Success of former AO Research Institute Davos fellow
11 January 2016
Past AO Research Institute Davos (ARI) medical research fellow, Dr. Willem-Jan Metsemakers, recently received his PhD in Biomedical Sciences on the topic of "Long bone fractures in (poly)trauma patients: risk analyses of musculoskeletal complications and strategies to prevent them" from the Catholic University Leuven, Belgium. AO Research Institute Davos Director, Professor R. Geoff Richards, served as thesis co-promoter (pictured). Thesis promoter was Professor Dr. Stefaan Nijs, Chairman of the Department of Trauma Surgery, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium.
Willem-Jan is currently a trauma surgeon at the Department of Trauma Surgery, University Hospitals Leuven, Belgium. He has a specific interest in implant-related infection and compromised fracture healing. In 2014, he was accepted into the medical research fellowship program at the AO Research Institute Davos for six months. During his fellowship, Willem-Jan worked within the Musculoskeletal Infection Group on experimental models of implant-related infection and novel anti-infective implant coatings. This preclinical research was complimented by his clinical studies that focused on complications after intramedullary nailing performed in the Department of Trauma Surgery, University Hospitals Leuven.
Following his period in the AO Research Institute Davos, he became a surgical fellow at the Department of Septic and Reconstructive Surgery, Trauma Centre Murnau, Germany. With help of an additional AO Trauma grant, supported by AO Trauma CPP Bone Infection principal investigator Prof. Dr. Stephen Kates, Willem-Jan worked the septic surgery unit at the Trauma Centre Murnau. During this fellowship, he was exposed to the treatment of complications following musculoskeletal trauma surgery, including compromised fracture healing and implant-related infection, as is currently done at other specialist centers. This exposure offered a valuable clinical perspective to his time away from his home clinic, where he will now assume responsibility for the management of such cases.
During his fellowships, Willem-Jan attended multiple international meetings, where he presented his scientific work. This included the European Bone and Joint Infection society (EBJIS) meeting in Lisbon, Portugal, where his work was selected as one of the top ten abstracts of the meeting. He also joined the AO Clinical Priority Program (CPP) Meetings in Rochester, USA (pictured) and Zürich, Switzerland.
This example shows that the AO fellowship programs may not only expose young surgeons to preclinical and basic research, but will also contribute towards post-graduate qualifications for those willing to commit to the completion of a PhD. Furthermore, clinical fellowships not only increase knowledge regarding the treatment and outcome of musculoskeletal trauma patients. They also create an international network by which experiences can be exchanged and patient outcomes improved.