Department of Orthopaedic Surgery

Musculoskeletal Oncology Laboratory

Kurt R. Weiss, MD

Rebecca J. Watters, PhD

The Musculoskeletal Oncology Laboratory (MOL) is co-directed by Kurt R. Weiss, MD, and Rebecca J. Watters, PhD. The mission of the MOL is to better understand the biology of primary and metastatic musculoskeletal tumors. We work to investigate novel pharmacological and molecular approaches to target metastatic sarcoma and breast cancer bone metastases. The main focus is maintaining a vigorous and comprehensive research program for musculoskeletal oncology at the University of Pittsburgh with the goal of translating discoveries into clinical solutions for our patients. Our group has initiated and maintains a musculoskeletal oncology tumor registry and tissue bank. This unique resource enables us to perform truly innovative and translational research that combines the strengths of the clinical volume of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Institute with the research infrastructure at the University of Pittsburgh. These patient clinical data and tissue samples provide a powerful research resource that is not attainable elsewhere.  The lab has been funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) through the National Cancer Institute (NCI), Susan G. Komen Foundation, METAvivor, Shadyside Hospital Foundation, Sarcoma Foundation of America, and the Albert B. Ferguson, Jr, MD, Orthopaedic Fund of Pittsburgh Foundation.

Our current areas of interest include:

  1. RNA Sequencing to understand differences between primary and metastatic osteosarcoma
  2. Investigation of 3D spheroid cultures for greater clinical applicability of in vitro sarcoma research
  3. RNA sequencing of matched primary tumors and bone metastases of breast cancer patients to identify novel biomarkers and/or therapeutic targets
  4. Sarcoma immunophenotyping
  5. Development of novel models such as patient-derived xenografts and an organotypic scaffold for the ex vivo study of breast cancer bone metastases
  6. Molecular and immunohistochemical characterization of sarcoma-associated cachexia



Rebecca J. Watters, PhD
Research Assistant Professor
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
University of Pittsburgh
Bridgeside Pt. II, Rm 214
450 Technology Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Office: 412-383-4142