Marian Young, PhD

Senior Investigator

Molecular Biology of Bones & Teeth Section


Building 30 Room 5A507
30 Convent Dr MSC 4320
Bethesda MD 20892-4320


Research Topics

The goal of Dr. Marian Young’s section is to explore the function of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins found in skeletal tissues. The current focus is on the small leucine-rich proteoglycans (SLRPs) biglycan (bgn), decorin (dcn), and fibromodulin (fmod), and the Wnt target gene known as WISP1. Dr. Young’s research explores how these ECM components control skeletal tissue function via both anabolic (through differentiation and formation) and catabolic (breakdown or resorption) mechanisms which, in some cases, work by modulating growth factor availability. The group also investigates how stem cell fate can be regulated by the ECM in multiple skeletal sites including bones, teeth, cartilage and tendon. The ultimate purpose of the research is to develop practical applications for these ECM components in ameliorating diseases such as osteopenia (low bone mass), osteoarthritis (loss of cartilage) and ectopic bone formation in soft tissues.


Dr. Young received a PhD in Developmental Biology from the University of Connecticut. After a postdoctoral fellowship at the NIDCR, Dr. Young headed a group in the Mineralized Tissue Research Branch where she began her investigations on the molecular biology and function of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins in skeletal tissues. Dr. Young has organized several symposia and scientific conferences on the topic of bones and teeth, mineralization, and the ECM including the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Bones and Teeth (1997), a symposium on the ECM in the Craniofacial Complex, AADR (2004) and the GRC on Proteoglycans (2010). Dr. Young has served on numerous committees at the NIH related to promotion and tenure action, oversight of animal facilities, and coordination of summer student research. She has supervised dozens of research fellows and students. In 2014, Dr. Young received a Ruth L. Kirschstein Mentoring award. In August 2018, Dr. Young was appointed deputy scientific director of NIDCR's Division of Intramural Research.

Selected Publications

  1. Berendsen AD, Fisher LW, Kilts TM, Owens RT, Robey PG, Gutkind JS, Young MF. Modulation of canonical Wnt signaling by the extracellular matrix component biglycan. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011;108(41):17022-7.
  2. Kram V, Kilts TM, Bhattacharyya N, Li L, Young MF. Small leucine rich proteoglycans, a novel link to osteoclastogenesis. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):12627.
  3. Embree MC, Kilts TM, Ono M, Inkson CA, Syed-Picard F, Karsdal MA, Oldberg A, Bi Y, Young MF. Biglycan and fibromodulin have essential roles in regulating chondrogenesis and extracellular matrix turnover in temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis. Am J Pathol. 2010;176(2):812-26.
  4. Bi Y, Ehirchiou D, Kilts TM, Inkson CA, Embree MC, Sonoyama W, Li L, Leet AI, Seo BM, Zhang L, Shi S, Young MF. Identification of tendon stem/progenitor cells and the role of the extracellular matrix in their niche. Nat Med. 2007;13(10):1219-27.
  5. Xu T, Bianco P, Fisher LW, Longenecker G, Smith E, Goldstein S, Bonadio J, Boskey A, Heegaard AM, Sommer B, Satomura K, Dominguez P, Zhao C, Kulkarni AB, Robey PG, Young MF. Targeted disruption of the biglycan gene leads to an osteoporosis-like phenotype in mice. Nat Genet. 1998;20(1):78-82.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Friday, September 9, 2022