Laura Pietrosimone, PT, DPT, PhD, Receives NIH K23 Grant


Laura Pietrosimone, PT, DPT, PhD, has received a new National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)) K23: Mentored Patient-Oriented Research Career Development Award. 

The five-year award is titled, Developing a Novel Clinical Care Model for Chronic Patellar Tendinopathy Utilizing Whole Person Healthcare.  Dr. Pietrosimone is an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery and assistant director of the K Lab, a human movement laboratory devoted to promotion of optimal health, wellness, fitness, and performance.

The NIH K23 program supports the career development of individuals who have made a commitment to focus their research endeavors on patient-oriented research so they can become highly productive clinical investigators. Dr. Steve George, PT, PhD, is Dr. Pietrosimone’s primary mentor on the award. Her project is focused on developing a whole person healthcare framework to help fill the critical gaps in the current standard of care for chronic patellar tendinopathy. 

“Chronic patellar tendinopathy is highly prevalent and can severely limit performance, physical activity, self-perceived function, and quality of life. Unfortunately, current rehabilitation practices are “tendon centric” and do not adequately account for the individual burden of chronic tendinopathy,” explains Dr. Pietrosimone. “There is a need to employ comprehensive approaches to treat tendinopathy that address patients’ physical function and overall well-being.”

Whole person health (WPH) is such a framework that considers interrelated domains (biological, behavioral, social, environmental) that foster health. The WPH framework has been adopted by federal, military, and state organizations as an innovative paradigm to address physical activity, self-reported function, disability, and quality of life, she added.

“However, high quality clinical research is needed to determine if WPH interventions are effective for specific conditions,” she said. “Long term, this work seeks to improve patient-oriented outcomes by moving beyond outdated traditional unifocal clinical care models towards comprehensive and individualized care models, stimulating a shift in current treatment strategies for patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain conditions.”

This award will help Dr. Pietrosimone expand her background in biomechanics to more comprehensive interventions that encompass patients' overall health.

“While most of my research has focused on biomechanical measurement to-date, through continued collaboration with a strong inter-disciplinary team, I have a growing excitement for and recognition of the need to take more comprehensive biopsychosocial approach in my work to have the greatest impact on patient outcomes,” she said.

Over the next five years, Dr. Pietrosimone will be mentored by renowned experts in psychological outcomes, ultrasound imaging, and whole person healthcare models, as well as clinical and pragmatic trial design.

“All of this will facilitate my growth as a clinical researcher to develop and implement novel clinical care models for chronic MSK conditions. I am incredibly grateful for the support of Dr. Steve George as my primary mentor on the K23 award and I am excited to get started." she said.