Human life is characterized by physical movement. Yet, a growing number of adults are disabled by joint pain that regularly limits their physical activity. Musculoskeletal disorders (MSDs) encompass degenerative, inflammatory and developmental conditions, injury, and overuse. The personal impact ranges from devastating effects on health to subtle reductions in quality of life. MSDs affect more than half of the US adult population, and 75% of those over age 65. The mission of the Center for Disruptive Musculoskeletal Innovations (CDMI) is to address pressing societal needs associated with the growing burden of MSDs. Priority CDMI research themes include: characterizing MSD causal pathways; developing tools for MSD risk assessment, diagnosis, and functional recovery; predictive analytics for clinical care management; medical device design and testing; and clinical outcomes assessment with an emphasis on cost/benefit and patient value. Our goal is to generate data on incidence, pathomechanisms, treatment outcomes, and costs associated with MSDs, and based on these data, develop new technologies for MSD prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Collectively, these efforts will result in healthier Americans and a stronger and more-competitive U.S. economy.

The CDMI has strategically joined four academic sites that integrate expertise in: Musculoskeletal disorder (MSD) causal pathways, tools for MSD risk assessments, biomechanical models, and bioengineering (The Ohio State University - OSU); MSD biology, diagnostics, clinical cohorts, digital health, and clinical data analytics (University of California, San Francisco - UCSF); Medical device design, computational modeling, empirical testing, and testing standards (University of Toledo - UT); and Advanced materials, sensors, and chemical engineering (affiliate site Northeastern University - NU). The UCSF site focuses on digital health technologies and solutions, regenerative therapies, clinical data analytics, and development of diagnostic tools that help better match patients to treatments and better quantify patient response to therapy. UT research centers on development of devices, biomaterials, and clinical assessment of surgical procedures. OSU applies its sensitive risk exposure tools and person-specific biomechanical models to clarify how physical, psychological, psychosocial, and personal risk factors influence injury risk. The CDMI Research Roadmap identifies high priority areas for project proposal solicitation. These include basic science, biomaterials, clinical outcomes (including digital health), SMART devices, development/assessment of innovative devices/surgical techniques/instruments, healthcare economics, osteoporosis, soft tissue repair, patient assessment tools, test method development, MSD casual pathways, MSD risk assessments, and injury prevention.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships (IIP)
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Prakash Balan
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University of Toledo
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