Eric Ledet, associate professor and laboratory director of the Musculoskeletal Mechanics Laboratory in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and his research team have been named the 2015 recipients of the prestigious ISSLS prize for lumbar spine research.
This international award, considered to be the premier recognition a researcher can receive in the field of spine, is awarded annually to the highest impact research related to the spine by a selection committee from the journal SPINE and the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine. The ISSLS prize, sponsored by DePuy Synthes Spine, will be awarded at the 42nd annual meeting of the International Society for Study of the Lumbar Spine, to be held in San Francisco, CA in June 2015.
“On behalf of the entire research team, we are honored to be receiving this award,” said Ledet. “Approximately 80 percent of adults experience low back pain at some point in their lifetimes. Our research on the spine is aimed at reducing the limitations of individuals’ activities of daily living with the right treatment in order to improve quality of life.”
The manuscript for which the research team was awarded the prize will be published in the journal SPINE in 2015 and is entitled, “Dynamic Loading-Induced Convective Transport Enhances Intervertebral Disc Nutrition.” The research explores a novel therapeutic mechanism aimed at restoring the health of the spine in people with low back or neck pain. “Our research demonstrated for the first time that there is potential to arrest or even reverse degeneration of a painful intervertebral disc through cyclic loading exercises,” explains Ledet. “We identified a mechanism to augment the regenerative potential of spinal tissues which were previously thought to be insensitive to therapeutic intervention.”
The research was led by Sarah Gullbrand ’09, Ph.D.’14. Rensselaer alumni/ae and undergraduate research assistants who participated included Joshua Peterson ’12, Rosemarie Mastropolo ’13, Arun Fricker ’14, and Jenna Ahlborn ’15. Mostafa Abousayed, MD, James Lawrence, MD, MBA, and Timothy Roberts, MD, all surgeons at Albany Medical College, were also contributors.
“This is an excellent example of collaborative translational research that is transformative,” said Juergen Hahn, head of the department of biomedical engineering at Rensselaer. “This award exemplifies how Dr. Eric Ledet and his team of Rensselaer students and alumni/ae, as well as surgeons from Albany Medical College, are advancing scientific and biomedical engineering knowledge to address a pressing health challenge.”
Prior to joining the Rensselaer School of Engineering in 2004, Ledet served for nine years as Director of the Orthopaedic Research Program at Albany Medical College. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Arizona and his master’s and doctoral degrees in biomedical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. His research program focuses on translational orthopaedic biomechanics and “smart” orthopaedic implants with emphasis on the spine biomechanics, long bone trauma, and knee arthroplasty. In addition to his work with clinicians at Albany Medical College, he works closely with collaborators at Mount Sinai Hospital.