For more than two generations, The Peabody Foundation has helped kids walk, run, bike and live life to the fullest by supporting the MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC) Orthopedics Service. Its chief, Brian Grottkau, MD, says this funding has been a “game-changer.”
The Ripple Effect
A turning point occurred in 2005 when The Peabody Foundation’s funds helped launch a new pediatric orthopedic fellowship in the department. Since then, The Peabody Foundation has supported 15 fellows who have completed the postgraduate training. Gleeson Rebello, MD, the first Peabody fellow, is currently on staff at Mass General.
While some fellows have gone to practice in underserved areas such as Mississippi, others returned to their homes in places like India where pediatric surgery is a relatively new concept.
“We don’t receive revenue for fellows, so without The Peabody Foundation’s support, we could not afford the fellowship.”
“Over the years, the fellowship has expanded its reach, creating a ripple effect that helps kids in areas where pediatric surgeons are scarce,” says Dr. Grottkau. “The Peabody’s Foundation’s funding is profound. We don’t receive revenue for fellows, so without the foundation’s support, we could not afford the fellowship.”
During the pandemic, the fellowship paused, yet alumni continued to connect and share knowledge virtually. In February 2021, the department welcomed Bharati Kalyani, MD, who is dedicated to meeting the needs of underserved populations. She previously ran her own practice in New Mexico and has worked with Médecins Sans Frontiéres (Doctors Without Borders) in Syria, Yemen and Nigeria. In July, Giovanna Medina, MD, from Philadelphia, will become the division’s 2021–2022 fellow.
The fellows have opportunities to learn about all aspects of pediatric orthopedics. Common conditions of MGHfC patients include scoliosis, trauma, osteochondritis dessicans lesions (a painful joint condition) and many orthopedic syndromes.
Caring for kids in the community is also part of the division’s mission. “We try to get out in the community and help kids where they are,” Dr. Grottkau says. As part of that effort, he treats patients with multiple physical disabilities at the Pappas Rehabilitation Hospital in Canton, Massachusetts.
Not Just Science Fiction: 3D Bioprinting
Research is another passion of Dr. Grottkau’s, and The Peabody Foundation’s support helps make it possible to do what he calls “disruptive technology.”
“Early on,” he explains, “you would have called it a tissue engineering lab — now we’re doing 3D bioprinting, which is pretty unique in orthopedics. Our goal is to develop minimally invasive therapies to treat orthopedic conditions in kids.”
Disease, injury or even normal wear and tear can result in a loss of cartilage. Current treatment options are not ideal. And left untreated, this kind of damage could lead to early arthritis. Thanks to funding, largely from The Peabody Foundation, Dr. Grottkau’s team is developing technology that injects microtissues with the same mechanical properties of healthy cartilage.
“We have such great respect for MGHfC and Dr. Grottkau’s work aligns closely with our mission to transform the lives of children with physical disabilities.”
The idea is to regrow, instead of having to repair and replace. The hope is that metal and plastic joints will no longer be needed, he says. Dr. Grottkau’s next step is to seek funding for testing in animal models. Ultimately, his goal is to help children and young adults around the world. His vision includes printing and shipping tissues on demand, a process his team has already studied in the lab with successful results.
When asked about other projects seeded by The Peabody Foundation, Dr. Grottkau enthusiastically describes several promising studies, from printed bone tissue to cell migration.
“We have such great respect for MassGeneral Hospital for Children,” says Joseph C. Donnelly Jr., president of The Peabody Foundation, “and Dr. Grottkau’s work aligns closely with our mission to transform the lives of children with physical disabilities. We look forward to seeing what they come up with next.”
To support Dr. Grottkau and pediatric orthopedics at MassGeneral Hospital for Children, please contact us.