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About Tom Appleton

Dr. Tom Appleton is an adult rheumatologist researching in the management of arthritis and osteoarthritis, as well as the biological mechanisms of inflammation in musculoskeletal diseases including osteoarthritis, autoinflammatory, and autoimmune diseases.

Children's Health Collaborators: Roberta Berard and Erkan Demirkaya

Investigator with Bone and Joint Institute

Dr. Appleton is director of the Synovial Translational Biology Laboratory at Western University. His research also explores the development and progression of diseases to better identify early therapeutic targets; for this reason, Dr. Appleton often collaborates with researchers in children's rheumatology such as Dr. Erkan Demirkaya and Dr. Roberta Berard.

Dr. Appleton received his PhD in Physiology in 2007 working on osteoarthritis (OA) in the laboratory of Dr. Frank Beier on pathophysiological mechanisms of cartilage damage in animal models of post-traumatic OA. He continued to work in the OA research field while completing his medical degree, residency in internal medicine and fellowship in Rheumatology at Western University.

Using genetic and molecular techniques, his work has identified a signaling axis involving transforming growth factor alpha (TGFa) and chemokine (C-C motif) ligand 2 (CCL2) in early post-traumatic OA. More recently, he has demonstrated the efficacy of targeting this signaling axis in pre-clinical studies. Dr. Appleton’s current research interests include cell-mediated tissue damage, synovitis and inflammatory features of OA, and discovering the pathophysiology of different clinical OA phenotypes.

By establishing a translational biology research program in early OA, which includes multidisciplinary collaborative projects with members of the Western University Bone and Joint Institute and members of the musculoskeletal research community in Canada and internationally, Dr. Appleton is investigating the mechanisms of osteoarthritis disease development and progression to identify new therapeutic targets for disease modifying OA therapies. The research program in osteoarthritis includes a prospective, longitudinal patient cohort of patients with early OA of various phenotypes.

Dr. Appleton joined the Division of Rheumatology in 2016 as a Clinician Scientist and provides clinical service to patients with inflammatory rheumatologic disorders in addition to running the translational early OA research program. His cross appointment in the Department of Physiology & Pharmacology in 2017 facilitates the discovery aspect of the research program in the laboratory utilizing multiple molecular biology techniques. The main focus of the lab is studying the molecular interplay between synovium and articular cartilage and the inflammatory mediators that drive joint damage and dysfunction in early OA.


Present Assistant Professor, Western University Department of Physiology and Pharmacology
Present Director, Western University Synovial Translational Biology Laboratory


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Recent Works (20)