The Orthopaedic Research Society recently held its 60th annual meeting in New Orleans; the four-day event welcomed more than 3,000 attendees. (The original annual meeting was one day, and eight were in attendance.) ORS is comprised of around 2,900 members; slightly more than 2,000 are based in the U.S. Most are bioengineers, orthopaedic surgeons, biologists and veterinarians.
The musculoskeletal system gives us shape and allows us to moveâand is the primary concern of those involved in orthopaedic research. Typically, some associate "bone" to orthopaedics; broken bones, but it is so much more. The musculoskeletal system also includes cartilage, ligaments, tendons, joints and muscle. The areas of research conducted by ORS' membership is broad, as it includes the entire musculoskeletal system and our moving parts; hips, knees, shoulders, elbows, hands, ankles, feet, wrists and spine. As ORS Executive Director Brenda Frederick points out, all of us know someone who suffers from, or has suffered from, a musculoskeletal disease or injury that may be more commonly known as a torn ACL, or rotator cuff, bad hip or knees, or suffer from back pain or arthritis. In fact, "musculoskeletal disorders, injuries and disease are the leading cause of disability in the United States, with an estimated $950 billion annually in direct health care costs and lost wages," Frederick said.
But like so many other areas of research, orthopaedic research has been affected by sequestration and other budget cuts. The National Institutes of Health, through the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, is the primary funder of research for ORS members, but other funding sources include the Department of Defense, private foundations and grants.
"Across the board, funding for musculoskeletal research has decreased, leaving many unanswered questions in basic, translational and clinical orthopaedic/musculoskeletal research," Frederick said.
ORS' advocacy is a key tenet in changing this. Its board of directors has a committee dedicated to advocacy, currently led by Lynne Jones, PhD, of John Hopkins Medicine. ORS, along with other orthopaedic groups, also supports a Capitol Hill dayâan annual event for more than two decadesâthat brings together researchers, practitioners and patients for outreach to elected officials.
Other ORS programs include the New Investigator Workshop, held jointly with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation in May. The workshop aims to help young researchers secure funding for their work. In the fall, ORS will partner with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai for a meeting called New Frontiers in Tendon Research.
Research!America's work in advocacy complements ORS' efforts, and that is an important reason for the organization's membership.
"The resources provided by Research!America have proven to be very valuable and will provide us with a basis from which to develop our advocacy agenda," Frederick said. "The Research!America website also provides valuable resources and information that can be used to improve our advocacy efforts. In addition, the ties to Capitol Hill are invaluable. We have also appreciated their level of professionalism and expertise."
Learn more at www.ors.org.