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Scott Crawford, PhD, receives ICTR KL2 Scholar Award

May 30, 2023 – Scott Crawford, PhD, an assistant professor in the University of Wisconsin Departments of Kinesiology at the School of Education and Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the School of Medicine and Public Health, was recently awarded a KL2 Scholar Program grant; he will officially begin the program in July 2023. Funded by the NIH through the UW Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (ICTR), the KL2 Scholar Program supports “junior faculty at UW Madison pursuing and actively engaged in translational research and who are committed to developing an independent research program.” Crawford’s KL2 grant will provide him with two years of protected time for research and career development training – allowing him to delve into novel ideas and emerge as a leader in the field.

His current research project, “Neuroplasticity in Muscle Mechanics Following Hamstring Injury: A Combined fMRI and Ultrasound Study,” will investigate the neural changes that occur after hamstring injuries. Crawford says that, while we have gotten good at diagnosing and identifying the progression of hamstring injuries and returning athletes to their sport, “re-injury rates are still very high.” Most studies show as high as 1 in 3 will go on to re-injure – though some show re-injuries as high as 60% or more.

By examining muscle tissue mechanics using ultrasound and brain activity using fMRI, Crawford hopes to uncover if altered brain activity following a recent hamstring strain injury may be related to why re-injury rates for hamstring strains remain high, despite advancements in rehabilitation protocols. The study is still in the piloting stage, where Dr. Crawford and his team are refining their methodology before enrolling participants.

Before coming to UW, Dr. Crawford earned his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Cedarville University in Ohio and his Master’s and PhD in Biomedical Engineering from The Ohio State University. He joined the UW as an NIH-funded TL1 Post-Doctoral Trainee under Dr. Bryan Heiderscheit in January 2019 – later transitioning to a faculty position in the Kinesiology Department with a joint appointment in the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation in August 2022.

Dr. Crawford’s educational background in biomedical engineering and biomechanics and his work in the Badger Athletics Performance Lab shaped his interdisciplinary approach to studying sport-related muscle injury. Further, as Dr. Crawford pursues the focused study afforded by his KL2 grant, he says that the symbiotic relationship between research investigators across different academic departments, clinicians, and surgeons at UW allows him to “collaborate with people like Dr. Heiderscheit, [the Badger Athletics Performance Program], and other orthopedic faculty members” and find “common ground” that will ultimately translate research findings into impactful treatments for patients.


UW Researchers Recruiting Participants to Test Novel Therapy for Painful Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

UW researchers are recruiting participants for a clinical trial exploring an innovative non-opioid therapy to treat painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy (PDPN). Nalini Sehgal, MD, Professor and Chair of the Division of Rehabilitation Medicine and the Director of the UW Interventional Pain Medicine Program and Pain Medicine Fellowship, is the study’s principal investigator (PI); Ali Zandieh, MD, and Collin Kreple, MD, of the UW Department of Neurology are the trial’s sub-PIs.

PDPN affects up to 30% of patients with diabetes, significantly decreasing the quality of life for those who experience the condition – causing numbness, tingling, and intense pain in the hands, feet, and lower limbs. Worse, current treatments provide little pain reduction and are frequently not well-tolerated for most PDPN patients.

A novel substance called NRD could hold the key to finding relief for these patients. NRD was discovered in a medicinal tea used in a village in Siberia to treat various illnesses and was identified as the substance in the tea most likely to result in pain reduction. Improved by researchers through chemical alterations and put into pill form, NRD was shown to be safe and well-tolerated in three Phase 1 trials. It was then tested for a Phase 2a trial, resulting in reduced pain.

To further test the safety and efficacy of NRD, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is funding a multi-center initiative to conduct a phase 2, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Based at Massachusetts General Hospital, the study has 16 research sites nationwide – the UW School of Medicine and Public Health is the Wisconsin site. Investigators aim to recruit 122 participants from around the United States. To participate, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • Are at least 18 years old and have had Type II diabetes with PDPN for at least six months;
  • Can stop other pain medications for 12 weeks, other than acetaminophen (Tylenol), as needed;
  • Don’t have a history of heart attacks, heart disease, or stroke.

Study volunteers must come in for eight to nine visits over 13 weeks and will receive up to $850 for their participation. For more information or to determine if you can participate, please contact Janelle Suriaga, Clinical Research Coordinator at (608) 265-2413 or by email.

This research is a part of the NIH-funded Early Phase Pain Investigation Clinical Network (EPPIC-Net), whose mission is to “enhance pain treatment and reduce reliance on opioids with early phase clinical trials of non-addictive pain therapeutics.”

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

Dr. Brian Grogan, Dr. Eric Cotter, and their Team Win Candidate Research Grant Award

Congratulations to Dr. Brian Grogan, Dr. Eric Cotter of the University of Wisconsin Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, and their team of researchers on winning the “2022 American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons’ Candidate Research Grant.”  This ASES $10,000 grant award will help support their research exploring the clinical effectiveness of adding blue light therapy to current prophylactic strategies in reducing postoperative infections caused by cutibacterium acnes.

Co-Investigators are:

    Lisa Cotter, MD  (Investigator) – University of Wisconsin, Dermatology
    Jonah Dixon, BS (Investigator) – University of Wisconsin, Infectious Disease
    Nasia Safdar, MD, PhD (Investigator) – University of Wisconsin, Infectious Disease
    David Gold, PhD (Investigator) – University of Wisconsin, Physics
    Aniekanabasi Ime Ufot, BS (Data Collection) – University of Wisconsin, Orthopedics
    Nicholas VanDerwerker, BS (Data Collection) – University of Wisconsin, Orthopedics

“Our multidisciplinary team is excited for the investment by ASES in our work defining the optimal dosing of blue light to eradicate C acnes,” stated Co-Principal Investigator, Dr. Eric Cotter.

Bryan Heiderscheit, Ph.D., PT, FAPTA Named Vice Chair for Research

Madison, Wis. – In January 2022, Frederick Gaenslen Professor of Orthopedics Bryan C. Heiderscheit, Ph.D., PT, FAPTA was named Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. In addition to this new position, Dr. Heiderscheit holds appointments as Director of Research for Badger Athletic Performance, Co-Director of the UW-Madison Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab, as well as Physical Therapist for the UW Badgers. He is also an affiliate faculty member of the Graduate Program in Clinical Investigation, Doctor of Physical Therapy program, and the Department of Biomedical Engineering at UW-Madison. Dr. Heiderscheit is internationally recognized for his leadership and innovative research aimed at understanding and enhancing the clinical management of orthopedic conditions, with a focus on sports-related injuries.

A highly accomplished researcher throughout his nearly two decades at UW-Madison, Dr. Heiderscheit comes to his new role with a perspective he adopted early in his career when he set out to “develop an impactful research program within a leading research institution, while at the same time, maintaining a clinical practice and mentoring students.”

This multi-pronged approach grew out of Dr. Heiderscheit’s strongly held belief that each role feeds into the others.

“So much of [how we have benefited patients] has come from those discoveries we made through the research program. And on the other side, many patient interactions have led to an idea that spurred a line of research. It is one hundred percent symbiotic.”

Dr. Heiderscheit began his career as a physical therapist. His experience as a clinician, coupled with the research he conducted and published as an undergraduate, led him to pursue his Ph.D. in Biomechanics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.

Upon joining the UW-Madison Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation in 2003, three years after completing his Ph.D., Dr. Heiderscheit quickly put his multidisciplinary tenet into practice by establishing the UW Health Sports Medicine Runners’ Clinic. A program designed to connect patient care with research, this novel initiative evaluates the running mechanics of patients who experience a running-related injury while applying best-practice treatments, many of which were developed by the clinic’s researchers.

“We’ve come up with several simple strategies that can be implemented in routine clinic practice and have a significant impact on our patients’ ability to run pain-free.”

Since creating the Runners’ Clinic, Dr. Heiderscheit has earned widespread recognition, giving over one hundred talks at organizations all over the world on how to implement this program. Johns Hopkins, Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Washington University are among the many institutions that have adopted this model and received assistance from Dr. Heiderscheit and his team in launching the program.

In 2009, Dr. Heiderscheit began working with University of Wisconsin Athletics to develop yet another novel program – Badger Athletic Performance (BAP).

“Our idea was to create a collaborative program that integrates the athletics and academic arms of the University – tearing down the wall that so commonly exists between the two.”

With the full support of University of Wisconsin Orthopedics and Rehabilitation Department Chair, Dr. Thomas Zdeblick, the Division of Sports Medicine, and UW Athletics, Dr. Heiderscheit worked closely with Denny Helwig, former Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Medicine, now retired, to establish a joint venture housed in Athletics that is one of a few of its kind in the nation.

“More than just a lab, our program is designed around the needs of our student-athletes and integrates science, training, and injury management. We do so in a very rigorous manner, which allows us to systematically study key issues and advance the overall field. As a result, our work not only has an immediate benefit to our student-athletes but also any active population beyond our campus.”

Today, BAP has grown to include over 10 principal investigators, who contribute their expertise and resources from their own labs into the program operations.

In addition to leading these innovative programs, Dr. Heiderscheit is nationally known for his work in other areas of orthopedic research, including hamstring injury management. Dr. Heiderscheit and colleagues were recently awarded a four-year, $4 million grant by the NFL to advance research in this area. He also serves on the NFL’s Soft Tissue Injury Task Force on reducing muscle-tendon injuries, with hamstring injuries being one of the priorities.

The success of Dr. Heiderscheit’s research program is due in large part to his research team. He is a mentor to undergraduates, graduate students, and post-doctoral trainees, as well as young investigators pursuing clinical research. Many have gone on to attain tenure track faculty positions, with some earning global scientific scholarship recognition.

A prolific author and presenter, Dr. Heiderscheit’s scholarly publications include over 130 peer-reviewed articles, multiple book chapters, editorials, and other publications. He has presented 216 abstracts or proceedings, and over 240 invited lectures and symposium events. Dr. Heiderscheit serves as a Senior Editor of the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy, the flagship journal for the orthopedic and sports physical therapy profession.

Dr. Heiderscheit has received over 50 honors and awards, is a member of nine professional associations, and currently serves as Research Chair of the American Academy of Sports Physical Therapy.

As Vice Chair for Research, Dr. Heiderscheit will work with Dr. Zdeblick and Dr. Tamara Scerpella to oversee the research mission of the department. Dr. Heiderscheit stated that their goal will be “to expand faculty research opportunities and resources while facilitating collaborations both within and outside of the department. We know that a robust research infrastructure will enable our talented clinicians and scientists to bring their ideas to light.”

“Dr. Heiderscheit has shown a tremendous ability to focus research on clinically meaningful topics,” noted Dr. Zdeblick. “His accomplishments reflect his optimistic ‘can do’ attitude, which he is now imparting to our entire research program. His leadership skills will help the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation continue to build on our national reputation as a leader in cutting-edge, musculoskeletal developments.”


May 9, 2022