Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

James H-C Wang, PhD

  • Professor
  • Albert B. Ferguson, Jr., MD, Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery
  • Director, MechanoBiology Laboratory

Dr. James H-C Wang is currently a professor in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He serves as the director of the MechanoBiology Laboratory in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Wang is also a faculty member at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh. 

Dr. Wang received his Bachelor of Science in Solid Mechanics in 1982 and his Master of Science in Experimental Biomechanics in 1989 from Tongji University. After working for nine years at the same university, he came to the United States in 1991 and studied orthopaedic biomechanics at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery of the Texas Tech Health Science Center. Then, he went to the University of Cincinnati (UC), pursuing his PhD in bioengineering. He spent the next four years at the UC School of Medicine’s Cell Biology Department where he studied cell mechanobiology. After receiving his PhD, he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School and Washington University in St. Louis where he studied the molecular signaling pathways that lead to actin cytoskeletal remodeling of human endothelial cells in response to dynamic mechanical stretching conditions.

Following his research fellowships at these two institutions, Dr. Wang took a faculty position in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1998 and has remained as a faculty member since.

Education & Training

  • PhD, University of Cincinnati
  • MS, Tongji University, Shanghai, China
  • BS, Tongji University, Shanghai, China

Representative Publications

  • Wang, JH-C.; Ip, W.; Boissy, R.; Grood, ES. Cell orientation response to cyclically deformed substrates: experimental validation of a cell model. J Biomech 28(12): 1543-1552, 1995.
  • Wang, JH-C. Substrate deformation determines actin cytoskeleton reorganization: A mathematical modeling and experimental study. J theor Biol. 202: 33-41, 2000.
  • Wang, JH-C.; Goldschmidt-Clermont, P.; Moldovan, N.; Yin, FC-P. Leukotrienes and tyrosine phosphorylation mediate stretching-induced actin cytoskeletal remodeling in endothelial cells. Cell Motility & Cytoskeleton  46:137-145, 2000.
  • Wang, JH-C.  Mechanobiology of tendon (invited review), J Biomech. 39:1563–1582, 2006. 
  • Wang, JH-C.; Thampatty, B.P. An introductory review of cell mechanobiology (invited review), Biomech Model Mechanobiol. 1-16, 2006.
  • Zhang, J.; Wang, JH-C. Characterization of differential properties of rabbit tendon stem cells and tenocytes. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 11:10, 2010.
  • Zhang, J.; Wang, JH-C. Mechanobiological response of tendon stem cells: implications of tendon homeostasis and pathogenesis of tendinopathy. J Orthop Res 28:639-643, 2010.
  • Zhou, J.; Kim, H.Y.; Wang, JH-C.; Davidson, L.A.  Macroscopic stiffening of embryonic tissues via microtubules, Rho-GEF, and assembly of contractile bundles of actomyosin. Development 137, 2785-2794, 2010.
  • Zhang, J.; Wang, JH-C. Platelet-rich plasma releasate promotes differentiation of tendon stem cells into active tenocytes. Am J Sports Med 38: 2477-2486, 2010.
  • Zhang, J.; Pan, T.; Im, H-J.; Fu, F.; Wang, JH-C. Differential properties of human ACL and MCL stem cells may be responsible for their differential healing capacity.  BMC Medicine 9:68, 2011.
  • Zhang, J.; Li, B.; Wang, JH-C. The role of engineered tendon matrix in the stemness of tendon stem cells in vitro and the promotion of tendon-like tissue formation in vivo. Biomaterials 32 (29):6972-6981, 2011.
  • Zhang, J.; Wang, JH-C. The effects of mechanical loading on tendons  - an in vivo and in vitro model study, PLoS ONE,  8(8): e71740, 2013.
  • Yang, Y.; Zhang, J.; Qian, Y.; Dong, S.; Huang, H.; Boada, F.E.; Fu, F.; Wang, JH-C.
  • Superparamagnetic iron oxide is suitable to label tendon stem cells and track them in vivo withMR imaging, Annals of Biomedical Eng, 41(10):2109-19, 2013.
  • Zhang, J.; Middleton, K.K.; Fu, F.H.; Im, H-J.; Wang, JH-C. HGF mediates the anti-inflammatory effects of PRP on injured tendons. PloS ONE, 8(6): e67303, 2013.
  • Zhang, J.; Wang, JH-C. Moderate exercise mitigates the detrimental effects of aging on tendon stem cells. PloS ONE, 10(6):e0130454, 2015.
  • Zhou, Y.; Zhang, Y.; Wu, H.; Hogan, M.V.; Wang, JH-C. The differential effects of leukocytes-containing and pure platelet-rich-plasma on tendon stem cells - implications of PRP applicationfor the treatment of tendon injuries. Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 6:173, 2015.
  • Wu, H.; Zhao, G.; Zu, H.; #Wang, JH-C.; Wang, Q.M.  Real-time monitoring of platelet activation using quartz thickness shear mode (TSM) resonator sensors. Biophysical J., 110: 669-679,2016.  (#: Co-corresponding author)
  • Zhang, J.; Yuan, T.; Wang, JH-C. Moderate treadmill running exercise prior to tendon injury enhances wound healing aging rats.  Ontotarget, in press (2/11/2016).12. 

Pubmed link

Research Interests

James H-C. Wang, PhD, is Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Director of the MechanoBiologyLaboratory  (MBL). Dr. Wang’s primary investigative interests are in tendon mechanobiology, particularly in understanding the role of tendon stem/progenitor cells (TSCs) in the development of tendinopathy, and their role in imparting the beneficial effects of exercise on aging tendons. Dr. Wang also investigates the action mechanisms by which PRP exerts its biological effects on injured tendons. Additionally, he uses biologics approaches, including TSCs, platelet-rich plasma (PRP), kartogenin (KGN), and engineered tendon matrix (ETM), to enhance tendon and tendon-bone interface healing. Finally, Dr. Wang is also interested in applying micro-fabrication and bio-sensor technologies to study cell adhesion, cell traction/contraction, cell differentiation, and platelet activation in response to mechanical and biochemical stimuli.


Research Grants

  • The role of TSCs in the degenerative tendinopathy induced by mechanical loading PI, 3/01/15 -- 2/28/20 NIH/NIAMS  1R01AR065949-01A1 $1,925,000.
  • Repair of tendinopathic tendons PI, 9/1/11--8/31/16 NIH/NIAMS 1R01AR061395 $1,893,750.
  • NIH Diversity Supplemental grant PI, 7/01/04 - 6/30/16Supplemental to the NIH/NIAMS R01AR061395 $78,232.
  • Pre-exercise improves repair of injured aging tendons PI, 7/01/15 -- 6/30/16 Pittsburgh Foundation, AD2015-1765-03  $5,000.
  • Exercise improves aging tendons by inducing cellular and molecular changes PI, 2/01/16 – 7/31/16 Pittsburgh Pepper Center Pilot Study $25,000.