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To support her statement, Dr. Rimnac quoted Charles M. Vest, PhD, the president of the National Academy of Engineering, who said, “We will need transformative breakthroughs to address many, if not most, of the grand challenges…. We have to get better and better at innovation—both at doing old things in new ways and doing new things in new ways that are often going to be surprising.”

AAOS Now

Published 3/1/2011
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Annie Hayashi

“Grand challenges” for orthopaedic research

ORS president sees health technology as an opportunity

“We are in the midst of a medical research revolution, due to a new generation of engineering and technological innovations and approaches in the understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases,” said Clare M. Rimnac, PhD, president of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS), in her address at the 2011 ORS Annual Meeting in Long Beach, Calif.

Clare M. Rimnac, PhD

She said that the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases has emphasized the critical role of “innovative technological advances and transformative breakthroughs, in addition to novel assemblies of researchers and disciplines to achieve its Long Range Plan.

“Taken together, the perspectives of these various organizations underscore the new era of medical research and its dependence on health technology that we live in today,” she stated.

Rising to the grand challenges
“What are the technological innovations and transformative breakthroughs that are needed to address our grand challenges?” Dr. Rimnac asked.

She noted that significant advancements in areas such as wireless communications and micro- and nano-fabrication technology have enhanced the understanding and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions.

As examples, she cited an implantable sensor technology workshop that was offered at the meeting, along with the work of Bernd Grimm, PhD, and his colleagues, who have developed cost-effective, easy-to-use sensor-based methods for motion analysis.

“These tools can be used in routine clinical follow-up for objective testing of function capacity and for better understanding of the impact of therapeutic interventions such as joint arthroplasty on patient outcomes,” she explained.

“A new era of health technology is affecting our field and providing us with new challenges and opportunities,” said Dr. Rimnac.

“Although we have been utilizing these new technological tools to some extent, I believe we could be more directly engaged in their innovation and application than we have been to date.”

Dr. Rimnac went on to explain that the ORS can play a pivotal role in ensuring that technological advances are discussed, shared, and promoted across the multiple disciplines within the Society to support musculoskeletal research and orthopaedic health care.

“Share your perspective with us on the grand challenges in orthopaedics. Tell us about the biologists, clinicians, and engineers in related fields who are doing innovative research and working on the disruptive technologies that would inform and enhance our orthopaedic research community,” Dr. Rimnac said. “Let’s put health technology to work for us.”

Annie Hayashi is the development and communications manager for the Orthopaedic Research Society. She can be reached at hayashi@ors.org