Age delaying research gets underway in Vail
VAIL — The Steadman Philippon Research Institute and The Steadman Clinic have long been known around the world for their research into the causes, prevention and treatment of orthopedic disorders.
Locals might recognize the work of Dr. David Karli, who has been with the Steadman Clinic since 2003 and has been ahead of his time in his clinical interest in regenerative medicine and the development of non-surgical interventions. That interest has led to the development of bone marrow stem cell and platelet rich plasma injection therapy programs for Steadman Clinic patients with acute and chronic musculoskeletal injuries.
Research into this promising method of treatment is now one of several focuses of the Vail-based Steadman Philippon Research Institute, and Dr. Johnny Huard recently wrote about the subject with the young talent Dr. Jorge Chahla, who, at 28, has co-authored more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals.
“Platelet rich plasma is one of the most promising sources of natural biologic factors,” they wrote. “It has the potential to treat non-surgical conditions in a conservative manner, enhance surgical procedures when they are called for, and help with the healing processes.”
Chahla is currently engaged in a two-year fellowship with the Steadman Philippon Research Institute’s Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine in Vail.
“Being able to work with Dr. Huard is an honor,” Chahla said. “He is one of the most accomplished scientists in the world.”
The research institute’s focuses go much deeper than platelet rich plasma, however.
Huard is both the director of UTHealth’s Center for Tissue Engineering and Aging Research at the Brown Foundation Institute of Molecular Medicine for the Prevention of Human Diseases, and the Chief Scientific Officer at the Steadman Philippon Research Institute’s Center for Regenerative Medicine in Vail. He recently helped bring the two organizations together with a collaboration agreement focused on becoming the leading center for regenerative medicine in the world. UTHealth was an ideal partner for the Steadman Philippon Research Institute in this endeavor, said institute CEO Dan Drawbaugh.
“Our ultimate goal is to advance the science and, most importantly, translate it to clinical practice where we accelerate life changing medical treatments and therapies for our patients,” Drawbaugh said.
AGING AND THE YOUTH
As Huard strives to shed new light on the mechanisms of aging through his work, he reflects back to his own youth.
“I remember when I was young, I was always trying to go to focus meetings, instead of the big academic meetings with 40,000 people,” he said. “Those focus meetings, they are like two days, and what you learn is very condensed. I think that was a good thing.”
Now a host of his own small focus meeting, the Vail Scientific Summit, Huard is considering opening the event up to graduate and medical students.
“This year, we had the best of the best, all the most influential people in the field were there,” Huard said of the Vail Scientific Summit. “I really feel in 20 years from now, we’re going to be using this in the medical field. The new generation of doctor and scientist need to be aware, so next year we want to make sure and open this to the scientific and medical community. I heard this probably from 10 or 12 of the invited speakers.”
For Huard, the work, and collaborating with the best minds in the field, is a bit of a fountain of youth in itself.
“It’s so refreshing,” he said. “I’m feeling like a kid again.”
In listening to Dr. Farshid Guilak speak about arthritic joints at the summit Aug. 20, Huard said he became so excited that he could not write legibly, even by doctor’s standards.
“When (Guilak) gave his talk, I got an idea that was so good, I could not even read what I wrote,” Huard said.
Guilak’s presentation focused on a fundamental question: Are there ways that we can use stem cell therapies to treat osteoarthritis, or delay joint replacement?
“I talked to (Guilak) earlier this week about my idea and he said ‘Johnny, let’s do it,’ Huard said on Sept. 2.
Huard said in moving to Vail, he didn’t know what to expect.
“A year ago I was dreaming about building something big,” Huard said. “Now, a year after, this is our clinic.”
This story contains material from a press release issued by the Steadman Philippon Research Institute.
The greater community is invited to join a Celebration of Pepi’s Life on Friday, Sept. 20, at the Gerald R. Ford Amphitheater.