|About the ORL|
The primary goal of the Orthopaedic Research Laboratories is to develop a multidisciplinary research and teaching program to study the etiology, prevention, and treatment of arthritis, a painful and debilitating family of diseases that leads to the destruction of the joints of the body. Osteoarthritis is one of the largest sources of disability in the United States, but little is known of its etiology or the factors that influence its progression. It is believed to be the outcome of a complex interplay of mechanical and biological factors that result in a slow, progressive degeneration of the joints and particularly the articular cartilage, the tissue that lines the joint surfaces.
Our research studies can be categorized in several major areas of osteoarthritis research: 1) Quantitative studies of the role of biomechanical forces in the physiology and pathophysiology of articular cartilage; 2) The study of cellular mechanics and mechanical signal transduction; 3) Tissue engineering and regenerative medicine as applied to joint diseases. A central theme in many of the studies has been the establishment of multidisciplinary collaborations with physicians, biologists, and other engineers here at Duke as well as other academic and industrial entities. The focus of the lab has been the application of rigorous engineering principals to the study of biological and medical problems.
Teaching and mentorship
Teaching has been an important area of emphasis in this laboratory, which currently consists of approximately 30 fellows, technicians, support staff, and students (undergraduate, graduate, and medical). The laboratory meets in a highly interactive group format every week to discuss administrative and research issues, and several times per week in smaller groups to discuss detailed scientific issues. The focus in laboratory teaching has been on practical aspects of research that are vital to the success of new investigators. Practical discussions include many of the important issues involved in the funding and management of research laboratories, topics that are rarely addressed in formal graduate coursework. Concerns such as laboratory budgeting, fund-raising, recruitment and retention of staff, meaningful interactions with industry, patents and inventions, and promotion of an interactive laboratory environment are regularly discussed. Graduate courses such as Cell Mechanics or Orthopaedic Biomechanics are taught nearly every semester through this laboratory and emphasize the ability for students to read scientific papers critically and to apply such a perspective to their own writing. In this respect and through lab meetings, students and fellows are expected to present their work in several different group settings that often consist of a diverse audience of engineers, biological scientists, and clinicians.