Research Programs

OHSU’s Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation research programs emphasize research that can go from the lab to the clinic and general population. Our basic science, clinical trials and epidemiologic research advances knowledge about biologic and genetic mechanisms of disease, engineering for skeletal tissue repair and regeneration, long-term patient outcomes and prevention of musculoskeletal diseases.

Basic science

Our basic research laboratories focus on musculoskeletal biology and biomechanics. We conduct research on stem cell biology, tissue engineering, molecular genetics, extracellular matrix biochemistry and biomechanical testing for novel orthopaedic implants. In addition, we conduct developmental genetics research, focusing on the molecular mechanisms regulating limb and genitourinary development.

Basic Research Collaboration
We collaborate with Ronen Schweitzer, Ph.D., interim director of research at Shriners Children’s Portland, on basic research related to musculoskeletal conditions. You can learn more about Dr. Schweitzer’s research focus here.

Clinical trials

Our clinical trials benefit patients by making discoveries that may lead to new treatments, devices or rehabilitation programs. Our clinical research focuses on understanding the biology of musculoskeletal diseases, creating the best outcomes for patients and evaluating new treatments.


Our epidemiology research benefits public health by defining the natural history of musculoskeletal disorders, identifying risk factors that can be reduced with treatment or lifestyle changes and discovering mechanisms of disease.

Our department focuses on risk factors for osteoporotic fractures and orthopaedic spine conditions associated with low back pain. Our epidemiologic research involves epidemiologic methods and statistical analysis. We also design investigations of biologic mechanisms and clinical relevance.

Research manager

Rebecca Smith

Rebecca Smith: Research Manager

Rebecca coordinates all aspects of department research from industry-sponsored projects to investigator-initiated trials.

Research staff

Our research assistants support research across a variety of orthopaedic subspecialties. Their work contributes to the advancement of orthopaedic knowledge and to the sharing of these learnings through publication of the research.

Jessica Ballin

Jessica Ballin: Senior T.I. Clinical Research Associate

Jessica focuses on Sports Medicine trials bringing innovative devices to market.

Hannah Hoffman

Hannah Hoffman: T.I. Clinical Research Associate

Hannah leads the charge for both the Joints and Tumors teams, managing a diverse range of studies,  from large industry-driven trials to investigator-initiated studies and post-market safety evaluations.

Talia Trepalis

Talia Trapalis: T.I. Clinical Research Associate

Talia tackles trials in the Trauma subspecialty, including industry-sponsored studies and investigator-initiated interventional trials.

Spencer Smith

Spencer Smith: Clinical Research Associate

Spencer collaborates with the Spine team on various retrospective investigator-initiated trials. Additionally, he provides invaluable data and statistical expertise to the entire research team.

Steven Shelofsky

Steven Shelofsky: Clinical Research Assistant 2

Steven supports all research missions for our Joints and Tumors teams.

Zewdi Cass

Zewdi Cass: Clinical Research Assistant 2

Zewdi manages multi-center trials, investigator-initiated studies, and residency training programs in microsurgical techniques for the Pediatric, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and Upper Extremity teams.

Albert Yim

Albert Yim: Clinical Research Assistant 2

Albert conducts both investigator-initiated and industry-sponsored clinical research for the Sports Medicine  and Foot and Ankle teams.

Chris Nickelberry

Chris Nickelberry: Student Worker

Chris contributes in many aspects of clinical research from helping patients complete surveys, to entering data, to assisting professors with data abstraction.

Contact us

Brian Johnstone, Ph.D.
Director of Research
Johnstone Lab

Rebecca Smith
Research Manager