(Philadelphia, PA) – Researchers from the
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine have
been awarded a five-year, $3.2 million grant from the National Institutes
of Health to create the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders,
one of five such Centers nationally. 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 will support three
critical, innovative research Cores to enhance musculoskeletal research.
Additionally, the Center will provide 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,”
says Louis J. Soslowsky, PhD, Professor and Vice
Chair for Research for the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and
the Director of the new 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 an
individual 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.”
Creation of the Center will provide funds for three cores for musculoskeletal
1) The Microarray Core, which will build on the 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.
2) The Structure-Function Biomechanics Core, which will develop
and utilize a wide range of functional, mechanical, and structural
assays of musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair.
3) The Small Animal Imaging Core, which will develop and use 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 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 significant participation of faculty within
the School of Medicine, investigators from the Schools of Veterinary
Medicine, Dental Medicine, Engineering and Applied Sciences, and
Arts and Sciences will participate as well.
PENN Medicine is a $2.9 billion enterprise
dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical
research, and high-quality patient care. PENN Medicine consists
of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in
1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of
Pennsylvania Health System.
Penn's School of Medicine is ranked #2 in the nation for receipt
of NIH research funds; and ranked #4 in the nation in U.S. News
& World Report's most recent ranking of top research-oriented
medical schools. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students,
the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior
education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists
and leaders of academic medicine.
The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three
hospitals [Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, which is
consistently ranked one of the nation's few "Honor Roll"
hospitals by U.S. News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital,
the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center];
a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty
satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.