BORS Fellows 2007 blog

We were able to enjoy a wonderful afternoon relaxing at the hotel; some of us ran along by the canal, others enjoyed a whirl pool and spa; while a few caught up on sleep!

1st stop: Hawaii

After a never ending day, passing through eleven time-zones, and nearly being arrested for attempting to smuggle a banana into the US a group of five fellows (Ben Bolland, Susan Clarke, Mark Gaston, Catherine Pendegrass, Sophie Williams) arrived at around midnight on the island paradise of Oahu. It would not be until the next morning that they met with the final member of the group of six (Andrew Phillips), whom they viewed with deep suspicion, as he had flown ahead of the group, providing no more

Fellows in Limo

information to the others than that he had been upgraded... thus making him a jammy so-and-so.

After a rest day on the beach, we set off to CORS, dividing up to attend as many of the various sessionsand workshops as they could. The overall impression being that there was an excellent, and broad range of research being presented by the multiple orthopaedic research societies from around the world.


Luau girls

On the third night we were taken for an excellent reception meal by Chris Evans (ORS organiser) and Hamish Simpson (BORS organiser), with even the surgeons being impressed at the cutting skills of the chef preparing food in front of them.

Following another excellent conference day, with "cheeky questions" from Andrew, and a trip to Pearl Harbour (made notable by the second near arrest incident of thetrip for taking photos of naval vessels) a reception was held before the Luau for us to meetvarious ORS members who would be acting as hosts on our travels.

With heavy heart after a night of Luau dancing, and a strictly sensible amount of rum punch the fellows gathered up their Hawaiian shirts and flower garlands and climbed into a limo bound for the airport and San Francisco.


2nd stop: UCSF (University of California, San Francisco)

We were met at 6.15 at our very central hotel (great for sightseeing) by Ted Miclau and Ralph Marcucio before being taken to grand rounds at UCSF Parnassas, where Ben, Andrew and Sophie presented, interspersed with several very interesting talks by members of the UCSF faculty. Tours of Jeff Lotz's biomechanics labs and Tamara Alliston's tissue labs

Golden Gate

were then undertaken, before the group transferred to the brand spanking new surgeon cadaveric training facilities at SF General Hospital. To say the group was impressed was somewhat of an understatement. Following an excellent lunch with Jeff and Tamara there was then time to view the site of new facilities at Mission Bay. In the evening the fellows were reunited with the rest of the

UCSF faculty and taken to an evening of beer and

Night in San Francisco

pizza as part of the "Drink locally, think globally" initiative raising money to send UCSF fellows to South Africa. It was generally remarked that the BORS-US fellows had probably helped to send at least one more UCSF fellow to SA following their enjoyment of the various beers on offer.

The next day began once again at 6.15, not a comfortable time for the engineers and biologists, although the surgeons claimed to be quite familiar with the concept! The day started with grand rounds at SF General Hospital, where Mark, Susan and Catherine presented, once again interspersed with excellent talks from the UCSF faculty. We were then split for individual discussions with faculty according to our specific research areas, with Ben, Andrew and

Sophie treated to an excellent tour of the city by Tad Vail, and fascinating discussion with Jeff Lotz, reuniting for an excellent lunch with the clinical faculty, including Ted, Amir Matityahu and Robert Burri, before having an afternoon to catch up with work, family and friends back home. The fellows enjoyed an excellent evening in the company of Ted Miclau, Rich Schnider, and Ralph Marcucio amongst others. The USCF faculty were then incredibly generous and sociable in taking the fellows to see the city from Twin Peaks, before dropping us at bars of utmost respectability on Haight and Ashbury.

A slightly bleary eyed group of fellows then spent the final day in Frisco sight-seeing, including Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge before jetting out early the next morning for a brand new location. The time spent at UCSF was fantastic, and all of us hope to remain in touch with those we meet there, and return their hospitality whenever they find time to visit the UK.


3rd stop: Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minnesota)

The infamous Mayo clinic was our next destination and its reputation for being one of the best medical facilities in the world is not understated. On arrival we were overwhelmed by the scale of the buildings and the top-class condition they were in. It is in a relatively remote part of Minnesota in the town of Rochester and the town is completely dominated by the hospital, for example, the airport is owned and

Mayo Clinic 1

ran by the clinic. 50% of patients coming to Mayo are from greater than 100 miles away while 20% travel more than 500 miles. On day 1 at Mayo we were kindly asked to participate as audience in Grand Rounds were we heard a cross section of updates of projects from the orthopaedic research unit.

Here we heard the truly diverse and broad range of orthopaedic science they cover and we participated keenly in questions at the end of each talk. We were

Mayo Clinic 2
then given a tour of the Mayo clinic and again the opulence of the facility with marble clad lobbies and grand piano, can not be over estimated. The history and origin of the clinic was explained; it evolved gradually from the frontier practice of Dr. William Worrall Mayo and his two sons, William J. and Charles H. Mayo and through many generous contributions developed into the world famous hospital it is today. The afternoon consisted of a tour through the biomechanics and biology laboratories again revealing the most up to date equipment and facility. On day 2 we were given the morning to present our research. This was met with enthusiasm and interested questioning. The afternoon consisted of a further tour to the gait analysis laboratory finishing off what was an interesting and enlightening trip to the Mayo clinic. That evening we were taken to a very fine dinner by Dr Peter Amadio MD, our host for the visit with several others of the faculty Dr Kenton Kaufmann PhD, Dr Kai-Nan An PhD and Dr Michael Yaszemski MD PhD.

4th stop: University of Rochester, New York

Another early start for the now weary fellows, with a 0600 flight out of Rochester, MN; a stopover in Chicago and a lunchtime arrival in Rochester, NY. We travelled in a luxury van to the Del Monte Lodge and Spa and were met by Dr Edward Schwarz. We enjoyed a great lunch in the company of Drs Schwarz and Regis O’Keefe, common interests and the set up of the research areas at the University of Rochester were discussed.


Rochester NY-1

In the evening we were taken to Dr O’Keefe’s family home for a “Dinosaur BBQ”. We all hugely appreciated relaxing in their home and escaping hotel living for an evening. Us Brits also got a taste of Halloween “US style”, when Dr O’Keefe walked us through his neighbourhood to see the decorations and “trick – or – treat antics” of local children.

Another early start and journey to the University for Grand Rounds. The session was well attended by scientists and clinicians; all of the travelling fellows gave presentations.



We then enjoyed a tour of the research facilities of the Musculoskeletal research group. Followed by informal presentations from the PI’s in the group. Thisincluded Dr Matthew Wilson; Brendan Boyce; Randy Rossier; Xiping Zang and Edward Schwarz. This was a really useful informal session, offering the opportunity to informally discuss areas of overlap in our research. Though some of the detailed biology left the engineers looking a little glazed!

The group then had another tour… completely unlike any other to date! Eric Sampson (a post-doctoral researcher) and Matt Wolenski (a Resident) took us on a tour of the Finger Lakes Wine Country. After a lunch which included sampling a variety of beers; we enjoyed several stops to taste the local wine. The dry Riesling, a local speciality, was enjoyed but not as much as the champagne! In fact, the champagne was so good we all bought some. However, never to forget our BORS mission… while sharing champagne we convinced both Matt and Eric to apply for the reciprocal fellowship in 2008!

After a quick change we joined about eight members of Faculty for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant.

5th & 6th stops: Pennsylvania.  

Arrived in Philadelphia with a whole weekend to recharge ahead of us. So, true to form, the girls hit the shops and the guys wandered aimlessly around without us, pretending to look at a few sights. After a chaotic few days before, Friday evening was spent chilling out in a cute Italian trattoria with some light (by American standards) pasta and several bottles of wine! After a much needed lie in, we met for breakfast and then, surprise surprise, the girls hit the shops again (well its almost free with the exchange rate, it would be rude not to). The boys were very conscientious and did some work but they made up for it on Saturday night when the Old City got hit pretty hard. Champagne cocktails to start, fine cuisine at “707” (highly recommended and Susan managed to get some decent spuds) and then salsa-ing the night away at Cuba Libre, a top Philly nightspot. Plenty of time to recover on Sunday- making sure we were back on form on Monday morning.

Monday and Tuesday were Thomas Jefferson University days- spent in the pleasant company of Maurizio Pacifici and Jay Parvizi. Breakfast at The Marathon Grill at 9am hit the spot and put us in fine fettle for the coming academic session. A warm welcome followed by fellow-interspersed-faculty talks, generated great discussions and feedback- a truly interactive day. We were impressed by their “hard core” approach to understanding signalling pathways and the embryonic development of joints in particular, as well as the musculoskeletal system in general. Their relentless approach to further understanding molecular mechanisms in orthopaedic research certainly makes them world leaders in their respective fields. Their generous hospitality matched the scientific programme, with the hard day’s work followed by an amazing dinner at Tinto’s restaurant (a very exclusive down town pad from which we left feeling hugely spoilt).

Day 2 divided the group- surgeons plus Sophie went to theatres with Jay to observe his morning list which began with a bilateral total hip replacement! The remaining trio (slightly sore in the head and unable to face theatre) spent a great morning touring the labs with Terry Freeman and Maurizio. With the fellows reunited- the group up’d sticks and headed for U. Penn.

U.Penn is an Ivy League Campus University, so surrounded by a heavy student population, we reverted to our grungy days and went to the laundrette to catch up on some washing (Mark in particular was getting a bit smelly- it’s his own fault for packing light!). With a few hours to spare- predictably, Catherine and Ben took the opportunity to do some exercise and to work off some of those huge American meals- the rest of us took the opportunity to lie down…. all closely followed by burgers and beers (except Andy, who became the first casualty of the trip having hit the wine too hard the night before).

Lou Soslowsky (wow - what a guy!) at U. Penn had a great programme lined up for us. We were whisked off for breakfast at their annual Penn Centre for Musculoskeletal Disorders Scientific Symposium. We loved Lou because he not only gave us a reprieve from listening to one another’s talks yet again but put on a fabulous scientific agenda with a superb range of topics (everything from novel models of OA to the development of tissue engineered meniscal repair biomaterials) – Sophie and Andy were feeling the burn from all the biology based topics to date but even they were happy bunnies because at least 70% of the talks had a stress-strain curve. We were impressed with the way Lou has developed the Centre to bring together all compatible musculoskeletal researchers throughout the University and the many collaborative projects that have been borne from his initiative and enthusiasm (what did we say…… WOW what a guy!!).
Susan and Catherine were particularly perked up when dinner was served by a tall dark tanned Adonis with a bottle of wine in one hand and cheeky grin to boot (every question he asked was followed by a flutter of the eyelashes and an enthusiastic “yes please that would be lovely” before he’d even finished the question). Sophie went for the more direct approach and simply asked for his number! Seriously though he was gorgeous…… and supper was only surpassed by the great company of the faculty members and lots of lively discussion. Afterwards, Rob Mauck (a young, talented and dedicated member of Lou’s team) took us on to an Irish Pub (where Susan and Mark felt particularly at home) for a pub quiz and a few jars – he almost bit off more than he could chew and as Mark rightly said as we entered the bar…..”you’re about to see something really special”.
The following morning we had left-over breakfast from the previous day – Lou tried to kid us that it was brought in fresh but it looked all too familiar (we’re not picky though!). Breakfast was accompanied by a poster and discussion session with the students and post-docs from the McKay Orthopaedic Research Lab – hopefully we will see some of them in future BORS-US travelling fellowships (we certainly gave them the hard sell and they seemed really keen to travel across the pond to visit us). In the afternoon we toured the research labs of Kurt Hankenson, Jason Burdick and Steve Nicoll who have strong collaborative links with Lou, Rob and Dawn Elliot (Senior Academic and Head of the Structure and Function Biomechanics Core) – we were once again envious of their great set-up and shiny new labs. Dinner came in the form of curry and beers at Dawn’s house with ‘Team U Penn’ – we were so pleased to be back in a home environment (complete with cats which kept Susan happy – she’s missing ‘E and P’ more than her husband!!). Dawn and husband Sam’s hospitality was exceptional – they invited us in, fed us well and kept us with beer in hand all night chatting. Bathroom access was tricky though ….. mid-refurb and the ceiling was falling in. After a sad farewell to Lou and the guys we were back on the road again heading to New York City……… Do do do di do, do do do di do, do do do di do di do……. start spreading the news…….

7th stop: Hospital for Special Surgery, New York  

After many of the previous early morning flights the fellows were pleasantly surprised to be allowed to travel by train to New York at a rather leisurely time of the day. After the usual stock up of supplies to last us the one hour train journey we hauled ourselves and our expanding luggage quota (for the boys of course this involved their’s and the girls excessive shopping) onto the train. Despite the desire for high quality research chit chat the majority of us found the train far too soothing to stay awake and before long there were six pairs of resting eyelids.

We arrived late afternoon in New York to grey skies and thundering rain and suddenly it felt like home again. We were kindly put up in the Bellaire Guest Facilities situated directly opposite the hospital.

With the weekend ahead of us we thought it rude not to explore the New York night life – remarkably the Irish Fellows found within minutes a Guinness selling establishment and we were off. After a lovely meal in the heart of New York and maybe a couple more drinks, we thought it was the prefect time to see the city from it’s highest point. In the pouring rain and dubious visibility, and with much laughter and disbelief from those on the cashier’s desk that we would see anything, we entered the lifts at the Empire State Building. I don’t know what the fuss was all about – no else in sight and a view across the entire city – beautiful. Six drowned rats returned to the ground floor and the laughing from the US members began again.

The weekend was spent shopping, sightseeing including, Ground zero, Statue of Liberty and of course ice skating in Maddison Square Gardens. After recharging with an early Sunday night we were ready for a packed scientific schedule.


The the Monday morning we were greeted by Adele Boskey for early breakfast and a run through of the following two days programme. The first day was primarily used to visit all the individual research laboratories. These included the Motion gait analysis laboratory, Biomechanics Research Building, Analytical microscopy and Immunology centres.

At lunchtime we were given the privilege of a lecture from Prof Goodman a world leader on Paget’s

New York

Disease. He presented his recent works exploring the aetiology of the disease, trying to answer the unresolved aetiology of the condition whether viral or genetic or both.

The afternoon visits took us to the Computer Assisted surgery laboratory, Osteoclast and soft tissue research, Mineralised tissue research and imaging

core. For the evening we knew we were in for a grand dinner when for the first time the dress code was business attire. For the male fellows this of course caused much distress as once again we found ourselves trying to work out how iron’s remove and not place creases in your shirts. This provided the girls an opportunity for thanks in kind for our luggage portering duties. Sure enough our predictions were correct - The Union Club, a serious old fashioned men’s club (with restriction to entry for females to some of the rooms, for port and cigar smoking we think) was very, very grand. We had a beautiful meal and evening kindly entertained by Prof Bostrom, Adele Boskey, Mr & Mrs Goldring and Prof Ivashkiv.

The following day schedule involved presentations from both sides entitled the BrORS-HSS symposium. There were in particular very impressive new imaging techniques being described along with a variety of novel scaffold designs for use in Tissue engineered constructs being described.

We then had a swift change of hotels, the best check in to date, it included champagne – fantastic!

New York Consulate

In the evening we had the amazing privilege of being invited to the British Consulate in New York as guests of Sir Allen and Lady Collins and was in fact held in their own residence. With beautiful views overlooking New York, drinks and nibbles were consumed and the conversation flowed, all under the watchful eye of The Queen whose picture sat on the grand piano.

The evening included speeches from Sir Collins and Chris Evans, there was an opportunity for us to thank BORS and ORS, as well as the Consulate for their hospitality and generosity. We allowed Mark, this dubious privilege, he did us proud demonstrating the Irish gift of the gab and his warm charm! After defining what English and British were to all present; he passed on thanks from “Ben, Sophie, Andrew, Catherine, Susan and me, myself Mark….”

We were then compelled to continue the evening’s fun and found a pub. The Fellows found they still had some energy and that dancing was a good plan, so New York saw some very special dancing… in fact we had to stop Clarkie from strutting herself on the bar…

8th stop: Harvard, Boston  

After so much fun in New York, we were in need of a large breakfast to rejuvenate ourselves. Strengthened by a large breakfast New Your style, we made our way to Penn station where we met Chris Evans. Catherine used her Essex charm and Chris carried her suitcase for her. The train journey to Boston, was very quiet with six fellows napping and re-charging. Our train was delayed so there was some swift changing into “business attire” on the train… the boys


passed their remaining can of deodorant around and found ties; the girls shared their make up and discussed the least creased smart things they could reasonably change into on a moving train. The team work clearly impressed Chris!

We went from the train to a reception at the British Consulate in Boston. This was much more relaxed with the previous evening… complete with pizza and beer; the evening was generously hosted by Dr Stefan Winkler and attended by local ORS members.

After checking in at our hotel (a converted jail – someone how appropriate possibly…?!), we all had a few drinks and fed back to Chris our months adventures.

The next day after a healthy (or not so healthy!) breakfast… we went to the Harris Orthopaedic research laboratories and saw the group’s impressive facilities. We then enjoyed a tasty lunch with faculty members and armed with a Starbucks, we returned to the conference room for an interesting afternoon session.

We presented our work and heard about work on Vitamin E PE, inflammation and chrondrogenesis, and recent development in biomechanics.

Then for the last time the inaugural BORS-US travelling fellows, did the rapid change from work clothes to our version of business casual and went out for dinner. We were hosted by Dr Malchau at Fleming’s Steakhouse and enjoyed a final US style steak. Feeling very full and content, Dr Murataglu took us to a fun bar with live music were we reminisced about our fantastic month. We returned to the centre of the city and found more live music for dancing. So the BORS-US fellows had a last night of dancing, drinking and feeling the love in six different directions...!

After some teary goodbyes (yes boys, we saw your tears as well!)… we went our separate ways to bed… and home the next day….


The month we had will be a special experience for us all, we have made new friends all across the US and seen world leading orthopaedic research. We are grateful to BORS and ORS for their support of the trip; and to Prof Simpson and Evans for the efforts they went to in the concept of the travelling fellowship (the first fellowship to bring Clinicians, Biologists and Engineers together in such a way) and then their hard work in putting together such a fantastic programme. We must also thank our hosts; without exception their welcome was tremendous. They gave their work time (and evenings!) to ensure we had the best possible experience. It was their unfaltering generosity that made our month so rewarding.

And finally… it really was a fellowship between the six of us; academic and social links have been made between two biologists, two clinicians and two engineers; we even found they had a few things in common (though still much to argue about….)