The strategic plan for ORS 2020 highlights our five core values; scientific excellence and integrity, collaboration, partnership, diversity, and advocacy – core values that serve as the foundation for the Society.   As an organization, these core values represent the guiding principles of the ORS, and we are committed to each as we seek to fulfill our mission.

Over the course of the next few weeks, I will address each core value and share with you some of the new initiatives of the Society in each of these areas to advance musculoskeletal research worldwide.

Scientific excellence and integrity is clearly something that we all strive to achieve; however, excellence in itself is very hard to define, and it is often very difficult to measure.  The traits of scientific excellence are often exhibited by the number of publications, citations, impact factor, awards, and funding. Although true, I believe that scientific excellence is something more.  It is bridging the gap, moving research forward, innovation, collaboration, high ethical standards, tenacity, patience, service and commitment.  To each of us, excellence will be a bit different, which is of course a critically important feature of innovation and progress in the field.   Over the next few years ORS will be focusing on educational and professional development programs that will focus on ensuring that our members exhibit scientific excellence and integrity.  ORS members will continue to be recognized as the experts in the field of musculoskeletal research and key to the future of orthopaedic patient care and treatments.

One part of our commitment to promoting scientific excellence and integrity is the development of ORS Sections. To our community, these newly formed Sections promote a common interest in specified areas of research – such as Spine, Meniscus, and the most recently approved Pre-Clinical Models Section.  Sections also strongly encourage interaction, innovation, and diversity – all ORS core values.  Sections are a smaller community, within the larger ORS community. I believe the benefits of these smaller communities within the ORS will accelerate research in these areas, provide new opportunities to collaborate, address common challenges and seek solutions.  In this regard, our vision is that the ORS will remain the premier organization focused on our strong and diverse musculoskeletal community, providing continuing opportunities for transdisciplinary research bridging the gap between basic, translational and clinical research.

Throughout 2016, we anticipate the formation of three additional Sections and will integrate the sections into our overall scientific programming; annual meeting, regional topical meetings, online educational opportunities, and more.  The ORS is committed to innovation as we move towards 2020, and I believe that this is achieved by all of us working together to achieve a larger goal – one that will benefit our community and make an impact to improve the field altogether.

I encourage you to consider joining a section and getting involved in our research community.    To learn more about ORS sections, or to propose the formation of a new section, please feel free to contact me or our Executive Director, Brenda Frederick.  Together we can move the field forward.

In 2013, the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) made a commitment to expand and enhance our interactions with our global community by increasing our engagement with members living outside the US, partnering with like-minded and mission-driven organizations, and involving key stakeholders in this endeavor. It was in that same year that the informal collaboration of orthopaedic research societies, who had organized the triennial Combined Meeting, first organized in 1992, established a formal coalition now called the International Combined Orthopaedic Research Societies (ICORS).

ICORS is chaired by Ted Miclau, MD, who, as President of the ORS in 2013, led the way to formalize this organization. ICORS includes orthopaedic research societies and organizations such as the Australia/New Zealand ORS, British ORS, Canadian ORS, Chinese ORS, European ORS, Japanese Orthopaedic Association, Korean ORS, Taiwan ORS, and the Orthopaedic Research Society, among several others. ICORS also includes two Associate Scientific Member organizations, the International Chinese Musculoskeletal Research Society and the AO Foundation.

Currently, there are three organizations that are in the process of becoming an ICORS member organizations and are considered candidate members: Asian Pacific ORS, Turkish Orthopedic Research Council, and the Indian Orthopaedic Research Society. ORS is very proud to be a founding member of the ICORS and is pleased to be a part of this larger and diverse orthopaedic community. Organizations seeking to get involved in ICORS can contact the ORS business office.

Next week, ICORS will have its inaugural meeting September 21 – 25, 2016 in the beautiful city of Xi’an, China. ICORS 2016 will be hosted by the Chinese Orthopaedic Research Society who has organized an excellent scientific program that will highlight workshops, scientific papers and posters, as well as an excellent social program. Despite the long history of the Combined Meeting, which many of you may be familiar, this meeting will mark the first official ICORS meeting.

ICORS has several goals, in addition to serving as a forum for the global community in all areas of musculoskeletal research. In addition to overseeing the tri-annual, ICORS will support the development of new Orthopaedic Research organizations globally. Furthermore, ICORS recently established a new designation of Fellow of International Orthopaedic Research (FIOR) intended to recognize the efforts and contributions of members from each ICORS member organization. Fellows will be honored in Xi’an during a special ceremony. The ORS has selected a small group of leading researchers to be honored in Xi’an, where each will be inducted as a Fellow. I would like to congratulate those selected and look forward to celebrating their accomplishments in the field, along with representatives from each ICORS member organization. ORS nominated Fellows include:
Orthopaedic Research Society
Adele Boskey, PhD
Brian Johnstone, PhD
Theodore Miclau, MD
Mathias Bostrom, MD
Farshid Guilak, PhD
Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD
Susan Chubinskaya, PhD
Edward Schwarz, PhD
Mauro Alini, PhD
Christopher Evans, PhD
X. Edward Guo, PhD
James Wang, PhD
Stuart B. Goodman, MD, PhD
Rocky Tuan, PhD

It has been said that research has no boundaries, and I agree this is true. I would like to congratulate and encourage all ORS members who are reaching out beyond their own labs, departments, institutions, and countries to collaborate on a global level. Together, we are moving the field forward and will continue to change the field of orthopaedics.

As a member of the ORS for more than 25 years, I can easily say that it is the most scientifically diverse society to which I belong.  In the end, though, diversity evokes something much more.  To me, it is not only about acceptance and respect of our differences – whether they be related to gender, race, age, etc., or the vast diversity of our research and disciplines – but also about the understanding that diversity serves as a catalyst for our success.

Originally founded in 1954 by a select group of orthopaedic surgeons, the ORS now embraces a wide variety of investigators dedicated to the field of musculoskeletal research, including engineers, scientists, orthopaedic surgeons, veterinarians, as well as other healthcare professionals, statisticians, research staff, and others.  As our field rapidly progresses, we find that many of the research questions we face cannot be solved by a single discipline and require expertise from several scientific and clinical areas.  For this reason, a large proportion of our research is now truly interdisciplinary and involves collaborative teams from around the world.  These global collaborations serve as great examples of diversity acting organically in advancing research.

However, diversity goes beyond the areas of our research, our disciplines, and our country of origin.  Science benefits when it reflects the diversity of our society in every way – including members of each race, gender, gender identification, ethnicity, age, ability, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, and more.  These multiple facets of diversity have made ORS the unique organization that it currently is today; however, we, as a global research community, need to strive to be more diverse and inclusive in order to achieve our mission to advance musculoskeletal research worldwide.  Diversity in itself is a core value of the ORS and one that is supported through our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion.

But why are the issues of diversity and inclusion so important to the ORS?  Simply put, it is now clear that diversity is a critical catalyst for our success, both as individuals and as a community.  A number of recent studies have shown that diverse teams function more effectively and efficiently than those that more homogeneous.  For example, a study by McKinsey & Company has shown that ethnically-diverse companies are 35% more likely to outperform peer organizations, while gender-diverse companies are 15% more likely to do so.  Organizations that meet explicit diversity criteria are 45% to report a growth in their market share over the previous year and 70% likelier to capture a new market (HBR).  A study by the Catalyst organization showed that companies with more women on their boards (particularly 3 or more) showed higher financial performance, and these companies outperform their peers over a long period of time.  Indeed, new research by Bersin/Deloitte has shown that among more than 128 different management practices, those that predict the highest performing companies were focused on inclusion.  Diversity and inclusion can also greatly enhance the perception of the organization by its members.  As shown by Deloitte Australia, when members believe that their organization is highly committed to and supportive of diversity, and they feel highly included, they are 80% more likely to agree that the organization is “high performing”.  In this extremely competitive research environment, we as members of the ORS, cannot afford to be anything but “high performing”.

What are we doing about it?  ORS plays a critical role in nurturing a new pipeline of investigators and increasing diversity of age by providing a wealth of programs designed specifically for the new investigator that includes mentoring, professional development, and grant writing.  The number of associate members within ORS has increased substantially and now includes more than 600 student/trainee members.

While we have made tremendous progress in training an outstanding and diverse orthopaedic research community, a major proportion of traditionally under-represented professionals are leaving the field at higher levels of advancement.  For example, the NSF reports while women have earned about half of all science and engineering bachelor’s degrees since the early 1990s, they make up less than 25% of full-time faculty in these fields.  Similarly, while women make up 48% of medical school graduates, an AAMC report has shown that orthopaedic surgery departments have the lowest proportion (16%) of full-time female faculty of all medical school departments.  Similarly, under-represented minorities make up only about 4% of full-time faculty in research-intensive institutions.  The presence and involvement of a diverse professional community, particularly as visible role models in leadership positions, is vital to keeping our research pipeline flowing and competitive.

Up until 2004, ORS leadership was primarily male dominated.  Since that time, however, the ORS Board of Directors has seen an increase in the proportion of women on our Board to the current level of approximately 50%.  This effort was led by the ORS Women’s Leadership Forum (WLF), whose goals are to mentor, foster, encourage, and inspire women in orthopaedic research and to advise and support women in their professional development.  Through the efforts of the WLF, ORS has benefited from the great and more diverse leadership and become more diverse in our program faculty, award winners, committee chairs and members.  The continued activities of the WLF provide an outstanding model of success in developing other ORS programs focused on diversity and inclusion.  The work of WLF shows the impact of intentional focus on cultivating diversity, within the ORS and beyond.

The same intentional focus is needed in other areas.  We still have progress remaining to assure diverse representation among many underrepresented groups.  To address the issue of overall Diversity at the ORS, the Board of Directors commissioned a Task Force on Diversity, headed by Dr. MaCalus Hogan.  The charge of this Task Force was to develop a Diversity Statement and to define ways to increase diversity and inclusion in our community.  ORS is committed to ensure diversity and inclusion and hopes to launch new programs and processes to ensure we are headed in the right direction.  Not only do we demand that the aspirations for ORS define diversity and inclusion, but that we exhibit diversity and inclusion in all that we do.

It is clear that diversity and inclusion are no longer options in professional communities, but are in fact a necessity for us.  Diversity – in all its forms – serves as a competitive advantage and a catalyst for the success of the ORS. I, along with our entire Board of Directors, am committed to leveraging and expanding our diversity in all its forms to ensure the success of the ORS.

Together, we can move the field forward.

As we look forward to the year ahead, the ORS Board of Directors continues to focus on new initiatives that serve to ensure the long-term success of the Society.  The enduring growth and development of the Society remains a high priority, with an emphasis on the scientific and professional needs of our membership.

One of the most important roles that the ORS plays is to provide various forums for the dissemination of knowledge in the field of orthopaedic research.   As a reflection of our continuing growth, we are excited to announce that the ORS Board of Directors recently approved the launch a new Open Access journal, the Journal of Orthopaedic Research – Spine, which will serve as a key tool for the dissemination of spine research for our community of investigators in the field.  This journal represents the first new ORS journal since the formation of JOR and fills an important niche that is currently lacking in the spine research community. While JOR –Spine will be overseen by our Publications Advisory Board, it will operate separately from JOR.   JOR – Spine will have its own editor and editorial board and will be listed independently on PubMed and ISI for indexing purposes.

We look forward to the launch of the new journal later this year.  We will be seeking an editor-in-chief for JOR – Spine, who will be responsible for overseeing the scientific content and editorial board of the journal. For those of you who may be interested in applying for this position, please watch for a call for applications coming out shortly, with an application deadline of March 8, 2017.

We are also excited to announce that the Board also recently approved the continuation our relationship with JOR publisher, Wiley-Blackwell, who will also publish JOR – Spine.  Through the efforts of the publisher, the Editor-in-Chief, Linda Sandell, and the JOR associate editors, JOR continues to provide a home for our members to publish their research and to make it available to a large and global community.  Dr. Sandell has introduced many new features in the JOR, including increased numbers of review articles, special issues (Spine, Tendon, and Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis), and has improved the processes overall to ensure rapid publication of the research accepted for publication.

In the New Year, we anticipate a number of new initiatives and improvements to JOR, as well as the launch of JOR – Spine.  This is truly an exciting time for the ORS and for our musculoskeletal research community!

In closing, I would like to thank those involved in the publisher selection process and in the development of JOR – Spine, including Robert Sah, MD, PhD, Linda Sandell, PhD, James Iatridis, PhD, Jennifer Westendorf, PhD, Rick Sumner, PhD, Morna Conway (independent consultant), and ORS staff members Amber Blake and Brenda Frederick.