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Heather Coan

Department of Biology
Assistant Professor

Office Phone: 828-227-3665
Office: Natural Science 112

Education and Training

Postdoctoral Training Texas Biomedical Research Institute

Ph.D. Wake Forest University School of Medicine at the Institute for Regenerative Medicine

B.S.Appalachian State University

Courses Taught

BIOL 140 Principles of Biology

BIOL/CHEM 361 Biochemistry

Research Description/Interests:
My research interests are multifaceted. One aspect of my research is centered in the field of regenerative medicine, a field of study designed to meet the growing need for organs and tissues by replacing or repairing damaged tissue to restore function. My interests in this field lie in the manipulation of cells (stem cells, progenitor cells, and various other cell types) for use in regenerative medicine strategies, particularly those related to the musculoskeletal system. To this end, I use a combination of biochemical, molecular, and genetic techniques to investigate cell response to a variety of external factors. Another area of interest in my lab is the utilization of large biological datasets (typically genomic sequences or transcriptome data) to investigate biological function by tracking large-scale gene expression changes and/or individual sequence variants in response to a disease state or external manipulation, such as would be performed in my cell-based studies.

Students in my laboratory will learn a variety of skills including human/mammalian cell culture, cell-based assays, gene expression quantification, protein characterization, data analysis, literature comprehension, manuscript preparation, and grant writing.


Coan HB, Lively MO, and Van Dyke ME. Dermatopontin in the extracellular matrix enhances osteogenic differentiation of adipose-derived stem cells. (in review).

Coan HB, Mahaney MC, Johnson MP, Freed K, Harris JK, Goring HH, Curran JE, Cox LA, Blangero J, Havill LM. Genome-wide correspondence between peripheral blood mononuclear cell- and cortical bone-derived transcriptional profiles. (in review).

Coan HB, Teli T, Booth C, Lively M, Van Dyke ME. Cell-secreted matrices enhance osteogenesis in adipose-derived stem cells undergoing lineage specification. The Journal of Biomimetics, Biomaterials, and Tissue Engineering. Vol 14 (2012) pp 1-30.

L.M. Havill, M.R. Allen, J.A.K. Harris, S.M. Levine, H.B. Coan, M.C. Mahaney, D.P. Nicolella. Intracortical remodeling variation shows strong genetic effects. Calcified Tissue Int. 2013. Nov;93(5):472-80.

Macrini TE, Coan HB, Levine SM, Lerma T, Saks CD, Araujo DJ, Bredbenner TL, Coutts RD, Nicolella DP, Havill LM. Reproductive status and sex show strong effects on knee OA in a baboon model. Osteoarthritis Cartilage. 2013 Jun;21(6):839-48.

de Guzman RC, Saul JM, Ellenburg MD, Merrill MR, Coan HB, Smith TL, Van Dyke ME. Bone regeneration with BMP-2 delivered from keratose scaffolds. Biomaterials. 2013 Feb;34(6):1644-56.

Cell-Secreted Matrices Modulate Osteogenic Gene Expression in Adipose-Derived Stem Cells Undergoing Osteogenesis. Texas Biomedical Research Institute. February 2011.

Research and Clinical Applications of Adult Stem Cells and Stem Cell Osteogenesis. St. Mary’s University Cimadevilla Seminar Series. September 2011.

Dermatopontin in the Extracellular Matrix Enhances Osteogenic Differentiation of Adipose-Derived Stem Cells. TERMIS annual conference, Extracellular Matrix Session. December 2011.

Genomics of MSC osteogenesis: using the extracellular matrix as an in vitro growth substrate to promote differentiation. Army Institute for Surgical Research. December 2011.

GWAS of Osteoarthritis Biomarkers Serum Hyaluronic Acid and Cartilage Oligomeric Matrix Protein Implicate FOXN4, ETV6, KIAA1217, ZNF521, SPHKAP, and CSGALNACT1. Osteoarthritis Research Society International Biomarker Initiative, Hilton Head, SC. July 2012.

Looking Great in your Genes: What does a Geneticist Do? Expanding Your Horizons Conference. Schreiner University. Kerrville, TX. Nov. 2012.

Genetic Architecture of Knee OA: Lessons from Healthy Joints in Animals of Advanced Age. ISIS Network On Musculoskeletal Health. San Antonio, TX. January 2013.

Stem Cells and the Environment that they Inhabit. Paul Barton Seminar Series. Western Carolina University. January 2013.

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