Published 3/1/2014
Brenda Frederick; Amber Blake

ORS Celebrates 60 Years of Leading Innovation Through Collaboration

Collaboration has been the cornerstone of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) since its founding 60 years ago.

As early as 1940, Alfred R. Shands Jr, MD, who would later become one of the founding members of the ORS, recognized the importance of research in advancing orthopaedic surgery. According to a survey of AAOS members, nearly one quarter (180 of 760) were conducting some type of research. By the end of World War II, the need for musculoskeletal research had increased, in response to the combat-related injuries and traumas suffered by those in the armed forces.

Musculoskeletal investigators realized they needed a forum for presenting their work and receiving constructive criticism. Phillip D. Wilson, MD, and others met in San Francisco and proposed an organization focused solely on musculoskeletal research. With unanimous support from the AAOS, the first meeting of the founding members of the ORS took place in 1952.

According to the draft constitution and by-laws, the purpose of the new society was to “encourage and coordinate investigation and research in basic principles or clinical problems related to the special field of Orthopaedic Surgery.” It was also agreed that special emphasis should be placed on supporting the development of young investigators.

The formal organization of the ORS was delayed until 1954 due to the unexpected death of Dallas B. Phemister, MD, who was to be the society’s chairman. That year, the first official ORS meeting was held in Chicago, with 29 attendees. Sixty years later, ORS has more than 2,900 members from around the world. Today, as in 1954, membership is open to anyone with an interest in orthopaedic research.

Fostering the clinician-scientist relationship
Cultivating relationships between clinicians and scientists while providing them with opportunities to come together and share ideas has always been the driving force behind the ORS.

“The close relationship between clinicians and basic scientists would help ensure the prominent role of orthopaedic surgeons in delivering care to patients with injuries and diseases of the musculoskeletal system,” explained Eugene R. Mindell, MD, who served as president of the ORS from 1972 to 1973. “In many ways, this relationship is like the development of the clinical scientist and translational research.

“The clinical problems are often defined by the clinician, brought to the laboratory for possible solutions, and then returned to the clinicians for application of the new knowledge in the form of clinical trials,” continued Dr. Mindell. “One challenge was to convince the practicing orthopaedic surgeons that basic science research of the musculoskeletal system is of vital importance to maintaining the primary role of the orthopaedic surgeon in treating these patients.”

Setting a collaborative example
The ORS continues to grow and evolve. In 1982, Van C. Mow, PhD, became the first PhD president of the ORS—a role once held only by orthopaedic surgeons. Today, the ORS presidency rotates among each of the three disciplines represented in the membership: clinicians, biologists, and engineers. Past president (2012–2013) Theodore Miclau III, MD, is acting chairman, department of orthopaedic surgery, and associate professor, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine; current president (2013–2014) Joan E. Bechtold, PhD, is director of the orthopaedic biomechanics laboratory at the Excelen Center for Bone and Joint Research and Education and Minneapolis Medical Research Foundation in Minneapolis; and incoming president Mary B. Goldring, PhD, is the senior scientist and director of the Laboratory for Cartilage Biology, Tissue Engineering Repair and Regeneration Program at Hospital for Special Surgery.

Through all of the changes over the past 60 years, the roots of the society remain research, education, collaboration, advocacy, and communication—all vital roles within the orthopaedic community, and all values of the ORS. Collaboration, along with its multidisciplinary and international profile, make the ORS unique. More important, collaboration among the disciplines plays an important role in the future of orthopaedic care.

As Timothy Wright, PhD, ORS past president (1992–1993), stated, “Although specialization within musculoskeletal research has brought with it an accelerated pace of discovery, one can’t help but wonder what other discoveries have been missed because the clinician is not integrated as well with the basic science discoveries that she/he might translate to better patient care or because the engineer is not attuned to the limitations in orthopaedic surgery that might limit the clinical usefulness of her/his next innovation.”

The ORS believes that collaboration among clinicians, scientists, researchers, and engineers will move the field of orthopaedic surgery forward. Science and technology have propelled this movement, whether related to improved care and treatment, early diagnosis of disease, improved techniques, improved instrumentation, or medical devices. It is a partnership that moves science from bench to bedside. The aging population will rely on orthopaedic surgeons and their care to help sustain a high quality of life. But, in the end, it all begins with the research.

Brenda Frederick is executive director of the ORS; Amber Blake is the ORS communications manager. For more information, visit www.ors.org

Find out more about the ORS
AAOS members attending the AAOS 2014 Annual Meeting are invited to participate in the ORS 2014 annual meeting, “Collaborating in the Science of Patient Care.” Stop by the ORS satellite check-in/registration desk located at the Morial Convention Center, Lobby E, on Friday, March 14 or at the ORS registration desk at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, Sunday, March 16 and get your free sticker. Complimentary programs on Sunday, March 16 include scientific posters, paper presentations, a professional advancement session, and three scientific workshops.