USBJD program provides opportunity for young investigators

USBJD program provides opportunity for young investigators

By Jill Elaine Hughes, MA

Young Investigators program designed to help increase the amount of dedicated clinical research in musculoskeletal disease

The U.S. Bone and Joint Decade (USBJD) Young Investigators Initiative provides a wealth of opportunities for early-career orthopaedic surgeons interested in dedicated scientific research on musculoskeletal conditions. Despite the high burden of musculoskeletal disease—the No. 1 cause of disability and chronic pain worldwide—clinical research in musculoskeletal disease is not keeping pace in the United States.

According to Nancy Lane, MD, president of the USBJD Board of Directors, the Young Investigators program is designed to help increase the amount of dedicated clinical research in musculoskeletal disease.

“In 2003, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) Director Steven I. Katz, MD, PhD, noted that the number of orthopaedic surgeons performing clinical research is very small,” says Dr. Lane. “In response to that, the research community wondered if the investigators in orthopaedic surgery were getting the grant-writing skills they needed to be successful in obtaining peer-reviewed grants.”

Accordingly, the Decade established a Young Investigators Initiative. The Initative provides workshops, lectures, and mentoring directly to early-career academic physicians and postdoctoral fellows interested in pursuing dedicated clinical research in musculoskeletal disease.

As part of the program, young academic physicians and clinical researchers are paired with experienced researchers in musculoskeletal disease who can train them in the nuts and bolts of pursuing research funding and other “survival skills” necessary for pursuing an academic career.

Although the Young Investigators Initiative is not limited to orthopaedists, orthopaedic surgeons make up by far the largest percentage of its participants, according to Toby King, USBJD executive director. “Orthopaedists represent about 50 percent of the Young Investigator applicants and clinical investigators in musculoskeletal medicine,” says Mr. King. “The need [for dedicated research] is particularly acute in the orthopaedic community compared to other disciplines. The lack of possible faculty among orthopaedists is a major challenge, which underlines the need for this program.”

AAOS fellow Kevin Bozic, MD, MBA, was one of the first AAOS members admitted to the Young Investigators Initiative. “The USBJD Young Investigators Program has been incredibly valuable to me in achieving my goal of becoming an independently funded health services researcher,” says Dr. Bozic. “The didactic sessions, the one-on-one mentoring, and the networking opportunities gave me the unique opportunity to interact with an experienced group of musculoskeletal scientists and clinician-researchers who have successfully navigated the federal funding process.”

The Young Investigators Initiative accepts applications twice a year—in January and July. Applications are downloadable from Because the Initiative wants to increase the number of applicants, the Academy encourages all fellows who are early- or mid-career and seeking further opportunities for research funding to apply. The Academy also strongly encourages senior fellows to promote the Initiative to orthopaedic residents and candidate members working in their departments who may be contemplating an academic career.

For more information about the USBJD and its programs, be sure to stop by the Decade’s booth at the SDCC, adjacent to Ballroom 20.

Jill Elaine Hughes is the clinical quality improvement coordinator and staff liaison to the AAOS U. S. Bone & Joint Decade Committee.

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