Applying engineering principles to maintain and restore musculoskeletal function

Ana Witkowski standing on bridge

Ana Witkowski, Ph.D. Student

Hometown: Rochester, NY
BME Research focus: Orthopedics
Lab advisor/affiliation: Dr. Marjolein van der Meulen (Cornell), Dr. Mathias Bostrom (Hospital for Special Surgery)

Why Cornell?

Dr. Mathias Bostrom and Ana Witkowski in office at HSS
Dr. Mathias Bostrom with Ana Witkowski at HSS.

I picked Cornell for its connection to the hospitals in New York City and for the variety of research I was interested in on Visit Weekend. The connection to the hospitals is something that I didn’t see in other places I applied, and I thought that the variation in the research experience could be very beneficial in a future career! 

What's your research focus?

My research focuses on osteoarthritis, mainly on using already FDA-approved drugs to try and find a solution for the loss of cartilage and bone changes that occur. My recent CAMEO fellowship at Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in NYC allowed me to take that one step further than our mouse work, to learn how to set up a clinical trial and execute it safely to see if women taking those same drugs have differing outcomes at the time of their knee replacements. 

You are part of the inaugural cohort of CAMEO HSS Fellows. What was that like?

At HSS, I worked with clinician Dr. Mathias Bostrom, shadowing him in the operating room and clinic, and using research facilities not available in Ithaca. I spent my days screening patients and coordinating sample pickups to facilitate the study. I enjoyed developing collaborations outside of Dr. Bostrom’s lab as well as learning new skills to bring back to my research in Ithaca.

Highlights of the fellowship were spending time in NYC, learning how a hospital operates and getting to see how an orthopedic surgeon performs knee and hip replacements! It was nice to see the day-to-day in medicine; getting to interact with patients and see how their lives are affected by osteoarthritis and joint pain has helped solidify the reasoning behind my research. 

What did you do for fun outside the academic experience?

I spent a lot of time at museums and at Broadway shows in NYC! I really enjoyed the Met and the Brooklyn Museum, and hopefully before I leave, I’ll get to the rest of the Broadway shows on my list!

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