Meet Cannon Woodbury
Major: Biomedical Engineering
Graduation Year: 2017
Field of Study: Orthopedic Surgery
More than 70% of adults experience back pain for some period of time in their lives. Many cases result directly from an injury to the intervertebral disc (IVD), but the mechanism on traumatic impact induced IVD degeneration is not completely clear. An effective ex vivo model for IVD traumatic impact, to our knowledge, has not been developed until now.
A drop tower apparatus was developed which allowed us to control the force of impact and read the forces exerted on the tissue being studies with a load cell. To verify that this impact device accurately simulated traumatic impact we impacted tissue explants (rat lumbar spine segments) and performed histological as well as mRNA expression analysis.
We found that this impact model has fine control over the impacting force and that the impact imparted damages to the tissue in a way that accurately simulates a real life traumatic impact. We believe this device will be useful in further traumatic impact studies as it allows very fine control over the impact direction and force, allowing us to use that as a control for more studies.
At UTSW I had the pleasure to work in the Orthopedic Research Lab with Dr. Chris Chen and Dr. Bob Welch. I was challenged to learn quite a few new lab techniques like slide preparation and staining, RNA extraction, and working with lab animals. Also, being so close to the orthopedic surgery department I was able to interact with medical student and orthopedic residents as they carried out their research and training. Overall, the experience was enlightening and truly helped me to decide where I would like to be in the future.
Going into a new lab can be daunting, there are new protocols to learn and new people to interact with, and the environment itself can be strange at times. Do your best to ask questions, be interested and aware of what is going on around you, and always be willing to learn and take advice. Don't be afraid to speak up, the time flies by so make the most of it! Any my number one tip: if you work at South Campus, walk across Harry Hines and eat a Rusty's Tacos. It's a short walk away and a UTSW favorite.