Division of Orthopaedic Surgery



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The three-pronged mission of the translational research program in the Division of Orthopaedics is to identify and characterize the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate development, growth, and morphogenesis of the skeleton in healthy conditions; use the resulting data and insights to clarify the pathogenesis of congenital pediatric skeletal disorders; and develop new cell- or gene-based tools to treat and correct these pathologies.

Investigators in the program conduct laboratory and translational medicine research related to the embryonic origin of stem and progenitor cells forming the cartilaginous and osseous components of the fetal skeleton and the determination and molecular mechanisms dictating the formation of synovial joints. They also have active and robust studies on the energy metabolic pathways and nuclear factors modulating cellular glucose intake and developmental function as well as cell surface receptors and co-receptors influencing the response of skeletal cells to cytokines and drug treatments.

Currently, pediatric diseases being studied in cell and animal models are fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive, hereditary multiple exostoses, developmental dysplasia of the hip, Lamb-Shaffer syndrome, and osteochrondritis dissecans.

These efforts are organized into five research programs, with groups of investigators, postdoctoral fellows, and technicians working together to identify critical biological and other mechanisms dictating basic skeletal cell function and to uncover defects into these mechanisms leading to congenital diseases. Experimental treatments based on these fundamental insights are then tested in relevant animal models of disease.

In addition, the research program in the Division of Orthopaedics attracts visiting scientists and scholars who are actively engaged in ongoing research projects. The program is also closely linked by membership to the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Diseases, expanding its research horizon and reach to include skeletal biology and disease in the adults and the elderly.

The research program in the Division organizes internal research meetings and gatherings to review and discuss research advances, identify future targets or investigation, propose and critically assess new grant proposal ideas and preliminary findings, and set overall goals and achievements.

For the past fiscal year, current members of the Division’s research program have:

  • Maintained 11 R01 NIH grants
  • Authored 20 peer-review manuscripts
  • Delivered 16 presentations as visiting professors or invited speakers at national and international conferences