Musculoskeletal Research Symposium A Huge Success

Sep. 23, 2013

A whopping 76 posters, representing the research of graduate students and post-docs in the Center for Musculoskeletal Research (CMSR), filled the Flaum Atrium on September 18 as part of the Third Annual CMSR Scientific Symposium.  The day-long event also featured oral presentations by graduate students, post-docs, and faculty on a wide range of research related to the biology and pathology of muscle, cartilage and bone. Research Symposium

“In addition to doing great science, our training program places a heavy emphasis on presenting that work orally in settings like this,” said Michael Zuscik, Ph.D., associate professor of Orthopaedics and director of the CMSR’s education program and $2 million T32 training grant from the National Institutes of Health.  “It’s become a hallmark of our program.”

“We hear from faculty at other institutions that the work of our pre-doctoral students is on par with the quality of work being done by post-docs elsewhere,” Zuscik added. 

A panel of faculty judges selected three top posters from the symposium, two from doctoral students and one from a post-doc:

  • Youssef Farhat won for his work related to developing therapies to reduce scar tissue in tendon injuries.  Farhat is an M.D./Ph.D. student in the lab of Hani Awad, Ph.D., professor in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedics. 
  • Julianne Smith won for her work aimed at understanding how parathyroid hormone causes an expansion of hematopoietic stem cells in the bone marrow microenvironment.  The work has implications for expanding the stem cell pool in patients who undergo bone marrow ablation therapy to treat leukemia and other cancers.  Smith is a Ph.D. student in the lab of Laura Calvi, M.D., professor in the departments of Medicine, Neurosurgery, and Pharmacology and Physiology.
  • Lin Gao, Ph.D., won for her work on TGF-beta regulation of the SOX9 gene, which induces cartilage formation in skeletal development and growth.  The work has implications for the development of  therapies for osteoarthritis.  Dr. Gao is a post-doctoral fellow in the lab of Regis O’Keefe, M.D., chair and Marjorie Strong Wehle Professor in Orthopaedics, and associate dean for Clinical Affairs.   

Each winner received a $1,000 prize for travel to a scientific meeting.

UR’s Department of Othopaedics is ranked #1 in the nation in NIH funding, with $4.86 million in peer-reviewed NIH grants in 2012, surpassing institutions such as Washington University, Johns Hopkins, and Duke.  The Center for Musculoskeletal Research is led by Edward Schwarz, Ph.D., the Richard and Margaret Burton Distinguished Professor in Orthopaedics.