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Dear Alberta OA Team:

As you all know by now, last week we lost a great leader, friend and mentor in Cy Frank.  As a tribute to Cy, we would like to capture stories about what Cy meant to each of you.  This can be done in the form of sharing your stories about Cy, what he meant to you and how he developed Team OA.  We would also encourage you to share any photos that you may have of Cy and the OA Team.  We will capture your stories in a book that will be shared with his family and friends - to have to refer to in the days to come.

If you are aware of the contact info for past OA Team members/trainees/staff, please feel free to forward this message on to them.

Kindly send your tributes to Linda Marchuk (marchuk@ucalgaryca). She will collect them on behalf of the OA Team.

With Kindest Regards,

Linda & Walter


About Us

The Alberta Osteoarthritis Team started in 2008 and was funded by the Alberta Heritage Foundation for Medical Research (AHFMR), now Alberta Innovates – Health Solutions (AIHS) for $6 million over 7 years (2008-15). This interdisciplinary research initiative, based on the 4 pillars of health research, has engaged 54 Principle Investigators, 62 current trainees (110  to date), patients and patient engaged researchers, 25 collaborators and 20 staff members from across 20 research and clinical disciplines primarily at the University of Alberta and University of Calgary (10 faculties) in addition to other institutions across Canada (University of British Columbia, University of Saskatchewan, University of Manitoba, University of Toronto, Dalhousie University, Alberta Health Services, the McCaig Institute for Bone and joint Health as well as the Alberta Bone and Joint Health Institute) .  Many OA Team members are national and international leaders in their disciplines. All have independent research programs (with over $40M/year of existing research operating support that is relevant to OA) that was leveraged by the team. More important than this leverage, however, each person was selected based on their expertise and interest in working on proactive problem solving of key (complex) issues in OA that they cannot solve alone, on performing true translational research and in ‘futuristic training’ of students. We also have 8 International Advisory Board (IAB) members from Sweden, the United States, Denmark and Japan who evaluate team progress, help in setting the research priorities and provide us with an international perspective that has allowed us to make an impact on the world stage.

Our novel multi-disciplinary training program involves mentoring mid-career and junior investigators to assume leadership roles when appropriate for effective succession planning. Our masters, doctoral and post-doctoral trainees are engaged at every level of the team organization and administration. Two trainee representatives are embedded within each of our 8 committees including the Trainee Leaders Committee which is governed by trainees themselves and exposes them to the peer-review process when allocating trainee travel awards. We have changed the culture so trainees and young investigators are mentored about the advantage of  a collaborative model and encouraged to embrace translational research up front. They are exposed to how research can be used to solve problems based on identified clinical needs and how researchers can connect with clinicians through the BJHSCN to make requests (i.e. access to patients or diseased tissue).

Through successful leveraging of funds (ROI of 3 to 1 each year in addition to an ROI of 5 to 1 for trainee funding), our team has been able to acquire cutting edge equipment to evaluate the effectiveness of various treatments and ultimately contribute to the prevention of disease development. Alberta’s single health care provider sets us apart from other health systems and allows us to acess and analyze patient data in real time to provide physicians with accurate metrics to inform clinical practice. Our Biomedical Engineering researchers are also a unique strength within our team as they are able to solve biomechanical problems related to joint injury with precise accuracy that has not been available previously.

New knowledge that drives helpful (to end-users) outputs and outcomes to improve patient care and prevent osteoarthritis is the goal of our team.


Significance and Relevance Summary 

Osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee is a common chronic joint disease for which there is no known cure.  It is characterized by a progressive loss of cartilage and changes in bone and soft tissue structure that result in joint damage, pain, disability, and reduced quality of life. Knee OA leads to inactivity that is associated with increased risk of other diseases, such as diabetes, heart problems, and depression. While OA has typically been associated with aging, it is now known to have many causes, including individual predisposition (genetics), lifestyle factors (e.g. obesity), and joint injuries, resulting in a debilitating condition that affects people of all ages. The Arthritis Alliance of Canada (2011) reported that OA affects 1 in 8 Canadians (> 400,000 Albertans). By 2040, more than 1 in 4 Canadians will have OA and 30% of the labour force will have difficulty working as a result. Within Alberta, productivity loss related to OA had a negative economic impact of $2.75 billion in 2010 alone. While total knee replacement is considered the procedure of choice for severe knee OA, recent reports suggest that 20-50% of individuals do not benefit from this surgery. Although there is evidence that lifestyle modifications (e.g. diet & exercise) are as effective as surgery to manage knee OA, few individuals receive these treatment options. Most individuals wait prolonged periods for surgical consultations, even though they are not surgical candidates. Patients, practitioners and stakeholders have all asked our research team to focus “upstream” to develop and implement effective non-surgical strategies to prevent the onset, or halt the progression, of knee OA.

The overall goal of Team OA is to develop strategies to prevent the development, halt the progression, and systematically evaluate new models of evidence-informed care for individuals with OA of the knee. 

We are currently developing and evaluating strategies for early detection and management of knee OA that can provide significantly improved patient outcomes, reduced health care costs, and improved access to the most appropriate care. Our team is partnering with Alberta Health Services to translate evidence into practice. We are using an integrated knowledge translation (iKT) approach to drive reverse innovation by involving end users at the outset of research and clinical care design.  Our team is focused on educating the public, especially youth involved in sport, to reduce their risk of knee injuries known to be associated with the development of OA (primary prevention).  For adults with OA, we are working on strategies to diagnose and subtype OA early, so that a personalized strategy for care can be used to halt or reduce the progression of disease (secondary prevention). By building a pipeline for knowledge translation, from bench to bedside to the community and back again, we aim to provide a completely novel and integrated approach to solve a significant chronic healthcare problem: human knee OA. This approach will benefit individual patients, and help to insure a sustainable health care system. 


OA Team Organizational Chart

OA Team Organizational Chart


Dr. Tom Andriacchi (California, Mechanical Engineering and Functional Restoration)

Dr. Andriacchi is a professor of Mechanical Engineering – Biomechanical Operations and of Orthopedic Surgery at the Stanford School of Medicine. His research interests include biomedical applications to artificial joints, sports injury, osteoarthritis and neuromuscular disorders.

Dr. G. Hawker (Toronto, OARSI Executive)

Dr. Gillian Hawker is a Professor of Medicine/Rheumatology and Health Policy, Management and Evaluation at Women’s College Hospital, University of Toronto. She is a Senior Scientist at the Women’s College Research Institute and the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences. Over more than two decades, her research has focused on access and outcomes of care for people with OA.

Dr. Stefan Lohmander (Sweden: editor of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage)

Dr. Lohmander is the editor of Osteoarthritis and Cartilage. He is also a professor at Lund University in the Department of Orthopaedics. He focuses on translational research in osteoarthritis.

Dr. Elena Losina (Boston, NIH and OAI)                                                                              

Dr. Losina is an associate professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston as well as an associate professor of Biostatistics in the School of Public Health at Boston University. Her interests are in osteoarthritis and using computer simulation techniques to model chronic disease.

Dr. Marie-Pierre Hellio Le Graverand-Gastineau (Connecticut, Pfizer Global)

Dr. Hellio Le-Graverand-Gastineau currently works for Pfizer Inc. Medicines Development Group in Groton, Connecticut, and Japan.

Dr. Ewa Roos (Denmark)

Professor Roos is the Research Leader for the Research Unit for Musculoskeletal Function and Physiotherapy at the University of Southern Denmark. She is also a member of the Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI).

Dr. Ron Zernicke (Michigan)                                                                                                  

Dr. Zernicke is professor and dean of the School of Kinesiology and professor in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Shalender Bhasin (Boston)                                                                                                   

Dr. Bhasin is an Endocrinologist, and Director, Research Centre Men’s Health: Aging and Metabolism at the Brigham Women’s Hospital.

Alberta OA Team Performance