Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD

  • Department Chair
  • Professor
  • Pronouns: she/her/hers

Dr. Sowa is Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research at the University of Pittsburgh, and holds joint appointments in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Bioengineering.

Using her background in biochemistry, Dr. Sowa currently performs molecular laboratory based, translational, and clinical research, investigating the effect of motion on inflammatory pathways and the beneficial effects of exercise. The Ferguson Laboratory, which she directs, is a 3000 square foot laboratory fully equipped to perform molecular assays including gene expression analysis, protein analysis, cell and organ culture, histology, and cellular and spinal biomechanical testing. Dr. Sowa also has an active research program investigating the role of serum biomarkers in guiding individualized treatment in intervertebral disc degeneration and back pain.

Board Certifications
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation

Research and Clinical Interests: Low back pain, mechanobiology of the intervertebral disc, molecular biomarkers of low back pain

Dr. Sowa's publications are indexed on PubMed

Why are diversity and inclusion important to me? As a woman in medicine, I have been fortunate to have had advocates that supported me throughout my career, and I will continue to work to see that opportunities are made available to all individuals to ensure a diverse and inclusive work environment.  I am a member of and enthusiastically support the Department of PM&R Diversity and Inclusion sub-committee to ensure that we are intentional and consistent in our efforts to deliver cutting edge research, educate our future leaders, and care for patients in an equitable manner, eliminating barriers to create a future in which all can thrive.

Education & Training

  • BS, Chemistry, Cum Laude, Lafayette University, Easton, PA, 1993
  • PhD, Biochemistry, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 1997
  • MD, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI, 2000
  • PM&R Residency, Northwestern Medical School, Chicago, IL, 2004