Alan J. Grodzinsky, ScD


Published 4/1/2008
Annie Hayashi

Moving forward without losing the past

ORS president asks critical questions

Using lessons he learned from his first mentor, studies he had conducted with interdisciplinary teams, and a bad bout with a lumbar disk, Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) President Alan J. Grodzinsky, ScD, colorfully illustrated the “state of the union.” He also posed some critical questions about the future of the society in his address at the ORS annual meeting in San Francisco last month.

Dr. Grodzinsky spoke about the enormous growth ORS had experienced. Holding up a program from the 24th annual meeting held in 1978, he contrasted the 139 posters displayed at that meeting with the 1,746 posters on view at the 2008 annual meeting. “We will have more than 3,500 attendees at this meeting,” he said.

Not only have the numbers continued to rise, but the quality of the scholarship has improved. Dr. Grodzinsky pointed to the Journal of Orthopaedic Research (JOR) as an example of outstanding research and growth. In 1983, JOR had 4 issues, containing 43 papers. In 2007, the 12 issues included 187 papers. “Many more outstanding researchers are doing much more outstanding research,” he said.

The price of success
What is the price of all this success? A key question the ORS board of directors had to address this past year was whether to place any limits on the growth of the society and its products.

“Should JOR simply reduce the acceptance rate to handle the logistics? The editors are not very excited about that possibility,” Dr. Grodzinsky said. “Do we have logistics as the primary focus or do we have scientific content in both JOR and the annual meeting?”

He also addressed the issue of the ORS annual meeting and its proximity to the AAOS Annual Meeting. “A small percentage of people attend both the ORS and AAOS meetings,” he noted. “But is this the only measure of integration between basic science, translational research, and clinical practice or is it simply the fact that these days it’s difficult to go to both meetings?”

The challenges ahead
Throughout his speech, he suggested that his colleagues weigh quality with quantity, and that they look to the past for perspective. “Look at the evolution of our journal,” he said. “This is evidence that reflects a tremendous amount of cross-disciplinary, integrated research among engineers, biologists, and clinicians.” He suggested that ORS “think about how we evolve in the face of moving on.”

He challenged his colleagues not to be afraid to ask difficult and detailed questions—about both the state of the annual meeting and ORS itself.

“We can’t be afraid to reexamine our basic principles. We may need to change, to adapt, or to adjust in other ways.”

ORS should continue its commitment to basic science, translational research, and clinical practice; “that is what we are all about,” he said. But in the final analysis, ORS cannot be complacent with its success, according to Dr. Grodzinsky. It must hold to its rich past and go forward, asking critical questions and taking appropriate risks. “You don’t want to harm something so precious,” he concluded.

Annie Hayashi is the senior science writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at