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Marquette researcher receives grant to educate and treat patients with brittle bone disease

The research will consist of two clinical projects.

By - Aug 7th, 2015 10:24 am

MILWAUKEE – Dr. Gerald Harris, professor of biomedical engineering and director of the Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Engineering Center (OREC) at Marquette, received a $500,000, five-year grant from the National Institutes of Health. The award is part of the Brittle Bone Disorders Consortium of the Rare Disease Clinical Research Network, which is working to advance knowledge and treatment of children and adults with all genetic forms of brittle bone disease.

Scholars are researching more than 13 genetic conditions that contribute to the Osteogenesis Imperfecta phenotype, also known as “brittle bone disease,” which is a genetic bone disorder that often results in fractures. A collection of associated non-skeletal symptoms that include dental, respiratory and cardiac problems, also make up the condition.

The research will consist of two clinical projects. The first is a longitudinal study of OI focused on correlating genotype to phenotype, the natural history of vertebral fractures, scoliosis in severe OI, pregnancy in OI and craniofacial/dental features in severe OI. The second project will test different treatment doses against one another to determine which is most effective.

Harris, with co-partner Dr. Peter Smith from Shriners Hospital for Children in Chicago and the Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation (OIF), will help establish the Brittle Bones Disorders Rare Disease Clinical Research Consortium, which comprises eight sites in the U.S. and Canada.

The Osteogenesis Imperfecta Foundation will establish a fellowship for clinical research training, a clinical bone research training workshop and develop a web-based “tool box” for primary health care providers to extend knowledge to their patients.

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