Collaboration Makes Bench-to-Bedside an Exciting Reality at The Steadman Clinic

SPRI’s Dr. Johnny Huard, Leader in Clinical and Translational Medicine Research, Credits ORS for Essential Team Development

Dr. Johnny Huard, the Chief Scientific Officer and Director of the Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine at Steadman Philippon Research Institute (SPRI) and program chair for the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), recently stressed the importance of teamwork at the annual ORS meeting in Austin, Texas.

ORS is the very definition of teamwork as it brings together scientists, biologists, clinicians, veterinarians and engineers for a four-day meeting each year. Dr. Huard, a world-renowned scientist, helped organize this year’s conference to provide researchers from around the world with a unique opportunity to form important collaborations to enhance individual research.

“I’ve attended this meeting for the last 20 years,” said Dr. Huard. “I go to gene therapy meetings and stem cell meetings, but this one is very unique. This is the main meeting for us. Here we talk about orthopaedic surgery, the musculoskeletal system; we have the muscle, bone, cartilage and tendon experts all coming together. We have many collaborators here. All of my best friends in science are part of this society.

“I’m giving a talk on skeletal muscles. When I started, skeletal muscle was not a big topic in orthopaedics. Bones, cartilage, tendons and ligaments were important, but muscle was not.  There are still only a few experts in the entire field.”

While muscle research continues to be important to him, Dr. Huard, has a new passion.

“Right now, I’m working on aging related diseases and one of the main age-related diseases is osteoarthritis. Eventually, everyone will have osteoarthritis and there’s no treatment. If you have severe cartilage damage the only thing we can offer is to replace your joint with an artificial joint that will last 10 to 15 years. If you’re 50 you will need a new one at 65.

“In the past few years, I have considered a new approach. I cannot replace the cartilage you were born with, so we’re developing drugs with the goal of delaying joint replacement and reducing pain. The idea is to treat a 50-year-old patient with this drug, possibly delaying joint replacement until age 60. It may mean only one replacement over a lifetime. That’s a big deal.”

SPRI is at the heart of big ideas and the close proximity between the research labs and The Steadman Clinic surgeons accelerates life-changing discoveries as bench-to-bedside treatment becomes a reality.

“Science is not only one person, it’s a big group of people,” said Dr. Huard. “You need a fellow to do the work, the clinician to apply the medication and the scientists to develop the ideas, attain grants and write the papers. What we have at SPRI is amazing.

“I like bench-to- bedside because that’s where surgeons like Dr. Marc Philippon become involved. Dr. Philippon is a world-renowned orthopaedic hip surgeon, co-chair of SPRI and managing partner of The Steadman Clinic. We just submitted a grant request and three of the four projects are bench-to-bedside. That’s possible because we have great surgeons at The Steadman Clinic on the front lines with patients, allowing for rapid translation. There are a lot of great scientists in the world, but they can’t apply their research to patients. That’s what makes SPRI so special.”
The primary areas of research and education at SPRI include the Surgical Skills laboratory, the Center for Outcomes-Based Orthopaedic Research, Biomedical Engineering, Imaging Research, the Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine and the Department of Education, which includes the elite clinical fellowships and International Scholars program.

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