ECM IX Musculoskeletal Trauma: 50 Years of AO Research

This conference was recently held in Davos, Switzerland.

10 July 2008


The 9thEuropean Cells and Materials conference was held in the Congress Centerin Davos, Switzerland, from June 15 to June 18, 2008.

Once again, the number of participants was deliberately limited to encouragediscussion and multidisciplinary networking between clinicians, biologists,engineers, and material scientists and to share knowledge in basic,translational, and clinical research and developments in the large field ofmusculoskeletal trauma. Only single sessions were organized permitting in-depthmultidisciplinary discussions.


The scientific program was put together by conference organizers GeoffRichards and Mauro Alini of the AO Research Institute as well as by Charlie Archer from Cardiff University in Wales. As theconference was held in the AO’s jubileeyear, the conference was structured to particularly highlight 50 years of AOresearch.

AO collaborators both past and present were invited to showcase theachievements of AO research in their time there and also of where they havegone since leaving. This wide scope of AO Research within the field of traumawas also highlighted. Separate sessions were organized for each of the mainresearch fields of the AO Research Institute: Bone, Cartilage, Spine, andInfection.

Remembering Berton Rahn

In a special tribute, the opening of the conference was dedicated to Professor BertonRahn, one of the cornerstones of AO Research who worked at the AO for35 years. Berton recently passed away and another colossus of AO Research,Professor Stephan Perren, began the meeting with a tribute to Berton. Stephan then also gave a talk onhis views of how the AO’s Research should be run with many of the participantswishing to see this speech published, since it has relevance to their owninstitutes and universities.

The first 50 years of research

The opening two scientific sessions of the meeting were dedicated to AOResearch and Development in the first 50 years and included talks from past AOcollaborators Slobodan Tepic and Stephen Bresina, who both elaborated on theevolution of locking screws in orthopedics.

Nick Bishop discussed the use of bone preserving hip implants, and RöbiFrigg described the use of locking compression plates and less invasivestabilization systems. Stephen Ferguson discussed the effect offemeroacetabular impingement as one of the probable mechanisms leading toosteoarthritis and showed how the AO Research Institute Davos’s ‘work hard—play hard’ philosophy, whichwas present during his time in Switzerland, continues in his current work.Keita Ito described computer models for bone healing based on in vivoand in vitro models, and finally Ronald Wieling discussed new advancesin PEEK for orthopedics.

In these sessions some of the significant achievements of AO Research werehighlighted, as were the lasting professional and personal connections thathave been forged.

The next 50 years of research

The third session of the conference shifted the focus to AO R&D in thenext 50 years to give a perspective on future research within the AO ResearchInstitute. The session included presentations from current AOcollaborators.

Geoff Richards described the role of the implant surface in fracturefixation and some of the novel ways of changing implant surfaces which arestarting to reach the clinics, David Eglin discussed the current research ondegradable polymers and its potential future applications, while Mauro Alinigave an overview of the use of stem cells in musculoskeletal regenerativemedicine.

Over the course of the following three days, dedicated sessions werepresented on Bone, Spine, Cartilage, and Infection.

Tribute to Iolo ap Gwynn

A second special tribute was paid to Iolo ap Gwynn from the University ofWales in Aberystwyth who has worked in the field of biological electronmicroscopy for over 40 years and has been collaborating with the AO for manyyears.

A preplanned time mistake in the session allowed for a surprise talk on Iolofrom Geoff Richards, showing his collaboration with AO Research Institute Davos since 1992 and hisconnections to the Swiss mountains, having climbed the Dom and Matterhorn.Geoff thanked Iolo for his substantial help in the education of AO Research Institute Davos members inthe field of microscopy and for the mentoring of numerous students who havereceived masters and doctorate degrees through his supervision. This wasreiterated by Stephan Perren who thanked Iolo for his dedication tocollaborating with the AO.


Further information

A supplement of abstracts will be made available later this year on theECM journal website.

The next European Cells and Materials conference is ECM X Stem Cells forMusculoskeletal Regeneration: From Basic Biology to Clinical Issues. It will beheld from June 29 to July 2, 2009, in Davos, Switzerland.


Report compiled by

Sasha Poulsson, Fintan Moriarty, and Geoff Richards

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