Research Overview

Duke Department of Orthopaedic Surgery places a strong emphasis on research excellence, focused on generating and implementing new knowledge to improve rehabilitation and musculoskeletal care for people throughout the world.

Our researchers include:

  • faculty who are primarily focused on research;
  • practicing clinicians who also engage in research;
  • faculty from our Doctor of Physical Therapy division;
  • and scores of trainees

This cutting-edge research spans from fundamental biology to population-based investigations. Many of our researchers have relationships with Duke University’s fundamental science departments and research institutes through joint or secondary appointments, facilitating links to the wealth of high-quality researchers and core facilities throughout Duke’s campus.   

Our research is broadly grouped into five disciplines:

Cell, Genetic, and Developmental Biology

Faculty members are studying how changes in cells and development reflect on musculoskeletal disorders and rehabilitative care and are using this information to develop novel therapies.

  • Samuel B. Adams, MD
  • Benjamin Alman, MD
  • Gurpreet Baht, PhD
  • Matthew J. Hilton, PhD
  • Amy McNulty, PhD
  • Amy M. Pastva, PT, MA, PhD
  • Thorsten M. Seyler, MD
  • Colleen Wu, PhD

Musculoskeletal Bioengineering, Regeneration, and Repair

Researchers in this area focus on bioengineering, mechanical engineering, and material science engineering as it relates to rehabilitation and the musculoskeletal system.

Movement Sciences, Kinesiology, and Rehabilitation

Our investigators are advancing the understanding of how movement affects musculoskeletal pathologies and generating knowledge that can be used to improve outcomes in physical therapy.

Clinical Research

Our faculty’s clinical studies range from reviews of patient outcomes to large-scale clinical trials. The Department’s Clinical Research Unit facilitates patient-based research, while our partnership with the world-renowned Duke Clinical Research Institute enhances our ability to undertake larger-scale studies.

  • Samuel B. Adams, MD
  • Annunziato (Ned) Amendola, MD
  • Janet Prvu Bettger, ScD, FAHA
  • Chad Cook, PT, PhD
  • Lou DeFrate, PhD
  • Steven Z. George, PT, PhD
  • Adam Goode, PT, DPT, PhD
  • Michael Kerzner, DPM
  • Virginia B. Kraus, MD, PhD
  • Robert K. Lark, MD, MS
  • Richard C. Mather III, MD
  • James A. Nunley II, MD, MS
  • Steve Olson, MD
  • Amy M. Pastva, PT, MA, PhD
  • Michael P. Reiman, PT, DPT, PhD
  • Christopher Shaffrey, MD 
  • Dean C. Taylor, MD

Populations, Policy, and Implementation Research

Our researchers in this discipline explore the implications of musculoskeletal disorders and rehabilitative care on large populations from a health, quality, and economic standpoint.

In addition, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery has identified osteoarthritis as a unifying research area. We have launched a comprehensive initiative to improve outcomes for the population with osteoarthritis by undertaking cutting edge work across all five research disciplines.

Message from our Research Leadership 

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is working to grow our research programs and to collaborate with existing and developing programs throughout Duke University’s research community. We are actively supporting the development of work that crosses shared interests among research faculty and clinical faculty. We host a series of seminars in specialty areas of research that support groups within key areas of musculoskeletal research. Our clinical research unit facilitates research among our patients and links to the Duke Clinical Research Institute to support multisite clinical projects.

Our department hosts core facilities for basic work, including mechanical testing, histology and radiographic analysis of musculoskeletal tissues, and the K-Lab which focuses on motion analysis.

Steven George, PT, PhD, Vice Chair of Clinical Research 
Matthew Hilton, PhD, Associate Chair of Research 
Steven Olson, MD, Clinical Research Unit Director
Adam Goode, PT, DPT, PhD, Vice Chair of Clinical Research and Epidemiology and as the Director of the Musculoskeletal Epidemiology Research Center
Chad Cook, PT, PhD, MBA, FAPTA, Director of Clinical Research Facilitation