Imagine a body that is totally coordinated, strong and flexible, healing quickly when injured and able to fight off infections and cancer cells. This would be a body with healthy connective tissue. The goal of the Osher Center Connective Tissue Lab is to learn how to keep connective tissue flexible and free from pain, slow down aging and increase the health of the whole body.
We believe that many of the seemingly unsolvable riddles of medicine (why do some injuries heal while others result in chronic pain? how does the body defend itself against cancer?) are due to the fact that their answers involve connective tissue, which medicine so far has mostly neglected.
One of the limitations of conventional medicine is its fragmentation of the body into separate systems and body parts. Connective tissue is a body-wide network that connects all the systems and parts of the body together, and therefore is important for the integrated functioning the whole body.
Importantly, connective tissue is sensitive to body movements, such that the way we move every day determines the shape of our “connective tissue body” over time. One of the goals of the Osher Center Connective Tissue Lab is to understand how the mechanical forces created by body movements can help connective tissue stay both strong and flexible, and heal successfully when it has been injured. We study the effects of these mechanical forces at all levels of function, from cells to tissues to the body as a whole.
Dr. Dennis Muñoz-Vergara, post-doctoral integrative medicine research fellow, is continuing connective tissue research under the guidance of Drs. Peter Wayne, Osher Director, and Anne Marie Zavacki, Osher Research Affiliate, at BWH.
Former Connective Tissue Laboratory Principal Investigator, Dr. Helene Langevin, no longer works at the Osher Center. However, she continues to lead connective tissue research, along with her former laboratory manager, Dr. Lisbeth Berrueta, at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.