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About Us

Areas Of Spinal Research

The laboratory facilities are divided into three primary areas: Biomechanics, Histology and Radiography.

Basic Scientific Research

The Institute collaborates with neurosurgeons and spine surgeons at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, University of Maryland, and other prestigious national and international institutions to address basic scientific research issues related to reconstructive spinal surgery.

FDA Pre-Clinical Studies

The laboratory is a Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) compliant facility that performs extensive FDA pre-clinical studies using in-vitro cadaveric and in-vivo animal modeling to investigate new biomechanical and biological concepts in spinal reconstructive surgery. The majority of these studies are performed for private industry on a proprietary basis to support FDA 510K and IDE applications.

Meet Our Team

Dr. Bryan W. Cunningham, PhD
Bryan W. Cunningham, PhD, is Director, Scientific Orthopaedic Research, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, MedStar Union Memorial Hospital located in Baltimore, Maryland. Dr. Cunningham is responsible for formulating and executing the department’s annual scientific and research strategy and for developing and maintaining a multidisciplinary research center with core areas of excellence across a broad spectrum of scientific disciplines: radiography, biomechanics, histology, biological modeling, 3D printing and clinical research. Dr. Cunningham has published more than 130 peer-reviewed journal articles and 15 book chapters focused on the basic scientific and clinical considerations in spinal reconstructive surgery. His educational responsibilities include developing and incorporating the non-clinical research fellowship program for the department and providing research guidance to medical school students, surgeons in training, clinical fellows and attending physicians. He has mentored more than 15 PhD-level fellows in spinal research and holds two academic positions:  1) Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine, Washington D.C. and 2) Adjunct Professor, Menzies Health Institute, Queensland School of Medical Science, Griffith University, Queensland, Australia.  

Daina Brooks, B.S.
Research Scientist
Daina Brooks is a Research Scientist at the MedStar Musculoskeletal Research Center. She graduated from the George Washington University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Biomedical Engineer. Daina has six years of experience in scientific research, with the past four years spent in the field of translational orthopaedic research, developing skills in the modeling and characterizing of spinal kinematic properties. Daina is responsible for the administrative and technical aspects of maintaining a highly efficient orthopaedic research center with facilities including radiology, biomechanics, and histology. Her roles include assisting with in-vivo animal surgeries, coordinating radiological and biomechanical testing projects to assist fellows, residents, and attendings in their related research projects, and presenting research findings at national and international orthopaedic conferences. Currently, Daina is seeking her Master’s degree in Engineering Management at The Johns Hopkins University.

Dr. Kyle Mueller, MD
Neurosurgery Resident
Dr. Mueller is the Chief neurosurgery resident (PGY-7) at Georgetown University Medical Center in Washington, DC. He will be pursuing a complex spine fellowship at Brown University following residency with a focus in spinal oncology and deformity. To be an expert academic leader in the field of spine surgery requires a comprehensive understanding of spine biomechanics and bone biology. By collaborating with researchers across different specialties Dr. Mueller look to take ideas from the bedside and study them in the lab, using those results to improve the quality of spine care he deliver to patients. His goal is to implement change through standardized, structural endeavors that center around challenging the status quo with sound scientific evidence. Knowledge that is gained is shared as education to both patients and medical professionals, in addition to generating further research questions. Dr. Mueller’s interests span complex spine reconstructions with an emphasis on oncology and deformity, quality improvement measures, minimally-invasive surgical approaches and enhancing the structure of research and medical education in an effort to optimize outcomes and increase the value of spine care delivered.

Kenneth Mullinix, M.S.
Research Scientist
Ken studied psychology, microbiology, and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Hawaii Manoa on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. After graduating, Ken spent 10 years as the owner of a psychology-based Internet company designed to help patients dealing with anxiety disorders. An interest in medicine and research eventually led him into the field of orthopaedics. Ken began working in spinal research in 2011, and has since obtained a Master’s degree in biomimetic engineering and design. Ken plans to use biomimetic principles and systems to design novel solutions to complex orthopaedic problems. Ken’s role in the laboratory includes assisting in research driven surgical cases, CAD planning & design, 3D printing, biomechanical testing, and database development.

Anna Cook, B.A.
Research Assistant
Anna Cook is a Clinical Research Assistant at MedStar Union Memorial’s Musculoskeletal Research Lab, where she assists in conducting basic scientific and clinical research studies including animal surgical procedures, histologic tissue analysis, biomechanical testing and slide preparation. Anna adapts well to research’s fast paced environment, is a team player and has strong skills in organization, flexibility and dependability. With over 15 years’ experience in the medical field including orthopaedics and cardiology, she finds new ways to challenge herself in the field of spine. Anna is a recent graduate from UMBC with her Bachelor’s degree in Biology. She was President of the Pre-Physician Assistant Society for 3 years. She plans to continue her education by entering a Physician Assistant Master’s program.