April 28, 2021

Meet Jie Shen, PhD – Researcher

Assistant Professor, Orthopaedic Research

Dr. Shen and his team work every day to discover new ways to treat and prevent musculoskeletal disease. His current investigative interests include bone and cartilage research, with focus on injury, repair and regeneration of musculoskeletal tissues. His goal is to understand injury signals and tissue inflammation at the cellular and molecular level. 

Dr. Shen is an integral part of the Washington University Orthopedics research program – currently the #1 program in the US for NIH funding in orthopedics. Dr. Shen is also currently ranked in the top 20 of NIH-funded principle investigators (PI) in orthopaedics, with $1.3M/year in PI grants, and a total of $5.9M in NIH funding.

Where are you from? 

I am from China. My hometown, Yancheng, is seated in the southeast coastal area of China. Yancheng, the city of salt, has one of the largest salt industries in the past. What is more impressive about Yancheng is that it has the largest wetland in China, breeding a lot of creatures. Several rare wild animals, such as the red-crowned crane and elks, live in the national parks, attracting thousands of visitors throughout the year. 

What made you choose orthopedics as a research specialty? 

The reason I choose orthopedics is that I personally likes sports, especially soccer and table tennis. My injury experiences, although not severe, help me understand how bad it feels when your mobility is restricted.  

What brought you to Washington University Orthopedics?

I moved from University of Rochester to Washington University Orthopedics six years ago. I was deeply drawn in by the extremely outstanding academic environment of Washington University medical school. In the U.S. and worldwide, Washington University School of Medicine is a top medical school providing the most advanced facilities, resources and collaboration opportunities. The Department of Orthopedics is also a leading department regarding the clinical, education and research in the U.S.  

What aspect of your research do you find most interesting or rewarding? 

I think osteoarthritis (OA) and fracture nonunion are two of the most interesting and important musculoskeletal diseases to study. OA and fracture nonunion are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and worldwide, and there is no disease-modifying treatment for both diseases. I am committed to advancing the understanding of the pathological mechanisms to develop preventive and management strategies, as well as personalized biologic therapies for OA and fracture nonunion. 

What research breakthrough are you most excited about? 

My laboratory is currently focusing on the mechanism studies of fracture atrophic nonunion. We recently developed a novel atrophic fracture nonunion mouse model, which represents the major clinic manifestations observed in patients with inflammatory conditions, such as diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis. We also identified key downstream targets of inflammation in regulation of angiogenesis defect and provided the therapeutic approach to treat impaired angiogenesis and atrophic fracture nonunion in mice under inflammatory conditions. This potential new treatment has been patented recently. 

What’s the best advice you ever received? 

The advice I most likes is “Dream big, work hard!” This philosophy comes from several of my mentors, including my parents, my PhD mentor and my department chair. You need the vision/goal of the future, you have to work hard to achieve your goal and you also need to plan well.  

What’s your favorite thing to do outside of work? 

Outside of work, one of my favorites is playing soccer. I have been playing soccer since I was 10 years old. Also, I joined the Daddy’s Soccer Club of my son’s class three years ago, and coached the boys for a while. I really miss the fun times with the kids; we have been cooped up in the house for too long!  My family and I really enjoy traveling. It’s an awesome experience to see different places in the world. We will be going to Alaska this summer on our next family vacation.

If you weren’t a researcher, what would you like to be doing? 

I might be a car engineer if I did not choose research. I had great interest in car machinery and engineering when I was in high school. 


Learn more about Dr. Shen and his exciting research, including grants and lab.


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