HSS is translating discoveries and innovations into effective treatments and cures that will improve the quality of life for millions of patients worldwide affected by musculoskeletal diseases and conditions such as lupus, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, and spinal deformities.
Biomechanical engineers see the musculoskeletal system as a machine designed to provide the body with movement. Led by Timothy Wright, PhD, HSS’s biomechanical engineers apply engineering principles to develop devices and instrumentation with the goal of solving orthopedic problems and improving patient care. Partnering with the Hospital’s orthopedic surgeons, the team has developed joint replacements for the hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, and wrist, as well as devices for enhancing spine fusion.
In addition to customizing devices for HSS patients, the team designs implant systems that are licensed to orthopaedic companies throughout the world. Learn more about Biomechanics at HSS.
Clinician-scientists - a cohort of scientists who are knowledgeable in the science of medicine and actively involved in the care of patients – are essential to ensuring the effective transfer of new scientific knowledge to improve musculoskeletal care and treatment. Because they experience first-hand the clinical needs of patients, they bring an invaluable perspective to research in such areas as immunology and autoimmunity, sports medicine, pediatrics, anesthesia and spine care. Through the generous support of HSS Trustee Marina Kellen French, the Anna-Maria and Stephen Kellen Clinician-Scientist Career Development Award Program plays a pivotal role in the development of the next generation of clinician-scientists through mentorship.
HSS scientists conducting research in this area are uncovering the nature of living spinal discs and bone - how they respond to injury, how they degenerate, and how the spinal discs and bone interact with each other, as well as orthopedic devices and implants. Understanding the mechanisms that regulate spinal disc and bone structure and function is critical for determining how and why spine disorders occur and for developing new treatments for these disorders. Scientists in this area are performing cutting-edge research to enhance mobility and improve quality of life for patients affected by bone disorders such as spine instability, fractures, developmental deformities, arthritis and osteoporosis.
Lionel Ivashkiv, MD and his team in the Hospital’s new David Z. Rosensweig Genomics Research Center are applying genomic approaches to understand the causes and mechanisms of inflammatory and musculoskeletal diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteolysis. Their goal is to use this knowledge to identify personalized and more effective therapeutic approaches that will eventually lead to the cure of these disabling diseases.
The Hospital's new Healthcare Research Institute (HRI) investigates the care of patients with musculoskeletal conditions with the goal of continually improving outcomes. Under the leadership of Director Stephen Lyman, PhD, the HRI will leverage the enormous breadth of clinical information available at HSS – where over 29,000 surgeries and 330,000 outpatient visits were conducted last year – to translate informed outcomes into better treatments for patients now and in the future. For example, Dr. Lyman recently published two important papers on outcomes in total hip and knee arthroplasty that demonstrate the benefits of having these surgeries at high volume hospitals.
The cells of the immune system function together in a highly complex network to protect the body against disease. When control of the immune system is impaired, autoimmunity and tissue damage due to inflammation can result. Scientists in this area are focused on understanding the disease-causing mechanisms and developing more effective therapies. With millions of patients worldwide suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, and other chronic autoimmune and inflammatory diseases, these scientists are working hard to develop better treatments and, ultimately, cures. Learn more about the HSS Autoimmunity and Inflammatory Program.
When the Hospital’s surgeons need a better view of a patient’s orthopedic condition, they call on Hollis G. Potter, MD and Matthew Koff, PhD and their team in the MRI Research Lab. Under Dr. Potter’s direction, scientists in the lab are developing specialized MRI techniques to improve the capabilities of identifying osteoarthritis and other consequences of orthopedic injuries earlier than is currently possible by x-ray or CT scan. Her objective and that of her research colleagues – including orthopedic surgeons, bioengineers, and physicists – is to be able to diagnose patients earlier in their disease and intervene before it is too late. Drs. Potter and Koff provide their colleagues with a "noninvasive imaging microscope", detects changes in tissue biochemistry and structural integrity with MRI.
Injuries to musculoskeletal tissues, such as ligament, tendon, cartilage and intervertebral disc can seriously impair mobility and lead to the early onset and progression of arthritis. Scientists in the Tissue Engineering, Regeneration and Repair Program are focused on intervening in the short and long-term effects of these painful injuries through research aimed at understanding the biological and mechanical mechanisms of damage, preventing the degradative processes, stimulating the body to repair itself by regenerating new tissue, and replacing damaged tissue with biomaterials or cells and tissue grown outside the body.
Developing the scientific leaders of tomorrow is critical to Special Surgery’s efforts to build a better future for patients affected by musculoskeletal disorders. HSS has a long-standing tradition of attracting and developing exceptional young investigators, who bring fresh insight and new perspectives to the research venture and play a critical role in continuing the evolution of ideas and inquiry. Working under the mentorship of the Hospital’s senior scientists, these junior faculty members are already having a significant impact on their fields of study, which include genomics, biomechanics, bone biology, arthritis research and spine research.