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Thursday, March 19, 1998

Kappa Delta awards signal change for winners, world

Michael G. Ehrlich, MD, chairman of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons' Committee on Research, praised Kappa Delta (Sorority) for its work in promoting orthopaedic research. "The Kappa Delta award has led to new breakthroughs in scientific research, which has led to better health for the American people," he said. "It has provided confidence for young scientists in many fields, and has essentially launched orthopaedic research. It has saved the best young minds for science. The entire world should salute your work for what you have done for society."

In addition, he asked winners of the Kappa Delta Orthopaedic Research Awards to tell how receiving the award changed their lives and the world. Here's what he learned:
Marshall Urist, MD, received the first Kappa Delta Orthopaedic Research Award in 1950 for studying bone formation. He said the award gave him the confidence to establish the bone research laboratory at UCLA and the reputation to bring his work to the attention of scientists throughout the world. He won the award again 30 years later for discovering bone morphogenic protein or BMP, the material that causes bones to heal. Ignacio Ponseti, MD, University of Iowa professor emeritus, 1956 winner, said the Kappa Delta award's prestige helped him to get National Institutes of Health funding to discover how abnormalities in collagen provide understanding of some children's diseases. He said all orthopaedic surgeons revere Kappa Delta Sorority as the source of the "most important and prestigious award in our profession." Henry Mankin, MD, Harvard Medical School professor, 1975 winner, said, "Kappa Delta awards are an essential part of orthopaedic research life. It provides our scholars and investigators with recognition, the approbation of their peers, the chance to present their work before a great audience, and a handsome honorarium. For most of us as orthopaedists, it will be our highest honor." Edward Puzas, PhD, University of Rochester director of muscuoloskeletal research/osteoporosis center, 1995 winner, said, "This is the premier research prize in orthopaedics in our country. Thus to win the Kappa Delta award implies that one's research is at a premier level." William F. Enneking, MD, University of Florida professor emeritus, winner in 1958, 1972, and 1980, said his work led to modern bone banking, and use of massive allograft (bone grafts from cadavers) to save limbs from amputation. He said the Kappa Delta award highlights the interface between basic research and practicing orthopaedic surgeons. Robert M. Rose, ScD, materials science/engineering professor, M.I.T., 1973 winner, said that his history theory about impact loading and its dynamic effects on the musculoskeletal system was extremely controversial. The award brought attention to the theory that today is at the heart of the studies on osteoarthritis and joint replacement. M. Mark Hoffer, MD, associate professor, University of Southern California, was the 1977 winner for preoperative planning for children with cerebral palsy using a gait lab. He believes that the publicity generated by the award led to establishment of gait laboratories for handicapped children. (Kappa Delta was a major contributor to funding a gait lab at Children's Hospital in Richmond, Va., in 1988.) William T. Green Jr., MD, University of Pittsburgh professor emeritus, 1979 winner, was the first to remove cells from the body, grow them for several generations and then reimplant them in the body. In a sense, this was the start of the tissue engineering field for musculoskeletal diseases. Adele Boskey, PhD, Cornell University biomechanics professor, 1979 winner, said the award was key in her career-a year later she was asked to serve as a member-at-large on the Orthopaedic Research Society board of directors, which led to being newsletter editor, program chairman and the first woman president of the Orthopaedic Research Society. Thomas M. Brown, PhD, University of Iowa orthopaedic biomechanics professor, 1986 winner, is considered one of the great biomechanicians in the U.S. "Without Kappa Delta," Dr. Ehrlich said, "Tom's genius would have been lost forever to the field."

Reprinted with permission, 1998 winter issue of The Angelos magazine of the Kappa Delta Sorority.

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Last modified 04/March/1998