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Thursday, March 16, 2000

Building bridges to all medical communities is goal to ORS

Bridges. As majestic as the Golden Gate or as simple as a wooden span, all bridges are important.

But none are as important as the bridges that bring together the worlds of research and practical medical application, said Linda J. Sandell, PhD, outgoing president of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) as she addressed her membership in their Tuesday morning business meeting.

"We are entering an era of significant and necessary interactions between all components of our community: clinicians, engineers and biologists. The bridges have been established between scientists and clinicians, between institutions, and between the public and private sector, locally and globally," she said.

Sandell noted that one person can no longer have the knowledge necessary to understand all aspects of research so everyone must work together to strengthen research and application of the results of that research. Bridges between the ORS and AAOS have opened new areas of opportunity, she said.

"We now have the opportunity to develop new areas in orthopaedic science," she said. "In the 21st century, four scientific technologies will come to domination: tissue engineering, gene therapy, genetics of complex diseases and the discovery of new molecules through functional genomics."

Creating ties between those areas, she said, will be the key to continued success in orthopaedic research and treatment of musculoskeletal diseases.

"One of the research initiatives that will prove successful in the future will be an awareness of genetic influences in orthopaedic diseases," Sandell noted.

Other bridges are being built that Sandell said are making a difference in the field of orthopaedics.

For example, pediatric othopaedic surgeons recently joined with developmental and molecular biologists for a three-day symposium. There, they discovered how intertwined their work really is.

"At this meeting, many surgeons were struck by the fact that DNA mutations could lead to skeletal deformaties and the molecular biologists were amazed that the genes they studied could be linked directly to human diseases," she said.

The ORS wants to encourage bridge building through the growth and maintenance of clinician scientists in the orthopaedic community and through building the group's membership.

The group will strive to build a medical curriculum that emphasizes the importance of biomedical research as a foundation for the scientific principles that govern the practice of medicine. Sandell suggested that there should be medical school debt forgiveness for physicians who receive "vigorous research training."

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Last modified 16/March/2000 by IS