News Release
lou soslowky
Louis Soslowsky, PhD

PHILADELPHIA— Long-time funding for work at the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders has been renewed for another five years by the National Institute of Arthritis, Musculoskeletal, and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The additional $4 million in funding will continue the center’s investigations into all types of musculoskeletal tissue injury and repair.

“This center grant has allowed us to grow the community of musculoskeletal doctors and researchers in the Philadelphia region and neighboring states, and provide critical physical and intellectual resources to tackle the most important problems in our field,” said the center’s founding director, Louis Soslowsky, PhD, a professor of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Operating since 2006, it is the longest-running NIH-sponsored musculoskeletal research center in the United States. Since its start, the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders’ research has delved into the fundamental understandings of the cause, development, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a spectrum of conditions, ranging from osteoporosis to rotator cuff tears.

“We have been able to grow to 17 partnering institutions in our region and are particularly excited about some of the outreach efforts that this next grant cycle will develop and support,” Soslowsky said.

Many research efforts focus on specific types of tissue, such as cartilage, ligaments, or bone, alone. But that can limit the discoveries. As such, researchers at the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders strive to learn from research across all tissues. For example, inflammatory cytokines – a type of signaling molecule – are fairly well researched for certain types of tissues, but whether the findings in one tissue apply to another are not as well understood. By avoiding the siloing of research and focusing on how each study applies to the entirety of the musculoskeletal system, the researchers at the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders hope to dispel some of those uncertainties.

Today, the Penn Center for Musculoskeletal Disorders has 204 faculty members, 76 more than it had the last time the grant was renewed, five years ago. Five different schools at Penn participate, including the Perelman School of Medicine, the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Veterinary Medicine, and the School of Arts and Sciences. And members of the center have $169 million in annual extramural funding, an increase from $105 million just five years ago.

Much of the focus in this round of funding will address developing a deep bank of researchers and infrastructure for continued high-level research. The center has three specific aims in its mission made possible by the new grant:

  • To provide innovation within key areas that cross disciplines, such as microCT imaging, Biomechanics, and Histology
  • Creation of a grant program for pilot of new ideas and collaborations before seeking outside funding
  • Development of educational programs spanning tissue types and research approaches so that investigators can learn from leaders in the field and each other

“We are so grateful to the NIAMS at NIH for continuing to support our multidisciplinary research,” Soslowsky said. “We are excited to broaden the impact of our efforts locally and globally to better understand and treat musculoskeletal disorders for the better care of our patients.”

Penn Medicine is one of the world’s leading academic medical centers, dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. Penn Medicine consists of the Raymond and Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania (founded in 1765 as the nation’s first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System, which together form a $8.9 billion enterprise.

The Perelman School of Medicine has been ranked among the top medical schools in the United States for more than 20 years, according to U.S. News & World Report's survey of research-oriented medical schools. The School is consistently among the nation's top recipients of funding from the National Institutes of Health, with $496 million awarded in the 2020 fiscal year.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System’s patient care facilities include: the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center—which are recognized as one of the nation’s top “Honor Roll” hospitals by U.S. News & World Report—Chester County Hospital; Lancaster General Health; Penn Medicine Princeton Health; and Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation’s first hospital, founded in 1751. Additional facilities and enterprises include Good Shepherd Penn Partners, Penn Medicine at Home, Lancaster Behavioral Health Hospital, and Princeton House Behavioral Health, among others.

Penn Medicine is powered by a talented and dedicated workforce of more than 44,000 people. The organization also has alliances with top community health systems across both Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey, creating more options for patients no matter where they live.

Penn Medicine is committed to improving lives and health through a variety of community-based programs and activities. In fiscal year 2020, Penn Medicine provided more than $563 million to benefit our community.

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