Alumnus funds new student research award
Second-year medical student Paul Eichenseer first to
receive orthopaedic research award
Piotrowicz and Anita Martin
Dec. 7, 2009
The Office of Medical Development announces the
establishment of the Sybert Family Orthopaedic
Research Award. The award, which provides up to
$5,000 to an OU-COM student each year, is designed
to promote osteopathic student research in the field
Funding for the award was provided by Daryl
Sybert, D.O. (’86), FAOAO, clinical associate
professor of orthopedic surgery at the Mt. Carmel
New Albany Surgery Hospital.
Paul Eichenseer, OMS II,
is the award’s first recipient this year. Eichenseer
conducts research on spino-pelvic biomechanics with
a particular interest in sacroiliac joint mechanics.
He is mentored by Sybert as well as John Cotton,
Ph.D., of the Russ College of Engineering and
“Paul’s very independent. He developed the
intellectual input,” said Brian Clark, Ph.D.,
assistant professor of neuromuscular biology. “He’s
not just assisting in some technical way; he’s
driving this project like a faculty member or a
Eichenseer received his bachelor’s degree in
biophysics from Johns Hopkins University in 2006,
and he worked as a research associate at the Ohio
State University prior to beginning osteopathic
medical school at OU-COM. His research focuses on
the sacroiliac joint, a historically under-studied
joint between the sacrum and the pelvis.
“We’re looking at stresses in the pelvis and in the
spine, and how stresses are transmitted from the
upper part of the body down through the spine and
pelvis to the lower extremity,” Eichenseer said.
“How do those stresses affect the ligaments and
other soft tissues at the spinal-pelvic junction,
and how might that manifest as low back pain?”
Eichenseer and Sybert conducted research in OU-COM’s
gross anatomy lab to digitally recreate a virtual
spine and pelvis using a method called finite
“Finite element analysis breaks the model into
500,000 small pieces [to which] I can apply whatever
loads [of pressure] I want,” Eichenseer explained.
“It’s like a massive calculator: it calculates the
displacements, the stresses and the strains at any
point in my model.”
Although finite element analysis is a somewhat
common, field-tested technique, it has not yet been
used to examine the sacroiliac joint.
“Paul’s approach is a pretty common orthopedic
research method, but his particular focus is new.
That’s good. You want your tools to be classic and
your approach to be novel, or vice versa,” Clark