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Trifecta of 'Nobel Prize' Awards

Research Center Director Earns Orthopaedic Honor for the Third Time

Farshid Guilak, Ph.D., has won what industry insiders call the Nobel Prize for orthopaedics – and it's for the third time.

The director of the Research Center at Shriners Hospitals for Children — St. Louis earned this year’s Kappa Delta award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) as he celebrates five years here.

Dr. Guilak’s first Kappa Delta came in 1998 for the study of cartilage cells and how they respond to stress on the joint. His second came in 2015 for the study of post-traumatic arthritis and the development of therapeutic approaches that target inflammation following injury.

This year’s award comes for Dr. Guilak’s work on cartilage regeneration. He and his team have developed a method to regenerate an entire cartilage surface as a treatment for osteoarthritis and other degenerative joint diseases.

Some who work in Dr. Guilak’s lab said the unprecedented third Kappa Delta is an amazing accomplishment but that the count could be much higher.

“It’s pretty much known that he could win the award every year. He’s that good,” said Kelsey Collins, Ph.D., a post-doctoral fellow and part of Dr. Guilak’s team for the past four years. Collins divides her time between Dr. Guilak’s lab in St. Louis and with her husband in Canada. When given the chance to work with Dr. Guilak and knowing her husband couldn’t give up his job to move to the United States, Collins said the opportunity was too good to pass up.

“No one passes up an opportunity to work with Farsh,” she said.

Dr. Guilak’s body of work also includes innovative studies connecting the link between obesity and osteoarthritis. In a recent study led by Dr. Guilak and Collins, investigators found that the damaging effects of obesity are not caused by excess body weight, but rather from biochemical signals released by fat cells.

In addition, just-published research highlighted “smart” cartilage cells developed in Dr. Guilak’s lab that release an arthritis-fighting drug when stressed.

Dr. Guilak will be presented the AAOS Kappa Delta award on Feb. 12. But that’s not the only honor he’s receiving. He also will be presented the ORS/OREF Distinguished Investigator Award at the Orthopaedic Research Society’s Annual Meeting the next week.

The Kappa Delta award, a single stipend of $1,000, first was presented in 1950. The group has since added two more honors and increased the award amounts to $20,000 each. With his win this year, Dr. Guilak has now won all three Kappa Delta honors.

Dr. Guilak in his lab

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