The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is actively engaged in research that encompasses basic science research, translational research and clinical applications of new technologies. We have a very strong research culture with emphasis on translating our findings from the laboratory bench to the clinical bedside in the form of finding and developing novel and useful therapies. To this end, the department has six different integral core research facilities/laboratories that specialise in cell and tissue culture, tissue histology, musculoskeletal biomechanics, and clinical diagnostic modalities including motion analysis and bone densitometry.
Our department has a number of ongoing research programmes supported by current grants, as well as a number of active collaborations with many agencies and departments both locally and internationally. Some of our ongoing projects and collaborations include research into new bone graft and musculoskeletal tissue substitutes, the use of 3D printing in cartilage repair and regeneration, development of novel scaffolds for bone and cartilage repair, and biomolecular modification and functionalisation of biomaterials to confer bioactivities.
The department has distinguished itself in the field of musculoskeletal research, winning a number of local and international research prizes.
The department was also instrumental in setting up the university-wide NUS Tissue Engineering Programme (NUSTEP). We inaugurated the study of mesenchymal stem cells for the repair and regeneration of chondral (articular cartilage) defects in adults and physeal (growth plate) defects in long bones of children. Some of these projects have translated into therapeutic tissue engineering services for the patients. We are currently conducting an observational clinical study designed to compare the effectiveness of chondrocytes and mesenchymal stem cells as sources of cells for autologous chondrocyte implantation (ACI), at NUH.
Another area of research focus involves the development of various scaffolds and bioactive materials for clinical applications, such as for spinal fusion. The deployment of chemical engineering and biomolecular techniques to conjugate bioactive molecules onto biomaterial surfaces is another research specialisation of the department, and we aim to develop novel orthopaedic implants and grafts with enhanced biological activities and host interactions, such as antimicrobial activity, enhanced osseointegration and promotion of fracture healing. These research projects have received recent funding, including Bioengineering Programme (BEP) Grants from A*STAR. Other research fields that have received recent funding includes: development of bioresorbable biomaterials; stem cells reprogramming; investigation and evaluation of novel strategies and techniques to improve clinical care; and genetic screening of musculoskeletal diseases. We have also been credited with significant discoveries in musculoskeletal oncology, including work on the molecular basis of bone tumour growth and microsurgical joint transfers. Our research standard is evident from the various publications in high-impact international journals, strong collaboration with local and international researchers, multi-disciplinary projects and successful funding support from funding agencies.
Our staff members are also actively involved in postgraduate student training, such as supervision for Ph.D. and M.Sc. students, and provide strong mentorship in nurturing competent clinician scientists and researchers. We organise regular research seminars which serve as a dynamic platform for exchange of ideas between the clinicians, scientists and graduate students.
The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is well-poised to continue its research in orthopaedic and musculoskeletal, and to make significant contributions to the advancement of scientific and medical knowledge.