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Orthopedic Surgery Research

The Department of Orthopedic Surgery emphasizes both basic and clinical research. Fifteen faculty members are devoted to full-time research, and are advancing patient care by studying disease pathways, helping to develop a broad range of surgical devices and technologies, and study the safety and effectiveness of new procedures.

Our research faculty is supported by more than 25 research professionals and students who work in various laboratories. Our department has one of the best-funded orthopedic programs in the country, with multiple NIH and foundation grants as well as significant philanthropic support.

Clinical research takes place within the various orthopedic specialties and is complemented by the basic science laboratories, which are organized by biomechanics, biomaterials, bone biology and molecular medicine sections.

Molecular medicine

The Section of Molecular Medicine in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery applies biochemistry, cell biology, basic molecular biology, signal transduction and immunology to various problems in orthopedics.

Among the research highlights are genome mapping of disease-promoting genes, the characterization of molecules provoking immune attacks in joints, and epigenetic factors involved in the regulatory network of inflammatory processes in joints

Bone biology

The Section of Bone Biology focuses upon functional adaptation of bone, enhancement of bone regeneration, and the role of bone in the initiation and progression of osteoarthritis. The role of bone in osteoarthritis is being studied in living human subjects, human autopsy samples and even animal models to aid in understanding the underlying mechanisms.


The Section of Biomaterials focuses on the interactions between permanent orthopedic implants and the in vivo environment. This includes the degradative processes of implant materials within the physiologic milieu, as well as reactions within the host, the systemic distribution of particulate and ionic degradation products inside the body, and the analysis of retrieved implants and tissues.

Of particular note is the existence of an autopsy retrieval program where patients can donate their implants and tissues after death. This program provides important and unique information concerning the long-term performance of permanent implant materials.


The Section of Biomechanics focuses on the degradation and repair of tissues and devices with the help of mechanics. Research is conducted on joints and tissues of the upper and lower extremities, as well as the spine.

The toolbox contains in vitro test platforms to determine tissue strength and joint kinematics, in silicomodels to calculate stresses and strains at the contacting surfaces, video analysis to evaluate body dynamics, tribological simulators to study the effects of moving surfaces, and noninvasive imaging techniques. The primary toolbox is complemented by applying biological and biochemical outcome measures as well.