Associate Professor

Teaching Interests

My teaching philosophy for the anatomical sciences is a hands-on approach. I believe short lectures followed by extensive laboratory dissection to be the best approach for education in anatomy. There is no replacement for the cadaver when it comes to medical education. It is not only that the cadaver provides the student with their “first patient,” it is also an unparalleled experience for hands-on learning and grants the ability to appreciate morphological variability. In addition, to didactic and laboratory experiences I also believe an approach that includes clinical vignettes to be very important to the early exposure of students to practicing medicine. I also include wherever possible clinical correlations for broad topics of study (e.g. “Spread of Infection to the Mediastinum” when covering mediastinum). My topics of focus include embryology, histology and gross anatomy of hard tissues and craniofacial development and anatomy.

Research Interests

I’ve spent the past ten years building out a research program focused in craniofacial birth defects and craniofacial bone wound healing. My particular interest is in gene/environment interaction that leads to a common craniofacial birth defect, craniosynostosis. I’ve published more than 90 works which are seen in journals such as Molecular Immunology, Stem Cell Research, Wound Repair and Regeneration, Journal of Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, and Scientific Reports. My research funding has been provided by the National Institutes for Health/National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, AO Foundation, Cleft Palate Foundation, and the Musculoskeletal Transplant Foundation. I serve on the editorial boards of PlosOne, Cleft Palate Craniofacial Journal, Scientific Reports, and Journal for Bone and Mineral Research Plus. I also serves on as a consultant to the Council on Scientific Affairs for the American Dental Association. I’ve had numerous trainees previously supported by T32 and F mechanisms and those graduates have gone on to positions in academia and industry.

View my PubMed

Education and Training

PhD, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA

MA, Kent State University, Kent OH

BA, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh PA


Kesterke, M.J., MA. Judd, MP. Mooney, MI. Siegel, M. Elsalanty, RN. Howie, SM. Weinberg, JJ. Cray. Maternal environment and craniofacial growth: geometric morphometric analysis of mandibular shape changes within utero thyroxine overexposure in mice. Journal of Anatomy, Volume 233, Issue 1: 46-54. July 2018. PMID:29611183.

Durham, E., RN. Howie, T. Parsons, G. Bennfors, L. Black, SM. Weinberg, M. Elsalanty, JC. Yu, JJ. Cray Jr. Thyroxine Exposure Effects on the Cranial Base. Calcified Tissue International, Volume 101: 300-311. September 2017. PMCID:PMC5545063.

Herberg, S., A. Aguilar-Perez, RN. Howie, G. Kondrikova, S. Periyasamy-Thandavan, ME. Elsalanty, X. Shi, WD. Hill, and J.J. Cray Jr. Mesenchymal Stem Cell Expression of SDF-1β Synergizes with BMP-2 to Augment Cell-Mediated Healing of Critical-Size Mouse Calvarial Defects. Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine, Volume 11, Issue 6: 1806-1819. June 2017. PMCID: PMC4733586

Howie, R.N., EL. Durham, L. Black, G. Bennfors, TE. Parsons, ME Elsalanty, J. Yu, SM. Weinberg, and JJ. Cray Jr. Effects of in utero Thyroxine Exposure on Murine Cranial Suture Growth. Plos One, Volume 11, Issue 12: e0167805. December 2016. PMCID: PMC5154521.

Durham, E., RN. Howie, L. Black, G. Bennfors, TE. Parsons, M. Elsalanty, JC. Yu, SM. Weinberg, JJ. Cray Jr. Effects of thyroxine exposure on Twist 1 +/- phenotype: A test of gene-environment interaction modeling for craniosynostosis. Birth Defects Research Part A Clinical and Molecular Teratology, Volume 106, Issue 10: 803-813. October 2016. PMCID: PMC5088492.

Cray Jr., J., SE. Henderson, DM. Smith, CR. Kinsella Jr., MJ. Bykowski, GM. Cooper, AJ. Almarza, and JE. Losee. “Biomechanics of BMP Regenerated Bone.” Annals of Plastic Surgery, Volume 73, Issue 5: 591-597. November 2014. PMID: 23657046

Herberg, S., Kondrikova, G., Periyasamy-Thandavan, S., Howie, R.N., Elsalanty, M.E., Weiss, L., Campbell, P., Hill, W.D., and Cray Jr., J.J. Printed SDF-1β/BMP-2 co-therapy heals critical size mouse calvarial defects. Bone, Volume 67: 95-103. October 2014. PMCID: PMC4149833

Herberg, S., C. Susin, M. Pelaez, RN. Howie, R Moreno de Freitas, J. Lee, J. Cray Jr., MH. Johnson, ME. Elsalanty, MW. Hamrick, CM. Isales, UME Wikesjo, WD Hill. BMP2/SDF1β Co-Therapy Regenerates Critical Size Calvarial Defects. Tissue Engineering Part A, Volume 20, Issue 9-10:1444-1453. May 2014. PMCID: PMC4012411