March 05, 2008 16:15 ET

Bringing Clinical Findings to the Practice of Medicine

Discoveries Propel Treatment, Further Investigation of Common Orthopaedic Conditions

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwire - March 5, 2008) - Today, at the 75th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the Kappa Delta Sorority and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) bestowed four research awards on scientists who are closing the chasm between basic research and clinical medicine.

At its Golden Anniversary celebration in 1947, the Kappa Delta Sorority announced the establishment of the Kappa Delta Research Fellowship in Orthopaedics, the first-ever award created to honor achievements in the field of orthopaedic research. The first annual award, a single stipend of $1,000, became available to the Academy in 1949 and presented at our annual meeting in 1950. Since then, the Academy has presented the Kappa Delta Awards to persons who have performed research in orthopaedic surgery that is of high significance and impact.

The sorority increased the number of awards from one to three in 1961, and over time their dollar value has been raised. At present, three annual awards of $20,000 each are given. Two awards are named for the national presidents who were instrumental in the creation of the awards: Elizabeth Winston Lanier and Ann Doner Vaughn. The third is known as the Young Investigator Award.

The fourth award is the OREF Clinical Research Award. Established in 1995, the award recognizes outstanding clinical research related directly to musculoskeletal disease or injury.

The 2008 Kappa Delta Young Investigator Award was given to Chuanju Liu, PhD, from the New York University School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Liu was accompanied by Yi Luan, MD, PhD; Yan Zhang, MD, PhD; Ronald Damani Howell, BS; and Li Kong, MD, in presenting "ADAMTS-7 and ADAMTS-12: Two Novel Cartilage-Degrading Metalloproteinases."

The Young Investigator Award is given to outstanding authors who are under 40 years of age or no more than seven years beyond training. In his study, Dr. Liu details his team's discovery of two new enzymes -- ADAMTS-7 and ADAMTS-12 -- that are particularly responsible for cartilage degeneration. This degeneration is the hallmark of osteoarthritis, a condition that affects millions and is the leading cause of physical disability, increased in health care costs and impaired quality of life in industrialized nations.

By identifying these novel metalloproteinases, Dr. Liu has enabled the future study of the means to potentially block these enzymes' devastating effects. "The Young Investigator Award strongly encourages my research," he said. The award comes at a pivotal point in his career and promotes his continued research into ADAMTS-7 and ADAMTS-12. "I was very excited," Dr. Liu says of receiving the award. "It is a great honor for me, and for my research team."

Karen Lyons, PhD, of the MacDonald Research Laboratories Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, and Vicki Rosen, PhD, of the Harvard School of Medicine's Department of Developmental Biology, won the 2008 Kappa Delta Ann Doner Vaughan Award for their work, "In Vivo Studies of BMP Pathway Activities in Chondrogenesis." This study outlines their shared efforts, spanning 20 years, to expand on the role of the bone morphogenic protein (BMP) signaling pathway in cartilage, and the most fundamental aspects of chrondocyte behavior in living tissue. The relevancy of this information cannot be overstated, especially in light of recent statistics showing that by 2030 the number of individuals affected by arthritis will increase by an astonishing 16 percent. By identifying the BMP's effect on articular chondrocytes, Drs. Lyons and Rosen have opened the possibility to tailor research and treatment using the most beneficial avenue.

The third Kappa Delta Award, named in honor of Elizabeth Winston Lanier, went to Michele C. Battié, PhD, and co-authors Tapio Videman, MD, PhD; Jaakko Kaprio, MD, PhD; Laura E. Gibbons, PhD; Kevin Gill, MD; Janna Saarela, MD, PhD; and Leena Peltonen, MD, PhD, for "The Foundation of a New Paradigm of Disc Degeneration: The Twin Spine Study." They challenged traditional explanations of degenerative disc disease, which has conventionally been attributed to joint "wear and tear." Dr. Battié's team identified several alternative influences, most notably genetic, and found that hereditary factors play a far greater role than previously thought.

Hans Pape, MD, associate professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at University of Pittsburgh, won the OREF Clinical Research Award for his paper "Effect of Changing Strategies of Fracture Fixation on Immunologic Changes and Systemic Complications After Multiple Trauma: Damage Control Orthopaedic Surgery." Dr. Pape examined the crucial moments after a polytrauma experience in which the initial surgery or surgeries took place. Contrary to conventional wisdom, Dr. Pape identified a subset of trauma victims for whom early intervention in the form of fracture fixation and other surgery was detrimental rather than a step on the road to healing. These individuals, referred to as "borderline," are at a higher risk for deterioration following surgery and, thus, a staged surgical approach -- for instance, temporized femoral stabilization -- reduces the risk of complications and worsening outcomes for them.

More about OREF and the Kappa Delta Award

Previous Kappa Delta Award Winners

About AAOS

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