Orthopedic surgeon receives prestigious award, $10 million grant

CONSTANCE CHU, professor of orthopedic surgery at the School of Medicine, will receive an award for her research, as well as the department’s largest-ever research grant — both honoring her work in preventing osteoarthritis.

Constance Chu
Constance Chu. (Courtesy of Stanford Health Care)

The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons will present her with its Kappa Delta Award on March 14, along with $20,000; she will invest a portion in future research and share the remainder with her team. The award recognizes her decades of work in defining pre-osteoarthritis and for developing a new MRI technique to diagnose it

“It is really a huge honor,” Chu said, adding that the award is sometimes referred to as the Nobel Prize in orthopedic surgery. “Our work early on was viewed with some skepticism, but our persistence and teamwork have paid off.”

In addition, the U.S. Department of Defense awarded Chu and her team a $10 million grant last fall, and this month approved a set of clinical trials to study ways to prevent osteoarthritis from occurring after an injury.

With the grant, Chu is conducting five studies, including two clinical trials that will test new strategies to prevent osteoarthritis. In one trial, her research team will look at how patients walk after injury and whether improving their gait can prevent the condition from developing.

In another, they will test gene therapy in horses, which develop osteoarthritis similar to the way humans do. The researchers will also study preventive medications, stem cell therapies and the molecular changes that lead to the deterioration of cartilage.

“Some patients are able to heal on their own after injury,” Chu said, “while others aren’t. These trials will help us determine how we can help those who need it.”

Read the full article and more on the School of Medicine website.