University of Michigan Hosts First Unifying FOP and Traumatic HO Symposium

University of Michigan Hosts First Unifying FOP and Traumatic HO Symposium

On September 14, Dr. Ben Levi, University of Michigan, hosted the first Unifying FOP and Traumatic HO Symposium,

bringing together research and clinical experts in FOP and trauma-induced heterotopic ossification.

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AbstractScientific ReportAbstract

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Team Science

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Heterotopic ossification (HO) following amputation, musculoskeletal injuries, burns, deep surgeries, and trauma severely debilitates patients by restricting range of motion and causing pain. Burn injuries cost over $500 million annually and hip replacements cost over $5 billion dollars. Beyond these initial expenses, HO leads to hospital admissions and secondary operations incurring significant costs. Insights from related hyper-proliferative disorders such as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP) and explorations down associated pathways have uncovered agents in HO pathways.


Some implicated molecules after burn injury induced inflammation include BMP-2, BMP-4, and TGF-beta. Uncovered agents like these pose potential candidates for more efficient, targeted interventions. Patients with HO often require surgical excision, and currently trialed drugs such as NSAIDs or bisphosphonates are not tolerated by all patients, have limited efficacy, and do not target the mechanism responsible for HO. With a dedicated team-based approach, the BWR laboratory is elucidating the mechanistic pathways involved in HO and developing novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies to improve the current treatment paradigm of this destructive process.

Our Laboratory

The Burn/Trauma and Regenerative Medicine laboratory (Directed by Dr. Benjamin Levi) is located in the Medical School Research Building #2 on the University of Michigan Medical Campus. On the same floor, the laboratory offices for both Dr. Levi and lab members can be found in the corners of the research building. The BWR Lab attends to an extensive scope and associated techniques and relies on invaluable, nearby resources such as:

  • Extra Facilities

    We also have a 500 square foot animal surgery room adjacent to our laboratory.  Additionally, we are less than 100 yards away from the Morphomics core where we are able to perform high throughput image analysis.

  • Collaboration Spaces

    The lab shares the building with the Vector/Gene Therapy Core, Transgenic Animal Core, DNA sequencing Core, DNA Synthesis Core and the central animal facility. Additionally, we are also near imaging cores for MicroCT, MicroMRI, and IVIS imaging.

  • Lab Capacities

    The lab is outfitted to facilitate experiments and research with tissue cultures, small animal surgeries, and molecular biology.

About Us

As burn and general reconstructive surgeons, we see and  treat the problems of heterotopic ossification first-hand and  believe current diagnostic and treatment strategies are  inadequate. We hope that the research we perform will allow us to improve treatment of burn and trauma induced heterotopic ossification. Furthermore, we hope to be able to translate these findings to other causes of heterotopic ossification such as fibrodysplasia ossificans progressive, progressive osseous hyperplasia and spinal cord injury induced disease.
  • Teamwork

    The group exhibits multiple levels of academic training from doctors, professional scientists, medical students, and undergraduates facilitating opportunities for collaboration and team-driven science.

  • Teaching

    With the great academic diversity in the laboratory, teaching is a pivotal component of the group. Through direct mentorship, our laboratory has seen rigorous scientific training opportunities through Howard Hughes Medical Institute Interships, University of Michigan Medical School Summer Biomedical Research Programs, and longitudinal experiences through academic semesters.

  • Collaboration

    We currently collaborate extensively with  investigators across campus at the University of Michigan, particularly in the Departments of Surgery, Orthopedic Surgery, Biologic and Material Sciences, Pathology and Chemistry with the goal of improving the care of patients who suffer from this challenging disease process. Additionally we collaborate with laboratories off-campus at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Dental School and Naval Medical Research Laboratory.

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