group at gym
University of Wisconsin

Research

Our research projects include evaluating ways to improve osteoporosis diagnosis, fracture risk assessment and identify sarcopenia (age-related loss of muscle mass and function). Many of our studies investigate the role of nutrition, medication or exercise on bone and muscle health and physical function.

Diagnosis

A goal of the Research Program is to help improve how osteoporosis is diagnosed, how sarcopenia is identified and how an individual’s fracture risk is best determined. We have conducted several studies on osteoporosis diagnosis and have identified conditions that may interfere with measurement accuracy. As sarcopenia and impaired muscle function contribute to the risk of falls and therefore fractures, but are not yet routinely evaluated clinically, we are working to determine how to integrate these concepts into clinical care. Additionally, we collaborate with manufacturers to evaluate new instruments and techniques to evaluate bone, muscle and physical function.

Nutrition

Inadequate nutrition contributes to bone and muscle loss with age and thus are modifiable factors that contribute to impaired physical function, falls and fractures. It is widely recognized that vitamin D is important for maintaining musculoskeletal health. However, the optimal amount of vitamin D required and how to best assess an individual’s blood vitamin D level is extremely controversial. We are actively involved in studies that will hopefully advance the laboratory measurement of vitamin D metabolites and also evaluating if vitamin D supplementation affects musculoskeletal health.

Treatment

The UW Osteoporosis Research Program conducts clinical studies that examine new and existing osteoporosis medications. These studies provide additional information about, or improve upon, currently available medications as well as evaluate the ability of investigational medications to improve bone health. Additionally, as the field moves forward, medications targeting muscle (sarcopenia) are being evaluated to reduce falls and consequently fractures. We are involved in early medication trials to maintain and improve physical function.