Resident Research Reference

Ilyas S. Aleem, MD, Assistant Program Director of Research

Conducting research will develop your critical thinking skills, which is invaluable for not only contributing to the literature but also in reading the literature. During your research experience you will learn how to ask a relevant question, develop a hypothesis, set up a research plan to test the hypothesis, collect credible data, analyze that data, and draw a meaningful conclusion. Finally, you will learn how to communicate your research with the Orthopaedic community through oral and written venues. Developing these basic, fundamental skills during your residency will facilitate a life-long critical evaluation of the literature for your clinical practice and may foster further interest in research which might impact the field at large.

We set high standards for the quality of research that we do, and we follow ethical practices when completing our projects.

This research requirement is in keeping with the ACGME Program Requirements, which require residents to demonstrate scholarly activity through research or structured literature review.

Please visit our Resident Research Google Scholar Page featuring our resident's scholarly activity and engagement.



Orthopaedic Surgery residents are required to participate in a basic, epidemiologic, or clinical research project, and are allotted a 3rd year rotation in Anatomy and Research (A&R) to help facilitate productivity in this area. During the HO III year prior to the A&R rotation, each resident will give a 10-minute research proposal presentation at Grand Rounds to the department to help improve the study and to work on presentation skills.

Each HO IV will prepare a research paper suitable for publication as one of the requirements for successful completion of his/her residency in Orthopaedic Surgery. It is expected that the paper will be of a quality such that it would be acceptable for publication in a respected peer reviewed journal. The required thesis will be completed with the assistance of, and under the direction of one of the Orthopaedic faculty as a mentor. A case report or review paper, while of value, does not fulfill the research requirement.

The manuscript for the thesis, complete with illustrations and bibliography, must be submitted by the requested date during the Spring of the HO IV year. The accepted resident research thesis will be presented by the resident during June of the HO IV year to the Orthopaedic faculty, residents, and an invited guest orthopaedic surgeon on Senior Thesis Day. Completion and acceptance of the thesis are required for successful completion of the residency program and recommendation for Board Eligibility.

Project Timeline

Starting your project will be an extensive process. We have created a timeline to help make sure that you can complete your study in a worry-free manner. Please contact Michelle Caird, MD Director for Resident Research and Program Director at any point to discuss questions or concerns about this process. There are several research coordinators in the department who may be able to help facilitate the project. Please see the contact list below and speak with your faculty mentor about this.


Ask a question about orthopaedics

Work with a faculty member to formulate a hypothesis and devise a research plan to test


Participate in Research 101 Workshops

Finish formulating the research plan

Secure funding

Get approvals (IRB, UCUCA, Anatomical donations) for the study


Research proposal presentation at Orthopaedics Grand Rounds

Anatomy and research rotation: BE READY BEFORE-HAND!

Use your time to complete the bulk of the testing

Make sure your faculty mentor knows when your rotation is ahead of time


Finish the analysis and write the manuscript

The manuscript will be due in the spring of HOIV year (April or May)

Senior thesis presentation is in June


Winner of Resident Research Award for best senior thesis presentation presents at Badgley Day

Under the guidance of your faculty mentor, submit the manuscript!


Research in our department is supported in part by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), The Department of Defense (DOD), the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF), the UM Orthopaedic Research Advisory Committee (RAC), other foundations (like the OI Foundation) and other sources. All grants are overseen by the University. The research performed allows opportunities for post-doctoral students, graduate students, fellows, residents, medical students, and undergraduates to participate in the development and implementation of these studies. Many funding sources are suitable for resident research.

If you (and your mentor) have determined that you should apply for a grant, this could take a bit of planning. Please contact Sharon Vaassen ( (link sends e-mail)) who coordinates all grants and contracts for our department. All grant applications must be routed through our grant coordinator to ensure that they get proper University approval (which often moves up the due date of a grant by a few weeks). You should contact Sharon at least 1 month prior to submitting a grant. For external grant applications, it takes a minimum of 2 weeks to route through the University of Michigan for signatures and approvals. Sharon coordinates this and can provide you with the necessary deadlines. Do NOT wait until the application is due to begin this process. Only the University of Michigan can sign for and accept external grant awards.

Work closely with your Orthopaedic faculty mentor to review your grant prior to submission. They can provide much needed insight into the scientific approach/analysis and the presentation of the research plan (i.e., grantsmanship). This pre-review will help you to correct mistakes before a study section finds them (and they always do!) ultimately improving chances for receiving funding.

Two grants which are often appropriate for resident research are:

a) the UM Orthopaedic Research Advisory Committee (RAC) resident research grant (Information on the RAC resident grant is in Appendix A)

b) the OREF Resident Research Project Grant (Information on the OREF grant can be found at

Michelle Caird, MD can provide names of residents that have recently been awarded these grants.

Take a look at a successful proposal before applying!

Clinical Research

There are a number of types of studies considered clinical research some of which are described below. If you are interested in starting a clinical research study please contact Jaimee Gauthier, our Institutional Review Board (IRB) coordinator for orthopaedic surgery. Any study which involves human subjects or their data must be conducted with IRB approval. Before you submit a study for IRB review, you will have to complete the online IRB certification training course. This could take several hours, so it is important to plan ahead. You can register for the online course at the following website: (link is external)

Jaimee will send you the proper IRB protocol templates in order to begin your study. Once the protocol is completed, forward this information to Jaimee and she will start the IRB process (completing IRB application, consent documents, etc.). The more thinking, planning, and background work that goes into the proposal at this point, the better the chance of it going through the IRB process smoothly.

The IRB that reviews Orthopaedic protocols meets once a week. Keep in mind that this board also reviews studies for 14 other departments in the hospital. On average, the approval process can take up to 4-10 weeks depending on the type of study and the type of review to which it is assigned. Please PLAN ahead to fully utilize your research rotation. For more information on the IRB, please click on the following link: IRBMED (link is external)

Types of Studies:

Case Reports: A report of observations on 1 or 2 person(s) or organization(s) in which the observations were retrieved in a retrospective manner where this does not appear to meet the definition of research. A case report or review paper, while of value, does not fulfill the research requirement. You are welcome and encouraged to work on this type of publication if a faculty member endorses it, however this type of publication does not meet the UM Orthopaedic Residency Research requirement.

Retrospective Chart Review (or Secondary Use Studies): Bottom of Form Studies that involve only data and/or specimens where both of the following are true:

Data and specimens were collected prior to the date of IRB approval of this application for a purpose other than the proposed research, and

Data/specimens include information or codes linkable to the identity of a subject (even if the data will later be de-identified).

Standard Prospective Studies: Studies that involve either or both of the following: Interaction or intervention with human subjects Analysis of individually identifiable specimens or data that will be collected in the future.

Laboratory Research

The Orthopaedic Research Lab (ORL) is located on the 2nd floor of the Biomedical Sciences Research Building (BSRB) and provides opportunities in musculoskeletal research. The ORL is comprised of faculty and staff conducting research in imaging, mechanical testing, design and fabrication, cellular and molecular biology, and histology. Those interested in research at the ORL should contact Dr. Karl Jepsen. Some study types are described below.

Types of Studies:

Cadaver Studies: The use of unfixed, cadaveric specimens for Orthopaedic research is available to the Orthopaedic department through the medical school’s Department of Anatomical Donations. The use of cadaveric materials does NOT require IRB approval; however, paperwork must be filed through Anatomical Donations. The specimens are VERY expensive. Funding for cadaver studies will likely be required.

Approval from Anatomical Donations usually takes 1-2 weeks, but specimen availability varies greatly. Please contact Alex Brunfeldt months in advance of your research rotation to plan cadaveric studies. Typical cadaveric studies focus on whole joint and tissue biomechanics, quantitative biomechanics of Orthopaedic equipment and devices, or the advancement and innovation of surgical techniques.

The timeline for cadaveric studies varies depending on study size and complexity, but the general process is as follows:

Meet with Dr. Jepsen and Alex Brunfeldt to discuss study objectives and study design

Write a proposal outlining the study and prepare materials needed for grant preparation

Submit a grant proposal (typically a RAC grant or OREF grant) to Sharon Vaassen

Machine and build testing fixtures

Submit an Anatomical Donations Allocation Request

Pilot testing on surrogate specimens/materials

Conduct specimen testing

Data analysis and manuscript preparation

Typical studies require 8-12 specimens. This usually takes 3-6 months to collect all the specimens and test. However, please keep in mind that some specimens take MUCH longer to acquire. For example, young healthy female cadavers may take months and months to collect, whereas a study of elderly cadavers may be much faster.

Research Presentations

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery will fund resident travel, following University Guidelines, for presentation of work (poster or podium) completed within the department. Each research project will be eligible for one funded trip to a national or regional meeting, with the exception that work presented at the Michigan Orthopaedic Society may be funded as well for a second presentation. Residents should check with their faculty advisors regarding submission of any work. As always, resident absence is subject to approval of service chiefs and the Program Director, and will usually be granted accordingly for residents in good standing, with an 80% attendance rate at UM teaching conferences, and in keeping with other restrictions regarding resident absences on services.


The developmental grant program is designed to support high-quality scientific projects (both basic and clinical) specifically aimed at obtaining preliminary results to facilitate the investigators’ applications for extramural support. It is anticipated that the provision of peer review and awarded funds will enable the faculty to more successfully compete for extramural support and subsequently enhance their research program activities.


The focused research grant program is designed to provide faculty or residents with funds to support a specific research project (basic or clinical) to help them fulfill the requirements for the senior thesis (residents) or for general support of their scholarly activity (faculty).


This program is designed to provide early guidance and advice to faculty or residents who are developing research ideas or projects prior to submission of full proposals for research funding. The details of each of the programs are provided in the following descriptions.

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Focused Grant Program for Faculty and Residents

The focused research grant program is designed to provide faculty or residents with funds to support a specific research project (basic or clinical) to help them fulfill the requirements for the senior thesis (residents) or for general support of their scholarly activity (faculty). All proposals are peer reviewed by the Departments’ Research Advisory Committee. It is anticipated that the provision of peer review and awarded funds will enable the residents and faculty to more successfully complete their projects and result in high quality publications. There is no expectation that the funded projects will lead to extramural funding.


Eligibility: All projects must involve a faculty member or resident PI with a primary appointment in Orthopaedic Surgery. Collaborations with faculty outside the Department will be supported, as long as the project reflects the primary interest of the Orthopaedic investigator.

Funding Amounts and Guidelines: Typical grants are expected to be in the range of $5,000 to $10,000, with a maximum request of $15,000. The grants are designed to be for one year.

Faculty or residents can only hold one focused grant at a time.

All components of the research are expected to be provided in the budget except for: salary for faculty, secretaries, travel costs, costs for books, conferences or subscriptions. Cost overruns or retroactive funding; publication costs, grant preparation costs or office equipment are not eligible for funding. All salaries for support personnel such as histologists, computer programmers, study coordinators, graduate students and others are eligible.

Application Guidelines and Instructions:

The proposal narrative should be approximately four to six pages. An electronic copy of the proposal should be submitted to Sharon Vaassen at ( (link sends e-mail)) by 5:00 pm on the due date. The proposal narrative should include the following:

Specific aims

Research plan, including specific methodology

Significance of proposed project to field

Estimated timetable for the project

Budget and Budget Justification

Please include an itemized budget for all costs of the project. In addition, provide a justification for each of the cost categories.

Prior Support

If appropriate, please list any prior focused research grants awarded by the department and list any publications, presentations or other scholarly works that resulted from the projects.

Deadlines Preliminary Research Abstract Review

This program is designed to provide early guidance and advice to faculty or residents who are developing research ideas or projects prior to submission of full proposals for research funding. Faculty are encouraged to submit a description of the research ideas or concepts to the Research Advisory Committee for early feedback and advice. The submissions can be in the form of a single page description of the research hypotheses and/or aims as well as an abstract of the methods to be employed. The Committee will review a pre-proposal of any length and detail.


Preliminary research proposals will be accepted at any time and feedback will be provided within three weeks of submission.

Appendix A

Department of Orthopaedic Surgery Internal Grant Programs (or RAC) The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery has established two specific grant programs as well as a mechanism for early feedback and review. The specific programs are described below:

Faculty Developmental Grant Program

Focused Research Grant Program for Faculty and Residents

Preliminary Research Abstract Review

Helpful Websites

For literature searches and assistance with information check out

Recent Resident Publications

Nutritionist Referral Modestly Improves Weight Loss and Increases Surgery Rate in Obese Patients Seeking Total Joint Arthroplasty.

Tollemar VC, Olsen E, McHugh M, Muscatelli SR, Gagnier JJ, Tarnacki L, Hallstrom BR.Arthroplast Today. 2022 Aug 19;17:74-79. doi: 10.1016/j.artd.2022.07.018. eCollection 2022 Oct.PMID: 36042939 

A national pediatric otolaryngology fellowship virtual dissection course using 3D printed simulators.

Michaels RE, Zugris NV, Cin MD, Monovoukas DA, Koka KK, Smith C, Bohm L, Kim J, Green G, Roby B, Jabbour N, Lind M, Goudy S, Zopf DA.Int J Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2022 Aug 12;162:111273. doi: 10.1016/j.ijporl.2022.111273. Online ahead of print.PMID: 36030629

Fracture Severity Based on Neer Classification Does Not Predict Short-term Complications Following Reverse Shoulder Arthroplasty.

Sugarman BS, O'Donnell JA, Belay ES, Goltz D, Danilkowicz R, Gage M, Klifto CS, Anakwenze OA.J Surg Orthop Adv. 2022 Summer;31(2):104-108.PMID: 35820096

These findings suggest that Neer classification for PHF is not predictive of short-term complications after RSA. (Journal of Surgical Orthopaedic Advances 31(2):104-108, 2022)....

Arthroscopic Treatment of Degenerative Meniscal Tears and Sham Surgery or Physical Therapy-an Update on the ESCAPE Trial.

Hallstrom B, Meremikwu R.JAMA Netw Open. 2022 Jul 1;5(7):e2220405. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.20405.PMID: 35802378 

Females have Lower Knee Strength and Vertical Ground Reaction Forces During Landing than Males Following Anterior Cruciate Ligament Reconstruction at the Time of Return to Sport.

Sullivan ZB, Sugarman BS, Faherty MS, Killelea C, Taylor DC, Le D, Toth AP, Riboh JC, Diehl LH, Wittstein JR, Amendola A, Sell TC.Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2022 Jun 1;17(4):556-565. eCollection 2022.PMID: 35693866