PVM Provides Leadership in Field of Orthopaedic Research
By Natalie Weber, PVM Communications Intern, and Kevin Doerr
Faculty in Purdue Veterinary Medicine's Department of Basic Medical Sciences are playing a leadership role in the field of orthopaedic research through their involvement in the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) and its efforts to advance preclinical models research through the ORS Preclinical Models Section. Dr. Russell Main, associate professor of basic medical sciences, and Dr. Dianne Little, assistant professor of basic medical sciences, were key contributors to the 2017 ORS Annual Meeting this past spring.
The ORS annual meeting provides many opportunities for orthopaedic researchers, physicians, surgeons, and veterinarians to collaborate and grow professionally in basic, translational and clinical research, including within the recently formed Preclinical Models Section. Dr. Little is the research and education chair for the section, which seeks to advance research involving preclinical models to improve patient care, provide leadership and resources for those who use preclinical models, and promote education and collaboration in the field. Additionally, because only about five percent of the overall ORS membership are veterinarians, a further goal of the section is to promote interdisciplinary teams of researchers, human orthopaedic surgeons, specialists in laboratory animal medicine, and veterinarians. The section is chaired by Dr. Kurt Hankenson (PU MS '97), a veterinarian who earned his master's degree from PVM's Department of Basic Medical Sciences. Dr. Matthew Allen (PU BMS Post-doc '95-'96) is the current section treasurer, and Dr. Wayne McIlwraith (PU MS '77; PhD '79), who did his large animal surgery residency at Purdue, recently joined the section leadership as membership co-chair. This line-up of section leaders highlights PVM's great representation!
This year the Preclinical Models Section hosted a standing-room only workshop, co-chaired by Dr. Main, where researchers shared crucial guidelines and insights for using preclinical rodent models for understanding skeletal biology and bone loading — studies that are highly relevant to bone fracture and skeletal diseases such as osteoporosis. Dr. Main and his collaborators are compiling the content of the workshop into a published set of best practices for developing new, and optimizing current, animal models of in vivo bone loading in orthopaedic research. Standardizing in vivo research procedures is critical to improve reproducibility, rigor and repeatability, and for improving welfare of animals used in research.
Dr. Main earned his PhD from Harvard University and completed his post-doc at Cornell University, where he studied skeletal adaptation to mechanical load and how age and estrogen status affect that process. His Purdue Veterinary Medicine research program focuses on various aspects of skeletal tissue and cellular mechanobiology — that is, the skeleton's response to mechanical stimuli. The goal is to understand how bone cells sense and respond to mechanical stimuli and the role these pathways play in skeletal disease and injury processes, as well as their influence in the evolution of skeletal form across vertebrate species. With his extensive experience in engineering, Dr. Main also holds a joint appointment, serving as an associate professor of biomedical engineering in Purdue University's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.
Dr. Little has a multidisciplinary background in biomedical engineering, orthopaedic surgery and veterinary clinical sciences (equine surgery), with specific post-doctoral training and expertise in rotator cuff tendon tissue engineering, tendon proteomics, epigenetics and transcriptomics of adult stem cells, interactions between lifestyle and development of osteoarthritis and tendon degeneration, and preclinical animal models. A boarded veterinary surgeon, Dr. Little also has worked with a variety of animal models of osteoarthritis and tendinopathy, has consulted on orthopaedic device preclinical testing, and is involved in collaborations with several human orthopaedic surgeons on a number of bedside-benchtop research studies. Additionally, Tommy Jenkins, a biomedical engineering graduate student in Dr. Little's laboratory, presented a poster on his tendon tissue engineering work as part of the 2017 ORS Annual Meeting.
This story is part of the 2017 Fall PVM Report.