New grant creates Center for Advanced Materials and Engineering in Orthopaedics (CAMEO).

In June 2021, the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in partnership with Cornell University was awarded an NIH T32 Training Grant for the ‘Combined Engineering and Orthopaedics Training Program’. Dr. Suzanne Maher, associate director of the HSS Department of Biomechanics is principal investigator on the grant, which initiates a 5-year program to educate, support and empower exceptional pre-doctoral and post-doctoral trainees to excel in careers that apply engineering principles to maintain and restore musculoskeletal function. Program trainees will receive unique mentoring and research opportunities at Cornell's Ithaca campus and at the HSS main campus in New York City. All graduate students trained in the program will have a team of mentors that includes a Cornell faculty member and a clinical faculty member at HSS. Each student will be supported by the program for 18-24 months, during which time they will work on a collaborative project between the two campuses, which will include a semester of research at the HSS main campus. 

The program is administered by the HSS-Cornell Center for Advanced Materials and Engineering in Orthopedics (CAMEO), a collaboration of more than 30 academic, research, and clinical faculty dedicated to applying engineering tools to solve problems in musculoskeletal health. The Center leverages the 40-year history of collaboration between Cornell and HSS that revolutionized the process of orthopaedic implant design and has expanded to include research into cartilage and osteoarthritis, bone and osteoporosis, and regenerative medicine.  

The first two graduate fellows of the program, selected in summer 2021, are Meinig School Ph.D. students Ana Witkowski and Lainie Eisner, 3rd and 2nd year Ph.D. students, respectively. Ana’s research is a collaboration between Prof. Marjolein van der Meulen at Cornell and Dr. Mathias Bostrom at HSS, studying the role of parathyroid hormone treatment in osteoarthritis. Lainie’s research is a collaboration between Prof. Nelly Andarawis-Puri of Cornell and Dr. Michael Fu of HSS, and will focus on understanding the biological response to mechanical fatigue in tendon injury. 

The program is supported by numerous Meinig School affiliates including James M. and Marsha McCormick Director of Biomedical Engineering and Swanson Professor of Biomedical Engineering Dr. Marjolein van der Meulen and HSS senior scientist Dr. Tim Wright serving as executive co-directors. Drs. Lawrence Bonassar, Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor in Biomedical Engineering and Suzanne Maher serve as the site directors for the program at Cornell and HSS, respectively. The program has the strong support of the Dean of the College of Engineering, and the Chief Scientific Officer, the Surgeon-in-Chief, and the CEO at HSS.

The HSS-Cornell Connection

HSS is an affiliate hospital of  Weill Cornell Medicine, and has for the past 12 consecutive years been ranked #1 nationally among orthopaedics hospitals by US News and World Report. A Newsweek survey of professionals across 22 countries ranks HSS #1 in the world for orthopaedics. Many HSS scientists and physicians hold Weill Cornell faculty appointments and/or Cornell Ithaca graduate faculty appointments. For more than 40 years, collaborations between HSS research scientists and clinicians and Cornell faculty and students have been the cornerstone of orthopaedic bioengineering effects with staff from HSS and Cornell travelling between New York City and Ithaca to teach students and medical residents. The Program also facilitates access to equipment and resources to researchers at both locations, including research cores at HSS and Weill Cornell, the College of Veterinary Medicine, the Cornell Nanobiotechnology Center and the Cornell Center for Materials Research. Faculty from the HSS Department of Biomechanics also serve as thesis committee members and advisors for students seeking MS and PhD degrees at the Ithaca campus. 

In 1998, with support from a Whitaker Foundation Special Opportunity award, the Program developed an immersion experience to allow graduate students to spend extended periods in New York City for research and for medical students or residents to spend time in Ithaca. The immersion experience for Ithaca-based graduate students has become a part of the field of biomedical engineering’s graduate curriculum and is now formalized further with HSS-CAMEO.