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Two Orthopedic faculty members receive 2022 ICTR Pilot Awards

Uncovering the reason behind Type 1 Diabetes-related bone loss

Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation associate professor and researcher, Wan-ju Li, MS, PhD was recently awarded a $50,000 one-year Translational Basic & Clinical Pilot Grant from the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR) for a proposal titled “GATA6 in Regulation of Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus-related Bone Loss.”  Dawn Davis, MD, PhD of the Department of Medicine is co-principal investigator for the project.

Why are Type 1 diabetes patients prone to bone loss?

Drs Li and Davis believe that the molecule GATA6 dysregulated in skeleton-forming stem cells in type 1 diabetes patients is a key player that connects the two diseases. Through their study, Li and Davis expect to “determine the role of GATA6 in regulating the pathological mechanism of type 1 diabetes-associated bone loss and provide insight into developing potential pharmacological treatments for the disease.”

A Minimally-Invasive Approach to Correcting Leg Length Discrepancy in Children

Yet another dynamic collaboration receiving a one-year, $50,000 ICTR Pilot Grant was UW Orthopedics and Rehabilitation faculty member, Kenneth Noonan, MD and his co-PI, Christopher Brace, PhD of the UW Radiology and Biomedical Engineering departments. Funding from this grant will support their project, “Microwave Ablation to Correct Leg Length Discrepancy in Children.”

Drs. Noonan and Brace aim to develop a safe, less invasive treatment for children with limb length discrepancy (LLD) greater than three centimeters by adapting an alternative to the condition’s standard treatment – a surgical procedure that mechanically disrupts growth plates using drills. Microwave ablation, a “well-tolerated method to destroy tissue through highly localized heating,” is a tried and true technique that “has been used widely in other contexts such as liver cancer treatment.”

Their goal is to determine the effectiveness of using targeted microwave heating to ablate the growth plate (curtailing bone growth) in growing pigs, paving the way toward using this method in human subjects.


The ICTR Pilot Awards Program funds projects that focus on cross-disciplinary research, emphasizing “innovative research methods, team science, health equity, and impact.”

October 20, 2022