WVU School of Medicine’s Li receives prestigious award

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – For the second time in three years, Bingyun Li, Ph.D., associate professor in the West Virginia University School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedics and director of the WVU Biomaterials, Bioengineering and Nanotechnology Laboratory, has been recognized internationally for his research.

Most recently, Dr. Li received the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association (APOA)-Pfizer Best Scientific Paper Award. The award was presented at the 2013 Combined Conference of the Fifth APOA Infection Section Scientific Meeting, Ninth Asia Pacific Spine Society Congress and Ninth APOA Paediatric Section Congress. It was held at the end of August in Kuching, Malaysia. More than 650 orthopaedic surgeons and residents from around the world, including about 12 orthopaedic surgeons and scientists from the United States, attended the conference.

In 2011, Li was awarded the Berton Rahn Research Fund Prize from the AO Foundation, a Switzerland-based medically guided nonprofit organization led by an international group of surgeons specialized in the treatment of trauma and disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

Li and his team received the APOA-Pfizer Best Scientific Paper Award for their paper “Intra-cellular Staphylococcus aureus alone causes infection in vivo,” which was published in “European Cells and Materials,” the official research journal of AOTrauma, AOCMF (craniomaxillofacial), the European Orthopaedic Research Society, the Swiss Society for Biomaterials and Regenerative Medicine and the Tissue and Cell Engineering Society.

The awarded study is part of the Ph.D. dissertation of Therwa Hamza, who graduated in December 2012 from the WVU School of Pharmacy. The goal of the study was to determine whether intra-cellular Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) can induce bone infections in an open femur fracture animal model. The study found that intra-cellular S. aureus of as low as 100 colony forming units induced severe bone infections in animal models. This may suggest that intra-cellular S. aureus can “hide” in host cells during symptom-free periods and, under certain conditions, may escape and lead to infection recurrence in which disease episodes may be separated by weeks, months, or even years.

“The study is clinically significant because recurrent bone infections are difficult to treat but occur frequently and have not been explained,” Li said. “This study suggests that intra-cellular bacteria may be responsible for recurrent infections.”

The APOA-Pfizer Best Scientific Paper Award is announced every two years and is the only award given out at the APOA Combined Conference. APOA was established in 1962 and currently has 19 member chapters and more than 1,800 orthopaedic members from more than 40 countries.