Orthopaedic Residency Research Program

The residency training program for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery requires a thesis project to be completed by each trainee as a condition of graduation. The goal of this project is two-fold:

  1. To make a meaningful contribution to the orthopedic literature and advance the knowledge base of orthopedic surgery.
  2. To develop and apply critical thinking and analysis skills to allow residents to become better consumers of scientific research articles. The department hopes to accomplish this by providing residents the necessary education and training in experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis and manuscript preparation. It is expected that successful completion of this aspect of the training will result in a manuscript suitable for publication in the peer reviewed literature. 

To facilitate accomplishment of this goal, a resident research curriculum has been devised, with semi-annual lectures on relevant research topics. Deliverables will be expected at defined points throughout residency training to ensure sufficient time to complete a meaningful research project. Resources, including access to software, lab equipment, clinical research tools, statistical support and mentoring will be made available through the department and the Orthopedic Clinical Research Center (OCRC). A timeline of expected milestones and deliverables is listed below.

Milestones and Deliverables

PGY-1 Year

Residents are expected to identify a mentor and potential project by end of the year and complete initial training for human subjects research. Specific Aims Page will be discussed during the Intern Skills research session, with a final product due by December 1 of PGY-2 year.

Deliverable/Due Date 
Identify mentor and project idea by end of Intern year and complete OCRC onboarding process. 

PGY-2 Year

Residents will have a dedicated 6 week block of time to begin designing their research project and create a grant proposal to fund their project. A database of potential funding sources and grant mechanisms can be found here. During the research block, the resident will meet with Susan Thapa, PhD, to assist with experimental design and power analysis in anticipation of the grant submission. Residents will be expected to give a 20-30 minute talk presenting their grant proposal to the resident research committee. IRB or IACUC approval should be applied for and obtained during this time. Residents should work closely with the business office to ensure adequate time for internal grant review. 

Deliverable/Due Date 

  • Specific Aims Page: December 1
  • Powerpoint presentation to Resident Research Committee: End of research block
  • Resident grant application to external funding source: Due date varies, but must be submitted during PGY-2 year
  • IRB/IACUC approval: End of year

PGY-3 Year 

Residents should have IRB/IACUC approvals completed and data collection should begin. The majority of data should be collected during this time period, with exceptions made for final follow-up in studies with prolonged outcome measures.  

Deliverable/Due Date 
Initiate and complete majority of data collection 

PGY-4 Year

Residents will finalize data collection during the first half of the year and perform analysis of the data.  Each resident will be expected to meet with Susan Thapa, PhD, to assist with statistical analysis. Abstracts detailing findings should be submitted to specialty and sub-specialty conferences. A powerpoint presentation will be given to the Resident Research Committee detailing the resident’s progress in completion of the thesis. The majority of the manuscript should be written by the end of this year.

Deliverable/Due Date 
Powerpoint presentation to Resident Research Committee: End of research block

PGY-5 Year

Completed manuscripts are due to the Resident Research Program Director by December 15. It is expected that manuscripts will be submitted for publication by the end of December. A capstone powerpoint presentation of the thesis and relevant findings will be given at the resident’s graduation.

Deliverable/Due Date 
Final manuscript submission: December 15
Final powerpoint presentation of thesis: June 

Dedicated Research Year

One resident from each class may choose to spend an additional optional capstone year after their chief year to further investigate a topic of their choice.  Selection for this is done through a competitive award involving proposal of a specific research question.  It is anticipated that completion of this year will facilitate a career in academic orthopedic surgery and assist in competing for career development awards. 

Resident Research Curriculum

Each year, residents will have semi-annual meetings with experienced faculty to discuss relevant topics in more detail and assist them with completion of their thesis project. Residents will be excused from clinical duty to ensure their participation at these meetings.

Fall Meeting Topic: Research Fundamentals, Introduction to the OCRC and Developing and Exploring a Clinical Question

Fall Meeting Topic: How to Write a Specific Aims Page
Spring Meeting Topic: Show Me the Money - Grant Writing Tips

Fall Meeting Topic: A Practical Guide to Designing Your Biomechanics Study
Spring Meeting Topic: Analyzing Your Data - Where to Begin

Fall Meeting Topic: Advanced Statistical Methods – What You Need to Know
Spring Meeting Topic: Publish or Perish – How to Write an Impactful Manuscript

Fall Meeting Topic: Translational Research - Tips and Tricks for Leveraging Surgical Opportunities
Spring Meeting Topic: Presentation of Thesis at Graduation

Topics/Faculty (Assigned faculty subject to change):


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