Dr. Grunert Wins 2014 ORS New Investigator Recognition Award

On March 17, 2014, Dr. Peter Grunert was named winner of a New Investigator Recognition Award (NIRA) at the annual meeting of the Orthopedic Research Society (ORS) in New Orleans. Dr. Grunert, a fellow on Dr. Roger Härtl’s spine research team, was honored for his abstract on high-density collagen gel mixed with riboflavin, which is used to close defects in intervertebral discs. His paper was selected as one of ten winners from about 1,000 submitted by young researchers around the world.

Dr. Grunert has been investigating new techniques and materials for repairing herniated discs as part of an intercampus collaboration between Dr. Härtl at the Weill Cornell Medical College Department of Neurological Surgery in New York and Dr. Larry Bonassar of the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Ithaca. For this abstract, Dr. Grunert presented research on high-density collagen gel, which becomes stiffer and more biocompatible when mixed with the vitamin riboflavin. The research shows that this new composite enhances natural healing mechanisms by inducing the formation of  repair tissue that restores the integrity of injured intervertebral discs. The gel not only repairs disc herniation and inhibits degenerative changes in living animals, it also prevents additional disc herniation. When it moves to clinical trials, the gel has potential to improve outcomes of discectomies and prevent the degeneration that leads to chronic lower back pain.  

New Investigator Recognition Awards are presented each year to outstanding researchers in their first five years of active research work.

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