Robert Nissenson, PhD

Professor in Residence
Department of Medicine
Department of Physiology
+1 415 750-2089
Research Overview: 

Current research efforts in my laboratory are focused on the use of molecular and transgenic approaches to understand the influence of specific cellular signaling pathways on the differentiation of osteoblasts, the cells responsible for bone formation. We are using “designer” G protein-coupled receptors to asses the role of specific G protein signaling pathways in controlling osteoblastic bone formation in vivo and in vitro. Our recent results indicate that Gs signaling in osteoblasts is strongly coupled to increased bone formation whereas Gi signaling promotes bone loss (osteoporosis). These effects appear to be mediated by paracrine factors that are secreted by osteoblasts in response to G protein signaling. Current efforts are directed towards identifying these paracrine factors and determining how they regulate mesenchymal stem cell commitment to the osteoblast lineage and/or the differentiation of early osteoblasts. We are particularly interested in the paracrine regulation of the BMP and Wnt signaling pathways.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Tissue / Organ Biology & Endocrinology
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Research Summary: 
Signal Transduction Mechanisms in Bone Cell Differentiation and Function

Bone marrow adipose tissue composition and glycemic improvements after gastric bypass surgery.

Bone reports

Kim TY, Schwartz AV, Li X, Xu K, Kazakia GJ, Grunfeld C, Nissenson RA, Shoback DM, Schafer AL

Female-Specific Role of Progranulin to Suppress Bone Formation.


Wang L, Roth T, Nakamura MC, Nissenson RA

Estrogen signaling in arcuate Kiss1 neurons suppresses a sex-dependent female circuit promoting dense strong bones.

Nature communications

Herber CB, Krause WC, Wang L, Bayrer JR, Li A, Schmitz M, Fields A, Ford B, Zhang Z, Reid MS, Nomura DK, Nissenson RA, Correa SM, Ingraham HA

Sirtuin-3 Promotes Adipogenesis, Osteoclastogenesis, and Bone Loss in Aging Male Mice.


Ho L, Wang L, Roth TM, Pan Y, Verdin EM, Hsiao EC, Nissenson RA

Role of Osteoblast Gi Signaling in Age-Related Bone Loss in Female Mice.


Millard SM, Wang L, Wattanachanya L, O'Carroll D, Fields AJ, Pang J, Kazakia G, Lotz JC, Nissenson RA