Discovering ways to treat musculoskeletal disorders, particularly for people who have cystic fibrosis, is a major focus of UC Davis professor David Fyhrie's orthopaedic research laboratory thanks to endowment funding from UC Davis Health System's largest donor, Lawrence J. Ellison, founder of Oracle Corp.

Fhyrie's laboratory is funded in part by the David Linn Chair, one of four endowments created by Ellison's $6 million contribution. The Linn chair enabled UC Davis to recruit Fyhrie as director of the laboratory, set up his lab space and purchase equipment. It also allowed Fyhrie to allocate career enhancement funds to students and junior faculty, like post-doctoral fellow Damian Genetos and doctoral candidate Ron June.

Genetos is studying why cystic fibrosis patients develop osteoporosis with age. He has gathered preliminary data that suggests the genetic mutation that causes cystic fibrosis also directly impairs the ability of bone-forming osteoblasts to maintain normal skeletal structure. This research may pave the road toward better osteoporosis treatments for cystic fibrosis patients.

June, a biomedical engineering doctoral candidate, is studying the molecular structure and mechanical behavior of articular cartilage – soft tissue that helps distribute the load between contacting bones in a joint and allows for very low-friction motion. The analysis, made possible through the use of specialized equipment such as a dynamic mechanical analyzer, may yield insight into future treatments for cartilage diseases such as osteoarthritis.