Innovative Research Spotlight: Garry Gold, MD
Refusal to “Wait and See” Drives New Thinking for Early Detection
Calling Garry Gold, MD, focused and motivated might be an understatement. He doesn’t do anything halfway. After he tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) during a pickup basketball game, he took up running. Ten years later, he ran the first of 20 marathons.
As a Silicon Valley electrical engineer, he wanted to make a bigger contribution to people. He didn’t just go back to Stanford University for a master’s degree in engineering and an opportunity to pursue Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) research; he also went to Stanford School of Medicine to become a doctor.
“I was fascinated by MRI technology,” says Dr. Gold, an associate professor in the Department of Radiology and Department of Orthopedics and Bioengineering at Stanford. “At the same time, I felt that to make a true contribution in this area, I’d be better off combining my love of research with a career in medicine.”
His interest in arthritis grew from his own experiences with the disease. “I have osteoarthritis as a result of my own ACL injury,” he says. “I also have students who have sustained joint injuries. We know they can return to sports, but we also know that they are at very high risk for arthritis in 10 to 15 years. I want to do something to change that. I want to be contributing to health.”
Today, Dr. Gold is focusing on early treatment for osteoarthritis, using an Innovative Research Grant from the Arthritis Foundation to develop new imaging methods to detect the earliest changes of OA in cartilage and other joint tissues. “The sodium MRI methodology we’ve developed in my lab makes it practical to see early changes in people who have injured their knees,” he explains. “When we see those earliest signs of osteoarthritis, we’re hoping we can intervene, and demonstrate how early intervention can help.”
Indeed, Dr. Gold isn’t one to adopt a “wait and see” attitude toward anything. He may have had to stop running, but now he’s training for a 100-mile bike ride. “I refuse to be a pessimist,” he smiles. “That’s why I want us to find tests that enable the development of new therapies, rather than wait for the therapies to come first. I will need a knee replacement in the next five to 10 years, but I’m determined not to see history repeat itself for today’s young athletes.”
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