Our research focuses on understanding the molecular, cellular and physiological basis of various forms of muscular dystrophy, and on developing therapeutic strategies to treat these diseases. Muscular dystrophies, a group of genetic diseases that primarily affect skeletal muscle, are characterized by progressive muscle weakness. For the past twenty years we have actively investigated the molecular pathogenesis of muscular dystrophy. Our laboratory has used biochemical, cell biological, genetic and physiological techniques to identify and define disease mechanisms that cause various forms of muscular dystrophy. One form, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, is caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene that lead to the complete absence of dystrophin in skeletal muscle. Research in my laboratory on the function of dystrophin led to the discovery of the skeletal muscle dystrophin-glycoprotein complex, which spans the muscle cell membrane and links the sub-sarcolemma actin cytoskeleton to the surrounding basement membrane. Defects in genes that encode either components of the complex itself or mediators of its requisite post-translational modifications lead to distinct forms of muscular dystrophy. My current and future research focuses on four related areas: (1) the molecular pathogenesis of dystrophin-glycoprotein complex disorders, (2) the mechanistic basis of maintaining muscle membrane integrity, (3) the molecular pathogenesis of disorders arising from defects in dystroglycan glycosylation, and (4) the structural basis of dystroglycan function as a basement membrane receptor.
Dr. Campbell is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine and Director of the Iowa Center for Muscular Dystrophy Research. He is the Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver Biomedical Research Chair in Molecular Physiology in the University of Iowa’s Carver College of Medicine and he has served as the Head of the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics since 2005. Dr. Campbell is also a Professor of Neurology and Internal Medicine.
As head of his laboratory, Dr. Campbell is dedicated to maintaining the highest standards in research and has provided outstanding research training and mentorship for many undergraduates, graduate students, and postdoctoral and clinical fellows at the University of Iowa. He is committed to research mentoring and many of his former trainees are now leaders in the fields of physiology, neurology, molecular genetics, and cellular biology. His success is illustrated by the fact that many of his former graduate students have embarked on promising research and clinical careers, and his recent postdoctoral trainees are emerging worldwide as young faculty with exceptional research promise. Dr. Campbell was named a University of Iowa Foundation Distinguished Professor of Physiology and Biophysics (1989) and received the UI Regent’s Award for Faculty Excellence in 1990. In 2005, he was given the UI Carver College of Medicine Distinguished Mentor Award. Dr. Campbell is also committed to a globally collaborative and diverse research environment: currently the men and women working in his laboratory represent thirteen nationalities.
Dr. Campbell is internationally recognized for his excellence in muscle research and fundamental contributions to muscular dystrophy research. Dr. Campbell’s early studies at the University of Iowa involved the structure and function of calcium channels in skeletal muscle. For the past twenty years, Dr. Campbell and his colleagues have actively investigated the molecular pathogenesis of muscular dystrophy. Dr. Campbell has engaged in creative, insightful research, pioneering important new paradigms in the biology of the muscle cell membrane. His laboratory has used biochemical, cell biological, genetic and physiological techniques to identify and define disease mechanisms causing various forms of muscular dystrophy. Dr. Campbell elucidated the structure and function of dystroglycan as a novel basement membrane receptor and showed how defects in the glycosylation of dystroglycan results in various limb-girdle and congential muscular dystrophies. Additionally, Dr. Campbell discovered that defects in the membrane repair pathway can cause muscle wasting observed in dysferlinopathies.