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The TFP seeks to connect early-career orthopaedic clinician scientists to established orthopaedic clinician scientists, promote professional relationships between them, and provide opportunities for active mentoring—which it certainly did for Dr. Carney.“The TFP provided me with the opportunity to establish relationships with senior researchers,” he explains. “I know they will be invaluable resources of knowledge and guidance to me.

AAOS Now

Published 9/1/2008
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Erin Lynn Ransford

Research road trip advances education, expands opportunities

By Erin Lynn Ransford

2008 Traveling Fellow lauds “incredible generosity” of mentors

Lt. Cmdr. Joseph R. Carney, MD, an up-and-coming clinician scientist at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego, has taken advantage of several opportunities to help develop his career. As a resident, he participated in the Clinician Scientist Development Program (CSDP) sponsored by the AAOS, the Orthopaedic Research Society, and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF). Most recently, he was the recipient of the 2008 AAOS/OREF Traveling Fellowship Program (TFP).

Lt. Cmdr. Joseph R. Carney, MD

“The TFP was a wonderful opportunity to gain experience and exposure in my two current major areas of research—knee biomechanics and the treatment of multidrug–resistant bacteria colonized war injuries,” Dr. Carney says. The flexibility of the program enabled him to design a tailored itinerary that focused concentration in both research areas. “I was able to get maximum benefit from my time away from my clinical practice,” he says.

An immediate impact
His trips have already directly affected his research and enabled him to improve his existing research relationships. His first visit was to Antonie van den Bogert, PhD, of the Cleveland Clinic’s Lerner Research Institute, with whom Dr. Carney had worked on a project investigating the kinematics of the anterior cruciate ligament.

With his visit to Dr. van den Bogert, Dr. Carney was able to complete the collaboration, leading to the development of further research questions of interest in the field. He was then able to discuss and gain insight and input on these topics from Andrew Amis, DSc, whom he visited at the Imperial College of London Biomechanics Department. Dr. Amis, an internationally recognized researcher in the field of Orthopaedic Biomechanics, collaborates with orthopaedic surgeons throughout Europe. Dr. Carney was able to observe how Dr. Amis approaches research relationships and collaborations with surgeons and researchers from institutions other than his own.

“Due to my collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic and guidance/mentorship from Dr. Amis, all made possible via the TFP, I have advanced my research efforts in the field of knee biomechanics and have begun work investigating more advanced research questions in the field,” he explains.

War injury research
As a co-investigator and onsite administrator for a study on antibiotic bone cement options for osteomyelitis, Dr. Carney has also received an Orthopaedic Extremity Trauma Research Program Award. He hopes to progress from the “bench top” project into an animal model investigation.

Through the TFP, Dr. Carney was able to meet with Joseph C. Wenke, PhD, at the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research (ISR) in San Antonio. Dr. Wenke has ample research experience with animal models for osteomyelitis and also was able to provide invaluable insight into the capabilities and resources available at the ISR and the Department of Defense.

“The ISR experience gave me a better understanding of available funding mechanisms and opportunities for military academic surgeons like myself to gain support for research endeavors,” says Dr. Carney. “Since my visit to the ISR, I have been actively engaged with some of these funding mechanisms about potential future research endeavors for our orthopaedics department [at Naval Medical Center].”

Achieving a work/life balance
Dr. Carney’s final mentor visit was to Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD, at the University of Rochester. Dr. Carney hoped to “obtain a better comprehension of [Dr. O’Keefe’s] successful approach to balancing the responsibilities of a clinician, a researcher, and a husband/father,” as well as gain insight on the effective management of research assistants and research funding. An established clinician scientist, Dr. O’Keefe provided guidance on finding a work/life balance.

The AAOS Research Development Committee aims to partner with others to develop a cadre of orthopaedic clinician scientists who will lead the research efforts to find new methodologies to treat and cure orthopaedic-related illnesses and injuries. The steady decline in the number of orthopaedists seeking a dual career in research makes it imperative to facilitate pathways for the development of orthopaedic clinician scientists. The TFP program offers the orthopaedic profession a new source of clinician scientists engaged in research that advances orthopaedic surgery and musculoskeletal medicine.

“Pursuing a career as a clinician scientist has become more challenging with the evolution of medicine in our country’s recent history,” Dr. Carney says. “Furthermore, residency programs do not have a standard or routine emphasis on exposing residents to the concept of a potential career as a clinician scientist. Programs such as the CSDP and the TFP offer invaluable opportunities for residents and young clinician scientists. They provide links to established researchers and mentors who can help individuals with an interest in academic research medicine successfully navigate their way in today’s environment. That benefits both the individual and the field of orthopaedic medicine.”

Dr. Carney appreciates his mentoring relationships and encourages others interested in academic and research careers to be proactive in pursuing their interests.

“I would encourage residents to reach out to potential mentors across the country and around the world who could provide learning, advice, and guidance,” he says. “My experiences with the CSDP and TFP have opened my eyes to the incredible generosity and willingness to share knowledge and experience of most individuals involved in academic orthopaedic medicine.”

Erin Lynn Ransford is the research coordinator in the AAOS office of government relations. She can be reached at ransford@aaos.org

Dr. Carney’s TFP Travel Itinerary

Feb. 2-22, 2008
Cleveland Clinic Foundation
Mentor: Antonie van den Bogert, PhD

March 23-27, 2008
U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research, San Antonio Texas
Mentor: Joseph C. Wenke, PhD

March 29 - April 5, 2008
Imperial College of London, England
Mentor: Andrew Amis, DSc

May 12-15, 2008
University of Rochester (New York) Department of Orthopaedics and Musculoskeletal Research
Mentor: Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD