The Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health is at the forefront of cutting-edge research that will dramatically change the future of orthopedics.

Some of our work takes place in a lab, where researchers investigate how to regrow tendons, muscles, or even bones using stem cell technology. Some work happens on the field, where other researchers study sports-related concussions or how to prevent and treat injuries in young athletes.

All of our researchers have the same mission: to keep you moving throughout your lifetime.


The University of Wisconsin is a satellite research center of the Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC), an initiative funded by the Department of Defense. We are currently involved in four clinical trials investigating patient outcomes following high-energy orthopedic injuries. These multi-center trials are designed to generate high-quality evidence that will help establish optimal treatment protocols and improve outcomes for both civilian and military patients who sustain major trauma to the extremities.

The studies we’re involved in:


This study will see what medicine is better to use for preventing death and clinically important blood clots in the lungs in patients who sustain trauma. There are two types of medicine we will compare in this study: Low Molecular Weight Heparin (Lovenox/Enoxaparin) and Aspirin. Our goal is to find the simplest, most effective medication for orthopedic trauma patients.


The goal of this study is to investigate the efficacy of oral antibiotic therapy versus intravenous systemic antibiotics in the treatment of acute infection after plate fixation of fractures.


The primary objective of this study is to compare levels of impairment and functional outcomes for patients undergoing a transtibial amputation and randomized to receive an endbearing tibia-fibula synostosis (Ertl procedure) versus a standard posterior flap procedure (Burgess procedure)


This study will assess the efficacy of supplemental perioperative oxygen in the prevention of surgical site infections.


This study will compare two standard options for treating severe open tibia fractures internal fixation with a nail or plate and external ring fixation.


The primary objective of this study is to compare the proportion of deep surgical site infections within 6 months in patients treated with local Vancomycin powders compared to those treated without local Vancomycin powder.


This study will examine the reliability, validity and responsiveness of the PROMIS tools for clinical research following orthopedic trauma.

Faculty involved in these studies

  • Paul Whiting (local PI on PREVENT CLOT, OXYGEN, POVIV, TAOS; Study Surgeon)
  • Christopher Doro (local PI on VANCO, FIXIT, STREAM; Study Surgeon)
  • David Goodspeed (Study Surgeon)
  • Gerald Lang (Study Surgeon)
  • Christopher Domes (Study Surgeon)

Published Articles on METRC:

  • Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC). Building a clinical research network in trauma orthopaedics: the Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC). J Orthop Trauma. 2016;30(7):353–61. doi:10.1097/bot. 0000000000000549PubMed 
  • Castillo RC, Mackenzie EJ, Bosse MJ, METRC Investigators. Measurement of functional outcomes in Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC). J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2012;20:S59-63. doi: 10.5435/JAAOS-20-08-S59. PubMed 
  • Manson TT, Reider L, O’Toole RV, Scharfstein DO, Tornetta P 3rd, Gary JL; Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium (METRC). Variation in treatment of displaced geriatric acetabular fractures among 15 Level-I Trauma Centers. J Orthop Trauma/ 2016;30:457-62. doi: 10.1097/BOT.0000000000000632. PubMed

We conduct research aimed at improving fracture care for patients in Wisconsin, throughout the United States, and across the globe. In addition to the clinical and basic science research concerning fracture treatment and outcomes at our institution, we also participate in multiple nationwide clinical trials studying the optimal management of orthopedic injuries. Another primary goal of current research is to investigate orthopedic education and clinical care in the developing world.

Orthopedics and Global Health

Our global health research focuses on understanding and improving orthopedic education, training, and clinical care in the developing world. Two current projects are focused on exploring the international opportunities available to North American orthopedic trainees. Several other ongoing research projects are investigating novel orthopedic techniques and procedures commonly employed in resource-limited environments, where reliability and cost-effectiveness are paramount.

Clinical Studies

A wide variety of retrospective and prospective studies are being conducted, many of which concern clinical and functional outcomes after common orthopedic fractures in the tibia, femur and pelvis. Other interests concern the impact of laboratory screenings, physical therapy and the general hospital course on outcomes and complication rates. Several multicenter studies and collaborative pediatric studies are also underway. The motivating goal is to improve healthcare quality and to reduce the burden of disability associated with orthopedic injuries.

Basic Science Research

Studies involving diagnosis of acute compartment syndrome, as well as treatment and clinical outcomes, are ongoing, many of which are done in collaboration with undergraduates and other colleagues in Biomedical Engineering and Veterinary Medicine. Other studies aim to employ novel methods of measuring bone density and to improve bone healing in long bone fractures. The University of Wisconsin is also one of only a select number of hospitals with a Fracture Liaison Service, providing comprehensive clinical care for fracture patients and establishing best practices for fracture risk reduction through research.

We work with teams and athletes of all levels and ages—from youth, high school, and college students to professional and recreational adult athletes—and are internationally recognized for our research on concussions, sports-related injuries, and recovery time.

Our goal is to understand how training habits and mechanical movement impact an athlete’s performance and well-being. We use innovative approaches to find better ways to prevent injuries and personalize clinical treatments.

The future of personalized medicine lies in stem cells. Our researchers have found that specific types of stem cells are an excellent source for musculoskeletal applications (muscle and bone) in treating injury and disease. We explore how stem cells can be used in biomedical studies, disease modeling, and potential clinical cell therapy.

Our investigators can guide stem cells to create different types of functional tissues, including “organoids” (which mimic a human organ and can be used for drug discovery and disease modeling) and tissue replacements for diseased or damaged tissues. These tissue products can be used in many ways, including the potential for using instead of artificial joint replacement parts in humans.


Our researchers have access to state-of-the-art technology and equipment and world-class performance facilities across Madison.

UW Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation research facilities include:

  • More than 9,000 square feet of lab and office space for biomechanical testing and biological science at the Wisconsin Institutes for Medical Research on the UW campus. The Orthopedic Research Laboratories (ORL) recently purchased new equipment that can capture images almost one-tenth the size of a human hair, which helps researchers look at certain tumors, bone injuries and how they heal, and the makeup of soft tissues!
  • The opportunity to study how the human body moves—live and in person—at the UW Neuromuscular Biomechanics Laboratory (NMBL) at UW Health Research Park. Innovative testing includes motion capture, 3D modeling, equipment that measures how different muscle groups move to help with physical therapy and rehabilitation.
  • The Badger Athletic Performance Facility at the McClain Center, next to Camp Randall Stadium, where our researchers study some of the nation’s top athletes. This facility is home to concussion research, sleep and nutrition studies, and cardiac function testing, among others.