Graduate Training program. He holds numerous chairs and directorship in committees throughout the University of Pittsburgh, including Director of the Center for Military Medicine Research and Associate Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine; is the editor of BRDC: Embryo Today and Stem Cell Research and Therapy journals, and is on the editorial boards of six other journals.

Office Location:
Room 221 Bridgeside Point II
450 Technology Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15219 15219
Contact Information:
Office Telephone: 412-648-2603
Lab Telephone: 412-624-5503


  • BA - Berea College, Berea, Kentucky, 1972
  • PhD - Rockefeller University, New York City, 1977

Research Interests

Dr. Tuan directs a multidisciplinary research program that focuses on orthopaedic research as a study of the biological activities underlying the development, growth, function, and health of skeletal tissues, and the utilization of this knowledge to develop cell-based technologies that will regenerate and/or restore function to diseased and damaged skeletal tissues. Ongoing research projects are directed towards skeletal development, stem cells, growth factor signaling, bone-biomaterial interaction, extracellular matrix and cell-matrix interaction, nanotechnology, mechanobiology, regenerative medicine, and tissue engineering, utilizing integrated contemporary technologies of biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, embryology and development, cellular imaging, and engineering.


  • Adult stem cell
  • Musculoskeletal biology
  • Tissue engineering
  • Regenerative medicine
  • Biomaterial

Awards and Honors

  • 1979 - Arthritis Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowship
  • 1981 - Basil O'Connor Starter Grant Award, March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation
  • 1987 - M.A. (Hon.), University of Pennsylvania
  • 1996 - Coventry Award, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
  • 1997 - Hap Paul Award, International Society of Technologies in Arthroplasty
  • 2000 - College of Fellows, American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering
  • 2004 - Marshall Urist Award, Orthopaedic Research Society
  • 2004 - Outstanding Mentor Award, National Institutes of Health
  • 2004 - Chief Scientist Pro-Tempore, Hospital for Special Surgery
  • 2006 and 2007 - Special Recognition Award, NIH Undergraduate Scholars Program
  • 2010 - Arthur J. Rooney, Sr. Chair in Sports Medicine, University of Pittsburgh
  • 2012 - Associate Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine
  • 2012 - Director, Center for Military Medicine Research

Selected Publications

View Dr. Tuan's publications on PubMed

  1. Li WJ, Chiang H, Kuo TF, Lee HS, Jiang CC, Tuan RS. Evaluation of articular cartilage repair using biodegradable nanofibrous scaffolds in a swine model: A pilot study. J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2009 Jan;3(1):1-10.
  2. Wang X, Song YJ, Jacobi J, Tuan RS. Inhibition of histone deacetylases antagonized FGF2 and IL-1β effects on MMP expression in human articular chondrocytes. Growth Factors. 2009 Feb;27(1):40-9.
  3. Jackson WM, Aragon AB, Djouad F, Song Y, Koehler SM, Nesti LJ, Tuan RS. Mesenchymal progenitor cells derived from traumatized human muscle. J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2009 Feb;3(2):129-38.
  4. Steigman SA, Ahmed A, Shanti RM, Tuan RS, Valim C, Fauza DO. Sternal repair with bone grafts engineered from amniotic mesenchymal stem cells. J. Pediatr. Surg. 2009. 44: 1120-1126.
  5. Pricola KL, Kuhn NZ, Haleem-Smith H, Song Y, Tuan RS. Interleukin-6 maintains bone marrowderived mesenchymal stem cell stemness by an ERK1/2-dependent mechanism. J. Cell Biochem. 2009. 108: 577-588
  6. Korecki CL, Kuo CK, Tuan RS, Iatridis JC. Intervertebral disc cell response to dynamic compression is age and frequency dependent. J Orthop Res. 2009. Jun;27(6):800-6
  7. Mauck, R.L., Baker, B.M., Nerurkar, N.L., Burdick, J.A., Li, W.-J., Tuan, R.S., and Elliott, D.M. Engineering on the straight and narrow: The mechanics of nanofibrous assemblies for fiberreinforced tissue regeneration. Tiss. Engin. Part A. 2009. 15(2):171-93.
  8. Tsai MT, Li WJ, Tuan RS, Chang WH. Modulation of osteogenesis in human mesenchymal stem cells by specific pulsed electromagnetic field stimulation. J Orthop Res. 2009. 27(9):1169-74.
  9. Colburn NT, Wang F, Yen J, Tuan RS. A role for Gamma Delta T-cells in a mouse model of fracture healing. Arthritis Rheum. 2009. 60: 1694-1703.
  10. Djouad, F., Rackwitz, L., Song, Y., Janjanin, S., and Tuan, R.S. Proinflammatory cytokines activate ERK1/2 pathway and compromise integration of chondrocyte-laden hydrogels into articular cartilage. Tissue Engin. Part A.. 2009. Oct;15(10):2825-35.
  11. Huang, G.T.J., Yamaza, T., Shea, L.D., Djouad, F., Kuhn, N.Z., Tuan, R.S., and Shi, S. Stem/Progenitor cell-mediated de novo regeneration of dental pulp with newly deposited continuous layer of dentin in an in vivo model. Tissue Engin. 2009. 15:3461-3472.
  12. Lozito TP, Kuo CK, Taboas JM, Tuan RS. Endothelial cell matrix up-regulates human mesenchymal stem cell expression of vascular cell markers. J. Cell Biochem. 2009. 107: 712- 722.
  13. Lozito TP, Taboas JM, Tuan RS. Interaction between human mesenchymal stem cells and endothelial matrix regulates differentiation toward vascular cell lineages. J. Cell Biochem. 2009. 107: 706-113.
  14. Tuan, R.S. Skin and bones (and cartilage): the dermal fibroblast connection. Nature Rev. Rheumatol. 2009. 5: 471-472.
  15. Bobick BE, Chen FH, Le AM, Tuan RS. Regulation of the chondrogenic phenotype in culture. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2009 Dec;87(4):351-71.
  16. Jackson, WM, Aragon AB, Nesti LJ, Tuan RS. Putative heterotopic ossification progenitor cells derived from traumatized muscle. J Orthop Res. 2009. 27:1645-1651.
  17. Huang AH, Stein A, Tuan RS, Mauck RL. Transient exposure to TGF-β3 improves the mechanical properties of MSC-laden cartilage constructs in a density dependent manner. Tissue Eng. Part A. 2009. 15:3461-3472.
  18. Wan X, Kim SY, Guenther LM, Mendoza A, Briggs J, Yeung C, Currier D, Zhang H, Mackall C, Li WJ, Tuan RS, Deyrup AT, Khanna C, Helman L. Beta4 integrin promotes osteosarcoma metastasis and interacts with ezrin. Oncogene. 2009; 28:3401-3411.
  19. Li J, Chen Y, Mak AF, Tuan RS, Li L, Li Y. A one-step method to fabricate PLLA scaffolds with deposition of bioactive hydroxyapatite and collagen using ice-based microporogens. Acta Biomater. 2009. Jun;6(6):2013-9.
  20. Lai Y, Sun Y, Skinner CM, Son EL, Lu Z, Tuan RS, Jilka RL, Ling J, Chen XD. Reconstitution of marrow-derived extracellular matrix ex vivo: a robust culture system for expanding large-scale highly functional human mesenchymal stem cells. Stem Cells Develop. 2010. 19(7):1095-1107.
  21. Kuhn NZ, Tuan RS. Regulation of stemness and stem cell niche of mesenchymal stem cells: Implications in tumorigenesis and metastasis. J. Cell. Physiol. 2010. 222:268-277
  22. Bergin PF, Doppelt JD, Hamilton WG, Mirick GE, Jones AE, Sritulanondh S, Helm JM, Tuan RS. Application of ribosomal ribonucleic acid-based real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction for the rapid detection of periprosthetic joint infections. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2010. 92: 654-663.
  23. Yan X, Qin H, Qu C, Tuan RS, Shi S, Huang GT. iPS cells reprogrammed from mesenchymallike stem/progenitor cells of dental tissue origin. Stem Cells Dev. 2010. 19(4):469-80
  24. Bobick BE, Tuan RS, Chen FH. The intermediate filament vimentin regulates chondrogenesis of adult human bone marrow-derived multipotent progenitor cells. J Cell Biochem. 2010. 109:265- 276.
  25. Maher SA, Mauck RL, Rackwitz L, Tuan RS. A nanofibrous cell-seeded hydrogel promotes integration in a cartilage gap model. J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2010. 4:25-29
  26. Bobick BE, Matsche AI, Chen FH, Tuan RS. Opposing roles of ERK5 and ERK1/2 signaling pathways in regulating chondrogenesis of adult human mesenchymal progenitor cells. J Cell Physiol. 2010. 224(1):178-86.
  27. Djouad F, Jackson W, Bobick B, Huang G, Janjanin S, Rackwitz L, Song Y, Tuan RS. Activin A expression regulates multipotency of mesenchymal progenitor cells. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2010. 1(2):11.
  28. Jackson WM, Nesti LJ, Tuan RS. Potential therapeutic applications of muscle-derived mesenchymal stem and progenitor cells. Expert Opin Biol Ther. 2010 Apr;10(4):505-17.
  29. Petrie Aronin CE, Tuan RS. Therapeutic potential of the immunomodulatory activities of adult mesenchymal stem cells. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2010 90:67-74.
  30. Korecki C, Taboas J, Tuan RS, Iatridis J. Notochordal cell conditioned medium stimulates mesenchymal stem cell differentiation potentially toward a young nucleus pulposus phenotype. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2010. 1(2):18.
  31. Alongi DJ, Yamaza T, Song Y, Fouad AF, Romberg EE, Shi S, Tuan RS, Huang GT. Stem/progenitor cells from inflamed human dental pulp retain tissue regeneration potential. Regen Med. 2010. 5(4):617-31.
  32. Mueller MB, Fischer M, Zellner J, Berner A, Dienstknecht T, Prantl L, Kujat R, Nerlich M, Tuan RS, Angele P. Hypertrophy in mesenchymal stem cell chondrogenesis: Effect of TGF-beta isoforms and chondrogenic conditioning. Cells Tiss Organs. 2010. 92(3):158-66.
  33. Alexander PG, Tuan RS. Role of environmental factors in axial skeletal dysmorphogenesis. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2010 Jun;90(2):118-32
  34. Kuo CK, Marturano JE, Tuan RS. Novel strategies in tendon and ligament tissue engineering: Advanced biomaterials and regeneration motifs. Sports Med Arthros Rehab Ther Tech. 2010. 2(1):20.
  35. Nöth U, Rackwitz L, Steinert AF, Tuan RS. Cell delivery therapeutics for musculoskeletal regeneration. Adv Drug Deliv Rev. 2010. 62:765-83
  36. Lozito TP, Tuan RS. Mesenchymal stem cells inhibit both endogenous and exogenous MMPs via secreted TIMPs. J Cell Physiol. 2011. 226: 385-96.
  37. Jackson WM, Lozito TP, Djouad F, Kuhn N, Nesti LJ, Tuan RS. Differentiation and regeneration potential of mesenchymal progenitor cells derived from traumatized muscle tissue. J Cell Mol Med. 2011. 15(11):2377-88.
  38. Jackson WM, Aragon AB, Onodera J, Koehler SM, Ji Y, Bulken-Hoover J, Vogler JA, Tuan RS, Nesti LJ. Cytokine expression in muscle following traumatic injury. J Orthop Res. 2011. 29(10):1613-20.
  39. Coleman CM, Scheremeta BH, Boyce AT, Mauck RL, Tuan RS. Delayed fracture healing in Growth-Deficient Factor-5 deficient mice. Clin Orthop Rel Res. 2011.Oct;469(10): 2915-24
  40. Wang D, Taboas JM, Tuan RS. PTHrP overexpression protects chondrocytes from straininduced hypertrophy. Osteoarthr Cart. 2011. Feb;19(2):213-21.
  41. Locke P, O'Brien T, Tuan RS. Stem Cell Research & Therapy marks its first anniversary. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2011 May 6;2(3):22.
  42. Tuan, RS. Role of adult stem/progenitor cells in osseointegration and implant loosening. Int J Oral Maxillofac Implants. 2011;26 Suppl:50-62
  43. Bergin PF, Doppelt JD, Kephart CJ, Benke MT, Graeter JH, Holmes AS, Haleem-Smith H, Tuan RS, Unger AS. Comparison of minimally invasive direct anterior versus posterior total hip arthroplasty based on inflammation and muscle damage markers. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2011 Aug 3;93(15):1392-8.
  44. Haleem-Smith H, Argintar E, Bush C, Hampton D, Postma WF, Chen FH, Rimington T, Lamb J, Tuan RS. Biological responses of human mesenchymal stem cells to titanium wear debris particles. J Orthop Res. 2011. 30(6): 853-863.
  45. Giri J, Li W-J, Tuan RS, Cicerone MT. Stablization of proteins by nanoencapsulation in sugarglass for tissue engineering and drug delivery applications. Adv Mater. 2011; 23(42):4861-7.
  46. Haleem-Smith H, Calderon R, Song Y, Tuan RS, Chen FH. Cartilage oligomeric matrix protein enhances matrix assembly during chondrogenesis of human mesenchymal stem cells. J Cell Biochem. 2011. 113(4): 1245-1252.
  47. Tuan RS. Current trends and new technologies in developmental toxicology. Birth Defects Res C Embryo Today. 2011 Dec;93(4):289-90.
  48. Norian JM, Owen CM, Taboas J, Korecki C, Tuan RS, Malik M, Catherino WH, Segars JH. Characterization of tissue biomechanics and mechanical signaling in uterine leiomyoma. Matrix Biol. 2012 Jan;31(1):57-65.
  49. Lozito TP, Tuan RS. Endothelial cell microparticles act as centers of matix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2) activation and vascular matrix remodeling. J Cell Physiol. 2012. 227(2):534-49.
  50. Bulken-Hoover JD, Jackson WM, Ji Y, Volger JA, Tuan RS, Nesti LJ. Inducible Expression of neurotrophic factors by mesenchymal progenitor cells derived from traumatically injured human muscle. Mol Biotechnol. 2012. 51(2):128-36.
  51. Steinert AF, Rackwitz L, Gilbert F, Nöth U, Tuan RS. Clinical application of mesenchymal stem cells for musculoskeletal regeneration: Current status and perspectives. Stem Cells Transl Med. 2012. In press.
  52. Jackson WM, Nesti LJ, Tuan RS. Mesenchymal stem cell therapy for attenuation of scar formation during wound healing. Stem Cells Res Ther. 2012. 3(3): 20.
  53. Rackwitz L, Eden L, Reppenhagen S, Reichert JC, Walles H, Tuan RS, Rudert M, N&oml;th U. Stem cell and growth factor-based regenerative therapies for avascular necrosis of the femoral head. Stem Cell Res Ther. 2012. 3(1): 7.
  54. Alexander PG, McCarron JA, Levine MJ,, Melvin GM, Murray P, Manner PA, Tuan RS. An in vivo lapine model for impact-induced injury and osteoarthritic degeneration of articular cartilage. Cartilage. 2012. In press
  55. Mueller J, Mollenhauer J, Tuan RS, Benz K. Quality control for mesenchymal stromal cells: Chondrogenesis as a standard condition? Rheum. Curr Res. 2012. In press.
  56. Jackson WM, Alexander PG, Bulken-Hoover JD, Vogler JA, Ji Y, McKay P, Nesti LJ, Tuan RS. Mesenchymal progenitor cells derived from traumatized muscle enhance neurite growth. J Tissue Eng Regen Med. 2012. In press.
  57. Alexander PG, Wang X, Song Y, Taboas J, Chen FH, Levin MJ, McCarron JA, Melvin GM, Manner PA, Tuan RS. Development of a spring-loaded impact device to deliver injurious mechanical impact to articular cartilage surface. Cartilage. 2012. In press.
  58. Lin H, Taboas JM, Tan J, Yang G, Tuan RS. Decellularized matrix derived from human mesenchymal stem cells enhances their proliferation, migration and multi-lineage differentiation potential. Biomaterials. 2012. 33(18):4480-4489.
  59. Diederichs S, Shine KM, Tuan RS. Cell-based therapies for skeletal tissue. BioEssays. 2012. In press.
  60. Xie XT, Tuan RS, Zhang CQ. Comparative evaluation of MSCs from bone marrow and adipose tissue seeded in PRP-derived scaffold for cartilage regeneration. Biomaterials. 2012. In press.
  61. Baker N, Zhang G, You Y, Tuan RS. Caveolin-1 regulates proliferation and osteogenic differentiation of human mesenchymal stem cells. Submitted to J Cell Sci.