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$3.2 Million to Continue Musculoskeletal Disorders Center

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December 6, 2011, Volume 58, No. 14

Soslowsky

Researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have been awarded another five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to continue the programs of the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders. Penn is one of five institutions nationally with this Center award and the only one of the three up for renewal in the cycle to be re-funded.

The Center aims to enhance and advance the research productivity of investigators in the broad topic of musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair. Based in Penn’s department of orthopaedic surgery, the Center supports three critical, innovative research cores to enhance musculoskeletal research. Additionally, the Center provides 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 28,000,000 Americans reporting musculoskeletal injuries each year. “Musculoskeletal disorders affect everyone on some level,” said Louis J. Soslowsky, Fairhill Professor and Vice Chair for Research for the department of orthopaedic surgery and the director of the Penn 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’s necessary to begin home healthcare or nursing home care when these disorders prevent individuals 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.”

The Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders (Almanac April 11, 2006) will provide funds for four cores for musculoskeletal researchers:

•   The Molecular Profiling Core, which will build on the Perelman 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.

•   The Biomechanics Core, which develops and utilizes a wide range of functional, mechanical, and structural assays of musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair.

•   The Histology Core, which allows musculoskeletal investigators to have a focused resource for relevant soft and hard tissues.

•   The Imaging Core, which develops and uses 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 participation of faculty within the Perelman School of Medicine, investigators from Penn’s Schools of Veterinary Medicine, Dental Medicine, Engineering and Applied Science, and Arts and Sciences will participate as well.

Almanac - December 6, 2011, Volume 58, No. 14