New Graduate Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research

Monday, October 1, 2012

Western University announces the launch of a an innovative transdisciplinary training program in bone and joint health for graduate education at the Masters and PhD levels - the Collaborative Graduate Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research. The program provides a collaborative, transdisciplinary approach to train research leaders of the future, and to accelerate the translation of new knowledge into improvements in disease prevention, advances in health care, more effective public policies and opportunities for commercialization.

The program represents a joint venture among multiple Faculties at Western University - the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Faculty of Health Sciences, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Science, and Faculty of Social Science. Support for the program comes, in part, from the Interdisciplinary Development Initiative in Bone and Joint Health at Western. Other partners include London's teaching hospitals and research institutes, the Ivey International Centre for Health Innovation, community partners such as The Arthritis Society, and collaborators from the private sector. With participation from over 60 faculty members and already 28 graduate trainees, the Collaborative Graduate Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research is unique in Canada.

Musculoskeletal (bone and joint) disorders are the most common cause of severe long-term pain and physical disability, affecting hundreds of millions of people around the world. As the population ages, the extent of the problem will increase, placing huge burdens on societies and healthcare systems. Accordingly, the economic burden due to bone and joint conditions is staggering. A recent report on arthritis by the Public Health Agency of Canada states that the economic burden of musculoskeletal diseases was the highest of any group of diseases, with a total annual cost of over $22 billion in Canada. These costs are dominated by loss of productivity (due to disability) and hospital-care expenditures. The impact on the quality of life of affected Canadians is severe, with pain, reduction in activity, loss of employment, sleep disruption and depression. To combat bone and joint disorders, Western University has developed an integrated approach to training - one that combines technology, mechanistic research, ethical considerations and clinical applications in a real-world context.

The Collaborative Graduate Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research will promote the development of scientists with the research and leadership skills necessary to build transdisciplinary research teams focusing on integrated therapeutic, surgical and rehabilitative approaches for the management of bone and joint diseases. Students will have the opportunity to participate in musculoskeletal research seminars, annual research retreats and unique courses. The courses have been designed to introduce students to the diverse disciplines in musculoskeletal health research. The program will enhance the recruitment of Canadian and international trainees involved in transdisciplinary musculoskeletal health research. By taking advantage of expertise across multiple disciplines, the Collaborative Graduate Program in Musculoskeletal Health Research will accelerate solutions to the multifaceted, complex problems associated with musculoskeletal diseases.