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Dwight A. Towler, MD, PhD

Dwight A. Towler MD, PhD is Director of Cardiovascular Pathobiology at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute at Lake Nona, and a Senior Investigator at the TRI. 

Towler's current research emphasizes transcription factor biology and vascular endocrinology relevant to bone formation and arterial calcification, supported by three independent grants from the National Institutes of Health. As a board-certified internist, he clinically specializes in bone and mineral diseases. His work has been recognized by the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation (1996), the American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (Fuller Albright Award 2000), and the American Society for Clinical Investigation (elected in 2004). Prior to coming to Orlando, he was the Ira M. Lang Professor of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center, and served for 10 years as Chief of the Division of Bone and Mineral Diseases. 

In addition to his academic career, Dr. Towler spent 4 years in industry - most recently as Senior Director of Bone Biology and Osteoporosis Research at Merck - and is co-inventor of novel, patented selective androgen receptor modulators with potential clinical applications in treatment of musculoskeletal frailty. In 2010, he served as consultant and white paper author to the Institutes of Medicine of the National Academies Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes For Vitamin D and Calcium (subsection on vascular disease relevance).  In 2009, he was an invited faculty participant in the National Heart Lung and Blood Working Group on Calcific Aortic Stenosis.  

He has served / continues to serve on the editorial boards of Circulation Research, Arteriosclerosis Thrombosis and Vascular Biology, Endocrinology, Bone, the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, Journal of Biological Chemistry, and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. A former regular member of the NIH Skeletal Biology Development and Disease (SBDD) review group (2004-2008), he now contributes to the Atherosclerosis and Inflammation of the Cardiovascular System Study Section.


Selected publications:

Su-Li Cheng, Jian-Su Shao, Abraham Behrmann, Karen Krchma, and Dwight A. Towler.   Dkk1 and Msx2-Wnt7b Signaling Reciprocally Regulate The Endothelial-Mesenchymal Transition In Aortic Endothelial Cells. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. In press (2013).

Thompson B, Towler DA. Arterial calcification and bone physiology: role of the bone-vascular axis. Nat Rev Endocrinol. 2012 Sep;8(9):529-43

Shao JS, Sierra OL, Cohen R, Mecham RP, Kovacs A, Wang J, Distelhorst K, Behrmann A, Halstead LR, Towler DA. Vascular calcification and aortic fibrosis: a bifunctional role for osteopontin in diabetic arteriosclerosis. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2011 Aug;31(8):1821-33.

Cheng SL, Shao JS, Halstead LR, Distelhorst K, Sierra O, Towler DA. Activation of vascular smooth muscle parathyroid hormone receptor inhibits Wnt/beta-catenin signaling and aortic fibrosis in diabetic arteriosclerosis. Circ Res. 2010 Jul 23;107(2):271-82.

Sierra OL, Towler DA. Runx2 trans-activation mediated by the MSX2-interacting nuclear target requires homeodomain interacting protein kinase-3. Mol Endocrinol. 2010 Jul;24(7):1478-97

Shao JS, Cheng SL, Pingsterhaus JM, Charlton-Kachigian N, Loewy AP, Towler DA. Msx2 promotes cardiovascular calcification by activating paracrine Wnt signals. J Clin Invest. 2005 May;115(5):1210-20.