Medical Center Taps Regis O’Keefe to Head Center for Musculoskeletal Research

September 30, 2005

"We look forward to building and expanding on the Center’s pioneering approach to transform basic science research into clinical discoveries, bringing new treatments and hope to many individuals worldwide."

The University of Rochester Medical Center has appointed Regis J. O’Keefe, M.D., Ph.D., as director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, a move designed to further enhance the success of its musculoskeletal basic science and clinical research programs.

The Center for Musculoskeletal Research is one of several major research centers within the Medical Center that report directly to the Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, David Guzick, M.D., Ph.D.  With funding topping more than $7 million, the Center staff of 65 includes 16 faculty and nearly two dozen graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. 

“The University of Rochester Medical Center has a distinguished history of musculoskeletal research, a heritage that was strengthened with the creation of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research in 2000,” C. McCollister Evarts, M.D., CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center, said. “With the appointment of Dr. O’Keefe as its new director, we look forward to building and expanding on the Center’s pioneering approach to transform basic science research into clinical discoveries, bringing new treatments and hope to many individuals worldwide.”

“Over the past decade, the Department of Orthopaedics has consistently ranked as one of the top NIH-funded orthopaedic research programs in the United States, due in part to faculty members like Dr. O’Keefe, who are leading some of the most exciting developments in orthopaedic research in decades,” Guzick said. “His research, clinical and academic experience is well suited to take on the leadership role at the Center for Musculoskeletal Research, and I am confident he will continue and expand the great work underway.”

A graduate of Yale University, O’Keefe received his medical degree from Harvard Medical School.  Following a surgical internship at the New England Deaconess Hospital, he completed an endocrinology research fellowship at the University of Rochester Medical Center. O’Keefe then entered the Ph.D. program in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Rochester while simultaneously completing his orthopaedic residency training. Following completion of a fellowship in Musculoskeletal Oncology Surgery at Harvard, he joined the faculty at University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Orthopaedics in 1993.

As a member of the Department of Orthopaedics, O’Keefe has been dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in research, patient care and teaching. He maintains an active clinical orthopaedic practice, while directing an expansive portfolio of research projects.  His NIH grant support has consistently placed him among the most highly funded orthopaedic surgeon-clinician scientists in the United States. He is the author of more than 140 journal articles, and has written numerous book chapters. He has been an outstanding contributor to teaching in the Medical Center and in 2003 was awarded the Marvin J. Hoffman Award for excellence as a mentor for medical students at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.

O’Keefe has served in leadership roles with a number of national orthopaedic organizations. He is past-president of The United States Bone and Joint Decade, an international coalition of healthcare organizations aimed at decreasing the incidence of bone and joint disorders.  He is currently the chair of the Skeletal Biology and Skeletal Regeneration Study Section for the National Institutes of Health’s Center for Scientific Review. O’Keefe also chairs the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Clinician Scientist Committee, serves as Treasurer of the Orthopaedic Research Society, and is a member of its Mentoring Committee.  He is assuming the Directorship of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation’s Grant Writing Workshop, a program that mentors young scientists in the critical skill of grant writing. 

About the Center for Musculoskeletal Research

One of the few formal musculoskeletal research centers in the country, the University of Rochester Medical Center’s Center for Musculoskeletal Research is home to dozens of comprehensive research programs emphasizing a translational approach to orthopaedic science. Teams led by 16 full- and part-time faculty from a variety of specialties including Orthopaedics, Pathology, Rheumatology, Medicine, and Biomedical Engineering work together to advance the understanding and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.

Work garnering recent national attention includes studies allowing scientists to transform transplanted bone graft into living tissue; studies of the effects of lead on skeletal growth and development, as well as bone fracture healing; investigations into the causes of bone loss in joint implants; and the development of a gene therapy to augment bone repair. The Center recently landed a $1.4 million grant from the Department of Defense to fund studies that will uncover new information concerning the effects of nicotine on the healing of bone fractures.

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