LabTV: Curious about Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis

LabTV-Avery White

If you like sports and you like science, I think you’ll enjoy meeting Avery White, an undergraduate studying biomedical engineering at the University of Delaware in Newark. In this LabTV profile, we catch up with White as she conducts basic research that may help us better understand—and possibly prevent—the painful osteoarthritis that often pops up years after knee injuries from sports and other activities.

Many athletes, along with lots of regular folks, are familiar with the immediate and painful consequences of tearing the knee’s cartilage (meniscus) or anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). Most also know that such injuries can usually be repaired by surgery. Yet, many people aren’t aware of the longer-term health threat posed by ACL and meniscus tears: a substantially increased risk of developing osteoarthritis years down the road—in some individuals, even as early as age 30. While treatments are available for such post-traumatic osteoarthritis, including physical therapy, pain medications, and even knee-replacement surgery, more preventive options are needed to avoid these chronic joint problems.

White’s interest in this problem is personal. She’s a volleyball player herself, her sister tore her ACL, and her mother damaged her meniscus. After spending a summer working in a lab, this Wilmington, DE native has grown increasingly interested in the field of tissue engineering. She says it offers her an opportunity to use “micro” cell biology techniques to address a “macro” challenge: finding ways to encourage the body to generate healthy new cells that may prevent or reverse injury-induced osteoarthritis.

What’s up next for White? She says maybe a summer internship in a lab overseas, and, on the more distant horizon, graduate school with the goal of earning a Ph.D.

Links:

LabTV

University of Delaware Biomedical Engineering

Science Careers (National Institute of General Medical Sciences/NIH)

Careers Blog (Office of Intramural Training/NIH)

Scientific Careers at NIH

6 thoughts on “LabTV: Curious about Post-Traumatic Osteoarthritis

  1. Good luck in finding a solution. Bless your work. I volunteer for a non- profit for Seniors. We all ache.

  2. This is very interesting intro. I am an ex sport competitor and this year I am going to study Master degree in Bio Informatics. This post is very motivational for me. Thanks!

  3. Something I learned that helped me quite a bit: Get a consult with a excellent functional medicine physician, and an excellent biologic dentist. They can run tests to scout out the inflammatory triggers that are adding fuel to the fire of old injuries. These include genetic variants in methylation and immune pathways that make it harder to clear everyday toxins such as mercury (ubiquitous and unlabeled in dental amalgam fillings), certain molds, and to fight off infections such as Lyme and the growing number of co-infections in ticks.

    After 20 years of chronic pain management for fibromyalgia, a year of escalating medical mystery and misery, and joints somewhat stressed by being an ocean lifeguard in my younger days, I am like a teenager again, when I was headed for a future of joint replacement surgeries, and memory and mobility aids.

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