April 14, 2017

Orthopaedic Research Spotlight: ORS 2017 Annual Meeting

A guest blog post by RoosterBio Travel Award winner, Poonam Sharma.


The annual Orthopaedic Research Society meeting was an energetic and collaborative conference attended by clinicians, industry professionals, and researchers. While the attendees brought diverse perspectives to this meeting, the varied presentation styles, such as short poster teasers, mid-length research talks, and longer, broader spotlight oral presentations helped bring the audience together in scientific discourse. With over 300 oral presentations and over 2200 poster presentations, the variety in presentation styles made ORS 2017 an engaging and dynamic conference to attend.

Knockdown of vimentin may affect chondrogenic
extracellular matrix deposition in high density pellets.
shVim-vimentinknockdown, shLacZ-control.
My research in Dr. Adam H. Hsieh’s Orthopaedic Mechanobiology Lab at the University of Maryland centers on the role of vimentin intermediate filaments in governing mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) properties and behavior, including cellular deformability, adhesion, and differentiation, specifically chondrogenesis. After knocking down the expression of vimentin intermediate filaments in human MSCs using RNA interference, we observe how a decrease in vimentin affects differentiation (abstract here). Preliminarily, we’ve found that a decrease in vimentin did not affect adipogenesis or osteogenesis, but may lead to a potential decrease in chondrogenic extracellular matrix deposition, but this needs further exploration. MSCs from RoosterBio have been singular in the progression of my graduate research. The fast growth and consistency of the high quality MSCs have taken the bottleneck of MSC growth out of the equation for my research. Further, using these MSCs and media has dramatically decreased the labor, time, and resources needed to obtain the cell numbers needed for conducting my experiments.

During this conference, I was able to have in-depth conversations about my research as well as exchange ideas and technical tips that will help strengthen my work. Attending ORS allowed me to both present my research through a poster presentation and network with both industry professionals and academic researchers. As I will soon be taking the next step in my career, these interactions helped me to start to home in on the types of opportunities that I would like to pursue and how to prepare myself to excel. Further, attending professional development seminars, such as one regarding the art of negotiation, helped me identify techniques for further developing soft skills.   
One of the most engaging sessions in this conference was a really fun debate about the related futures of regenerative medicine and orthopaedic implants – Will Regenerative Medicine Make Orthopaedic Implants Obsolete in Our Time? It was captivating to hear the discussion about two research and clinical areas that continue to intersect and diverge. Also, the keynote by Dr. Jennifer Doudna summarizing the CRISPR technology that she helped develop was a great overview and the brief discussion about the ethics of gene therapy was thought-provoking.

The research presentations and broader spotlight sessions gave me a great overview of the latest research in my interest areas of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering, cell therapies, and biomaterials. Many of the oral presentations I attended focused on bettering the design of tissue engineered scaffolds. Here are just a few of the research presentations that inspired me:

January 3, 2017

Guest Blog Post: The Ambitious Future of Tissue Engineering

Bagrat Grigoryan and Jordan MillerPhysiologic Systems Engineering & Advanced Materials Lab at Rice University.


Over the last several decades, various advances in tissue engineering have allowed for the not so distant possibility of replacing, repairing, or regenerating injured tissues1. Significant progress has been made in understanding cellular biology as well as pathophysiology and healthy states of tissues. Additionally, a suite of diverse biofabrication technologies and biomaterials has been conceived, enabling fabrication of complex 3D tissues with greater physiological relevance compared to the traditional 2D context that cells are studied in2. However, the field of tissue engineering still has unresolved questions involving choice of fabrication technique, biomaterial, cellular niche, or even cell type when designing a synthetic tissue.

While different fabrication techniques and biomaterials have been explored in fabricating tissues in vitro, the use of stem cells in engineered tissues is ubiquitous. Not surprisingly so, as biologists continually demonstrate novel ways of directing different lineage commitment of stem cells and further unlocking their vast regenerative potential3. Indeed, stem cell banks have emerged to cryogenically store a patient’s own cells as the therapeutic potential of stem cells is being positively demonstrated in multiple clinical trials4. With over 450 mesenchymal stem cell (MSC)-based trials alone currently ongoing or completed, the regenerative and immunoregulatory properties of MSCs are constantly being exploited to improve the quality of human life5.

Due to the immense therapeutic potential of MSCs, there is a need to rapidly and reproducibly grow a vast amount of MSCs for clinical and research purposes. Although MSCs were identified and isolated from bone marrow more than 40 years ago, we still have not fully mapped their biological characteristics3.