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As the Laurence E. Dahners Research Grant enters its second bi-annual funding cycle, the two UNC Orthopaedics faculty-resident teams concluding 12-month awarded projects in 2022 continue to grow a program aimed at investigative studies that uphold the spirit of innovation in restorative, rehabilitative and preventive orthopaedic practice embodied by former UNC Professor of Orthopaedics Dr. Laurence (“Laury”) Dahners, a renowned researcher, educator and innovator of devices in fracture fixation and plate design. 

Over his 25+ years at UNC Orthopaedics, Dr. Dahners received career-long support from industry, the University, orthopaedic foundations and specialty-focused organizations funded his development of surgical approaches to fracture healing and ligament growth, contracture and healing. His development of novel orthopaedic devices and methods led to eight U.S. patents that advanced corrective tools such as surgical bone screw/plate systems, a long bone alignment tool and a first-of-kind device for setting fractures through bone fragment compression (distraction and reduction). Multiple fracture fixation and surgical bone screw/plate systems developed by Dr. Dahners are now integral to procedural practice used by several UNC Orthopaedics clinical divisions.

Two years after Dr. Dahners’ 2018 retirement, UNC Orthopaedics launched the Laurence E. Dahners Research Grant program. Twice annually, earmarked, recurring Dahners Grant funding supports faculty-mentor/junior (resident) investigative teams seek to advance effectiveness of innovative procedures in orthopaedics that improve prevention, practice and patient outcomes. Each Dahners Research Grant funds up to $20K in support of clinical, basic science, and translational co-investigative pilot studies that carry potential to be developed into larger-scale, funded investigations.

In the first 2021 Dahners Research Grant cycle (June 2021), faculty researchers Drs. Anna Vergun, Daniel Bracey, William de Araujo and 5th-year Orthopaedics resident Dr. Chinmay Paranjape received funding for a project entitled, “Cost-effectiveness of intertrochanteric osteotomy versus total hip arthroplasty in children with severe slipped capital femoral epiphysis.” In the second 2021 cycle (December 2021), Assistant Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery Dr. Andrew Chen and 3rd-year resident Dr. Nathan Koutlas were funded for a study entitled, “Surgical Debridement vs Serial Aspiration and Intra-Articular Antibiotic Therapy for Septic Joints: A Prospective Observational Study.”

Dr. Chen noted: “Dr. Koutlas and I were proud our proposal was funded for upholding the investigative spirit of Dr. Dahners in evaluating the efficacy of an innovative modality for the treatment of joint infections (septic arthritis).  Our study originated from a novel idea of Dr. Dahners where select patients can potentially be treated without surgery and instead with a less invasive bedside procedure using serial aspirations and local antibiotics.”

UNC Orthopaedics’ Clinical Research Specialist Julie Titter, MS, ATC, manages clinical trials led by faculty researchers who routinely recruit patients for studies aimed at treating a range of musculoskeletal conditions via innovative orthopaedic devices and drugs.

Julie noted: “As UNC Orthopaedics enters its second year of awarding bi-annual Dahners Research Grants, the Department hopes this program will continue to foster pilot projects that begin as small-scale faculty-resident investigative proposals and carried the prospect of being developed into larger-scale studies.”