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Research Laboratory

Cleveland Clinic’s Spine Research Laboratory (SRL) at Lutheran Hospital, a Cleveland Clinic hospital, is dedicated to improving quality of life for people with back pain through research, innovation and education.

The Spine Research Lab strengthens the comprehensive spine program developed in recent years at Lutheran Hospital. The program is noted for medical and surgical spine care and inpatient rehabilitation. The addition of the lab intensifies a complementary focus on research and education. It provides Cleveland Clinic with a unique opportunity among academic spine research facilities and capitalizes on the special contributions of each clinical discipline, while creating intellectual synergies not otherwise possible.

The addition of the lab intensifies a complementary focus on research and education. It provides Cleveland Clinic with a unique opportunity among academic spine research facilities and capitalizes on the special contributions of each clinical discipline, while creating intellectual synergies not otherwise possible.

What is the Spine Research Laboratory used for?

The main biomechanics laboratory includes mechanical testing space and a wet laboratory for preparation. The remainder of the space is reserved for the following:

  • Future biopackaging site for BioMEMS technology
  • Spine-related tissue engineering laboratory
  • Cell culture facility; an osteobiologics laboratory
  • Biomaterials laboratory; and a soft-tissue biomechanics laboratory.

Separate laboratories closely linked with the Spine Research Laboratory feature equipment for electrophysiology and biomechanical studies, as well as BioMEMS facilities.

The Electronic, Prototype and Imaging Core facilities located in the Cleveland Clinic Lerner Research Institute are available to Spine Research Laboratory staff for the design and manufacture of custom prototypes needed for various electrical and mechanical testing procedures.

The Spine Research Lab hosts medical students, bioengineering students, residents and fellows from the departments of Neurosurgery and Orthopaedic Surgery, along with foreign research fellows from around the world. Time spent in the lab exposes these residents, fellows and graduate students to basic biomechanical and neurophysiological concepts related to spinal cord injury, disc degeneration and neuropathology through the use of our state-of-the-art facilities and equipment.

The overall goal of spine research personnel is to:

  • Investigate the factors that influence normal spine function along with the neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of the functional spinal unit.
  • Engineer and validate new strategies for improving segmental spinal instrumentation, fusion augmentation and grafting.
  • Develop new technologies for in vivo monitoring and measuring of biomechanical and physiological properties of the spinal environment through the application of BioMEMS (microelectromechanical systems) technology.
  • Develop and validate artificial disc technologies that preserve spinal motion.

These efforts are divided into six fundamental categories, including:

  • Biomechanics research
  • Neurophysiology research
  • Tissue engineering
  • Osteobiologics research
  • Motion preservation
  • BioMEMS technology.

Non-traditional projects are also underway in the fields of:

  • “Smart” materials
  • Artificial intervertebral discs and artificial muscles
  • Tissue engineering studies for spinal stability.

In recognition of its commitment to spinal care and research, the Spine Research Lab received a new, five-year grant from Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission. In its new home, the lab seeks to establish itself as a national leader in spinal innovation and to educate the next generation of spine researchers and clinicians.

For further information about research educational opportunities in Cleveland Clinic’s Spine Research Laboratory, please call 216.363.5741.