Freedom of Movement
For a Lifetime

The Freedom of Movement Fund

Scientists, physicians, and research staff at the University of Wisconsin Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation are constantly exploring new ways to treat orthopedic conditions that prevent people of all ages from living an active life.

The Freedom of Movement Fund supports basic science, clinical, and translational research efforts in many areas. Right now, our research priorities focus on stem cell and regenerative medicine, sports-related concussion management and prevention, the effects of sports specificity on injury rate, biomechanical analysis, and osteoporosis prevention. The descriptions below provide a glimpse into each area.

Currently Funded


Determination of Mechanical and Sensory Dysfunction of Ligaments in the Osteoarthritic Knee

Joshua Roth (PI), Brian Walczak, Lesley Arant

The Influence of Mindfulness on Patient-Reported Outcomes and Readiness to Return to Sport Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction Surgery

Drew Watson and Brian Walczak (PIs), M. Alison Brooks, Richard Davidson, Claudia Reardon

Previously Funded


Evaluating the Impact of Training Volume, Sleep, and Well-Being on Injury Risk in Youth Runners

Stephanie Kliethermes (PI), M. Alison Brooks, Bryan C. Heiderscheit, Mikel R. Joachim, Timothy McGuine

Efficacy of Blue Light Therapy In Reducing Cutibacterium Acnes Bioburden at the Deltopectoral Interval

Brian F. Grogan (PI), Eric J. Cotter, Lisa M. Cotter, Elliot Baker Franczek, Nathan Purman-Buehler, Lisa Arkin


Cellular and Molecular Factors Involved in Hip Preservation

Andrea Spiker (PI), Connie S. Chamberlain, Ray Vanderby


Using Regenerative Medicine to Heal Bone After Trauma or Tumor Removal mRNA-activated Autologous Scaffolds for the Treatment of Critical-Size Bone Defects

Chris Doro (PI), Gianluca Fontana, Bill Murphy, Ellen Leiferman


Regrowing Human Cells to Treat Osteoarthritis of Reprogrammed Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Brian Walczak (PI), Wan-Ju Li (PI), Scott Hetzel, Hongli Jiao

One day, we may be able to use a person’s own tissues to help themselves heal from sports injuries, osteoarthritis, and other conditions. Our scientists are using revolutionary techniques to help tissues like cartilage, bone, and tendons heal more quickly and completely using stem cells and “smart” medical devices.

The University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is a nationally recognized leader in regenerative medicine, stem cell, and biologic therapeutic technology.

Current Projects

2019Using Regenerative Medicine to Heal Bone After Trauma or Tumor Removal mRNA-activated Autologous Scaffolds for the Treatment of Critical-Size Bone Defects

Chris Doro (PI), Gianluca Fontana, Bill Murphy, Ellen Leiferman

Funding Amount: $50,000

Every year there are more than 2 million bone-grafting procedures performed worldwide due to trauma or bone loss from tumor removal. Injured bone tissue can re-grow and heal, but when there are large areas of bone loss, the chance of re-growth and spontaneous healing is greatly reduced. The current method of treatment for large-sized bone defects is transplantation of autologous bone (bone from the person requiring transplantation). However, there is limited availability of autologous bone and this process usually requires multiple surgeries and doesn’t always result in complete healing.

Dr. Doro and his team are developing and studying a regenerative medicine process that uses a scaffold across a large bone defect that allows bone cells to grow.

2018Regrowing Human Cells to Treat Osteoarthritis of Reprogrammed Human Mesenchymal Stem Cells as a Treatment for Osteoarthritis

Brian Walczak (PI), Wan-Ju Li (PI), Scott Hetzel, Hongli Jiao

Funding Amount: $43,665

In the United States, osteoarthritis (OA) afflicts approximately 1 out of 4 adults in their lifetime, or more than 20 million people. Stem cells hold promise fortreating degenerative diseases that otherwise cannot be effectively treated by current medical solutions. However, increasing evidence suggests that stem cell properties and their therapeutic outcomes are largely dependent on the donor’s age and physiological condition.

This project aims to determine the effectiveness of reprogrammed mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs)—or cells that can differentiate into a variety of cell types such as bone, cartilage or muscle—used to rejuvenate cells for use as a treatment for osteoarthritis.

Since receiving the 2018 Freedom of Movement Fund Award, Drs. Brian Walczak and Wan-Ju Li have been studying the therapeutic effect of reprogrammed human synovial fluid-derived MSCs on osteoarthritic cartilage. They have shown that the reprogrammed MSCs better reduce joint inflammation and cartilage breakdown, and increase mobility compared to the original MSCs.

Because of the Freedom of Movement Fund grant, prestigious 2019 Orthopaedic Research Society New Investigator Research Award for the abstract, “Epigenetically Reprogrammed Synovial Fluidderived Mesenchymal Stem Cells Demonstrate Enhanced Therapeutic Potential for Treatment of Chondral Disease.”

Too often, people return to their favorite sport or activity too soon after getting hurt. This increases the chance of re-injury or developing a chronic problem. More than half of all injuries treated by primary care practitioners are chronic injuries or overuse injuries.

One of our main goals is to reduce re-injury rates among people of all activity levels. The Neuromuscular Biomechanics Lab uses predictive modeling and technology, such as motion capture and advanced imaging, to better understand why some people recover faster than others, even if they have the same injuries from the same activity.

Studying the impact of sports-related concussions and other injuries, and learning how to prevent them, improves the health and well-being of all active people throughout their lives. The UW Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation has been committed to injury prevention and intervention research for decades. This work has previously focused on:

  • Youth athletes who suffer lower-extremity injuries after a sports-related concussion
  • The well-being of young athletes following sports-related concussions, based on access to school-based licensed athletic trainers
  • The impact of sports-related concussions on continued participation in sports
  • Reducing injuries among adolescent athletes through prevention
  • Why young athletes stop playing sports or cut back on physical activity
  • How lower-extremity injuries affect continued sports participation and long-term joint function

Osteoporosis affects more than 10 million Americans by compromising their bone strength. However, it may be possible to prevent or diminish the development of osteoporosis in adulthood by improving how bone forms in childhood and adolescence. We are currently facilitating one of the longest-duration studies of human musculoskeletal growth, and the effect of physical activity on how bone mass, structure, and strength develop—following 250 girls for up to 18 years! With continued research, we hope to identify the best type, timing, and amount of exercise so doctors can better “prescribe” exercise to children and adolescents for lifelong skeletal health.

Other Opportunities for Giving

In addition to The Freedom of Movement Fund, we have many other areas of need you may want to support. We are ready to work with you to individualize your gift toward your greatest area of interest.

Named Endowments and Expendable Funds

Endowments are a wonderful way to create a lasting legacy and support the faculty of the UW Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation.

Named Endowments

Named endowments can be used to fund a specific project or program. Endowments can also be used to create discretionary funds that the department can use for areas of greatest need.

Named Expendable Funds

Named expendable funds can be used to support outstanding faculty and promising students for a specific number of years. These funds can be designated to provide immediate support for specific projects and programs.

Orthopedic Faculty Support

Named endowments and expendable funds can also be used to support exceptional faculty.

  • Chairs: A named chair provides support for a chair holder to explore and pursue innovative programs that help inspire and encourage research and discovery.
  • Fellowships: Endowed fellowships are used to help recruit and retain young talent and create training and research opportunities.
  • Lectureships: Endowed lecture funds bring visiting professors or lecturers to share their unique perspective and knowledge, creating learning opportunities for faculty.
  • Departmental Funds: Endowed departmental funds support orthopedic and rehabilitation initiatives and priorities that otherwise would go unfunded.