Nemours Biomedical Research
At Nemours, we're proud to offer one of the largest, most respected pediatric orthopedics practices in the U.S. — and the world. We're international leaders in pediatric orthopedic research and medical care, and have been throughout our long history of advancing orthopedic care and research. In 1940, we opened the Alfred I. duPont Institute, a pediatric orthopedic hospital in Wilmington, Del.
Under the direction of Alfred R. Shands, MD, the first medical director, the hospital quickly became world renowned for clinical care and research in pediatric orthopedics.
Building on the foundation of excellence in pediatric orthopedic care, Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children is a full-service pediatric hospital that’s named by U.S. News & World Report, year after year, as among the nation’s best children's hospitals in pediatric orthopedics and other specialties.
Our current pediatric orthopedic research at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children primarily involves developing new treatments and determining which current treatments and therapies best influence positive outcomes for children. We also follow how certain treatments affect a child’s quality of life and function over time. Our research covers a breadth of orthopedic conditions.
We actively participate in retrospective and prospective outcomes research aimed at improving care for kids everywhere with spinal deformities such as scoliosis, kyphosis and spondylolisthesis.
Our physicians are frequent presenters at conferences around the world, and have even appeared in television, radio and newspaper media. In the past 7 years alone, members of the program have published more than 90 papers on spinal conditions.
The physicians associated with cerebral palsy research have presented at the following national and international orthopedic conferences within the past 5 years:
The cerebral palsy pediatric orthopedic research program at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children is currently involved in numerous projects related to patient care. These studies are both retrospective (looking at patient experiences from the past) and prospective (asking for permission to collect data as it happens during standard care). Since the 1990s, we’ve been at the forefront of researching when to treat cerebral palsy conservatively and when to recommend surgical treatment.
We’re presently building a neuromuscular database using new tablet technology to collect patient clinical and outcomes data. The goal is to better understand the natural history of the disease. The database works with our comprehensive electronic medical records system so that we have an understanding of each patient’s overall medical condition. When finished, the database will allow our clinicians to more easily see changes over time related to patient diagnoses, and to provide evidence-based treatment decisions.
A significant amount of cerebral palsy pediatric orthopedic research is completed in Gait Analysis Laboratory, which averages about 600 patients per year. A team of biomechanists, engineers specially trained to apply the laws of mechanics and physics to the human body, run the hardware and software necessary for data collection, process the data to generate graphics for the final report, and maintain the wide array of technical equipment in the lab.
The physicians associated with cerebral palsy research have presented at the following national and international orthopedic conferences within the past 5 years:
In all, the program has published 42 papers on cerebral palsy in just the past 7 years.
The Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children skeletal dysplasia program is currently involved in numerous research projects related to patient care. These studies are both retrospective (looking at patient experiences from the past) and prospective (asking for permission to collect data as it happens during standard care).
Our pediatric orthopedic physicians and pediatric orthopedic research team members collaborate with other physicians (nationally and internationally) to study how different treatments affect patients. We also conduct comprehensive research in the Gait Analysis Laboratory.
In addition, Nemours’ experts in skeletal dysplasia have delivered hundreds of invited lectures and published an equal amount of book chapters and papers in medical journals.
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Our Sports Medicine experts at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children are frequently invited as lecturers and presenters at conferences, and often appear in national and local television, radio and newspaper media outlets. Nemours’ sports medicine experts also have authored or co-authored book chapters and numerous papers in medical journals.
At Nemours, hip disorders we treat and study include developmental dysplasia, Perthes and slipped capital femoral epiphysis (SCFE).
The research team is led by J. Richard Bowen, MD, pediatric orthopedic surgeon at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Bowen is a frequent invited lecturer and presenter at conferences, and has authored or co-authored numerous book chapters and papers in medical journals, including 28 in the past 7 years alone.
Together with our Center for Orthopedics Research and Development (CORD), we develop devices and methods that directly impact children with musculoskeletal and orthopedic disabilities. CORD works closely with our Gait Analysis Laboratory to provide the physicians with three-dimensional motion analysis of their patients’ gait cycles.
CORD also works with regional academic institutions, including Drexel University, the University of Delaware and the University of Pennsylvania, to conduct comprehensive research and to pool our collective resources and expertise.
The Nemours Pediatric Engineering Research Lab (PERL) works with devices and therapies that assist and rehabilitate children with neuromuscular disabilities and orthopedic disorders such as muscular dystrophy (MD), spinal muscular atrophy, scoliosis, arthrogryposis, spinal cord injury and limb length discrepancies.
PERL’s biomedical engineers and students work with the clinicians at duPont Hospital for Children to conceive and develop engineering solutions to medical problems. The lab has affiliations with Drexel University and University of Delaware, and works with a number of companies to manufacture and market devices conceived and developed at PERL — both for children in our own hospitals and pediatric practices, as well as for children outside of our pediatric health system.
One current project seeks to accurately measure gait and activity while children are in their everyday environments. We’re developing a small, unobtrusive gait and activity sensor that’s affordable and accurate for children with disabilities such as cerebral palsy.
The Department of Orthopedics is fortunate to have excellent leadership, physicians and pediatric orthopedic researchers. Our physician leaders participate or play a leadership role in a variety of clinical trials, studies and national organizations.
William G. Mackenzie, MD, is chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Mackenzie is the preeminent expert in skeletal dysplasia and one of the most respected pediatric orthopedic surgeons in the world. He is the chairman of the medical advisory board for Little People of America, medical director of the Dwarf Athletic Association of America, and is a past president of the Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction Society.
Dr. Mackenzie earned his medical degree and completed his internship and residency at the University of British Columbia and McGill University. He completed his fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Mackenzie is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada.
Dr. Mackenzie is an active member in numerous societies and serves on the board of directors of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. He is actively involved in research and has authored more than 70 publications in peer-reviewed journals and 16 book chapters. His distinctions include being listed in Delaware Today’s Top Doctors edition, Best Doctors in America, the Guide to America’s Top Surgeons and the Guide to America’s Top Orthopaedists.
Dr. Mackenzie is an educator involved in training residents, fellows and visiting observers. He is frequently invited as a visiting professor nationally and internationally. His research interests include skeletal dysplasia, limb length discrepancy, limb alignment and muscle diseases.
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Alfred Atanda, Jr., MD, is the surgical director of the Sports Medicine Program, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon and a sports medicine specialist at duPont Hospital for Children. He also serves as the director of the pediatric orthopedic surgery medical student clerkship at Thomas Jefferson University.
Dr. Atanda also provides mentorship to the department’s fellows and residents, and has received a significant grant for research. He completed an internship and orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Chicago Medical Center. Dr. Atanda received advanced training in pediatric orthopedics with the completion of a fellowship at duPont Hospital for Children. He also completed a sports medicine fellowship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
With a primary clinical focus of sports medicine and pediatric trauma, Dr. Atanda’s performs arthroscopic surgery of the knee, shoulder, ankle and elbow. His research interests include upper extremity overuse injuries, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury prevention and patellofemoral disorders (problems stemming from the relationship between the knee and femur, or thigh bone).
J. Richard Bowen, MD, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Bowen also serves as professor of orthopedic surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington.
Dr. Bowen served as the surgeon-in-chief and chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery from 1984–2005. He is a graduate of the Medical University of South Carolina, where he also completed his training in general surgery. He completed a residency program in orthopedics at Albany Medical Center Hospital in New York and in pediatric orthopedics at duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Bowen also served in the military as major at Fort Bragg Womack Army Hospital for 2 years.
He is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. His research interests include scoliosis, hip disorders, DDH and Perthes, and growth discrepancies. He’s published two books and more than 230 research papers, mostly on hip and spine disease, over the past 30 years.
Justin R. Connor, MD, is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children. He is a graduate of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Dr. Connor completed an orthopedic surgery residency at Howard University Hospital in Washington, and received advanced training in pediatric orthopedic surgery with the completion of a fellowship at duPont Hospital for Children.
He has been formally trained in gait analysis and neuromuscular orthopedics and is a candidate member to the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. Dr. Connor’s research interests include cerebral palsy, gait analysis, spina bifida, orthopedic manifestations of neuromuscular disorders and pediatric trauma.
Kirk W. Dabney, MD, is the division chief of the Cerebral Palsy Program and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children and a provisional staff member in orthopedic surgery at the Medical Center of Delaware. Dr. Dabney also serves as an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia and clinical assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington.
Dr. Dabney completed his undergraduate degree at Princeton University and earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University. He completed a surgical internship at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and a residency at Howard University in Washington. He completed research and clinical fellowships at duPont Hospital for Children.
Distinctions include acceptance into the American Orthopaedic Association and Best Doctors in America. Dr. Dabney is an active member of national specialty societies, including the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America. He has authored more than 55 peer-reviewed publications and more than 20 book chapters, and was the associate editor of the book, Cerebral Palsy (Freeman Miller/Springer). He also serves as a reviewer for two medical journals.
Dr. Dabney is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. His research interests include cerebral palsy, neuromuscular scoliosis and orthopedic problems related to hematologic (blood) disorders.
Peter G. Gabos, MD is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children and an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University.
He graduated from the New York University School of Medicine and completed his training in general surgery and residency in pediatric orthopedics at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York. He completed a clinical fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at duPont Hospital for Children.
Dr. Gabos is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. He has published extensively in the orthopedic literature, and is a member of several internationally renowned study groups for chest wall and spinal deformity.
He is a credentialed vertical expandable prosthetic titanium rib (VEPTR) surgeon. Dr. Gabos has been named a Patient’s Choice Award winner by patientschoice.org every year since 2007.
His research interests include scoliosis and surgical correction of severe and complex spinal deformities, thoracic insufficiency syndrome and neuromuscular diseases (such as spina bifida, cerebral palsy and Rett syndrome).
Candice P. Holden, MD is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children and Nemours duPont Pediatrics, Voorhees in New Jersey. Dr. Holden is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles. She completed training in general surgery and a residency in orthopedic surgery at the Los Angeles County University of Southern California Medical Center.
Dr. Holden received advanced training in pediatric orthopedic surgery with the completion of a fellowship at duPont Hospital for Children. She is certified by the National Board of Medical Examiners and the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Holden’s distinctions include being named a Top Doc in South Jersey Magazine 3 years in a row for pediatric orthopedics and sports medicine.
Her research interests include pediatric musculoskeletal problems, cerebral palsy, fractures and adolescent sports medicine. Dr. Holden has a special interest in treating the female athlete, which stems from her experience as a college-level gymnast.
Richard W. Kruse, DO is the division chief of the Orthopedic Trauma Service, director of the multidisciplinary Osteogenesis Imperfecta Program and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Kruse also is a staff member of the Medical Center of Delaware. He is an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University and the Uniformed Services University School of Medicine in Bethesda, Md.
Dr. Kruse graduated from the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed an internship at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, Hawaii. He received his orthopedic training at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, and an additional pediatric orthopedic residency at Denver Children’s Hospital. He received advanced training in pediatric orthopedic surgery through a fellowship at duPont Hospital for Children.
Dr. Kruse is board-certified by the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Society of Sports Medicine, the American Orthopaedic Association and the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons. He is a retired U.S. Army Colonel with command experience of a U.S. Army Airborne Forward Surgical Team. He also graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College and was selected Army Attendee of the U.S. Air Force War College, the highest level of leadership education in the military.
Dr. Kruse serves on the Trauma Committee for the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and the Process Improvement Committee of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He is a member of the Board of Councilors of the Medical Society of Delaware and the Board of Directors of the New Castle County Medical Society.
As an ultra-marathon runner, Dr. Kruse has an avid interest in running and sports injury rehabilitation. He also has extensive experience in athletic coaching and is a certified elite-level coach by U.S.A. Track and Field. He is active in coaching high school and middle school running sports and was awarded a National Youth Sports Award at Stanford University for his work in coaching and mentoring young athletes. He lectures nationally and internationally and has published more than 30 articles and book chapters on various topics in pediatric orthopedics and trauma.
Dr. Kruse’s research interests include osteogenesis imperfecta, bone trauma, fractures, exercise training, sports rehabilitation and nutrition.
Louise Reid Nichols, MD is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children and Nemours duPont Pediatrics, Newtown Square. She received her undergraduate degrees from the University of Virginia and Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Dr. Nichols earned her medical degree from Northeastern Ohio Universities College of Medicine.
After graduating from a residency in orthopedic surgery at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY, she completed a fellowship in limb reconstruction at the International Center for Limb Deformity in Baltimore, Md. Under the supervision of John Herzenberg, MD, a master in the Ponseti technique, she received advanced training in the management of clubfoot.
Dr. Nichols received advanced training in pediatric orthopedics with the completion of a fellowship at duPont Hospital for Children. She is active in many societies including the Pediatric Society of North America, Limb Lengthening and Reconstruction Society, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society.
She will serve as the co-director of the Clubfoot Clinic at duPont Hospital for Children. Dr. Nichols also has done studies on an angular correction technique called hemiepiphyseodsis, and published a paper on clubfoot.
Her research interests include the correction of orthopedic deformities and reconstruction, clubfoot and pediatric trauma.
Suken A. Shah, MD is division chief of the Nemours Spine and Scoliosis Center, as well as the clinical fellowship director and a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children. He also serves as an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at Thomas Jefferson University. Dr. Shah is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.
He earned his medical degree as a cum laude graduate of Jefferson Medical College. He completed an orthopedic surgery residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital/Rothman Institute in Philadelphia, and received advanced training in pediatric orthopedics and scoliosis surgery at duPont Hospital for Children.
Distinctions include a Scoliosis Research Society Traveling Fellowship, a Spinal Deformity Education Group Advancement Award, Best Doctors in America (2007-2012). He also was named one of the Top 17 U.S. Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons by Orthopedics This Week, 2012. Dr. Shah serves on the Board of Directors of the Scoliosis Research Society, where he chairs the Program Committee.
He is a member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America and multiple research study groups. In addition, he has authored more than 50 research publications in peer-reviewed journals and 17 book chapters. Dr. Shah also serves as a reviewer for four medical journals.
He is an innovator, researcher and key opinion leader in the field of spinal deformity surgery and performs advanced deformity correction techniques. He trains residents, fellows and visiting observers in these techniques. He is frequently invited to teach and lecture at national and international courses, educational symposia and other institutions.
Dr. Shah’s research interests include adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, early-onset scoliosis, complex spinal deformities, kyphosis, spondylolisthesis and other problems of the spine, minimally invasive techniques for surgery and cerebral palsy.
Angela Dorman Smith, MD is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children. She obtained her medical degree from Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta and completed her internship and residency at University Hospitals of Cleveland. Her fellowship training included muscle physiology research at Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, pediatric sports medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital and pediatric orthopedic surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto.
Dr. Smith is certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. She has held leadership roles with professional and scientific organizations, and was elected president of the American College of Sports Medicine. She has led the medical education committees of the ACSM and the International Federation of Sports Medicine. Dr. Smith also chaired the U.S. Figure Skating Association (USFSA) Sports Medicine Committee and currently serves on the medical advisory board for the American Ballet Theater in New York.
In addition, she currently serves on the editorial board as a reviewer for four major sports medicine journals and lectures nationally and internationally on sports medicine and exercise. Dr. Smith has provided team physician care for the World Figure Skating and World Junior Figure Skating teams. She is a USFSA double gold medalist and continues to skate as a Masters competitor. Her research interests include sports injury prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.
Mihir M. Thacker, MD is an orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children. He attended the Seth G. S. Medical College in Mumbai, India, and completed his orthopedic residency at the Lokmanya Tilak Municipal General Hospital in Mumbai. Dr. Thacker has had extensive subspecialty training through pediatric orthopedic fellowships at the National University Hospital in Singapore, Hospital for Joint Diseases/New York University in New York, and duPont Hospital for Children. He also completed a fellowship in musculoskeletal oncology at the Jackson Memorial Hospital/University of Miami.
Dr. Thacker performs limb salvage surgery for tumors, including using noninvasive expandable (growing) prostheses. He is also interested in hip disorders in children and performs complex hip reconstruction (including surgical hip dislocations and periacetabular osteotomies), treatment of complex congenital anomalies, correction of complex deformities, and limb lengthening.
Dr. Thacker is active in teaching medical students, residents, fellows and international visiting observers. He is invited to lecture nationally and internationally, and is a member of several societies including the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, Children’s Oncology Group, Musculoskeletal Tumor Society and Lower Limb Reconstruction Society. Dr. Thacker is actively involved in research and has authored more than 30 peer-reviewed publications and five book chapters, as well as presented at national and international scientific conferences.
Dr. Thacker has been selected by Delaware Today as one of the best surgeons in Delaware among both pediatric surgeons and surgical oncologists, and has been listed for years in Best Doctors in America. Most of his research has centered on bone and soft tissue tumors, as well as pediatric hip disorders, limb length/growth abnormalities and skeletal dysplasias. He also completed a study on Morquio syndrome for publication in the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics.
Jennifer M. Ty, MD is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon at duPont Hospital for Children. She attended Harvard University, where she graduated magna cum laude with highest honors in biology and anthropology. She went on to attend the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine, where she developed her interest in orthopedic surgery and graduated in 2000.
After medical school, Dr. Ty spent a research year at the National Institutes of Health. She subsequently attended the Harvard University Combined Orthopedic Surgery residency program and graduated in 2006. She completed her first orthopedic surgery fellowship in pediatric orthopedics at Boston Children’s Hospital and a fellowship in hand and microvascular surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.
Dr. Ty is a diplomate of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. She has a particular focus in pediatric hand and upper extremity disorders. Her research interests include congenital hand conditions, brachial plexus birth palsy and trauma of the upper extremity.
A type of spine brace that’s now used to treat scoliosis in kids everywhere, the Wilmington brace was designed right here at duPont Hospital for Children and is now used worldwide. In short, it’s a brace that’s designed specifically to fit each patient, using X-ray imaging of the spine. The brace is made of lightweight plastic and can be easily hidden under loose-fitting clothes.
The Gait Analysis Laboratory at duPont Hospital for Children was created in 1993 to provide the medical community with state-of-the-art, computer-assisted motion analysis of the complex movement patterns of patients. The lab develops an insightful, three-dimensional model of the patients pre- and post-treatment to determine changes in motion and improvement in function.
The experts at our Nemours Spine and Scoliosis Center participated in innovative collaborative research with others in the field of pediatric scoliosis that led to a simple test called the “ScoliScore Test,” used to figure out how mild or severe a patient’s scoliosis curve will be. Kids simply provide a saliva sample, which is then sent to a lab for processing. If the results show a mild curve, we may not need to do anything but observe the child’s progression over time. If the test shows a severe curve, we focus immediately on treatment options.
Our pediatric orthopedic research program continues to grow in both size and scope. Clinical questions drive our investigations and our research capabilities are of great benefit to all the children we see clinically.
At Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, the physicians in our department are involved with pediatric orthopedic research projects related to their specific interests. At any given time, we’re working on more than 100 research projects, including dozens of grant-funded studies each year.
We publish scores of manuscripts every year in peer-reviewed journals. Our physicians have been invited to present their clinical knowledge in pediatric orthopedics and research findings at major conferences around the world. Often, our orthopedic specialists are the keynote speakers at these conferences.
Every year, our Department of Orthopedics trains 3–4 research fellows, who often come from other countries to learn our advanced, in-the-field approach to conducting research. They complete a manuscript for publication and return home to share what they’ve learned about the Nemours way. These physicians then become leaders at their home institutions and spread word of our excellence near and far. Additionally, two PhD-trained researchers support the department.
Our entire team of physicians, researchers and associated health professionals are dedicated to finding cures and treatments for children with a variety of orthopedic conditions. Whenever possible, we collaborate with physicians and pediatric orthopedic researchers in other medical specialties to understand how a treatment affects a child.
Browse a listing of publications from Nemours researchers related to orthopedics research.
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