By Cristina D’Imperio

Nam Vo, PhDNam Viet Vo, PhD (pictured right), McGowan affiliated faculty, is part of the founding leadership team of the new Orland Bethel Family Musculoskeletal Research Center (BMRC).

Dr. Vo is tenured Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Deputy Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh and holds joint appointments in the Department of Pathology, Clinical and Translational Science Institute, and University of Pittsburgh/UPMC Aging Institute.

The new Bethel Family Musculoskeletal Research Center is the result of a $25 million gift from the Orland Bethel Family Foundation and a matching $25 million co-investment from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Picture of Orland BethelOrland Bethel (pictured left), 87, is the founder of Hillandale Farms, one of the U.S.’s largest egg suppliers. Mr. Bethel suffered from chronic, debilitating spinal pain, and after consulting numerous surgeons, ultimately sought help from Joon Y. Lee, MD, a specialist in spinal surgery and the new founding directing of the BMRC. Mr. Bethel’s surgery and treatment were successful, resulting in greater mobility and function and well as significantly reduced pain.

Mr. Bethel told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that now, nearly a decade after his surgery, he has “no problems” with his back and has even returned to playing golf.

“I know how the University of Pittsburgh and UPMC changed my life and can only imagine how the lives of others — worse off than I was — will be improved thanks to the ongoing research at this new center,” said Mr. Bethel. “My family and I are pleased to offer our support to the spectacular work of Dr. Joon Lee and the other surgeons, physicians, and researchers within the department […] through the creation of the Orland Bethel Family Musculoskeletal Research Center.”

The center is anticipated to open in 2024 and will host a variety of initiatives, including the BMRC Core Laboratories, Bethel Research Fellow, and an annual conference. Some of the goals of the BMRC are to elevate orthopaedic work and innovate applicable treatments, including understanding molecular, genetic and biological mechanisms in spine-related diseases; understanding the influence of gender and age on disease and recovery from musculoskeletal disorders; developing therapies for osteoarthritis; and applying machine learning algorithms for orthopaedic issues.

BMRC LogoThe McGowan Institute, alongside the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in the School of Medicine; the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; the Department of Bioengineering in the Swanson School of Engineering; and the Pittsburgh Center for Pain Research will work together as collaborators in the new BMRC.

“This generous gift is nothing short of transformative. This investment will have both immediate and generational impact. With the help of Mr. Bethel and his family, we can work to immediately change how we approach the big questions, improve cross campus collaboration and allow creativity to solve musculoskeletal problems ‘outside-the-box,’” Dr. Lee said. “The influence of this gift will be felt across the entire system — from young medical school students, through accomplished researchers, on to improvements in patient care.”

Read the full article on PittWire here.

Find the story at the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette, CBS News Pittsburgh, TribLive, Pittsburgh Business Times, and Philanthropy News Digest.

Visit the BMRC here.