Title: Emeritus Professor, Stanford University
Institute: Stanford University, Mechanical Engineering, Biomotion Laboratory
Specific Area of Interest: Osteoarthritis, Sports injury, Knee mechanics, ambulatory mechanics
What are you currently working on?
Integrating mechanics, biology, and structure to address the complexity of osteoarthritis. Some specifics:
a) Appling a mechanical stimulus (30-minute walk) to enhance the sensitivity of serum biomarkers to predict knee cartilage structural changes overtime in patients with OA and patients at risk due to prior knee injury.
b) Developing and testing a smart knee device that has been shown to mitigate knee pain and enhance muscle function as well as proprioception during walking and stair navigation. The device was successfully tested in a placebo controlled clinical trial and is now being redesigned for broad public availability.
What has been the biggest challenge/issue for you lately in your research?
To apply and communicate the need for new multidisciplinary approached that integrate biological and structural factors with ambulatory mechanics in a manner to gain a better understanding of osteoarthritis at the scales ranging from the molecule to the whole body.
What project(s) are you looking forward to in the near future?
a) Further develop the principles of applying a mechanical stimulus to enhance biomarker sensitivity in manner that leads to a stress test (similar to a cardiac stress test) to detect risk and progression of knee osteoarthritis.
b) Apply the concepts of the smart knee device described above for other applications.
What advice would you give investigators who are just starting out in the field?
This advice has evolved over more than 40 years of musculoskeletal research.
a) Be open to adopting new concepts from diverse disciplines.
b) Listen to opposing concepts since science does not advance on consensus. Most disruptive advances happen at the intersection of diverse viewpoints.
Here is a specific example: Leading investigators have very diverse views of osteoarthritis depending on their discipline (e.g., mechanics, metabolic disease, genetics, cartilage, bone, etc.). However, there is growing evidence that finding solutions for osteoarthritis calls for a comprehensive view of the complexity of the disease that integrates diverse views from multiple disciplines.
Is there anything in your career/research that, if you had it to do over, you would change?
Years ago, I developed a gait system that could be broadly used for clinical gait analysis with the assumption that reimbursements would cover the costs. My assumption was false, and the cost/reimbursement ratio would not sustain this approach. While the learning experience was valuable, there was a lot of time, resources and energy spent on this approach that never led to a viable clinical system.
What is your most memorable moment in your career?
Every time one of my students or post-docs presents their research at a national/international conference.