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  • COBRE for Skeletal Health and Repair

    Joint diseases impact the quality of life of more than 40 million Americans and are among the leading causes of disability. Increases in incidences of joint diseases can be attributed to an aging baby boomer generation and high obesity rates.

    In 2012, Rhode Island Hospital’s Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (COBRE) in Skeletal Health and Repair was awarded a $10.8 million Phase II grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to fund studies of cartilage and joint health. COBRE was awarded an $11 million NIH Phase I grant in 2007.

    The COBRE for Skeletal Health and Repair at Rhode Island Hospital enables clinicians, scientists, engineers and biologists to work side by side on multidisciplinary research, helping to better understand cartilage and joint health mechanisms and develop strategies for the prevention and treatment of skeletal joint diseases.

    There are currently more than 80 COBRE research centers in the US, and Rhode Island Hospital’s COBRE is one of just two that are nationally focused on bone and joint diseases. The Rhode Island Hospital COBRE has the unique distinction of conducting research projects on both adult and pediatric skeletal health and diseases; conducting basic research as well as clinical and translational research; and working toward developing repair and regeneration strategies using tissue engineering.

    Phase I

    In Phase I, the COBRE for Skeletal Health and Repair achieved three goals:

    1. The center expanded and renovated laboratory space and established research cores.
    2. Junior investigators were mentored and graduated. The majority are clinicians/scientists treating patients.
    3. The center conducted research that included preventing childhood limb deformities, treating bone cancer and arthritis, and rebuilding healthy joints using tissue engineering.

    Phase 2

    "I am honored to continue lead this COBRE center and hope the research performed at Rhode Island Hospital, the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and in the city of Providence will translate into newer and better treatments, cures and preventive techniques that will improve the health of all Americans."

    Qian Chen, PhD
    Director and Principal Investigator
    COBRE for Skeletal Health and Repair

    In Phase II, the main objective of the COBRE is to sustain the success of the Phase I by mentoring a new generation of junior investigators to achieve independent extramural funding status, thereby further expanding and enhancing the skeletal research base in Rhode Island Hospital and Brown University.

    The new research projects are all led by promising young investigators in biological and engineering research fields. These projects will analyze how mechanical loading affects long bone growth during skeletal development, examine how joint cartilage degenerates in adult joint diseases and develop novel strategies of harvesting stem cells for bone repair.