Nam Viet Vo, PhD

Dr. Nam Vo is an Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery with a secondary appointment in the Department of Pathology.

Dr. Vo received his PhD degree with Dr. Michael Chamberlin in molecular biology and biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in 1998, and completed his post-doctoral training in molecular virology with the Howard Hughes Investigator Dr. Michael Lai at the University of Southern California in 2003.  Prior to arriving at Pitt, Dr. Vo held a position as an instructor in microbiology at Contra Costa College (2005-2006) and as an Assistant Specialist with Dr. Caroline Kane at the University of California at Berkeley (2003-2006).

The overall objective of Dr. Vo’s research program is to elucidate the basic molecular and cellular processes underlying intervertebral disc degeneration (IDD), a condition responsible for many spine-related disorders such as disabling chronic back pain.  Aging is the single largest risk factor of IDD due to the progressive of loss of disc proteoglycan (PG) matrix, a universal hallmark of IDD, with age.  To this end, Dr. Vo’s research focuses on several specific areas to investigate the dysregulation of disc matrix PG homeostasis during aging:

  • Chronic activation of NF-ĸB signaling in disc PG loss and disc aging
  • Role of cellular senescence in disc PG loss and disc aging
  • Therapeutics combating age-dependent disc PG loss using genetic and pharmacologic approaches to block NF-ĸB and cellular senescence

Research funding for Dr. Vo has been supported by the NIH, Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, The Pittsburgh Foundation, and UPMC pilot grants.  Dr. Vo is a member of several professional organizations, including Orthopaedic Research Society, International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine, and the Journal of Orthopaedic Research Editorial Review Board. Among other honors, Dr. Vo was the recipient of the 2008 AOSpine North America Young Investigators Research Grant, 2010 Orthopaedic Research Society Collaborative Exchange Award, and the 2012 International Society for The Study of Lumbar Spine Prize Winner.

View a list of Dr. Vo’s publications here.