Joint & Bone Initiative

Think Tanks

MSK Focused Think Tanks 

The main goal of the BJI Think Tanks is to expose researchers to a variety of topics that will increase knowledge, enhance research, and expand transdisciplinary collaborations. Think Tanks are facilitated by BJI administration in collaboration with BJI Champions. They typically include 10-15 outstanding local, national, or international experts. Think Tanks often begin with a conversation around a grand challenge and then may spin off into smaller project related groups.

Active Think Tanks:

Common Spine Disorders - Phenotyping (Michele Battie)

Summary – Building on work accomplished in 2019, a team of 12 experts continued to explore ways to engage city-wide experts and to build projects to enhance personalized medicine and to establish best practices. The goal is the build the right tools and collect the right information to improve clinical care efficiencies and patient outcomes in the area of non-specific back/neck pain population. Impact – The think tank leader facilitated consultations with clinical department leaders to examine opportunities and infrastructure needed to support this type of initiative. Team members did literature searchers to gather information on existing core data set definitions (biological factors and psychosocial factors). Common measures and/or domains emerged. Next steps include: 1) consulting with patient groups about the core data/measures; 2) consulting with clinicians, researchers and patients about ideal platforms and mechanisms to collect core data; and 3) identify and work with the right partners to launch and pilot a platform.

Improving Treatment with MSK Biomaterials (Beth Gillies)

Summary – Initial proposals prepared in 2019 for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) / Ontario Research Fund competition successfully moved through the internal selection process. Therefore, the goal of the think tank in 2020 was to prepare the full proposal for external review. A team of 32 experts also aimed to identify other funding opportunities that would help to mobilize biomaterials strength at BJI and advance work in the areas of regenerative medicine and clinical applications (e.g., coating, sensors, and drug delivery). Impact – The team submitted the full CFI application in January/February 2020. It was not successful, but the team continued to integrate the feedback in new applications. Sub-groups of the team submitted additional applications to the NFRF Exploration, CIHR and Arthritis Society. Funds were obtained from NFRF and CIHR. Overall, the team will continue to work together to identify short-term applications that could improve current prevention/diagnosis/treatment and long-term solutions to change the face of prevention/diagnosis/ treatment entirely.

Mobility Improvements through Social & Technological Innovations in Canada - MISTIC-MSK (Joy MacDermid)

Summary – The goal of this series was to brainstorm different research ideas that could be coordinated at a national level. The overarching aim was to identify potential for collaborative projects and partnerships and to determine what might be best suited for the New Frontiers Research Fund (NFRF) Transformation competition (up to $24M per application). Impact – BJI hosted and facilitated 11 meetings with an overall total of 55 participants from Western, McCaig and Dalhousie. A leadership team of 13 people was established with representation from the 3 institutions, different disciplines, gender and career stage. Participants contributed a wealth of information to outline different perspectives and project ideas. BJI drafted and submitted the letter-of-intent for NFRF-transformation in July of 2020. All 55 participants had an opportunity to read and contribute to the application. Review results were received in November of 2020. Although the application did not move to the next stage, the feedback from reviewers was very positive and the team agreed to continue to build on this work. Leadership and sub-groups were defined, and meetings were pre-scheduled for 2021 when the team will explore how current resources can be used to initiate some of the work until additional resources can be secured.

Tackling Orthopaedic Infections (Emil Schemitsch, David O'Gorman & David Holdsworth)

Summary – This Think Tank team of 28 people centred their efforts on three themes: the prevention of periprosthetic infection; sensitive and specific diagnosis of infection; and treatment to eradicate pathogens and retain implants. In 2019, a team of 12 experts worked together to prepare an internal proposal for the CFI competition that successfully moved through the internal selection process. This year’s goal was to prepare and submit the full application to be reviewed externally. Impact – The Think Tank meetings successfully engaged new collaborators from the surgical team at LHSC and members of the department of immunology & microbiology / ImPaKt Centre, as well as imaging and bioengineering scientists. The team develop the full $7.2M CFI application, which was submitted in January 2020. The application was not successful; however, members of the team obtained a BJI Catalyst Grant to get the work started - "Detecting periprosthetic joint infection in mimetics by mass spectrometry". This and additional application were delayed as the team redirected their efforts to support pandemic efforts.

Active Think Tank meetings are by invitation, however if you are interested in participating in one of these groups directly or if you have a Think Tank suggestion for a new topic, please contact westerns.bji@uwo.ca for assistance.

Past Workshops/Think Tanks:

2020

Common Spine Disorders - Phenotyping (Michele Battie)

Summary – The goal of this Think Tank Series was to 1) become more familiar with interests and current Common Spine Disorder work happening in London and 2) identify specific projects to move forward as an interdisciplinary team. A special focus on improving specificity within the non-specific back/neck pain population was suggested. Impact  The group considered the potential advantage of phenotyping for a better personalized medicine approach and an opportunity to establish best practices that could improve efficiency and patient outcomes. There was general agreement among participants that psychosocial factors are an important aspect of phenotyping and that there is a gap right now in our ability to marry the biological factors and psychosocial factors. Identifying common measures to help link datasets among our groups was perceived as a positive next step. Likewise, exploring ways to establish a centralized recruitment process to support research (e.g. can we embed it in MR screening/or GP requisition a mechanism to trigger a routine RedCap consent process? Can we collect base core measures to support identification/recruitment into more specific studies and help with phenotyping?). Next steps included consultations with clinical department leaders to examine opportunities and infrastructure needed to support this type of initiative, a plan for core measures to support wider collaboration and data harmonization, and pursuit of a BJI Catalyst grant to pilot plans. 

Improving Treatment with MSK Biomaterials (Beth Gillies)

Summary – Building on work started in the 2018 Think Tanks Series, the goal was to become familiar with interests and current biomaterial work happening at BJI and to mobilize new teams that could develop and implement new transdisciplinary project ideas that would strengthen BJI’s ability to respond to large RFPs. Impact – Two main priority areas were identified: 1) sensing infection (pH, temp) before patients are symptomatic and developing mechanisms to prevent infection (coatings) near orthopedic implants and 2) – advancing drug delivery and regenerative medicine scaffolds – tissue engineered cartilage, intervertebral disc, stem cells/3D culture. Takeaways included the need for short-term applications that could improve current prevention/diagnosis/treatment and long-term solutions that could change the face of prevention/diagnosis/ treatment entirely. Sub-working groups were defined to start exploring various concepts in the areas of regenerative medicine, clinical relevance, coating, sensors, and drug delivery. The team worked together to prepare internal proposals for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation / Ontario Research Fund competitions that successfully moved through the internal selection process. They submitted the full applications in January/February 2020 (results pending). Sub-groups of the team are planning to submit additional applications to the NFRF Exploration, CIHR and Arthritis Society in the spring of 2020.

Social Determinants and MSK Health (David Holdsworth & Joy MacDermid)

Summary – The goal of this 3-part series was to talk about important questions related to social determinants of health and inequities for people living with – or at risk of – chronic musculoskeletal health conditions. BJI’s capacity/gaps were identified and collaboration with other Western-based experts was explored. Immediate collaborative project opportunities and partnerships were discussed, with the overarching aim to prepare for a larger national request-for-proposals (RFP). Impact – Enlightening conversation and exploration of research gaps and potential among BJI and non-BJI Western-based experts. Participants contributed a wealth of information to outline different perspectives and ideas. There was agreement that a lot of work is needed in this very complex area. BJI now has a list of key experts willing to engage and weigh in where appropriate but balancing existing priority areas of focus may be a challenge for them. The immediate impact of this series of think-tank sessions was the identification of a team of collaborators to participate in the preparation of a New Frontiers Research Fund Transformation grant letter-of-intent. 

Tackling Orthopaedic Infections (Emil Schemitsch, David O'Gorman & David Holdsworth)

Summary – Building on work started in the 2018 Think Tanks Series, the goal was to expand an existing team to broaden expertise that could build on and revise the CFI application from 2016 to incorporate a bigger focus on orthopaedic infections, rather than implant design alone. Impact – The Think Tank meetings successfully engaged new collaborators from the surgical team at LHSC and members of the department of immunology & microbiology / ImPaKt Centre, as well as imaging and bioengineering scientists. The team worked together to prepare an internal proposal for the Canadian Foundation for Innovation competition that successfully moved through the internal selection process. The proposal was centred on three themes - the prevention of periprosthetic infection; sensitive and specific diagnosis of infection; and treatment to eradicate pathogens and retain implants. The team then worked together to develop the full $7.2M application, which was submitted in January 2020 (results pending). Members of the team also obtained a BJI Catalyst Grant to get the work started - "Detecting periprosthetic joint infection in mimetics by mass spectrometry".

2019

Wearable Technologies for Upper Limb Spasticity (Tim Doherty & Ana Luisa Trejos)

Summary – The goal of this 3-part series was to expand the transdisciplinary nature of a team working on an existing project focused on clinical assessment and rehabilitation of post-stroke upper limb spasticity. There was a special interest in identifying common technology platforms and possible funding sources that the team could use to advance the use of wearable and implantable sensors to improve tone/impedance and motor control. Impact – An expanded team was identified and work began to flush out ideas around quantifying both motor and sensory components of the clinical assessment. An application was submitted to the New Frontiers Exploration Competition which included a proposal to develop a wearable device to be worn day-to-day that would help assess the need for follow-up visits – potential cost-savings (direct and indirect) and more timely intervention for improved outcomes.

2017

Young Investigator Forum - Preclinical Musculoskeletal Health Research: (Host, A Ratneswaran & M Veras)

2016

Workshop on Musculoskeletal Diseases: From Animal Models to Human Disease (Dr. C Little, Host, F Beier)

2015

Communications and Media (UWO Communications, Host, D Holdsworth)

2014

Grant Writing (Host, D Holdsworth)
City Wide Research Workshop on Inflammation & Chronic Disease (Host, BJI)
Finite Element Modeling - (Host, D Holdsworth, M Teeter)

2013

Chronic Pain Management Workshop - Pain & OA (Host, The Arthritis Society)
Focused Data, Computing & Simulation (Host, B Chronik)
Spine (Host, C Seguin)