Mission, Goals and History​

ARI group photo, November 2016AO Research Institute Davos, November 2016


The AO Foundation's mission is promoting excellence in patient care and outcomes in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

AO Research Institute Davos (ARI)
In its work to further the AO Foundation's mission, ARI's purpose is to advance patient care through innovative orthopedic research and development.

Orthopedics concerns musculoskeletal, spine and cranio-maxillo-facial trauma, degenerative musculoskeletal diseases, infections, and congenital disorders.


  • Contribute high quality applied Preclinical Research and Development (exploratory and translational) focused towards clinical applications/solutions.
  • Investigate and improve the performance of surgical procedures, devices and substances.
  • Foster a close relationship with the AO medical community, academic societies, and universities.
  • Provide research environment / support for AO clinicians.


All ARI projects are Applied Preclinical Research or Applied Preclinical Development projects focused towards clinical applications. Definitions (within the applied research):

  1. Exploratory Applied Preclinical Research is fundamental research, to solve major clinical problems over a extended timeframe (over 10 years).
  2. Translational Applied Preclinical research aims at developing a clinical applicable result in around 5 years and builds upon the fundamental applied preclinical research. This research is usually not possible without the previous fundamental applied preclinical research.


2009 to present

Since September 2009, Prof. Dr. R. Geoff Richards has been director of the AO Research Institute Davos (ARI). Prof. Richards's first task was the integration of AO Development Institute into the ARI which was completed in 2009. Prof. Richards intended from the start to strengthen collaborations with the AO surgeon network and clinical divisions, along with stronger academic connections to international universities and societies. To the first intention he initiated an immediate restart of Medical Research Fellowships with 6-12 months stay at the Institute, where the basics of running a scientific project are taught through active participation within an ongoing project with medical and veterinary Fellows coming from all over the world. To the second intention he initiated that ARI will teach Trauma within the upcoming masters course (in 2014) at the new Health Sciences and Technology faculty of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) Zurich and also by registering ARI PhD students through world class universities.

Prof Richards has reinforced the academic credibility of the AO Foundation through continuation in improvement in quality of ARI publications (maintaining the impact factor in the higher level of the musculoskeletal field), by acquirement of national and high level international grants, running of the true open access eCM journal (which is number one within trauma research having an impact factor of over 5 and more than 17,000 registered readers). In addition, the ARI team is at the forefront of high quality international conferences (such as ORS and TERMIS), editorial boards and societies by bringing ARI team members into national and international society committees, chairing positions at major conferences, holding keynote lectures along with organizing important scientific conferences such as the yearly eCM conference, EORS (2010), ESB (2009).

Some milestones since 2009

2009–2013: Acquisition of between 2.5 million-3 million in extramural funds each year for the AO Research Institute, doubling of previous acquisition amounts and three time more than acquisition prior to 2007. Overall steady improvement in publication impact factor between 2.4 and 3.0.

2013: The AO Research Institute Davos is proud to announce the full accreditation of the Preclinical Facility by AAALAC in March 2013 completing a two year application process. AAALAC International stands for the "Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care" and is a private, nonprofit organization that promotes the humane treatment of animals in science through voluntary accreditation and assessment programs. (http://www.aaalac.org/). Prof. Geoff Richards was elected member at Large TERMIS-Europe & European representative of the world council Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). Prof. Geoff Richards was elected member of executive committee of Wissenstadt Davos (Science City Davos) and member of executive committee of Academia Raetica (umbrella organization for the most highly qualified research institutes and the different clinics within the Canton of Grisons and its closer geographical regions). Dr Stoddart was appointed for a three-year term as a member of the Basic Science Education Committee (BSEC) of the Orthopeadic Research Society (ORS).

2012: Prof. Geoff Richards was awarded Fellow, Biomaterials Science and Engineering (FBSE) at the recent 9th World Biomaterials Congress in Chengdu, China. This prestigious honor recognizes scientists who have gained excellent professional standing and high achievements in the field of biomaterials science and engineering. Dr. David Eglin was elected as executive member of the SSB (Swiss Society for Biomaterials). Dr. Fintan Moriarty was the main editor of a recently published book: Biomaterials Associated Infection: Immunological Aspects and Antimicrobial Strategies. Dr. Sibylle Grad was designated as a co-organizer of the Research Interest Group (RIG) "The Spine Research Community" at the ORS (Orthopaedic Research Society).

2011: Prof Richards was proud to have his 20th year anniversary of employment at the ARI and noted in the annual report "In January 2011, twelve leading MIT researchers in USA noted in a white paper that convergence of disciplines is the future of medical research to give revolutionary advances in biomedicine. Convergence involves the merger of life, physical and engineering sciences — to foster the innovation necessary to meet the growing demand for accessible, affordable health care. The AO Research Institute Davos has been practicing convergence since 1959, working together on clinical problems through focused project goals with a multidisciplinary motivated research team of scientists, engineers, clinicians and veterinarians helping the revolution that the AO Foundation has brought to achieve more effective patient care worldwide. It is likely the credit of this idea will not be attributed to ARI though, as often happens with ideas from here". The Research technology part of the ARI Innovations group formed the company RISystem AG (AO Technology AG (49%) and Romano Matthys (51%)), the third spin off from AO (former spin off's including Synbone and Synthes). The other very successful focus area "Skill training technology“ with two core projects the "PlayGround for trauma surgeons“ and the "Oskit“ (a reusable fracture fixation learning box based on the Müller Classification) were handed over in the value chain to AO Education. The Playground (now known as Skill training technology) has become extremely successful within the AO Education Institute's armory of education tools. Prof Richards was appointed chair of the Infection & Inflammation Topic Committee, ORS (Orthopedic Research Society) in January 2011 and in September also an executive committee member for EORS (European Orthopedic Research Society). He also co-organized a Basic Science Focus Forum session again at the 2011 Orthopedic Trauma Association (OTA) annual conference in San Antonio, Texas in October. In April 2011, Prof. Alini was elected as President of The Swiss Bone and Mineral Society. He serves as a member of the Award Committee for The GRAMMER European Spine Journal Award. 2010: The start and completion of the ARI's new preclinical facility complete with 2 surgical suites and preparation rooms, clinical and research CT suite and offices for the team.

The ARI Playground (now AO's Skill Training Technology) was implemented in several Davos courses- Swiss residents, vet equine and small animal along with ORP. The Playground won the TK Innovation Prize for 2010. ARI's OSKIT (for home practice) was also tested for the first time at AO courses. 2010 was the tenth anniversary of establishing the eCM open access journal. The ARI, along with the managing editors, scientific editors and reviewers can be proud to celebrate, in such a young journal, the release in June 2010 of the 2009 Impact Factor of 5.378, making this the number one rated journal in the area of trauma research. Hansrudi Noser was awarded professorship at University of Zurich. Prof. Alini was elected a member of the European Council of the Tissue Engineering Regenerative Medicine International Society (TERMIS). The AO Research Institute Davos was honored to host the 18th conference of the European Orthopaedic Research Society (EORS) which took place in Davos, Switzerland, from 30th of June – 2nd of July 2010.

2009: Prof Mauro Alini became a board member of the membership committee of the Orthopedic Research Society. Prof Geoff Richards was president of the Swiss Society for Biomaterials. Prof Richards co-organized ESB2009 (Biomaterials) attaining the highest number of submissions until that time 1044 and the highest attendee record 1201. eCM, ARI's true open access (free world-wide) research journal received its first impact factor of 4.289 putting it straight in at the top of the musculoskeletal field.


  • Gregor Strasser CEO ai Director until 31.08.2008.
  • Marcel Dissel CEO ai Director until 31.08.2009.
  • In January 2009 the AO Development Institute was integrated into the AO Research Institute Davos.


Under the directorship of Prof. Erich Schneider, problem-oriented research groups addressed a broad range of fundamental and clinical research questions in a multidisciplinary approach. New focus areas were found in the field of in fracture fixation of the osteoporotic skeleton, or in the enhancement of bone defect regeneration using a combined approach in which conventional load-bearing fixation devices are supplemented by biodegradable scaffolds. The staff of the Institute included specialists in various disciplines of surgery, dentistry, materials science, biomechanics, biomedical engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and veterinary medicine. New projects were developed by the research groups on their own and jointly with the AO Development Institute, with AO surgeons and their collaborators, and with the industrial partners. Additionally, the ARI made its services as an independent contract research laboratory available to the international implant development, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries as well as to interested academic departments throughout the world.


Under the interim directorship of Wilson C. Hayes a reviewing of the historically grown functions of the institute was undertaken, and a restructuring process was initiated in order to prepare the institution for its tasks of the future.


Stephan Perren shifted the research emphasis towards the area of bone biomechanics. Main focus was placed on the interaction of mechanical and biological influences on bone formation, remodelling, and healing. During this period major progress was made in respect to the biology of internal fracture fixation, whereby new implants, like plates with limited contact, or even without contact to the underlying bone, and tissue-friendly surgical procedures were developed. This period additionally included the creation of a development group responsible for the transfer of research achievements towards practical applications. 1992 the "Labor für experimentelle Chirurgie Davos" (LECD - Laboratory for Experimental Surgery Davos)​ moved from the centre of the town to a custom built AO Center on the outskirts of Davos, and its name was changed to AO Research Institute.


Under Herbert Fleisch the work of the institute concentrated primarily on various aspects of bone formation and the inhibition of bone resorption by bisphosphonates.


In its beginnings the institute was directed by Martin Allgöwer, and it dealt mainly with research into polytrauma, in particular shock, the pathophysiology of burns and the histology of wound repair.


On June 22, 1959, the "Labor für experimentelle Chirurgie Davos" (LECD - Laboratory for Experimental Surgery Davos) was established as a non-profit institution by the founding members of the Association for the Study of Internal Fixation – Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (AO). LECD, now AO Research Institute Davos was established as a foundation with appropriate statues and bylaws.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​