Training course at AO Research Institute Davos Davos

AO Research Institute Davos Davos hosts practical course for students from ETHZ and ZHAW

11 May 2017

Group photo with participants and faculty

​On April 21–22, 2017, 60 students in Biomedical Engineering and Health Sciences and Technology from the Federal Institute of Technology Zürich (ETHZ) and the University of Applied Sciences Winterthur (ZHAW) participated in a practical training at the AO Research Institute Davos Davos. The aim of this block course, that is part of the ETHZ Masters course "Skeletal Repair", is to provide hands-on insight into osteosynthesis principles and current research methods.

The course started with an educational lecture on "preclinical translation" given by the AO Research Institute Davos Director Prof. R. Geoff Richards who illustrated present surgical tools and techniques that have been designed by the AO over the years and the most recent developments that may be translated to clinical application in the near of further future. Afterwards, Dr. Gian Bühler, Senior Surgeon at the Hospital Davos, introduced the participants to the basic principles of bone healing and fracture treatment.

The afternoon program included osteosynthesis and skill training exercises. Dr. Raphael Jenni, Leading Surgeon at the Cantonal Hospital Chur, excellently guided the students step-by-step through the methods of surgical fracture treatment. Using artificial bones, all participants could practice the application of intramedullary nails, "fixateur externe" and compression plates, doubtlessly a highlight of the course. Students were instructed and supported by the surgeons Drs. Raphael Jenni, Veit Schoenborn, Sabrina Weber and Berit Binken from the Hospital Chur and Dr. Alejandro Vallejo from Columbia, a current AO Research Institute Davos MD Research Fellow. The skills training exercises were organized by Dieter Wahl from the AO Research Institute Davos Biomedical Development team. In four stations that were explained and demonstrated by AO Research Institute Davos employees Manuela Ernst, Ivan Zderic, Peter Varga and Ian Buschmann, the attendees could personally experience the challenges and perils of proper handling of surgical tools.

Workshops about clinical imaging, basic and translational research were the focus of the second day. Raphael Jenni and Veit Schoenborn addressed cases of joint fractures and ligament rupture, whereas Bernd Heinlein and Daniel Baumgartner from the ZHAW focused on clinical problems in endoprosthetics. AO Research Institute Davos scientists organized workshops on intervertebral disc organ culture bioreactors (Zhen Li and Patrick Lezuo), adenoviral gene transfer (Martin Stoddart and Ursula Menzel), 3D printing (David Eglin and Tiziano Serra), infection and antibiotics (Fintan Moriarty and Iris Keller-Stoddart), cell viability in hydrogels (Olivier Guillaume and Angela Armiento), joint anatomy and microscopy (Dirk Nehrbass and Letizia Vainieri), preclinical models and surgery (Stephan Zeiter). The final workshop presentations by the participants confirmed their high motivation and the overall excellent teaching and learning effects.

The experience gained at this practical training has encouraged several students to undertake their internship or Master Thesis at the AO Research Institute Davos in Davos. Thereby the long-standing collaboration between the AO Research Institute Davos and the hospitals of Davos and Chur, ZHAW and ETHZ is further strengthened and extended.

The block course was organized and run by Sibylle Grad, Christoph Sprecher, Sonia Wahl, Laura Hartmann, Mauro Bluvol and Isabella Badrutt from the AO Research Institute Davos. We acknowledge DePuy Synthes and RISystems for providing training material.

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