Dr. Jennifer A. Nichols, assistant professor, has been selected to receive support through the UF Clinical and Translational Science Institute’s (CTSI) KL2 Multidisciplinary Scholars Program. Nichols’ KL2 research project seeks to identify the biomechanical, neuromuscular, and somatosensory mechanisms that contribute to the symptomology of carpometacarpal osteoarthritis (CMC OA).
CMC OA is a degenerative disease that causes pain, stiffness, and weakness in the thumb. Individuals with symptomatic CMC OA can lose up to 50% of hand function. Current treatments do not provide the pain relief, strength, and mobility needed to restore both fine and gross motor function. Treatment of this disease is challenging because the presentation of symptoms can be highly variable. Additionally, many treatment options exist, with little consensus on how to optimally choose between them.
Nichols and her team will use a combination of orthopaedic biomechanics and quantitative pain testing to evaluate how movement strategies (muscle activity and joint posture) as well as experimental and clinical pain differ between individuals with and without end-stage CMC OA.
During her time as a KL2 Scholar, Nichols will work with a multidisciplinary mentoring team, including Dr. Kyle Allen (biomedical engineering), Dr. Scott Banks (mechanical engineering) Dr. Yenisel Cruz-Almeida (pain research center), Dr. Kimberly Sibille (pain research center), and Dr. Thomas Wright (orthopaedics). This team has a strong complimentary expertise in osteoarthritis research and will help Nichols grow as a translational researcher working at the interface of biomedical engineering, orthopaedics and quantitative pain research.
The CTSI KL2 Multidisciplinary Scholars Program is a research training and funding opportunity for junior faculty at UF to foster a career in clinical and translational research. Didactic coursework mentored research, and multidisciplinary teamwork is offered to develop the skills necessary to build a well-funded collaborative research career.