Aaron Watkins James, M.D., Ph.D.

Headshot of Aaron Watkins James
  • Professor of Pathology


Orthopaedic Pathology, Pathology

Research Interests

Bone biology; Osteogenesis; Skeletal repair; Mesenchymal stem cells; Osteosarcoma ...read more


Dr. James received his M.D. with thesis from the University of California, San Francisco with research at Stanford University. Dr. James performed his residency in Anatomic Pathology and fellowships in Orthopaedic Pathology and Surgical Pathology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his Ph.D. in bone biology and osteoprogenitor cells from University of California, Los Angeles.

Dr. James is a dual physician-scientist and bone tissue pathologist, with research interests in bone tissue regeneration and repair. Current research interests include perivascular mesenchymal progenitor cells, interaction of the peripheral nervous system with skeletal tissues, and novel growth and differentiation factors to speed bone repair.

...read more


  • Professor of Pathology

Departments / Divisions



  • MD; University of California San Francisco School of Medicine (2010)


  • Anatomic Pathology; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (2015)


  • Surgical Pathology; David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA (2016)

Board Certifications

  • American Board of Pathology (Anatomic Pathology) (2015)

Research & Publications


Lab Website: James Laboratory

Selected Publications

View all on PubMed

Tower RJ, Li Z, Cheng YH, Wang X, Rajbhandari L, Zhang Q, Negri S, Dirckx N, Venkatesan A, Cahan P, James AW, Clemens TL. Spatial transcriptomics reveals a role for sensory nerves in preserving cranial suture patency through modulation of BMP/TGF-B signaling. PNAS, Oct 2021, 118 (42) e2103087118.

Lee S, Hwang C, Marini S, Tower RJ, Pagani CA, Stepien DM, Qin Q, Negri S, Sorkin M, Kubiak CA, Visser ND, Meyers CA, Wang Y, Rasheed HA, Xu J, Miller S, Huber, AK Minichiello L, Cederna PS, Kemp SWP, Clemens TL, James AW, Levi B. NGF-TrkA signaling dictates neural ingrowth and aberrant osteochondral differentiation after soft tissue trauma. Nat Commun. Aug 2021;12(1):4939.

Xu J, Wang Y, Hsu CY, Negri S, Tower RJ, Gao Y, Tian Y, Sono T, Meyers CA, Hardy WR, Chang L, Hu S, Kahn N, Broderick K, Peault B, James AW. Lysosomal protein surface expression discriminates fat- from bone-forming human mesenchymal precursor cells. eLife. 2020,9:e58990.

Meyers CA, Lee S, Sono T, Xu J, Negri S, Tian Y, Wang Y, Li Z, Miller S, Chang L, Gao Y, Minichiello L, Clemens TL, James AW. A neurotrophic mechanism directs sensory nerve transit in cranial bone. Cell Rep. 2020;31(8):107696.

Li Z, Meyers CA, Chang L, Lee S, Li Z, Tomlinson R, Hoke A, Clemens TL, James AW. Fracture repair requires TrkA signaling by skeletal sensory nerves. J Clin Invest. 2019;129(12):5137-5150.

Contact for Research Inquiries

720 Rutland Avenue
Rooms 524/523/519
Baltimore, MD 21205 map
Phone: 410-502-4143

Email me

Activities & Honors


  • Phi Beta Kappa, 2004
  • ORS Spotlight Podium Presentation, 2013
  • Young Investigator's Award, ASBMR, 2013
  • Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Fellowship Award, 2014


  • Member, Orthopaedic Research Society, 2014
  • Member, American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, 2014
  • Member, United States and Canadian Academy of Pathology, 2014
  • Member, International Federation of Adipose Therapeutics and Science, 2018
  • Member, American Society for Investigative Pathology, 2018

Professional Activities

  • Editorial Board Member, Bone Research, 2017
  • Editorial Board Member, American Journal of Pathology, 2018

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