December 6, 2020

Orthopaedic Surgery Researchers Awarded $25,000 Pilot Grant to Study Biomechanics of the Human Spine

Researchers in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery received a $25,000 grant to support investigator-initiated research conducted by faculty in the UAMS College of Medicine.  The Barton Pilot Grant supports the design and development of studies focused on the biomechanics of the cervicothoracic junction of the human spine and characterizing the mechanical burden of surgical implants placed upon it. David Bumpass, M.D., serves as Principal Investigator on the project.

John Sherrill, MPH, Ph.D., a researcher in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, has already completed a mechanical study of spine implants using in vitro biomechanical data measured through a custom spine biomechanics simulator with optical motion capture. As part of his research, Sherrill validated a custom configured spine biomechanics simulator to address the need to establish a standard validation protocol for biomechanical spine testing machines for both transparency and accurate field-wide data interpretation and comparison. His case for standardization was published in the Journal of Biomechanics in January.

The distinctive anatomy of the cervicothoracic junction region requires careful study of the biomechanics of the region and the impact of surgical interventions to better inform healthy and disease states in addition to potential treatments. The objective of this research is to gain an understanding of the biomechanical properties of the cervicothoracic junction of the human spine.  This preliminary work provides vital information in the understanding of the upper spine, fusion instrumentation, and testing methods. The results can inform computational modeling of the spine, clinical decision making, instrumentation design, and improved patient outcomes.  Two cadaveric studies of the cervicothoracic region of the spine are nearing completion.

The Barton Pilot grant is a 12- month funding program designed to assist and encourage new and existing faculty to develop research programs that can successfully compete for extramural funding. The major objective of the Pilot Grant program is to provide seed money to initiate a project and acquire the necessary preliminary data for submission of a major extramural grant application to a federal agency or national foundation. This grant mechanism will support investigator-initiated research conducted by faculty in the UAMS COM.