Who We Are

Meet the Program Advisory Committee

The members of the Program Advisory Committee serve under the authority of their respective institutional presidents as the governing body of the Bone Disease Program of Texas. Additionally, the Committee has an external advisor. Most recently, the Committee added Dr. Thomas Hunt III from Baylor College of Medicine and Dr. Roland Baron from Harvard School of Dental Medicine.  


Robert F. Gagel, M.D.

Director, Bone Disease Program of Texas
Professor, Endocrine Neoplasia & Hormonal Disorders
MD Anderson Cancer Center

Recognizing that bone health had not been a priority in Houston or the Texas medical community, Dr. Gagel worked with other physicians and members of the Houston community, including C. Berdon Lawrence, to establish the Bone Disease Program of Texas. Over the past three decades, Dr. Gagel has made significant contributions to bone research, including studies on calcitonin, a major regulator of bone resorption.

Dr. Gagel has focused on the clinical management of osteoporosis and other disorders of bone metabolism. He is a charter member of the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research and for the past 30 years has been broadly involved in the development of strategies to prevent and treat osteoporosis.

Brendan H. Lee, M.D, Ph.D.

Co-Director, Bone Disease Program of Texas
Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Department of Molecular and Human Genetics
Baylor College of Medicine

Brendan Lee, M.D., Ph.D., is a professor in Baylor’s Department of Molecular and Human Genetics and is chief of the Skeletal Dysplasia Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital. Dr. Lee belongs to an elite group of scientists with the title of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. He was one of 12 physician scientists chosen in 2002 as part of a new HHMI initiative to fund translational research.

He is interested in the consequences of gene mutations on craniofacial and limb development. To understand these consequences, he combines studies on tissue and organ development with clinical research in patients who have skeletal malformations.

Lawrence C. B. Chan, D.Sc., M.B.B.S.

Betty Rutherford Chair for Diabetes Research
Professor of Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology
Chief, Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Metabolism
Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Chan is the head of endocrinology at Baylor and is a charter member of the Program Advisory Committee. He is a recognized authority in the genetics of atherosclerosis and lipid disorders. Dr. Chan’s focus on endocrinology had its beginnings when he was an endocrine fellow at Vanderbilt University. After his fellowship, he accepted a position with Baylor College of Medicine, and he has been an integral part of Baylor’s faculty for the past 36 years.

Dr. Chan received a MERIT Award from the National Institutes of Health and has been the principal investigator of four NIH grants, including a NIH Specialized Center of Research Grant on gene therapy and cardiovascular disease. In 2003 he received the Michael DeBakey Award for Excellence in Research, and he also has received numerous national and international awards from organizations including the American Heart Association, the Juvenile Diabetes Association and the Endocrine Society. Dr. Chan is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians.


Thomas R. Hunt, III, M.D.

Chair and Professor, Department of Orthopedic Surgery
Baylor College of Medicine

Dr. Hunt joined the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine in 2011, prior to joining BCM he was the Professor of Surgery and Director of the Division of Orthopedic Surgery at University of Alabama, Birmingham

An internationally recognized leader in the field of hand and wrist surgery, Dr Hunt holds a Certificate of Added Qualifications in Hand Surgery, and is a prominent member of numerous orthopedic organizations including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Orthopaedic Association, the American Society of Sports Medicine, the American Society for Surgery of the Hand, and the American Association of Hand Surgery. 

Valerae O. Lewis, M.D.

Chair and Professor, Department of Orthopedic Oncology
MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Lewis joined MD Anderson Cancer Center in 2000 as Professor in the Department of Surgical Oncology, Section of Orthopaedic Surgery. She also has held Assistant Clinical Professor appointments at both Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston. In 2007 she was promoted to Associate Professor and in 2008, Dr. Lewis was appointed Chief of the Section of Orthopaedic Oncology in the Division of Surgery at MD Anderson Cancer Cetner. 

Over the years Dr. Lewis has held positions on numerous professional committees. She is very active within the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society and the Western Orthopaedic Association. She was recently elected to the board of the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA). She has been the Principal Investigator on several research projects and has written many original, peer-reviewed research articles. 

Steven I. Sherman, M.D.

Chair and Professor, Department of Endocrine Neoplasisa and Hormonal Disorders
Medical Director, Endocrine Multidisciplinary Center
MD Anderson Cancer Center

Dr. Sherman is the chair and Naguib Samaan Distinguished Professor in Endocrinology in the Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders at MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is also the medical director of the Endocrine Multidisciplinary Center. Dr. Sherman is an authority on all forms of thyroid cancer with special interest in differentiated thyroid carcinoma. 

He lends his knowledge and experience to many national organizations and special task forces and sits on the board of the International Thyroid Oncology Group based in St. Louis, Missouri. 

Regis James O'Keefe, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor, Orthopaedic Surgery
Chairman, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Washington University School of Medicine
St. Louis, Missouri

Dr. O'Keefe is the Marjorie Strong Wehle Professor in Orthopaedics and chair of  the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation at Washington University School of Medicine. He also is the associate dean for clinical affairs and a professor of pathology and laboratory medicine, and of biochemistry and biophysicis. Dr. O'Keefe's practice focuses on patients with tumors in bones, joints, and soft tissue. He also treats patients with fractures that result from brittle bones due to osteoporosis, osteopenia and other bone diseases.

A national leader in musculoskeletal research, Dr. O'Keefe studies skeletal development and the repair of skeletal injury. He employs genetic mouse models as well as other techniques to better understand the role of specific genes in regulating bone and joint development, the onset of osteoarthritis, fracture repair and tendon healing.

His current projects include studies aimed at better understanding cell signaling during skeletal development and the onset of osteoarthritis. He also focuses on cell signaling during fracture repair, tendon development and tendon injury repair. The goal is to elucidate the molecular events involved in skeletal development and disease and to identify novel therapeutic targets for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders. 


Meet the Core Members


Dianna Cody, Ph.D. 

Department of Imaging Physics
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: dcody@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-563-2712

I am a Medical Physicist licensed to practice in the state of Texas. My personal research interests include the implementation of emerging computed tomographic technology within a challenging clinical environment, the use of computed tomographic imaging for screening purposes, the application of flat-panel computed tomography to animal and human subjects, and the development of improved tools to describe radiation exposure from computed tomographic examinations.


Benoit deCrombrugghe, M.D.

Professor, Department of Genetics
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: bdecromb@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-834-6376

My laboratory is studying the transcriptional control of cartilage and bone formation, more specifically, the role of the transcription factor Sox9 in chrondrocyte differentiation and the role of the transcription factor Osterix in the differentiation of osteoblasts and osteocytes. Our previous work has focused on the essential role of these transcription factors during embryonic development. More recently we have examined the physiological role of Sox9 in the homeostatic control of mouse articular cartilage and intervertebral discs postnatally. We are also exploring the mechanisms by which Sox9 controls its target genes as well as the extent of the genetic program controlled by Sox9 in chrondrocytes. In other work, we study the multiple functions of Osterix in the control of bone homeostasis in growing and adult bones.

I was invited to present the Louis V. Avioli Memorial Lecture at this year's meeting of the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research. I also received the Senior Investigator Award at this year's meeting of the American Society of Matrix Biology. 


Robert F. Gagel, M.D. 

Co-Director, Rolanette and Berdon Lawrence Bone Disease Program of Texas
Head, Division of Internal Medicine
Professor of Medicine, Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: rgagel@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-792-6517

My primary clinical focus within the Section of Bone and Mineral Disorders, Department of Endocrine Neoplasia and Hormonal Disorders, is the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in patients with cancer. We have established programs to address bone loss in the context of breast cancer, stem cell transplant, and leukemia. We also look for opportunities to optimize bone health in other malignancies

My research program is focused on the bone resorption inhibitor, calcitonin. Our lab created a mouse model of calcitonin deficiency by deleting the calcitonin/CGRP gene. These animals have an interesting phenotype distinguished by cortical and trabecular thinning and a redistribution of cortical bone to trabeculae in the pericortical region.  Deficiency of calcitonin also leads to modulation of several regulatory molecules responsible for bone formation, suggesting a link between calcitonin and bone formation. In addition, calcitonin/CGRP -/- mice have a distinctive phenotype characterized by splenomegaly and a defect in regulation of T lymphocytes. Studies are being performed to characterize these phenotypes. 


Valerae Lewis, M.D.

Professor and Chair,
Department of Orthopaedic Oncology
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: volewis@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-792-5073

Our lab is investigating targeted therapy for the treatment of osteosarcoma. Specifically, we are targeting the IL-II Rα and examining the role of the receptor on the progression of the disease. 


Khalid A. Mohamedali, Ph.D.

Instructor, Department of Experimental Therapeutics
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: kmohamed@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-792-5953

My research program focuses primarily on the development of targeted therapeutic agents for cancer therapy, particularly in relation to bone metastasis. We have tested agents targeting breast and prostate cancer metastasis and growth in bone in various mouse models, leading to a better understanding of the mechanisms by which tumor cells target the bone and promote osteoblastic and osteolytic effects. Of particular interest is the role that bone marrow derived cells (BMDCs) play in all aspects of bone metastasis. Studies to identify BMDC populations that may play a role in tumor growth in bone are currently under way in our laboratory. 


Nora Navone, Ph.D.

Associate Professor
Department of Genitourinary Medical Oncology
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: nnavone@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-563-7273

The main focus of my laboratory research is to study the pathogenesis of prostate cancer bone metastases. Prostate cancer has clinical features unique among adult solid tumors, including high tropism for bone and the osteoblastic nature of most bone metastases. Yet little is known about the dynamic interactions between prostate cancer cells and bone cells essential to the growth of metastatic cells in the bone. We have, thus, approached our studies by investigating the nature of the prostate cancer-cell-osteoblast interactions and how they exacerbate progression of prostate cancer in bone. This focus on tumor-bone interactions, rather than on 'standard' studies that examine biologic changes in tumor cells alone, is a unique aspect of my research program. The goals of my studies are to develop better models for mimicking prostate cancer growth in the bone and then using these models to enhance our understanding of the process of molecular interactions between prostate cancer and bone cells required in metastasis. Continued emphasis is placed on translating these results into more effective therapeutic targets and prognostic measures. 


Michael Starbuck, M.S. 

BDPT Bone Histomorphometry Core Manager
Laboratory Coordinator, Nora Navone Laboratory
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: mwstarbu@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-792-2977

I trained in bone histomorphometry in the laboratory of Gerard Karsenty at Baylor College of Medicine and moved to MD Anderson in 2006 with Dr Karsenty's departure. With eight years of experience in bone sampling and bone analysis, I have managed the DHM CORE since its creation in 2006. This Core has completed studies for numerous faculty members at MD Anderson, Baylor College of Medicine, and for institutions across North America. 


Qing Yi, M.D., Ph.D.

Professor of Medicine and John Q. Gaines Foundation Professor for Cancer Research
Department of Lymphoma/Melanoma
MD Anderson Cancer Center
Email: qyi@mdanderson.org
Phone: 713-563-9065

Our lab is studying the role of tumor microenvironment, including stromal cells and soluble factors, on myeloma and its associated bone disease. We are focusing on C-reactive protein, mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), and other molecules for their contribution in enhancing osteoclastogenesis, inhibiting osteoclastogenesis, and causing bone lesions.