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Dr. Amiethab A. Aiyer Receives Grant to Study Prevention of Arthritis in the Ankle

In hopes of finding new ways to potentially prevent the debilitating effects of arthritis in different regions of the ankle, Amiethab A. Aiyer, M.D., chief of the Foot & Ankle Service and assistant professor in the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Division of Orthopaedic Surgery, recently received a prestigious research grant from the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS).

Amiethab A. Aiyer, M.D., demonstrates proper ankle wrapping to a group of medical students.

Aiyer received a 2017 AOFAS Small Project Research Grant from the society, which has been awarding grants to members for the past 20 years with support from the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation.

Aiyer, who focuses on the treatment of foot and ankle disorders, said being selected was a “humbling experience.”

“I was excited to know that some of the brightest minds in our field, including people I look up to, respect my work and ideas,” Aiyer said. “For them to acknowledge the idea with a grant is a big honor.”

Aiyer’s grant proposal, “Regional Epigenetic Responses of a Human Talar Cartilage to Impact Injury: An Investigation into Mechanisms of Post Traumatic Ankle Arthritis,” is focused on better understanding the mechanism of impact injury on changes to the ankle cartilage and the subsequent development of arthritis.

Through this work, he and his team hope to identify the types of injuries that increase susceptibility for early onset of arthritis, and how best to detect and treat it.

“I’m hoping that my understanding of how the talar cartilage has evolved and how it responds to stress in different regions of the ankle will ultimately tell me what treatment options will prevent long-term debilitating arthritic change,” said Aiyer, who joined the Miller School faculty in 2015.

Aiyer says that researchers have long studied ankle arthritis and why it develops, but understanding what the mechanisms are from a basic science level is a more recent development that only a handful of researchers and clinicians are exploring.

He says the most unusual aspect of his project will be attempting to identify how the regional topography of talar cartilage affects development of arthritis in response to injury.

“AOFAS has made a wise investment in Dr. Aiyer and his research,” said Frank J. Eismont, M.D., chair of the Department of Orthopaedics, Leonard M. Miller Professor, George and Marla Bergmann Endowed Chair in Orthopaedics, chief of the Orthopaedic Spine Service, and director of the Spine Fellowship Program. “He’s an outstanding young scientist, developing innovative approaches in the field of foot and ankle studies that will improve the patient experience for our community.”

Aiyer earned his medical degree at Drexel University College of Medicine and completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at the Penn State-Hershey Medical Center.

He went on to complete a research and clinical fellowship at the Institute for Foot and Ankle Reconstruction at Mercy Hospital in Baltimore.

Aiyer is hoping this project generates enough data to facilitate applications for additional grants.

His research colleagues include orthopaedics residents Spencer Summers, M.D., and Hayley Ennis, M.D.; Chun-Yuh C. Huang, Ph.D., associate professor in the UM College of Engineering’s Biomedical Engineering Department; and orthopaedic surgeons Jonathan R.M. Kaplan, M.D., at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif., and Anish R. Kadakia, M.D., at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine.
To learn more about the Research Grants Program and access the online application portal, visit http://www.aofas.org/research/Pages/Research-Grants.aspx.

Tags: Amiethab A. Aiyer, Miller School of Medicine, Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Foundation, Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, Orthopaedic surgery, Small Project Research Grant, University of Miami