Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Nam Vo, PhD

  • Professor
  • Deputy Vice Chair of Research
  • Co-Director, Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research

Nam Vo received his PhD degree with Dr. Michael Chamberlin in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1998 and completed his post-doctoral training with Dr. Michael Lai at the University of Southern California in 2003. His doctorate research involved detailed molecular analyses of the early stages of E. coli transcription. He continued his training by studying the mechanism and regulation of hepatitis C virus RNA replication, initially as a postdoctoral fellow and subsequently as an assistant specialist in Dr. Caroline Kane at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Vo also taught Introductory Microbiology at Contra Costa College in 2005–06. Dr. Vo joined the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery of UPMC as a research assistant professor in 2006.

Education & Training

  • Post-doctoral, University of California Keck School of Medicine
  • PhD, University of California at Berkeley

Representative Publications

  1. Patil, P, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD, Lee, Sowa G, Vo N. Cellular senescence in intervertebral disc aging and degeneration.  Current Molecular Biology Reports. 2018;4(4):180-190.
  2. Han Y, Zhou CM, Shen H, Tan J, Dong Q, Zhang L, McGowan SJ, Zhao J, Sowa GA, Kang JD, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD, Vo NN. Attenuation of ataxia telangiectasia mutated signalling mitigates age-associated intervertebral disc degeneration.  Aging Cell. 2020 Jul;19(7):e13162. PMID: 32567210.
  3. Lei C, Colangelo D, Patil P, Li V, Ngo K, Wang D, Dong Q, Yousefzadeh MJ, Lin H, Lee J, Kang J, Sowa G, Wyss-Coray T, Niedernhofer LJ, Robbins PD, Huffman DM, Vo N.  Influences of circulatory factors on intervertebral disc aging phenotype.  Aging. 2020 Jun 11;12(12):12285-12304. PMID: 32527988.
  4. Han Y, Ouyang Z, Wawrose RA, Chen SR, Hallbaum M, Dong Q, Dando E, Tang Y, Wang B, Lee JY, Shaw JD, Kang JD, Sowa GA, Vo NN.  ISSLS prize in basic science 2021: a novel inducible system to regulate transgene expression of TIMP1.  Eur Spine J.  2021 Feb 1. doi: 10.1007/s00586-021-06728-0. PMID: 33523281
  5. Wang D, Hartman R, Han C, Zhou CM, Couch B, Malkamaki M, Roginskaya V, Van Houten B, Mullett SJ, Wendell SG, Jurczak MJ, Kang J, Lee J, Sowa G, Vo N.  Lactate oxidative phosphorylation by annulus fibrosus cells: evidence for lactate-dependent metabolic symbiosis in intervertebral discs.  Arthritis Res Ther. 2021 May 21;23(1):145. PMID: 34020698
  6. Melgoza IP, Chenna SS, Tessier S, Zhang Y, Tang SY, Ohnishi T, Novais EJ, Kerr GJ, Mohanty S, Tam V, Chan WCW, Zhou CM, Zhang Y, Leung VY, Brice AK, Séguin CA, Chan D, Vo N, Risbud MV, Dahia CL.  Development of a standardized histopathology scoring system using machine learning algorithms for intervertebral disc degeneration in the mouse model-An ORS spine section initiative.  JOR Spine. 2021 Jul 17;4(2):e1164. PMID: 34337338
  7. Yousefzadeh MJ, Flores RR, Zhu Y, Schmiechen ZC, Brooks RW, Trussoni CE, Cui Y, Angelini L, Lee KA, McGowan SJ, Burrack AL, Wang D, Dong Q, Lu A, Sano T, O'Kelly RD, McGuckian CA, Kato JI, Bank MP, Wade EA, Pillai SPS, Klug J, Ladiges WC, Burd CE, Lewis SE, LaRusso NF, Vo NV, Wang Y, Kelley EE, Huard J, Stromnes IM, Robbins PD, Niedernhofer LJ.  An aged immune system drives senescence and ageing of solid organs. Nature. 2021 Jun;594(7861):100-105. PMID: 33981041.
  8. Wawrose RA, Couch BK, Dombrowski M, Chen SR, Oyekan A, Dong Q, Wang D, Zhou C, Chen J, Modali K, Johnson M, Sedor-Schiffhauer Z, Hitchens TK, Jin T, Bell KM, Lee JY, Sowa GA, Vo NV.  Percutaneous Lumbar Annular Puncture: A Rat Model to Study Intervertebral Disc Degeneration and Pain-Related Behavior. JOR Spine. 2022 May 13;5(2):e1202.  PMID: 35783914
  9. Kritschil R, Scott M, Sowa G, Vo N.   Role of Autophagy in Intervertebral Disc Degeneration. Journal of Cellular Physiology. 2022 Feb;237(2):1266-1284. PMID: 34787318.
  10. Vo NV, Piva SR, Patterson CG, McKernan GP, Zhou L, Bell KM, Anderst W, Greco CM, Schneider MJ, Delitto A, Dicianno BE, Darwin J, Sowa GA. Toward the Identification of Distinct Phenotypes: Research Protocol for the Low Back Pain Biological, Biomechanical, and Behavioral (LB3P) Cohort Study and the BACPAC Mechanistic Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh.  Pain Med. 2023 Jan 30:pnad009. doi: 10.1093/pm/pnad009. Online ahead of print. PMID: 36715642.

PubMed Link

Research Interests

  • Biology of musculoskeletal healthy aging
  • Biology of intervertebral disc aging and degeneration
  • Biology of low back pain through deep biomarker phenotyping
  • Development of therapeutics for intervertebral disc degeneration and low back pain

Research Grants

HEALing LBP3: Profiling Biological, Biomechanical, Behavioral Phenotypes
NIH U19AR076725 
Role: Co-PI
09/26/2019 - 05/31/2024

Expanding BACPAC Capacity: phenotyping non-LBP controls for BACPAC consortium research
NIH U19AR076725-Supplemental 
Role: Co-PI
06/1/2022 - 05/31/2024

NIH U19AR076725-Supplemental 
Role: Co-I
06/1/2021 - 05/31/2024

Metabolic Symbiosis: Lactate as an Epigenetic Regulator and a Biofuel in Age-dependent
Role: PI

Cell Autonomous and Cell Non-autonomous Mechanisms of Disc Aging
R01 AG044376-01
Role: PI