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Physicians Update


Physicians Update

Spring 2010

How an Interdisciplinary Approach Can Benefit Musculoskeletal Care

Robert Pedowitz, MD Musculoskeletal care costs Americans nearly a trillion dollars annually, and the demand for these services will continue to increase as baby boomers get older, says Robert Pedowitz, M.D., Ph.D., chair of orthopaedic surgery at UCLA. Dr. Pedowitz plans to make it easier for patients with musculoskeletal conditions to access the best care possible. He discusses his vision for creating an interdisciplinary musculoskeletal service at UCLA and what steps are necessary to turn that vision into a reality.

What is your vision for an interdisciplinary musculoskeletal service?

The musculoskeletal system is complicated and intricate. It involves all of the complex structures that enable us to work, play and enjoy our lives, including bones, joints, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, ligaments, tendons and the cells and molecules that form these structures. Patients with musculoskeletal conditions often require care from a variety of specialists in a variety of locations. This can make it relatively difficult and confusing to navigate medical care. My goal is to create a model for delivering musculoskeletal care that is comprehensive, integrated and user-friendly. I believe this will result in better quality and better service for our patients. It will also create synergy among providers that enriches the training and research environment.

What are UCLA’s existing strengths in musculoskeletal clinical care, teaching and research?

We have a strong national reputation in many specialties. We currently are ranked No. 13 in orthopaedics, No. 7 in neurosurgery and No. 5 in rheumatology by U.S.News & World Report. We are also ranked No. 8 nationally in total National Institutes of Health funding for orthopaedic research. We are part of a large and sophisticated health system with specialists in virtually every medical discipline, which means we have the coverage in place to provide comprehensive musculoskeletal care. Examples include primary care sports medicine specialists, rheumatologists, physiatrists, physical therapists, podiatrists and radiologists. We have orthopaedic surgeons who have established a long tradition of clinical excellence in areas such as joint replacement, trauma care and orthopaedic oncology, and an outstanding collaborative spine service that involves orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons working side by side.

Additionally, UCLA has had world-renowned faculty and excellent residents in place for many years, and we will continue to foster a great environment for teaching and creating new knowledge so that we can attract the best and brightest people. Our orthopaedic basic science research foundation also is very strong. We have a team of brilliant researchers credited with advancing important basic science discoveries, including groundbreaking bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs). Additionally, as a result of our alliance with Orthopaedic Hospital, we recently built one of largest, most advanced orthopaedic basic science research facilities in the country. Together, these resources give us the ability to bring together great clinicians and great scientists who are or will become leaders in their communities, and will also improve the care of orthopaedic patients around the globe.

PhyUpdate-The Orthopaedic Hospital Research Center at UCLAWhat goals and milestones will be achieved over the next five to 10 years in order to keep your vision on track?

We will complete renovation of our physical space at UCLA Medical Center, Santa Monica within the next 15 months. That will be the new home for our department. It will have beautiful new hospital rooms, stateof- the-art surgical suites and patient-centric outpatient clinics. The faculty’s academic offices will be located there. Orthopaedic trauma care, complicated hand surgeries and some sports medicine services will continue to be provided on the Westwood campus, but the facility in Santa Monica will increase our total space and enable us to significantly increase the size, depth and breadth of our faculty over the next three to five years. We also plan to increase our outpatient surgery capacity by building an ambulatory surgery center directly across the street from the Santa Monica hospital in the next few years. Other goals include increasing collaboration between clinicians and basic scientists, which will be a key driver in advancing clinical care, and increasing endowments and philanthropic support, which are often the difference between good and great departments.

What will be the next big leap forward in musculoskeletal medicine, and how will UCLA play a role in advancing the field?

The greatest advances will occur at the cellular and subcellular levels, once we unravel the fundamental reasons for disease and disability. For example, certain types of broken bones don’t heal well. At the basic science level, UCLA researchers are working to identify the mechanisms that promote or prevent bone healing. Once we unravel those mysteries, we can translate our findings into clinical practice. Because our infrastructure and resources enable us to conduct such sophisticated research, we are in a great position to discover cures and to create new treatment methods for generations to come.

For more information about orthopaedics at UCLA, go to:

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