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$3.2 Million from NIH for Musculoskeletal Disorders

Louis Soslowsky
Vice Chair for Research for the department of orthopaedic surgery and the director of the new Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders

Researchers from Penn’s School of Medicine have been awarded a five-year, $3.2 million grant from the NIH to create the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders, one of five such Centers nationally. The Center aims to enhance and advance the research productivity of investigators in the broad topic of musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair. Based in the department of orthopaedic surgery, the Center will support three critical, innovative research Cores to enhance musculoskeletal research. Additionally, the Center will provide a pilot and feasibility internal grant program, seminars, and other educational programs for researchers.

Previously there had been no central infrastructure for musculoskeletal researchers, despite the fact that musculoskeletal disorders have a devastating effect on quality-of-life for both old and young individuals, with 28 million Americans reporting musculoskeletal injuries each year.   

“Musculoskeletal disorders affect everyone on some level,” says Dr. Louis J. Soslowsky, professor and Vice Chair for Research for the department of orthopaedic surgery and the director of the new Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders. “Carpal tunnel syndrome, rotator cuff injuries, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, and low back pain are just a few of the injuries and disorders that affect a large portion of the population. Musculoskeletal disorders dictate whether, and for how long a person can continue working at their job and/or when it is necessary to begin home healthcare or nursing home care when these disorders prevent an individual from taking care of themselves in their own homes. Additionally, these problems significantly impair the ability to play sports, either recreationally or competitively. The Center will bring together the best and brightest at Penn to further our research and understanding of these debilitating afflictions.”

Creation of the Center will provide funds for three cores for musculoskeletal researchers:

1)  The Microarray Core, which will build on the School of Medicine’s Core and allow investigation of musculoskeletal disorders on the genetic level through RNA transcript profiling. This will assist in identifying early markers for injury and treatments.

2)  The Structure-Function Biomechanics Core, which will develop and utilize a wide range of functional, mechanical, and structural assays of musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair.

3)  The Small Animal Imaging Core, which will develop and use extensive imaging techniques to detect, evaluate, and treat problems of musculoskeletal injury and repair. The cutting-edge technologies of these research cores will provide investigators with the tools they need to fundamentally advance their research.

 “The purpose of the Center is to support and foster collaborations between programs already in place, as well as help jump start interactions,” continued Dr. Soslowsky. “ We will be able to support whatever the investigator is already interested in, allowing people to work in their strengths and improve their own programs through new and enhanced opportunities. Also, pilot grant funding will seed new investigations and also provide funding for established investigators who have an interest in moving to musculoskeletal research.”

 In addition to the significant participation of faculty within the School of Medicine, investigators from Veterinary Medicine, Dental Medicine, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and Arts and Sciences will participate as well.

Further information on this new Center can be found at: www.med.upenn.edu/pcmd/index.shtml.



  Almanac, Vol. 52, No. 29, April 11, 2006


April 11, 2006
Volume 52 Number 29


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