Animal Research Surgicenter -Bone Healing Research Lab/Iowa Spine Research Lab

The Bone Healing Research Lab at the University of Iowa was established in 1991 by James V.  Nepola, MD, J. Lawrence Marsh, MD, Orthopedic Surgery faculty members and Douglas C. Fredericks with a specific interest in therapies for musculoskeletal trauma. Their vision was to eventually create an institute where potential cures and interventions to treat patients with injuries and other musculoskeletal problems would be developed and tested.

At the time it was founded, the lab obtained a single research grant of $500,000 which was used to purchase equipment and fund contracted investigations. Initial investigations included projects evaluating the efficacy of external fixation and electricity in orthopedic medicine. That research produced two peer-reviewed publications in leading orthopedic journals. Over the years, the research efforts have evolved to include a broad spectrum of investigations in spine surgery and varied aspects of orthopedic trauma. With the addition of spine related research, the Iowa Spine Research Lab was integrated with the Bone Healing Research Lab.  Matthew Karam, MD and Michael Willey, MD joined the Bone Healing Research Lab and co-direct the trauma division of the lab.  Nicole Grosland, PhD, Engineering, heads the spine testing facility within the Bone Healing Research Lab /Iowa Spine Research Lab and conducts the mechanical testing of animal specimens associated with ongoing studies.

Collaboration with the medical industry has grown substantially commensurate with the increasing needs of translational research projects. The laboratory has grown from very basic project-specific capabilities to a start-to-finish medical innovation incubator - a point of research access offering a breadth of research products from investigational design consultation to full performance and completion of translational research including data collection and analysis.  

The number and scope of collaborations with industry partners in funding have also dramatically increased as has the national and international reputation of the lab among academic centers.  The lab is considered by many to be among the top 5 musculoskeletal translational laboratories in the United States and the singular facility with both Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care International and Laboratory “Best Practices” recognition. Presentations at multiple national and international scientific venues hallmark the “coming of age” of the Bone Healing Lab and the Iowa Spine Research Lab. 

The Bone Healing Lab, the Iowa Spine Research Lab, and the Animal Surgicenter continues to provide complete “in-house” research adjunctive service capabilities with specialization in large and small animal surgery, imaging, histology and mechanical testing of orthopedic specimens.  Our spinal and trauma biomechanics has expanded to include full-capability daily testing of in-house and externally funded projects directly related to on-going research initiatives.  Our facilities also have the ability to accommodate the biomechanical needs of outside laboratories. The labs’ state-of the-art histology capabilities including un-decalcified specimen preparation with special expertise in implant-bone and soft-tissue interface evaluation will continue to lead with expansion of its current accommodation of outside investigators’ histology needs. 

Lab Personnel

J. Lawrence Marsh, MD - Chair and DEO of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation
James Nepola, MD - Bone Healing Research Lab/Iowa Spine Research Lab Director
Matthew Karam, MD - Bone Healing Research Lab Co-Director
Michael Willey, MD - Bone Healing Research Lab Co-Director
Douglas Fredericks, - Bone Healing Research Lab and Iowa Spine Research Lab Co-Director), Animal Research Surgicenter Director, 
Emily Petersen - Bone Healing Research Lab, Iowa Spine Research Lab and Animal Research Surgicenter Head Veterinarian
Allison Malandra - Bone Healing Research Lab, Iowa Spine Research Lab and Animal Research Surgicenter Clinicial Veterinarian
Nicole Grosland, PhD - MIMX (Director) MIMX
Nicole Watson, MS, MIMX - Bone Healing Research Lab and Iowa Spine Research Lab Engineer MIMX

Biomedical Research Support Facility 
Oakdale Research Park 
Coralville, IA 52241