Profile in Research: Suneel S. Apte, MBBS, DPhil
Dr. Apte studied medicine at Seth G.S. Medical College, University of Bombay, India, and trained in orthopaedic surgery at the K.E.M. Hospital, Bombay. He moved to St. Catherines College, Oxford University, UK, as a Rhodes Scholar in 1986, and completed his D. Phil. at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre in 1990. He subsequently undertook postdoctoral training at Harvard Medical School. He has been on the research faculty of the Cleveland Clinic since 1996 studying the molecular mechanisms of extracellular proteolysis, particularly focusing on the metalloproteinases and their inhibitors in the context of skeletal development, arthritis and cancer.
How do you think your research will impact your local community?
The Northeastern Ohio Chapter of the Arthritis Foundation administers to a large constituency of arthritis patients, physicians and nonphysician professionals. It is actively involved in outreach, patient care, education and advocacy. My research will contribute to the chapter’s continuing involvement with research. I hope it will stimulate greater discussion about the role of basic science in providing long-term insights on arthritis biology.
How would you like to see your research applied?
I am hopeful that our research will provide insights on the destruction of cartilage by proteolytic enzymes in arthritis and on the biology of the associated tissues, muscle and bone. It may provide new biomarkers or treatments for arthritis and inflammation.
What are your impressions of the Arthritis Foundation?
I have had many interactions with the Arthritis Foundation at both the national and regional level and I have been very impressed with its high level of commitment, visibility and community engagement.
What role do you feel the Arthritis Foundation plays in the progress of arthritis research?
The Foundation has a valuable role in arthritis research, since it is the major nongovernmental funder of basic, clinical and other research on musculoskeletal conditions. Its importance is even greater today because federal support for research is reaching an all-time low. Its training awards invest in future leaders and ensure retention of the most promising talent.
What arthritis-related mysteries interest you most?
Why patients slowly lose their joint cartilage over time and why it never repairs properly.
Do you have a personal connection with arthritis that makes the disease more than a statistic to you?
I have osteoarthritis in both my shoulders (acromioclavicular joints) for which I get corticosteroid injections every six to nine months (these are not recommended for large weight-bearing joints!!). I will very likely need surgery in a few years. It doesn’t interfere with my sports activities, but sleep is painful!
When you’re not in the lab, where can you be found?
Getting our children ready for school in the mornings, cross-country skiing, cycling, running, swimming, gardening, hiking and birding with the children. I will run a marathon this December, do the Birkebeiner cross-country ski marathon this winter, and compete in my second ironman triathlon next summer.
Favorite nonmedical book you read last?
The Mountains of California by John Muir. The father of American environmentalism rhapsodizes about the Sierra Nevada but not about the plundering of nature’s bounty by humans. Also Deep Economy by Bill McKibben, which encourages a sustainable lifestyle.
Favorite music and artist?
I like classical music best; some of my favorite composers are Bach, Haydn, Hummel and Chopin. As for art, I like American and French impressionism and landscapes.
If you weren’t a medical researcher, what would you be doing now?
I started my career as an orthopaedic surgeon, so that’s probably what I would be doing if I had not shifted to research. But to be honest, something outdoors appeals much more!