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Meryl Susan LeBoff, MD
Associate Physician, Brigham and Women's Hospital
Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Distinguished Chair in Skeletal Health and Osteoporosis
Director of the Skeletal Health and Osteoporosis Center and Bone Density Unit

Brigham and Women's Hospital
Department of Medicine
75 Francis Street
Boston, MA 02115

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Research Narrative:

Dr. LeBoff is the Director of the Skeletal Health and Osteoporosis Center and Bone Density Unit, a multifaceted program that includes research, educational initiatives, clinical care, and bone densitometry. Her research is directed at understanding the causes of secondary osteoporosis and how to optimize skeletal health across the lifespan from young adulthood to extreme old age. Her investigations include studies on the role of vitamin D, androgens, estrogen, and aromatase inhibitors on bone; factors that contribute to osteoporosis or metabolic bone disease in patients with hip fractures, anorexia, breast cancer, rheumatic diseases, chronic kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, diabetes, and organ transplants; benefits of exercise (rowing and running) on skeletal health; and genetics of osteoporosis.

Dr. LeBoff and Dr. Julie Glowacki in Orthopedic Research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital have had a series of NIH and Department of Defense research-supported collaborations to define the mechanisms of skeletal metabolism in young adults and with aging. In their current work they are testing the hypotheses that with aging: 1. There is a decrease in the number of marrow stromal cells that differentiate to osteoblasts; 2. That marrow from subjects with vitamin D-deficiency has reduced osteoblast potential compared to subjects without vitamin D-deficiency; and 3. Osteoblast differentiation can be stimulated in marrow from elders and D-deficient subjects by culture with vitamin D metabolites.

Dr. LeBoff also has had ongoing collaborations with investigators at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute to test the effects of drug interventions (e.g., chemotherapy or aromatase inhibitors) on bone in women with a history of breast cancer. She has many interdisciplinary collaborations including NIH-sponsored studies with investigators at Children’s Hospital (Dr. Catherine Gordon) that are testing the hypothesis that estrogen and androgens may reverse the low bone mass in women with anorexia.

Dr. LeBoff has served on the central Calcium, Vitamin D and Osteoporosis Committee for the Women’s Health (WHI) Initiative sponsored by the NIH since this committee was organized. She was the contributing author on Vitamin D Intake Across the Life Course for the Surgeon General's Report on Osteoporosis and Bone Health in 2004. Her research projects also include investigations on new applications for dual X-ray absorptiometry and technologies such as peripheral quantitative tomography (pQCT) for determination of three-dimensional constructs of bone and muscle and bone strength. Dr. LeBoff is a Councilor for the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research.

Investigative Interests: Primary and Secondary Osteoporosis, Vitamin D, Breast Cancer, Muscle Function, Nutrition and Bone

University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, 1975, MD