Principal Investigator

Research Priority Area

  • N/A

OAK Call for Proposals (PDF)

How to Join

Interested individuals can attend our virtual monthly meetings or contact Tara Spach to schedule an individual meeting to learn more about the goals and objectives.


Osteoarthritis is a deterioration of protective cartilage that cushions the ends of bones and affects more than 30 million Americans. Knee osteoarthritis is the most common joint disorder in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability and chronic pain. A related condition, post-traumatic osteoarthritis (PTOA), occurring after a traumatic joint injury, has increased over the last 10 years and represents the most common cause of military disability.

With funding from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine’s Alliance Research Initiative and the department of orthopaedic surgery, college faculty and clinicians have joined to form the transdisciplinary Osteoarthritis Alliance of Kentucky (OAK). The OAK will provide a structure combining skills and expertise to deliver a comprehensive treatment strategy.

OAK will be co-led by Cale Jacobs, PhD, director of research, department of orthopaedic surgery, and Brian Noehren, PT, PhD, College of Health Sciences. Dr. Jacobs and Dr. Noehren currently collaborate on clinical trials funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense assessing the underlying mechanisms and novel treatments to alter progressive cartilage and muscular changes after traumatic knee injury.

The co-principal investigators have gathered an interdisciplinary OAK team. Christopher Fry, PhD, assistant professor in the College of Health Sciences, is the principal investigator on an NIH-funded study exploring the pathophysiology of knee extensor muscle quality decline following a traumatic knee injury. Katherine Thompson, PhD, associate professor and director of graduate studies in the College of Arts and Sciences Department of Statistics, specializes in predictive modelling and works closely with many OAK investigators on funded clinical trials. Michael Samaan, PhD, assistant professor, College of Education Department of Kinesiology and Health Promotion, is researching biomechanics and musculoskeletal imaging to better understand the mechanisms and effects of injury and osteoarthritis on joint health and function. Austin Stone, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery, has researched modulating inflammation after knee injury to improve patient outcomes while also altering the progression of PTOA. Peter Hardy, PhD, associate professor in the department of radiology, is an expert on the development and testing novel imaging sequences. Caitlin Conley, PhD, assistant professor in the department of orthopaedic surgery, is experienced with the design and implementation of clinical trials as well as data quality and management. Her research interests include qualitative studies to identify barriers to care.

As investigators who approach PTOA from diverse perspectives, OAK’s clinical scientist members will study the disease from molecular, joint, and whole-person perspectives to improve health-related quality of life within the Commonwealth and beyond. The collective expertise of the OAK clinician scientists and researchers uniquely positions the group to make significant advances in PTOA care.

Clinical Trials

  1. Altering post-traumatic osteoarthritis after patellar dislocation: blood flow restriction training, aspiration, and intraarticular normal saline (BRAINS)

    OAK Members: Cale Jacobs (Co-PI), Brian Noehren (Co-PI), Austin Stone, Katherine Thompson

    Goals: The purpose of this innovative randomized clinical trial is to determine if knee aspiration and saline injection or blood flow restriction training (BFRT), either individually or combined, will improve outcomes after patellar dislocation.
  2. Cartilage breakdown and arthrofibrosis after multiple ligament knee injury (CAKE)

    OAK Members: Cale Jacobs (PI), Austin Stone, Katherine Thompson Caitlin Conley

    Goals: This collaborative study with the University of New Mexico will investigate the roles of dysregulation of inflammatory pathways and early weightbearing on arthrofibrosis and cartilage degradation following multiple ligament knee injury.
  3. Development of a mind-body program for obese knee osteoarthritis patients with comorbid depression: does a minD-bOdy prOgram Reduce oSTEoarthritis Pain? (DOORSTEP)

    OAK Members: Cale Jacobs (PI), Jessica Burris

    Goals: We will tailor a mind-body program that has been effective in patients with chronic pain to the needs of knee osteoarthritis patients with depression and obesity with a focus on gradual increases in physical activity measured with accelerometers and establish feasibility markers for the GetActive-OA program.
  4. Success of long-acting anti-inflammatories after anterior cruciate ligament and meniscal injury (SLAM)

    OAK Members: Austin Stone (PI), Caitlin Conley, Cale Jacobs

    Goals: We will perform a double-blind randomized controlled trial to determine if a long-acting anti-inflammatory agent lessens early progressive bone and cartilage changes and/or improves patient-reported outcomes when compared to placebo after anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction surgery.

Alliance Members

  • Arun Aneja, MD, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • Ram Annamalai, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Engineering
  • Caitlin Conley, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • Stephen Duncan, MD, Associate Professor – Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • Christopher Fry, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Health Sciences
  • Jean Fry, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Health Sciences
  • Peter Hardy, PhD, Associate Professor – Department of Radiology
  • Greg Hawk, Graduate Student 
  • Hannah Hoch, PhD, ATC, Assistant Professor – College of Health Sciences
  • Kyle Kosik, PhD, ATC, Assistant Professor – College of Health Sciences
  • Kate Kosmac, PhD, Assistant Professor –  College of Health Sciences
  • Cale Jacobs, PhD, Director of Research – Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • David Landy, MD, Assistant Professor – Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • Paul Matuszewski, MD, Associate Professor – Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • Bruno Menarim, DVM, PhD, Visiting  Scholar – College of Agriculture, Food and Environment
  • Brian Noehren, PT, PhD, Professor – College of Health Sciences
  • Doug Oyler, PharmD, Assistant Professor – College of Pharmacy
  • Mike Samaan, PhD, Assistant Professor – College of Education
  • Austin Stone, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor – Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine
  • Leon Su, Graduate Student
  • Katherine Thompson, PhD, Associate Professor – College of Arts and Sciences