The Scoliosis Research Society now awards $450,000 a year in grants to investigators throughout the world for research related to spinal deformities. These studies vary widely, from prospective clinical research to basic science studies involving cellular mechanisms and genetic studies trying to understand the etiologies of the deformities we treat. We have grants ranging from $5,000 Resident and Fellow Awards to our newly created Directed Research awards that are up to $150,000 per year for three years. These grants, big or small, often lead to important findings that are published in top journals.
In 2015, Kenny Kwan, MD at the Duchess of Kent Hospital in Hong Kong was awarded a Small Exploratory Grant ($10,000) to study the importance of the axial plane on the efficacy of bracing in children with Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS). His prospective study found that increased Apical Vertebral Rotation was an independent risk factor for brace failure. This novel finding will soon be published in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, the pre-eminent journal in Orthopedics.
Also, in 2015, Michael Lee, MD at the University of Chicago was awarded a $25,000 New Investigator Grant to study the role of BMP-9 in the development and/or progression of scoliosis. This line of research led to an amazing 17 diverse publications on BMP-9, its various cell signaling capabilities and its effect on the development of scoliosis in a mouse model.
In 2014, Carol Wise, MD at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas was awarded a $50,000 Standard Investigator grant to perform a meta-analysis of AIS gene research. This important study was published in Human Molecular Genetics and intersecting those results with data from their NIH Program Project (P01 HD084387) “Developmental Mechanisms of Human Idiopathic Scoliosis” has since produced two fundamental discoveries: (1) Most of the genetic mutations driving AIS appear to be hypomorphic, that is, producing reductions, rather than abject loss or gain, in specific biologic functions. In this scenario, AIS in any individual patient is likely due to a combination of multiple subtle and differing genetic mutations. (2) Perturbations in the vertebral cartilage extracellular matrix (ECM) are common underlying causes of AIS. Currently, their lab is pursuing hypothesis-driven studies in animal models to define the role of the ECM in AIS pathogenesis and to understand its sexual dimorphism.
Over the last seven years the SRS has awarded $2.1 million in grants to 75 investigators in 9 countries over 3 continents. This has led to 122 presentations and 64 publications. Included among them are 28 presentations at the SRS Annual Meeting and IMAST with 5 Hibbs award nominees and 2 winners.