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AAOS Now

Published 2/1/2009
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Sharon Johnson

How OREF funding decisions are made

Review processes help ensure effective use of funds

For more than 50 years, the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) has supported advancements in orthopaedics by funding educational and research initiatives. The scientific and academic standards that govern the award process help ensure that OREF supports some of the most promising projects and most gifted young researchers and educators in orthopaedics.

“OREF is uniquely positioned along the orthopaedic research continuum, between academic institutions’ internal funding mechanisms and the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The researchers that OREF supports have proven their expertise and commitment, but are still years away from having the data and track record needed to secure substantial, multiyear funding,” said Thomas A. Einhorn, MD, vice chair grants. “As a bridge between startup and sustained funding, OREF plays a critical role in expanding the base of orthopaedic knowledge and developing more effective treatment protocols.”

The role of reviewers
Each year OREF recruits dozens of expert reviewers to serve on its Peer Review and Selection Committees. In a typical year, about 75 reviewers volunteer their time and talent.

“OREF is fortunate to attract top-echelon orthopaedic surgeons, department chairs, biochemists, statisticians, biomechanical engineers, oncologists, and others with highly specialized skills and a commitment to fostering the best scientific inquiry and scholarship,” Dr. Einhorn said.

Committee members evaluate and score applications according to well-established criteria, including scientific or academic merit, clinical relevance, and feasibility and promise of the methods proposed. Research applications are subject to a peer-review process based on NIH protocol, which includes multiple reviewers and written critiques. Educational grant applications are evaluated by top orthopaedic educators, usually department chairs.

Annual funding decisions
The committee’s recommendations are presented at the OREF annual meeting, which is held in conjunction with the AAOS Annual Meeting. Funding is contingent on the amount of money raised each year through the OREF annual campaign as well as endowment earnings, which are driven by the flow of major gifts and investment performance. The OREF board of trustees decides which applications are funded, and the selected investigators are notified.

In the case of research projects, the Peer Review Committee remains involved throughout the funding period. Committee members review progress reports at the 9-month mark and each year thereafter. Multiple-year grants must be approved by the OREF board prior to the second year and each subsequent year of funding, based on the evaluation of the reviewers.

Volunteers deserve thanks
OREF is deeply grateful for the commitment of its Peer Review Committee and Selection Committee members. Through their significant investment of time, knowledge, and energy, OREF has been able to improve the science and practice of orthopaedics and quality of life for everyone for more than five decades.

“Thanks to OREF’s vigorous peer-review process, each person who submits a proposal is offered specific suggestions for ways to improve his or her application. None of this could occur without considerable time and expertise given by highly accomplished volunteers who do so much to help young researchers and orthopaedic science,” said Dr. Einhorn.

Sharon Johnson, OREF vice president, communications, can be reached at johnson@oref.org

Did you know?
More than 20 percent of AAOS presidents have received research and educational grants from OREF. They include Walter P. Blount, MD (received grants in 1959, 1963); Robert W. Bucholz, MD (1979); S. Terry Canale, MD (1974); Reginald R. Cooper, MD (1966, 1978); Robert D. D’Ambrosia, MD (1973); J. William Fielding, MD (1970); James D. Heckman, MD (1976, 1985, 1986); James H. Herndon, MD (1970); Mason Hohl, MD (1964); E. Anthony Rankin, MD (1975); Frederick C. Reynolds, MD (1956); Clement B. Sledge, MD (1962, 1965, 1966, 1971); James W. Strickland, MD (1996); Roby C. Thompson Jr, MD (1970); Vernon T. Tolo, MD (1976); Stuart L. Weinstein, MD (1998); and Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD (2002).