A guest post by RoosterBio Travel Award winner, Katherine Hudson.
The Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) Annual Meeting brings together clinicians, scientists, and engineers dedicated to addressing the current challenges facing orthopaedic research. With over 2,200 abstracts being presented, it can be a difficult landscape to navigate. Luckily, the organizers make it easy to connect with researchers with similar interests while still facilitating expanded horizons.
My research focuses on tissue engineering of the intervertebral disc (IVD), using mechanical and chemical cues to encourage Mesenchymal Stem Cell (MSC) differentiation and tissue maturation within my constructs. This subject spans the topics of stem cell biology, biomaterial development, and in vivo preclinical trials, making the ORS a perfect place to present my work. Attending the ORS meeting allowed me to accomplish many things including sharing my most recent work, networking with potential employers and collaborators, and learning about the latest scientific developments and techniques.
During the conference, my posters received plenty of traffic, which extended the impact of my findings. Both posters challenge traditional tissue engineering paradigms, and my aim was to make other tissue engineers aware of the potential benefits of culturing (and expanding) MSCs in hypoxia, and immunophenotyping cells before and after their use in 3D scaffolds (See my ORS abstracts here and here for details). Additionally, I was able to get valuable feedback on my research that will make my upcoming dissertation stronger.
The ORS encourages and facilitates networking with both clinicians and other scientists. While at the conference, I met with researchers from across the country, and even interviewed for postdoctoral positions, the next step after I finish my PhD work this May. Through these discussions and the presentation sessions organized by the ORS, I was exposed to the latest research in my current and proposed fields of study. This included the newest cell culture techniques, evaluation tools, and IVD biology.
Although I am biased towards tissue engineering and development, I feel that these topics were the highlight of the ORS meeting this year. The source of cells used in regenerative therapies, be they primary or stem cells, was a focus throughout the conference. Additionally, novel biomaterials and stimulation techniques to drive the behavior of cells was a focus. It is important that researchers understand the structure of orthopaedic tissues and their failure modes over multiple scales before we can truly develop successful repair and regeneration strategies. Appropriate cells types and materials facilitate these studies.
Some presentations that stood out to me: