Musculoskeletal disorders – injuries or diseases that damage the body's connective tissues – are a significant cause of pain and disability, and of increased risk of death for millions of Americans, representing approximately 17 percent of all healthcare expenditures. These conditions, which affect the bones, tendons/ligaments, cartilage, muscles in joints and spinal discs, stem from a variety of causes, ranging from overuse and injuries, to aging, and genetic predisposition. Or, they may be associated with diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Current treatment options, primarily drug therapies or surgery, offer widely varying results.
But good news is on the horizon: stem cell and regenerative medicine research holds the promise of innovative and effective new treatments. This fall, about 200 medical professionals from the New York area and beyond gathered in the Price Center/Block Research Pavilion's Ethel and Samuel J. LeFrak Auditorium to discuss these possibilities, at Einstein's second annual Arnold and Madaleine Penner Musculoskeletal Repair and Regeneration Symposium.
Organized by the College of Medicine's department of orthopaedic surgery, the day-long symposium brought together basic scientists, bioengineers, clinical investigators and clinicians to exchange ideas and form new collaborations. Dr. Allen Spiegel, the Marilyn and Stanley M. Katz Dean at Einstein, offered opening remarks to start the meeting, which is the only of its kind in the tri-state area. The symposium was made possible by the generosity of Arnold S. Penner and his wife, Madaleine, longtime supporters of biomedical research at Einstein. As with last year, Mr. Penner, who serves on Einstein's Board of Overseers and on the executive board of its Men's Division, was in attendance at this year's event.
This year's program focused on current issues in musculoskeletal repair and regeneration, recent laboratory findings and their potential impact on patient care. Participating medical institutions included Einstein, New York University, Columbia University, Mount Sinai, Weill Cornell, the Hospital for Special Surgery, The City College of New York, the University of Pennsylvania, Stony Brook, the University of Connecticut and North Shore-LIJ Health System.
In the year since its inception, the symposium has grown, with four additional medical institutions from the tri-state area participating this year; there also was an increase in presentations by faculty and in young scientists taking part in the event's poster sessions.
"We are proud of the quality of the research and the increased participation and support from leading musculoskeletal researchers in the tri-state region," said Dr. Hui (Herb) Sun, associate professor of orthopaedic surgery and of radiation oncology, the symposium's scientific director and its co-organizer with Dr. Neil Cobelli, professor and chair of orthopaedic surgery at Einstein and Montefiore, the University hospital and academic medical center for the College of Medicine.
Ultimately, the organizers aim to make the forum international in scope. "There's no substitute for face-to-face communication," said Dr. Cobelli, "and this symposium offers invaluable opportunities for brainstorming, sharing exciting new research progress, strengthening current collaborations and forming new ideas for future research projects."
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