The CarBon consortium consists of 6 academic partners, 3 companies and 3 charitable foundations, working together to train 14 young scientists.


Erasmus University Medical Centre

Depts. of Orthopaedics, Otorhinolaryngology Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, Special Dental Care & Orthodontics Prof. dr. Gerjo van Osch Dr. Eric Farrell.

The research group carrying out CarBon consists of about 15 people at the departments of Orthopaedics, Otorhinolaryngology and Oral and MaxilloFacial Surgery. The central research question of the group is “What drives cells to degenerate or regenerate connective tissues?”. By conducting translational research, the reseach group aims to prevent cartilage damage and to improve cartilage and bone repair.

Prof. dr. Gerjo van Osch, dr. Yvonne Bastiaansen and dr. Eric Farrell

Erasmus MC University Medical Center Rotterdam is an internationally recognized center for high-quality and compassionate patient care, highly valued knowledge transfer and high-quality knowledge development. The mission of Erasmus MC is to promote a healthy population and excellence in healthcare through research and education. Erasmus MC is among the top ten of best medical institutions in Europe and among the top 30 research institutions worldwide. Each year, over 200 PhD theses are defended and >10,000 scientific articles are published in peer-reviewed journals.

Principle Investigators prof. dr. Gerjo van Osch, dr. Eric Farrell and dr. Yvonne Bastiaansen supervise the three CarBon ESRs appointed at Erasmus MC. Francesca Moretto is the CarBon project manager.

Within CarBon, the three ESRs appointed at Erasmus MC will in particular aim to identify new targets (such as cell secreted factors, extra cellular matrix fragments or pathway inhibitors) for OA. cartilage tissue engineering and large bone defect repair and they will develop and test a drug/material screening path.

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven

Dept. of Mechanical Engineering, Biomechanics Section Dept. of Development & Regeneration; Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center Prof. dr. ir. Liesbet Geris Prof. dr. ir. Christa Maes

The Biomechanics Section performs research at the interface between Engineering and Medicine, treating a wide range of topics including bone and implant mechanics, mechanobiology and tissue engineering. The Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center (SBE) focuses its research on the understanding of the cellular and molecular basis of skeletal tissue formation, remodeling and repair. The SBE thereby aims to develop treatments for skeletal disorders, in particular regenerative strategies for cartilage, bone and joint repair.

Situated in Belgium, in the heart of Western Europe, KU Leuven has been a centre of learning for nearly six centuries. Today, it is Belgium’s largest university and, founded in 1425, one of the oldest and most renowned universities in Europe. As a leading European research university and co-founder of the League of European Research Universities (LERU), KU Leuven offers a wide variety of international master’s programmes, all supported by high-quality, innovative, interdisciplinary research. KU Leuven provides a stimulating home for all types of research, from fundamental to applied, and from individual research projects to large-scale, international research consortia.

dr. Liesbet Geris

Dr. Liesbet Geris

The research of the Computational Tissue Engineering unit of the Biomechanics Section is focusing on the multi-scale and multi-physics modelling of the biological processes in the context of bone tissue engineering. One of the major challenges in tissue engineering and an essential step towards successful clinical applications is the translation of biological knowledge on complex cell and tissue behaviour into a predictive and robust engineering process. Computational modelling can contribute to this, among others because it allows studying the biological complexity in a more quantitative way. Computational tools can help in quantifying, processes and micro-environmental signals to which cells and tissues are exposed and in understanding and predicting the biological response under different conditions. A suite of model systems is available, ranging from mechanistic models (hypothesis-based) over network models to empirical models (data-driven), targeting processes at the intracellular over the cellular up to the tissue level. Specific research projects focus on 4 subjects: (1) optimisation of cell culture conditions performing large-scale in silico screening; (2) identification of ideal scaffold properties for 3D printed materials including hydrogels, ceramics and degradable metals; (3) quantification and optimisation of biological processes in perfusion bioreactor based cultures; (4) investigating the aetiology of non-healing fractures, designing potential in silico cell-based treatment strategies.

dr. Christa Maes

Dr. Christa Maes

The overall objective of the research program of the Laboratory of Skeletal Cell Biology and Physiology (SCEBP Lab, PI Christa Maes) is to gain novel insights in the functioning of osteoblast lineage cells, in order to contribute to the understanding of skeletal biology and to the future development of new and better osteo-anabolic therapies. These are much needed to treat the growing group of people suffering from widespread bone diseases such as osteoporosis and to help patients with compromised fracture healing, either by stimulating endogenous repair mechanisms or through tissue engineering approaches.

In the SCEBP lab, we study the genetic and molecular control of bone development, growth, remodelling and repair, and we aim to understand the basic mechanisms underlying the functioning of osteoblast lineage cells in these processes. In addition, we are also interested in the contribution of osteogenic cells to homeostasis and disease in the broader physiological context of the organism, as skeletal cells also exert influences beyond the bone proper, for instance in the regulation of hematopoiesis and whole-body energy metabolism. One of our prime current goals is to elucidate the significance and molecular regulation of cell movement, adhesion and positioning in bone cells. By using genetically modified mice, in vivo lineage tracing approaches, in vitro systems and a variety of molecular methods, the relevance of selected genes is being studied in bone homeostasis and repair. Candidate targets include cell-intrinsic mediators regulating the motility, trafficking, adhesion and differentiation of osteogenic progenitor cells and the interplay between these cells and their local microenvironment, especially the skeletal vasculature. This research objective is based on the premise that stimulating the recruitment of osteoblasts to sites in need of bone formation could be a valuable osteo-anabolic approach in osteoporosis therapy and/or bone regeneration strategies.

IRCCS Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria San Martino, Instituto Nazionale per la Ricerca sul Cancro

Laboratory of Regenerative Medicine Dr. Roberta Tasso Prof. dr. Ranieri Cancedda

Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, IRCCS per l’Oncologia is one of the biggest unıversıty hospitals of Liguria, Italy with the certificate of accreditation and designation of OECI. Its location guarantees a steady interaction between basic researchers, clinicians and their patients, especially on translational medicine. The Regenerative Medicine laboratory is located in the Advanced Biotechnology Center Building, within the area of Ospedale Policlinico San Martino and extends over 500 square meters.

Dr. Roberta Tasso

Regenerative Medicine Laboratory has been founded by Prof. R. Cancedda and involved for several years in projects involving mesenchymal progenitors isolated from the marrow stroma on both basic science and applicative aspects, taking into consideration the experience built with pre-clinical investigations. The laboratory began for the first time in the world a clinical trial to reconstruct bone in patients with critical bone segmental defects as a consequence of severe traumas.

With the previous expertise of the Regenerative Medicine Laboratory, Dr. Roberta Tasso research focuses on manipulating endogenous regenerative responses for bone and cartilage repair. The research topic that is led by Dr. Roberta Tasso at CarBon aims to identify the secretomes and extracellular vesicles that are involved in the endochondral ossification process. With the appointed ESR at Ospedale Policlinico San Martino, the group will identify new candidate molecules directly involved in the endochondral ossification process by analysing proteins and extracellular vesicles secreted by mesenchymal stem cells under different stimuli such as hypoxia and inflammation.

Trinity College Dublin

Dept. of Mechanical Engineering Prof. dr. ir. Daniel J. Kelly

The aim of the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering (TCBE) is to promote and facilitate research and education in Bioengineering and related disciplines, and to ensure this research finds its way into the clinic in order to improve patient care.

Located in a beautiful campus in the heart of Dublin’s city centre, Trinity College is Ireland’s highest ranked university and one of the world’s top 100. It is home to 17,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students across all the major disciplines in the arts and humanities, and in business, law, engineering, science, and health sciences. Trinity’s tradition of independent intellectual inquiry has produced some of the world’s finest, most original minds including the writers Oscar Wilde and Samuel Beckett (Nobel laureate), the scientists William Rowan Hamilton and Ernest Walton (Nobel laureate), the political thinker Edmund Burke, and the former President of Ireland and UNHCR Mary Robinson. This tradition finds expression today in a campus culture of scholarship, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship and dedication to societal reform.

Kelly Lab – Trinity Centre for Bioengineering

Dr Daniel Kelly

Dr Daniel Kelly is the Professor of Tissue Engineering in Trinity College Dublin and Director of the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering (TCBE). The aim of the TCBE is to promote and facilitate research and education in Bioengineering and related disciplines, and to ensure this research finds its way into the clinic in order to improve patient care. Prof Kelly is a past recipient of a Science Foundation Ireland President of Ireland Young Researcher Award, a Fulbright Visiting Scholar grant (at the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Columbia University, New York) and two European Research Council awards (Starter grant 2010; Consolidator grant 2015). His research focuses on developing novel tissue engineering and 3D bioprinting strategies to regenerate damaged and diseased musculoskeletal tissues.

Klinikum der Universitaet zu Koeln

Dept. of Biochemistry Center for Pediatric Research, Experimental Neonatology Prof. dr. Bent Brachvogel

The group of Bent Brachvogel applies system biology approaches to identify novel molecular determinants, which prevent cartilage-to-bone transformation and promote cartilage formation and stabilization. Here, unique posttranscriptional and metabolic regulatory factors of extracellular matrix homeostasis will be studied and novel components of the extracellular matrix needed for cartilage homeostasis will be characterized.

Dr. Bent Brachvogel

Complex 3D chondrocyte cultures system and transgenic animal models will be used to determine the impact of the novel determinants on cartilage and bone homeostasis and to understand their molecular mechanism of action. As a major goal the group will collaborate with many excellent researchers from the fields of tissue engineering, cartilage and bone developmental biology and pathobiology within the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network to identify therapeutic targets to control cartilage to bone transitions and improve treatment of cartilage and bone defects and osteoarthritis.

Royal Veterinary College, London

Dept. of Comparative Biomedical Sciences Prof. dr. Andrew Pitsillides

The Royal Veterinary College’s Skeletal Biology Group consists of several groups united by a common objective, to advance understand skeletal biology in health and disease. Current interests focus on osteoarthritis, vascular calcification, tendon repair and regeneration, bone pain, bone scaling and the bio-mechanical skeletal interface.

Prof. Andrew Pitsillides

Research in group led by Professor Pitsillides on the role of early embryo movement in joint development and in the emergence of skeletal proportions is among the first to highlight mechanomodulatory impact on skeletal form. His group’s in vivo studies described how limb movements directly influence cell behaviour to achieve joint cavitation, establishing key roles for factors otherwise ‘classically’ linked to inflammatory pathways. They are now exploring how these pathways, as well as those linked to growth, contribute to bone/joint mechanobiology, with a specific focus on identifying key targets for translation; this merges in their new interest in mechanobiology of the osteochondral unit.

His group also aims to define how bones adapt to functional use. They previously found that nitric oxide production is an obligatory early step in mechano-adaptation, with a genetic component linked to growth rate. They pinpointed divergent contributions by osteocytes and osteoblasts to these mechanosensory responses and described how they can fail in osteoporosis. His group have pioneered an elegant and adjustable, non-invasive in vivo mouse loading model that is allowing them to explore, using state-of-the-art imaging, how bones and joints respond to functional and traumatic mechanical challenge. Their work as part of the Carbon Horizon 2020 consortium fits snuggly within this range of questions.

Surgacoll Technologies Ltd.

Research & development Dr. John Gleeson

SurgaColl Technologies is a venture capital-backed EI High Potential Start Up (HPSU) spun out of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) to commercialise a portfolio of implantable orthopeadic products. SurgaColl Technologies Ltd. develops novel tissue regeneration products for the surgical treatment of disease of bone, cartilage, and other human tissue.

Dr. John Gleeson, Chief Technology Officer, SurgaColl Technologies Limited

The company’s first product HydroxyColl is a medical implant designed to replace the use of patient’s own bone tissue when repairing damaged bone, due to trauma or bone cancer and is currently approved for clinical use in Europe. SurgaColl’s second product, ChondroColl, is a patented biomimetic, bioactive, three-layered scaffold for use in the regeneration and repair of osteochondral defects (cartilage repair), such as those which occur due to trauma or osteoarthritis. This product has regenerated healthy hyaline cartilage tissue is a wide range of large preclinical studies (Ovine, Equine) and is undergoing clinical evaluation to demonstrate the safety and performance in clinical use. This resorbable cartilage implant is an exciting early intervention option to orthopaedic surgeons in the treatment of damaged articular cartilage and may offer the potential to delay the need for full joint replacement. This superior performance puts us at the cutting edge of the International orthobiologics market.

LifeTec Group BV

Research & development Dr. ir. Linda Kock

LifeTec Group was founded in 2004 as a spin-off from the Department of Biomedical Engineering of the Eindhoven University of Technology. Academic roots that can still be clearly felt in the three LifeTec Group core activities: undertaking Preclinical Contract Research, developing and facilitating Tech- & Training platforms and Acceleration of medtech innovations.

Dr. ir. Linda Kock

With a dedicated staff with different backgrounds, LifeTec Group possesses a multidisciplinary team with expertise in preclinical R&D and has an extensive network to help medtech innovators big and small turn good ideas into great medical solutions. LifeTec Group offers research and training on sophisticated and dedicated in-house developed R&D platforms, such as for example the osteochondral platform used within CarBon.

The osteochondral platform consists of viable and functional osteochondral biopsies, which can be (mechanically) conditioned and monitored in a controlled manner, allowing for cost-efficient long-term assessment of regenerative cartilage and bone therapies.

With this platform the effect of newly developed biomaterials, pharmaceuticals, implant devices or combinations thereof on cartilage and bone response and repair can be assessed. The model is typically used instead of animal studies as a screening tool for testing arrays of different material compositions, implant coatings and drug dose-response studies. Based on these studies, the most promising candidates are selected for the next steps in the pre-clinical phase. This way, our clients can significantly reduce the number of animals needed and save time, effort and money.

Frank Zaucke is Professor and Head of the Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Research Unit for Osteoarthritis at the Orthopaedic University Hospital Friedrichsheim in Frankfurt/Main, Germany. Specific interests in Frank’s lab include mechanisms of skeletal development, control of cell function in degenerative diseases and the role of the extracellular matrix (ECM). His lab in Frankfurt is embedded in a clinical setting allowing the investigation of human samples besides using animal and cell culture models in combination with in vitro biochemistry.

Frank studied Biology at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany and completed his diploma and dissertation at the Institute of Genetics and Toxicology headed by Prof. Peter Herrlich. After receiving his PhD, he moved to the University of Cologne where he was working for almost 20 years with Prof. Mats Paulsson in the Center for Biochemistry at the Medical Faculty. After a couple of years as a Postdoc, he became an independent group leader and developed his own research profile focusing on pathomechanisms of chondrodysplasias and the biochemistry of the cartilage ECM. In 2010, he obtained the Venia legendi in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the Medical Faculty at the University of Cologne. In 2016, he moved to Frankfurt where he established a research unit dedicated to the different aspects of osteoarthritis. Frank is member of the Faculty of 1000, the editorial board of the journals Cellular Signalling and Scientif Reports. Further, he serves on the board of several committees for the German Academic Exchange Service. He is member of several scientific societies and vice-president of the German Society for Matrix Biology. In 2021, he will chair the prestigious Gordon Conference on Cartilage Biology and Pathology. His research is currently funded by the German Research Foundation, the German Society for Orthopaedics and Orthopaedic Surgery, the Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Foundation and the European Union

Frank Zaucke currently works at the Dr. Rolf M. Schwiete Research Unit for Osteoarthritis, Orthopaedic University Hospital Friedrichsheim and does research in Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Orthopaedics, Pathology and Dermatology. His most recent publications are on the role of interleukin-1 in osteoarthritis.

Partner organisations

Eli Lilly and Company Lilly

Mobility and Metabolism Drug Hunting Team. Research & development Dr. Mark G Chambers Hosting secondments, training

Dutch Arthritis Society,

 Training, dissemination, communication Unit

Orthopaedic Research UK

Research Dr. Arash Angadji Dissemination, communication

Deutsche Arthrose-hilfe

Dr, Helmut Huberti Dissemination, communication