Paying It Forward to Solve Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis (OA) isn’t just a disease that affects older adults; it’s the most common form of arthritis, affecting more than 30 million Americans. Anyone who injures or overuses their joints, including athletes, military members and people who work physically demanding jobs, may be more susceptible to developing this disease as they age.

OA is a chronic condition that can affect any joint, but it occurs most often in knees, hips, lower back and neck, small joints of the fingers and the bases of the thumb and big toe. There is no cure for OA.

OA incidence continues to grow in the United States and is the most common articular disease in the developed world. It often goes undiagnosed until severe joint damage has occurred, and joint replacement is the only treatment option. It’s the top cause of chronic disability and is linked to increased rates of comorbidities. Lack of treatments affects access to care, disability and lost workdays.

Dr. Guilak

That’s why Farshid Guilak, PhD, and Richard Loeser, MD, two Arthritis Foundation-funded researchers, are paying it forward. They’re inspiring young OA researchers, introducing them to cutting-edge opportunities for new discoveries.

Drs. Loeser and Guilak will lead the patient-centered, three-day inaugural OA Fellows in Training (FIT) Bootcamp Sept. 19-21 at the Orthopaedic Learning Center in Rosemont, Illinois.

Dr. Loeser

Dr. Loeser, director of the Thurston Arthritis Research Center at the University of North Carolina, says, “Many advances in OA research have been made over the past 10 years. We are excited to share with the next generation of investigators, so that they have a solid grounding as they begin their research careers.”

“It is critical for the OA research field that we continue to engage and train new investigators,” adds Dr. Guilak, professor of orthopaedic surgery and director of research for the St. Louis Shriners Hospital for Children. “They are the ones who will lead the development of new discoveries and treatments for OA.”

The event, co-sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF), will present the work from at least a dozen innovative OA researchers (several of whom have been Arthritis Foundation-funded), as well as OA patient perspectives on the types of research that are most important to them. The program is an opportunity for new investigators and others to learn firsthand about patient priorities, best research practices and the most effective paths for transforming knowledge into advancements in patient care.

Featured sessions include discussions about joint and cartilage biomechanics, implants and joint replacement, post-traumatic OA and how to effectively incorporate patient partners into research projects. Models of pain, pre-clinical and clinical trial pathways and industry perspectives will also be examined.

Dr. Angie Botto-van Bemden, Arthritis Foundation OA programs director, led the initiative to work with this important program. “OREF’s mission is to improve patients’ lives by supporting excellence in orthopaedic research, a goal that closely aligns with our goals. We are excited to partner with the OREF to encourage the next generation of OA investigators.

“This co-sponsored FIT Bootcamp is the first of its kind to include patients as partners,” she continues. “They help emerging OA experts not only better understand what’s imperative, but also gain appreciation for the value of patients as partners and what matters most to them.”

Researchers can apply for our newest OA-related funding through our recently released request for proposals.

While this upcoming event is designed for beginning researchers, all interested OA researchers are welcome to participate. But registration is limited. So if you’re interested, register now. The deadline is Aug. 17. OA patients who are interested in attending should contact AFScience@arthritis.org and include “OA FIT Program” in the subject line.

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