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Courtney Karner, PhD

Courtney Karner, PhD
Assistant Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery

Lab site: www.karnerlab.com


Dr. Karner is generally interested in understanding the molecular underpinnings of cellular differentiation. The bone-forming cell (osteoblast) is used as a common experimental paradigm in the lab. This is in part due to the clinical significance of this cell type in human skeletal disorders such as osteoporosis. Dr. Karner is interested in understanding how growth factors such as Wnt regulate both osteoblast differentiation and activity. His research thus far has revealed that Wnt stimulates osteoblasts to metabolize the amino acid glutamine during differentiation. An ongoing effort is to elucidate how glutamine metabolism is regulated during differentiation, and what role glutamine metabolism plays in regulating the transition from a progenitor to the differentiated phenotype. A long-term goal of the Karner Lab is to discover molecular targets for developing novel bone-enhancing therapeutics.

A secondary interest of the Karner Lab is creation of novel mouse models of the human diseases pectus excavatum and scoliosis.

Dr. Karner joined the Duke Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 2015 after completing postdoctoral training at Washington University, where he studied metabolic regulation of osteoblast differentiation.

Current Projects

  • Understanding how glutamine metabolism regulates cellular differentiation
  • Identifying the transporter regulating glutamine uptake in osteoblasts
  • Creating novel mouse models of the human diseases pectus excavatum and scoliosis

Selected Publications


Dr. Karner is always looking to supervise enthusiastic graduate students and lab technicians. Individuals with interest in any of his ongoing projects, or with a desire to build off of his expertise to explore related areas of research, should contact him.


Levine Science Research Center, 450 Research Drive, Room B321b
DUMC 91009, Durham, NC 27710