The ORS Spine Section is happy to announce the establishment of the Dr. Peter Roughley Award named after the late Dr. Roughley who was well known for his seminal contributions to proteoglycan research and their role in both disc and cartilage structure and function. Peter was particularly gifted in teaching and mentoring individuals, and always willing to instruct and advise his fellow scientists.

This award will preserve his legacy in training the future generations of scientists by sponsoring a trainee and mentor exchange to enhance a trainee’s knowledge in spine, disc and cartilage biology.  The award will recognize a team (mentor and trainee) and provide $2,000 to support the travel of the trainee.


This award will provide $2,000 for exchange travel to a mentor and trainee team researching spine, disc, and cartilage biology.


  • Mentor: The mentor should be a well-established  researcher who has demonstrated an outstanding and sustained commitment to mentorship. The Mentor can be at any career stage beyond their PhD, MD, or DVM with a well-documented and sustained track-record of mentorship, with particular emphasis given to diversity and inclusion. The Mentor must also have clearly demonstrated impactful research relevant to the mentees research project; this may be viewed in its broadest sense.
  • Mentee: The Mentee must be an ORS and ORS Spine Section member in good standing. The Mentee should be a doctoral candidate or a post-doctoral fellow (PhD,  MD or DVM).
  • As the award is designed to support an exchange, the proposed mentor should not be the mentee’s current supervisor, and should be ideally located at a different institution.


Submission package must include:

  • A complete application form, providing evidence of outstanding mentorship of pre-doctoral students and/or post-doctoral fellows, with special emphasis on the mentor’s substantive and on-going contributions to diversity and inclusive excellence in the field of musculoskeletal sciences.
  • The application should document a coherent and significant advance to be made to the mentees research skills.
  • Recent CVs of the mentor and mentee in support of the application.
  • Support letter from the mentee’s current advisor/supervisor endorsing the exchange.

Award Amount: $2,000

The Call for Submissions Deadline is September 2, 2024.

  • The purpose of this award is to enable trainees to expand their expertise and support network with a Mentor who complements the expertise of the Mentee’s advisor/supervisor.
  • The Mentee can visit a lab of a spine section member or a Mentor outside the spine section if well justified.
  • Applications will be submitted for the Dr. Peter Roughley Award by a Mentee and Mentor team.
  • The award will be presented at the ORS Spine Section Scientific Meeting.
  • Mentors will be recognized by receiving a Mentor Awards Certificate– of no monetary value.
  • Mentee will receive $2,000 to support travel costs for research training with the Mentor.
  • The Mentee must attend the subsequent ORS Spine Section Scientific Meeting and present their experience to the Spine Section.
  • Completion of a summary report of up to 500 words along with up to 4 photographs illustrating aspects of the mentor/mentee exchange are required. Summary report must be submitted to the Spine Section within 6 weeks of completion of travel. Completed reports should be sent to the ORS Spine Section Chair. Summary report content and photographs may be used to promote the award and the ORS Spine Section, including use in the Spine Section Newsletter.


Janitri Venkatachala Babu
2024 Recipient

Janitri has a Bachelor’s of Technology in Genetic engineering from SRM University, India. She conducted her bachelor’s thesis at the University of Zurich, Switzerland where she studied the role of SLC transporters in cataract. She then went ahead to obtain her Master’s degree in Regenerative Medicine from Manipal University, India. The research for her Master’s thesis focused on exosomes derived from human and rat bone-marrow mesenchymal stem cell, and assessing its neurotoxic potential. She is currently pursuing her Ph.D. at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the Department of Biomedical Engineering under the guidance of Prof. Dr. Karin Wuertz-Kozak. Her Doctoral study aims to understand the role of the ion channel TRPC6 (transient receptor potential canonical 6) in intervertebral disc degeneration and its relevance as a therapeutic target in degenerative disc disease and low back pain.

Jennifer Gansau, PhD
2023 Recipient

My studies at the ORL in James Iatridis Lab at Mount Sinai, involve the identification of TNF receptors and their respective roles in human IVDD using a human AF cell culture model with IVDD conditioned media (CM) derived from specimens of surgical patients. I am also very interested in looking at the transition from IVDD to a painful phenotype for a better understanding of the disease and its mechanism, which will help to find new treatment strategies. This award provides me with the opportunity to work with Drs Mauro Alini, Tiziano Serra and Junxuan Ma at the ARI in Davos to better understand this IVDD pain mechanism by applying the surgical IVDD CM to Dr. Ma’s innovative DRG organ culture model system and this way connect IVDD with the peripheral nervous system in a highly controllable fashion.

Josette van Maanen, MSc
2021 Recipient

The effect of notochordal extracellular vesicles on human and bovine nucleus pulposus explants: Visit to Sheffield Hallam University

Although my mentor, Christine Le Maitre, and I already received this award in 2021, I could not travel to Sheffield due to the many COVID restrictions that were in place during that year. We used 2021 to make detailed plans for the visit and prepare everything. Then, from April to May 2022, I visited the laboratory of Christine Le Maitre, PhD at Sheffield Hallam University, UK. Christine Le Maitre is a Professor of Cell Biology and Tissue Regeneration and is the leader of the Tissue Engineering and Biomechanics research group in the Biomolecular Science Research Centre. Over the years, Prof. Le Maitre has gained a unique knowledge of studying the inflammation in degenerating discs. Her lab has developed an in vitro model using intervertebral disc explants. This model mimics the degenerative disc environment and is, therefore, a more relevant model to test potential new treatment strategies for disc degeneration.

I received a warm welcome from Prof. Le Maitre’s research group and during my time in Sheffield, I felt a part of this group. I enjoyed experiencing how things work in other labs and learned new techniques, such as the intervertebral disc explant culture and working in a hypoxic glove box. The visit to Prof. Le Maitre’s lab has provided me with a unique research experience and allowed me to test notochordal cell-derived extracellular vesicles on both bovine and human species during my visit. Especially the access of the lab to human disc samples is unique and allows me to test the extracellular vesicles on patient samples. The connections of Prof. Le Maitre with many surgeons in the Sheffield hospitals guarantee access to these rare samples. Since the time of the visit was somewhat limited, I have focused mainly on performing the culture experiments. Now all samples have been collected, we will continue working together with Prof. Le Maitre on the analysis of the results.

Dr. Peter Roughley earned his PhD in Chemistry from Nottingham University in 1972, followed by Post-Doctoral training  at Charing Cross Hospital Medical School in London, 1972-1974, and  Strangeways Research Laboratory  at Cambridge, 1974-1977. Peter moved to Canada with his wife Sheila in 1977 and started his academic career at the Shriners Hospital for Children, focusing on cartilage and intervertebral disc composition and genetics. He stayed at the Shriners Hospital throughout his career and became full Professor, in the Department of Surgery, McGill University in 1990.

Peter was an extraordinary member of the research community and was a key leader on changes in the disc extracellular matrix that result from of aging and degeneration. He was a wonderful mentor, colleague, as well as an inspiring scientist, technical master, and clear communicator. His collaborative network spans the globe. Peter would describe the most impactful and complicated science in a manner that would clear everything up for the audience, take remarkably little time, and seem effortless.

Peter was a leader, creating a family of intervertebral disc collaborators that really enjoy working together and whom he encouraged to improve scientific quality and impact. For his contributions, Peter was awarded the 2015 PSRS Lifetime Achievement Award. During his PSRS lecture, Peter showed off his great sense of humor. Commenting on the catabolic role cells play in the disc degeneration process Peter said, “We should all kill our cells after adolescence and let the matrix do its work”. He also joked that he joined the lab in which he trained because “They met at the pub for lab meeting and I thought that was a civilized way to conduct science.”

Our fundraising goal to support the Dr. Peter Roughley Award is $30,000.  Peter’s wife, Sheila, has generously donated $10,000 to kick off the fundraising campaign. We hope that we can count on your support as well!