Kurt. D. Hankenson


Dr. Hankenson works at the interface of basic and clinical research, encompassing what is commonly referred to as “translational research”. The primary goal of his research is to utilize basic science discoveries to inform new clinical treatments for orthopaedic regenerative medicine. In this respect, his laboratory integrates cutting-edge cell and molecular biological techniques with system-wide studies in animal models, particularly mice, to interrogate the most relevant questions in bone biology. His laboratory is particularly focused on understanding how a unique adult stem cell, the mesenchymal stem cell, differentiates to become either cartilage forming chondrocytes or bone forming osteoblasts. His laboratory collaborates with both basic scientists (biologists, engineers, computational biologists, and geneticists) and clinician-scientists (dentists, physicians, and veterinarians) at the University and around the globe.

In his free time Dr. Hankenson spends time with his son Hugh and his wife Claire, the Campus Veterinarian at Michigan State University. He is an avid runner, cyclist, skier, and enjoys music and good food!

Biking in Yosemite

Skiing Stowe

Running in Philadelphia


Dr. Hankenson received his DVM (veterinary degree) from the University of Illinois (1992), an MS from Purdue University (1997) and his PhD from the University of Washington, Department of Biochemistry (2001). A former equine veterinarian, he began his independent research career at the University of Michigan in 2002. In 2006 he moved to the University of Pennsylvania, School of Veterinary Medicine, where he was the inaugural holder of the Dean W. Richardson Chair for Equine Disease Research. He returned to Michigan to join the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories in 2017 as a Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Hankenson is an American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) Young Investigator award winner (2002), received a John Haddad Fellowship from the ASBMR (2003), and in 2008 was the first veterinarian awarded the Fuller Albright award by the ASBMR.

Honors & Awards

  • 1996 Phi Zeta, National Veterinary Honor Society – Purdue University Omicron Chapter
  • 1997 Postdoctoral Fellowship, NIH-NIDCR Periodontics Training Grant (NRSA)
  • 1999, 2002 New Investigator Research Award Semi-finalist, Orthopedic Research Society
  • 2001 Special Emphasis Research Career Award in Pathology and Comparative Medicine (K01), NIH-NCRR
  • 2002 Young Investigator Award, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
  • 2003 AIMM-ASBMR John Haddad Young Investigator Award
  • 2008 Fuller-Albright Award, American Society for Bone and Mineral Research
  • 2012 Dean W. Richardson Endowed Chair for Equine Disease Research @ the University of Pennsylvania

Service and Organizations

  • NAVRMA, Past-Chair
  • AIMM, Vice-President
  • ASBMR, Council
  • ORS, Past-Chair Preclinical Models Section; Membership Chair ISFR
  • Member SBSR study section
  • Editorial positions: Connective Tissue Research, Associate Editor; JOR, Editorial Review Board


Please refer to the Research Section