Faculty Scholars

Faculty Scholar Susan Chapman, Ph.D.< at Clemson University, Clemson South Carolina

Susan Chapman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
College Science

Contact: schapm2@clemson.edu  

Who is Dr. Chapman?

Susan Chapman is an associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. Her research interests are focused around the evolution and developmental mechanisms during patterning and morphogenesis of the axial skeletal. Her current research focus is determining the role of inflammation in driving degeneration of intervertebral discs and resultant spine fusion events during development, such as fusion of the synsacrum and pygostyle in birds, and of the sacral bones joining the ilium of the hip bones into the pelvic girdle. These data will inform studies into the causes and consequences of inflammation in degenerative disc disease, such as Ankylosing Spondylitis, which result in aberrant vertebral fusion events that affect over 3 million Americans.

For more information, see her College Profile.

How Dr. Chapman’s research is transforming health care

The lab is working to prevent diseases of the musculoskeletal system by studying the evolution and mechanisms of development birds, using chicken as a model organism. She has worked to better understand developmental defects through the study of regionalization in the brain, conductive and sensorineural hearing loss, and spine dysmorphogensis. Her lab has discovered that birds have maintained the nucleus pulpous in sacral and caudal intervertebral discs, which act as shock absorbers and facilitate movement of the spine, similar to that seen in mammals. This makes the chicken a valuable model in extrapolating findings to human health. Furthermore, the lab has made the discovery that the immune system, acting through non-pathogenic inflammation and phagocytosis via immune cells, plays a required role in remodeling the developing spine during fusion events. These results have important implications with regard to studying human spine defects involving inflammation.

News and media related to Dr. Chapman’s research

Health Research Expertise Keywords

Ankylosing spondylitis, developmental biology, embryology, genomics, immunology, inflammation, intervertebral discs, morphogenesis, patterning, spinal dysmorphogenesis