URMC Orthopaedics Ranks No. 1 in Nation in NIH Funding

March 15, 2013

The University of Rochester Medical Center’s Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation has been ranked No. 1 in the nation in National Institutes of Health funding for orthopaedic research, according to data released by the Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research.

The URMC Center for Musculoskeletal Research (CMSR) received $4.86 million in peer-reviewed NIH research grants in 2012, surpassing institutions such as Washington University, Johns Hopkins and Duke University. At a time when research dollars are becoming increasingly scarce, the CMSR upped its funding by 30 percent over the previous year.

The past four years the CMSR has come in at No. 2 in orthopaedic funding, according to the Blue Ridge Institute.Since 2000 it has consistently ranked among the top five NIH-funded musculoskeletal programs in the country.

“This is a testament to the caliber of URMC’s orthopaedic research endeavors and our stellar class of investigators,” said Edward M. Schwarz, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Musculoskeletal Research and the Burton Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedics. “Our funding success is due in large part to a programmatic organizational design, a strong emphasis on collaboration across departments, and the diverse research interests of our faculty. It is clearly a case of the sum being greater than its parts.”

Seven URMC orthopaedic researchers made the 2012 Blue Ridge list of individual funding recipients:

The current work of the CMSR is addressing some of the most challenging issues in the musculoskeletal sciences, all in an effort to improve the health of patients. Research includes:

  • The development of a vaccine to prevent life-threatening methicillin-resistant staphylococcus (MRSA) infections following bone and joint surgery. URMC researchers have developed an antibody that appears to offer about 50 percent protection against the bacteria.
  • The identification of a drug that can enhance bone repair after traumatic injury by marshalling bone marrow-derived mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs), the earliest cells that form cartilage, bone and connective tissue. Investigators are exploring ways to control, expand and keep MSCs in a state of extended infancy, so they can be used for tissue and joint repair.
  • The development of a unique technology that creates a three-dimensional model using a computed tomography (CT) scan. The 3D model allows surgeons prior to surgery to truly see the patient’s anatomy from all angles and “test” multiple approaches to treatment before ever entering the operating room. This 3D technology was recently applied for the first time to a URMC pediatric scoliosis patient case.

The CMSR was created in 2000 to formalize a 25-year history of multidisciplinary, comprehensive research into musculoskeletal health at URMC. The CMSR is comprised of highly integrated faculty from a variety of URMC departments outside of Orthopaedics, including Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, and Medicine (Rheumatology and Endocrinology).

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Karin Christensen
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