Research areas and methodologies

The Orthopedics and Traumatology Research Unit focuses on scientific research in the field of degenerative and traumatic pathologies of the musculoskeletal system and is specialized in surgery of the limbs and vertebral spine. The Unit is coordinated by Prof. Rocco Papalia, Full Professor in Orthopedics and Traumatology.

The macro-lines of research of interest to the Research Unit are:

  • Evaluation of perioperative strategies to improve outcomes in primary hip, knee and shoulder prosthetic implants.
  • Surgical techniques aimed at the application of bionic prostheses in patients with upper limb amputation
  • Innovative and advanced medical therapies for the treatment of degenerative spinal diseases and osteoarthritis
  • Applications of artificial intelligence in musculoskeletal pathologies
  • Multisensory movement analysis in patients suffering from musculoskeletal pathologies of the shoulder, hip, knee and vertebral spine

Collaborations with other Research Centers

  • University of Bari “A. Moro”
  • Institute for Polymers, Composites and Biomaterials (IPCB) - CNR
  • University of Sassari
  • NCS
  • Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (Netherlands)
  • University of Nantes (France)
  • Universitair Medisch Centrum Utrecht (Netherlands)
  • National University of Ireland Galway (Ireland)
  • University of Ulm (Germany)
  • University of Bern (Switzerland)
  • Institut National De La Sante et De La Recherche Medicale (France)
  • Naturwissenschaftliches Und Medizinisches Institut An Der Universitaet Tuebingen (De)
  • Ao-Forschungsinstitut Davos (Switzerland)
  • Sheffield Hallam University (United KingSun)
  • Ntrans Technologies Bv (Netherlands)
  • University of Montpellier (France)
  • University of Miami (United States)
  • Spineserv Gmbh & Co. Kg (Germany)
  • The University of Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
  • Pharmalex GmbH (Germany)
  • National Institute for Occupational Accident Insurance
  • University of Helsinki
  • CF IRCCS Foundation Cà Granda Policlinico Hospital Milan
  • Politecnico di Milano
  • University of Rome “Tor Vergata” Interdepartmental Service Center – Technology Station
  • animals
  • CNR National Research Council
  • COT Orthopedic Traumatological Care Spa, Messina
  • Harvard University


  1. Regenerative Orthopedics Laboratory
    In the field of degenerative diseases of the musculoskeletal system, the laboratory deals with studying new therapeutic strategies to restore the structure and function of damaged joints (intervertebral disc and cartilage) by exploring new approaches based on regenerative medicine through the use of stem cells and their organic products.
    Over the last 15 years, the laboratory has developed a new advanced therapy based on mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) for the treatment of degenerative pathologies of the intervertebral disc. Furthermore, in recent years it has carried out an intense research activity aimed at studying new anti-inflammatory and regenerative treatments for the treatment of osteoarthritis.
    The laboratory is already set up according to current standards and equipped with freezers, chemical hood, bench centrifuge, thermal cyclers, vortex, stirrer and the NANT-XL bioreactor. NANT-XL is an automated cell culture system equipped with a built-in microscope with confluence estimation, continuous monitoring even remotely for automated and traceable cell production. The laboratory uses the Core Facilities area for the cell culture room, spectrofluorimeter (Tecan Infinite™ 200Pro), Real Time PCR system, a Nikon Ti-E motorized inverted fluorescence microscope with incubator, a transmission electron microscope ( TEM) (TEM Fei - Tecnai Spirit 12G) and a CytoFLEX platform (Beckman Coulter) for routine cell-based assays or high complexity flow cytometry applications.
    The preclinical research carried out involves the use of small, medium and large animals. The experiments in vivo are conducted in collaboration with: i) the Animal Technology Station (STA) of the University of Tor Vergata in Rome; ii) the Institute of Biochemistry and Cellular Biology of the National Research Council (IBBC - CNR); iii) the Experimental Research Center (Cen.Ri.S.) of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. The centers listed are accredited by the Italian Ministry of Health to carry out research on animals. 
  2. Movement Analysis Laboratory
    Main research activities: provide scientific evidence on the most used therapeutic approaches - conservative or surgical - which aim to restore the anatomy, biomechanics and functionality of the treated joints. The research activities mainly involve patients with musculoskeletal pathologies of the shoulder, hip and knee.
    Main equipment: Stereophotogrammetric system (Qualisys) and accessories (markers, clusters, tape), Visual 3D software, magnero-inertial sensors (Xsens DOT).