Postdoctoral Fellowship
Case Western Reserve University

Researcher James HendersonHow do you think your research will impact your local community?
I certainly hope that, in the long term, my research will directly improve the lives of those in my community who are affected by arthritis. The treatment of articular cartilage damaged by arthritis or related diseases is a very challenging problem. The long-term goal of my research is to tissue-engineer functional articular cartilage using cartilage cells from a non-articular location, such as the ear.  Achievement of this goal will lead to improved treatment of articular cartilage damaged by arthritis or related diseases. In the short term, I think that my pursuit of this goal can help raise awareness in my community and bring a better understanding of the challenges related to treating arthritis.

How would you ultimately like to see your research applied?
My research seeks to tissue-engineer cartilage with the functionality of normal, healthy articular cartilage. I would ultimately like to see tissue-engineered cartilage used in the treatment of cartilage that has been damaged by arthritis or related diseases.

What are your impressions of the Arthritis Foundation?
My knowledge of the Arthritis Foundation has come primarily from the perspective of scientists working in the field of skeletal research, particularly arthritis research. From those scientists I have heard only glowing reports of how positive an experience it is to work with the Arthritis Foundation. As a result, I have a very positive impression of the Foundation and am looking forward to working with the Foundation.

What role do you feel the Arthritis Foundation plays in the progress of arthritis research?
Because of the Foundation’s focused mission, I feel that the Foundation is moving arthritis research forward both directly and, just as importantly, indirectly. By direct, I mean through activities such as fundraising and funding of arthritis related research. By indirect, I mean by being an organization that plays a key role at the local and national levels in building the critical level of understanding and awareness among individuals and institutions that is necessary to move arthritis research ahead.

Given the prevalence of arthritis – one in three Americans with the disease – do you have a personal connection that makes the disease more than a statistic to you?
At a personal level, I have always been ware of arthritis and its effects because my paternal grandmother has been living with arthritis my entire life. She is one of the most amazing and active people I’ve ever known, and she has always provided a source of inspiration.

Considering all the medical conditions in need of your field of research, what are the mysteries surrounding arthritis that interest you most?
As a biomechanical engineering, I’m interested in the challenges in tissue engineering functional articular cartilage.

When you’re not in the lab, where can you most often be found?
At home with my wife and new son.

Favorite non-medical book you read last?
Wind, Sand, and Stars by Antoine de Saint Exupéry

Favorite music and artist?
Music? No genre in particular. My wife would probably point out that I’ve been listening to Jenny Lewis with The Watson Twins “Rabbit Fur Coat” ad nauseam (at least from her perspective).

Artist as in art? That’s a tough question. I have an Andre Derain print (“The Turning Road, L'Estaque”) in my office that I don’t get tired of looking at.

If you weren’t a medical researcher, what would you be doing now?
Something outdoors, perhaps. Well, maybe trying to save the outdoors. Research on renewably energy or global warming? That would keep me inside much of the time, I guess.

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