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Curtis National Hand Center Research

MedStar Health is home to the Curtis National Hand Center at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, MD, the largest, most experienced hand center in the nation. The Curtis National Hand Center has been designated by the United States Congress as the only National Center for the Treatment of the Hand and Upper Extremities. Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) has designated the Curtis National Hand Center as a Level 1 Trauma center.

From repairing traumatic injuries to treating repetitive motion injuries, arthritic conditions, and congenital differences, the goal of the Curtis National Hand Center is to restore the patient's use of the hand, wrist, arm, elbow and shoulder to the greatest degree possible.

The Curtis National Hand Center has a strong commitment to academic medicine and research with a rich tradition of innovation and education that has made it a center of excellence for hand and upper extremity care with regular cutting-edge contributions to hand surgery literature.

Research at The Curtis National Hand Center is supported by state-of-the-art basic science and biomechanic facilities and a health services and outcomes research team. Alongside the surgeon-scientists at the Hand Center, the research work is conducted by fellows as part of their training. In addition, there are resident-led and resident-supported projects ongoing, with orthopedic and plastic surgery residents from MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, and Johns Hopkins Hospital.  This research is presented at top national and regional meetings, along with a consistent record of publishing in the top journals for the specialty.

Under the leadership of Aviram M. Giladi, MD, MS, The Curtis National Hand Center is increasing efforts in health services research, using the unparalleled clinical experience of researchers from across the MedStar Health system to help improve hand surgery care across the globe. There is also a commitment to translational research and implementation research, leading to better outcomes for patients by implementing the newest research findings in real-time to best serve patients.

The Curtis Hand Center Research Team


Aviram M. Giladi, MD, MD
Research Director
Kenneth R. Means, Jr., MD
Clinical Research Consultant

Isaac C. Fleming, CCRC

Brent Parks, MSc


Rebecca J. Saunders, PT, CHT


Sione Fanua, MSc


Anne Rupert Mattson, MA


Pooyan Abbasi, MSc

Research Expertise

  • Nerve Allograft: A nerve allograft is tissue used to repair nerves when the space between the cut ends is too large for primary closure. A nerve allograft is used to span that "gap" and connects the two ends of a transected nerve. Currently, MedStar is conducting a post-marketing study comparing the nerve allograft with a hollow nerve conduit. Both are FDA-approved products and are currently being used by hand surgeons as tools in nerve repair.
  • Preclinical: Preclinical development is a stage of research that begins before clinical trials and during which important feasibility and safety testing data are collected. Currently, these types of hand-related studies are carried out through MedStar's Microsurgery Research and Training Facility.
  • Curtis National Hand Center Registry Database: In an effort to maintain the best quality of care for our patients, The Curtis National Hand Center has embarked on a project to create a registry of conditions that are commonly treated by its physicians. The registry contains information about symptoms, how long symptoms have been present and the kind of treatment done and provides a way for our surgeons to evaluate our current treatments and provide more information to patients about expectations after treatment.
  • Rheumatoid Hand Arthroplasty: Arthroplasty is surgery done to reconstruct or replace a diseased joint. For rheumatoid arthritis, arthroplasty is done to restore function to a joint or correct a deformity. Bones in a joint can be reshaped, or all or part of the joint can be replaced with metal or plastic parts. MedStar investigators evaluate the long-term results between patients who had surgery to replace diseased knuckle joints and those who opted for medical treatment alone. Patients are followed for seven years and are evaluated as to functional outcomes and health-related quality of life outcomes.

A complete list of publications from researchers at the Curtis National Hand Center can be found here: Curtis National Hand Center PubMed List

The Curtis Hand Center Research Facilities

The STAT Lab

The Curtis Hand Center is home to one of the most advanced teaching laboratories in the Mid-Atlantic region, the STAT Lab. The STAT Lab allows for training in surgical techniques in multi-station facilities. The educational benefit of training with fresh anatomical specimens is instrumental in honing the advanced skills required for the complex, contemporary surgical procedures demanded of today’s surgeons.

The Microsurgery Lab

Accredited by the Association for Assessment and Accreditation of Laboratory Animal Care (AAALAC), the 1600-square-foot Microsurgery Lab is available for studies as well as basic and advanced training in microsurgical procedures. This includes microsurgical vessel & nerve repair. The microsurgical lab contains three dissecting microscopes and related microsurgical instruments.

Orthobiologic Laboratory

The Orthobiologic Laboratory aims to advance orthopedic surgery through basic and translational research on the applications of biologics for bone regeneration, cartilage repair, and other musculoskeletal disorders. Under the direction of Zijun Zhang, MD, PhD, the laboratory employs molecular and cellular technology and pre-clinical models of orthopedic diseases, and primarily focuses on the enhancement of fracture healing and revitalization of bone allograft with bone marrow-derived mesenchymal (adult) stem/progenitor cells; bone marrow and blood-derived biologics for the treatment of tendon disorders; and biomarkers for early diagnosis of osteoarthritis. The laboratory also participates in the education of orthopedic residents and fellows, and graduate and undergraduate students through research. For more information, contact the director at [email protected].

Health Services Research

Working closely with Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics at MedStar Health Research Institute, health services research is a growing focus at the Curtis National Hand Center.  The combination of the breadth and depth of the clinical experience of the surgeon-scientists at the Center places them at a crossroads that allows them to contribute to outcomes, care delivery, and implementation research in hand and upper extremity surgery.

Additionally, through the Level 1 Trauma status with MIEMSS, the Curtis National Hand Center houses the largest upper extremity trauma database in the region, facilitating research on trauma systems, regionalization, post-injury pain management, and many other topics with an added focus on caring for the medically underserved.

Contact Information

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