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Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Chairman: Freddie H. Fu M.D., D. Sc. (Hon), D.Ps. (Hon)
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Phone: 412-605-3203
Fax: 412-687-0802
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  • Stem Cell Research Laboratory Faculty
  • Orthopaedic Research Laboratory Faculty
  • NeuroMuscular Reasearch Laboratory Faculty
  • Orthopaedic BioDynamics Laboratory Faculty
  • Orthopaedic Engineering and Sports Medicine Laboratory Faculty
  • Sports Orthopaedic Research Laboratory Faculty
  • Clinical Research Faculty and Staff
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  • Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering Faculty
  • Orthopaedic Robotics Laboratory Faculty
  • Sports Medicine Concussion Program Lab Faculty
  •  
    Stem Cell Research Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Johnny Huard, PhD - Director
    Henry J. Mankin Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery
    Research Growth and Development Laboratory
    Vice Chairman for Musculoskeletal Cellular Therapeutics


    Johnny Huard, Ph.D., of the University of Pittsburgh is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry and Bioengineering, and also the Director of the Growth and Development Laboratory of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. He was recently named the Henry J. Mankin, Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery Research. Dr. Huard is also the Deputy Director of the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (MIRM); Cellular Therapeutic Pillar and an Associate Director of the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative (PTEI). Dr. Huard is co-founder of Cook MyoSite, Inc., a biotechnology company.

    Dr. Huard’s main research focus continues to expand the possibilities of tissue engineering by unlocking the potential of gene therapy and adult stem cell research and transferring research findings into the development of effective treatments for damaged or diseased tissues as they relate to the musculoskeletal system. He has established international recognition for his research discoveries in this area. He has made significant preclinical advances in the isolation, identification and characterization of muscle-derived stem cells. He is currently using those findings to explore and develop cutting-edge treatment programs to address Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and a variety of orthopaedic diseases and injuries including muscle injuries and repair, and the regeneration of bone and articular cartilage. Dr. Huard’s research program is funded by a variety of sources including the National Institutes of Health, Muscular Dystrophy Association, as well as other private and public foundations. Last year Dr. Huard was recognized by University of Pittsburgh Chancellor Mark A. Nordenberg, as a recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award.


    Mitra Lavasani, Ph.D.
    Research Assistant Professor
    Stem Cell Research Center


    Dr. Lavasani received her M.Sc. and Ph.D. from the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently a research assistant professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Lavasani also holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Bioengineering at the Swanson School of Engineering.

    Venous wrapping has been successfully used to bridge nerve defects, both experimentally and clinically, although the biological mechanisms have remained unknown. Dr. Lavasani’s findings revealed that the key biological process for this successful therapy is the contribution of cells migrating from the implanted donor venous graft into the injury site. At the Stem Cell Research Center (SCRC), her multidisciplinary research explores the use of muscle-derived stem/progenitor cells (MDSPCs) transplantation to enhance axonal/glial regeneration and provide functional recovery to peripheral nervous system (PNS) injuries in murine experimental models. Dr. Lavasani is also involved in characterizing the role of stem cells during the aging process using murine experimental models of genetically engineered mice with dramatically shortened lifespans and age-related pathologies. She has used wild type MDSPC-transplantation to delay and ameliorate the pathologies associated with aging using the mouse models of progeroid ERCC1-XPF-deficient mice.

    She has won multiple awards, including the New Investigator Recognition Award (NIRA) at 53rd Annual ORS Meeting (2007); first place in the Scientific Retreat Poster Contest for Cellular Therapies at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine (2007); Chancellor's Outstanding Student, University of Pittsburgh (2006); New Investigator Recognition Award (NIRA) Candidate at the 51st Annual ORS Meeting (2005); and Outstanding Teaching Assistant Awards, University of Pittsburgh, Bioengineering Department (2005).









     
     
    Orthopaedic Research Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
    James D. Kang, MD
    UPMC Chair in Orthopaedic Spinal Surgery
    Executive Vice Chairman for Clinical Services
    Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research


    James D. Kang, MD is an orthopaedic spine surgeon with a career-long interest in the basic science and clinical treatment of intervertebral disc degeneration. (Intervertebral discs are specialized soft tissue structures—“cushions”—interposed between the vertebrae of the spinal column that help keep the spine flexible. Degeneration of intervertebral discs frequently leads to back pain as well as a host of pathologic and disabling conditions—e.g., “slipped disc”—that can necessitate invasive spinal fusion surgery.) As the Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic Research, Dr. Kang is leading the development of novel “minimally invasive” therapies of intervertebral disc degeneration based on the latest gene transfer and stem cell technologies. Currently, Dr. Kang and his research team are performing comprehensive preclinical studies addressing feasibility, safety, and efficacy of these technologies. The results to-date have garnered much favorable international attention—strongly suggesting that cell and molecular approaches have excellent potential for making the translation from the laboratory to the clinic, and ultimately reducing the incidence of back pain and the need for spinal surgery.

    Dr. Kang is a past recipient of the highest societal awards for spinal research conferred by the leading international spine societies—the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine (ISSLS), the Cervical Spine Research Society (CSRS), and the North American Spine Society (NASS).



    Joon Y. Lee, MD
    Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic and Spine Research


    Dr. Lee specializes in cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine surgery in the greater Pittsburgh area. Dr. Lee graduated summa cum laude from University of California, Berkeley, and obtained his medical degree from Yale Medical School. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA. He completed his fellowship in spine surgery at the Rothman Institute-Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. Dr. Lee performs spinal surgery using standard techniques and the latest cutting-edge surgical technologies. These include minimally invasive spine surgery, disc replacement, and microsurgical decompression. For certain spinal problems, these new techniques may allow faster recovery and eliminate the need for spinal fusion. Dr. Lee has been involved in research at the National Institutes of Health, Yale Medical School Research Laboratories, and the Orthopaedic Research Laboratory at the University of Pittsburgh. He has authored numerous articles and lectured extensively on topics such as cervical disc herniation, cervical myelopathy, cervical disc replacement, lumbar disc herniation, lumbar spinal stenosis, lumbar disc replacement, spinal fusion, spine trauma, microsurgical decompression, and non-fusion technologies. For more information you can go to: pittsburghspinesurgery.com.


    Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD

    Dr. Gwendolyn Sowa received a PhD in Biochemistry in 1997 and a degree in medicine in 2000 from the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Wisconsin. She completed her physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, Northwestern Medical School in 2004.


    Gwendolyn Sowa, MD, PhD joined the University of Pittsburgh Departments of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Orthopaedics in 2005 as an Assistant Professor.


    She is Co-Director of the Ferguson Laboratory for Orthopaedic Research, and has an active research program investigating the role of mechanical forces in disc degeneration. Dr Sowa is an award winning researcher and has presented her findings at international conferences and symposia.



    Nam Vo, PhD

    Nam Vo received his PhD degree with Dr. Michael Chamberlin in Biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley in 1998 and completed his Post-Doctoral training with Dr. Michael Lai at the University of Southern California in 2003. His Doctorate research involved detailed molecular analyses of the early stages of E. coli transcription. He continued his training by studying the mechanism and regulation of hepatitis C virus RNA replication, initially as a Postdoctoral Fellow and subsequently as an Assistant Specialist in Dr. Caroline Kane at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Vo also taught Introductory Microbiology at Contra Costa College in 2005-2006.

    Dr. Vo joined the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery of UPMC as a Research Assistant Professor in 2006. He is currently working in the Ferguson Spine Research Laboratory to investigate the molecular and cellular processes responsible for intervertebral disc diseases, with special emphasis on understanding gene regulation of the major disc extracellular matrix constituents.



    James H-C Wang, PhD
    MechanoBiology Laboratory


    Dr. James H-C. Wang is currently an Professor in the Departments of Orthopaedic Surgery, Bioengineering, and Mechanical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He serves as the Director of the MechanoBiology Laboratory in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Dr. Wang is also a Faculty Member at the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Dr. Wang received his Bachelor of Science in Solid Mechanics in 1982 and his Master of Science in Experimental Biomechanics in 1989 from Tongji University. After working for nine years at the same university, he came to the United States in 1991 and studied orthopaedic biomechanics at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery of the Texas Tech Health Science Center. Then, he went to the University of Cincinnati (UC), pursuing his Ph.D. in bioengineering. He spent the next four years at the UC School of Medicine’s Cell Biology Department, where he studied cell mechanobiology. After receiving his Ph.D., he worked as a post-doctoral fellow at Johns Hopkins Medical School and Washington University in St. Louis, where he studied the molecular signaling pathways that lead to actin cytoskeletal remodeling of human endothelial cells in response to dynamic mechanical stretching conditions. Following his research fellowships at these two institutions, Dr. Wang took a faculty position in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 1998 and has remained as a faculty member since then.

    One of Dr. Wang’s major research interests is elucidating the developmental mechanisms of tendinopathy using in vitro and in vivo model systems and enhancing the biological, biochemical, and biomechanical properties of healing tendons and ligaments using functional tissue engineering approaches. In addition, he is interested in the cellular and molecular mechanisms of how mechanical forces are transmitted to cells and translated into anabolic or catabolic cellular responses. In recent years, Dr. Wang has been working on developing new biotechnological tools such as micropost force sensor arrays (MFSA) and cell traction force microscopy (CTFM) for basic cell mechanobiology studies.



     
     
    NeuroMuscular Reasearch Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Scott M. Lephart PhD, ATC - Director

    Dr. Lephart is the director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory as well as Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition and the founding Director of the Neuromuscular Research Laboratory. He holds a secondary appointment as Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He completed his undergraduate degree at Marietta College (Marietta, OH) and both his Master's and Doctoral degrees in Sports Medicine at the University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA). Dr. Lephart is the Principal/Senior investigator leading $43M+ of Department of Defense Human Performance Research initiative. Dr. Lephart's research interests include musculoskeletal sports and military injury prevention and performance optimization.

    Timothy C. Sell, PhD, PT - Associate Director

    Dr. Sell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sports Medicine and Nutrition within the School of Health and Rehabilitation Science. He holds a secondary appointment as Associate Professor in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He is the Director of Graduate Studies in Sports Medicine and the Associate Director of the University of Pittsburgh's Neuromuscular Research Laboratory (NMRL). Dr. Sell's research interests and current ongoing projects include several injury prevention and performance optimization research studies with the Department of Defense, several studies aimed at female anterior cruciate ligament injury prevention, knee biomechanics during athletic tasks, pathomechanics, integration of accelerometers into injury prevention research, and rotator cuff injury prevention.
     
    Contact Information
    John P. Abt, PhD, ATC
    Assistant Professor, Associate Director
    412-246-0460
    jabt@pitt.edu
    Neuromuscular Research Laboratory
    3830 South Water Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15203
     
     
    Orthopaedic BioDynamics Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Scott Tashman, PhD
    Associate Professor
    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
    Orthopaedic Biodynamics Laboratory


    Orthopaedic Biodynamics Laboratory
    Rivertech Office Works
    3820 South Water Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15203
    Telephone: 412.586.3950
    Fax: 412.586.3979
    Email: tashman@pitt.edu
     
    Contact Information
    Lori Freund
    Research Administrator
    412.586.3960
    freundl@upmc.edu
    Rivertech Office Works
    3820 South Water St.
    Pittsburgh, PA 15203
     
     
    Orthopaedic Engineering and Sports Medicine Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Patrick Smolinski, PhD
    Associate Professor, Department of Mechanical Engineering
    Associate Faculty, Department of Bioengineering
    Associate Faculty, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery


    University of Pittsburgh
    Department of Biomechanical Engineering
    Benedum Hall – 631
    3700 O’Hara Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15261
    Telephone: 412-624-9788
    Fax: 412-624-4846
    Email: patsmol@pitt.edu

    Research Interests

    Dr. Smolinski’s primary research interests include the development of new computational simulation methods and the application of computational methods to problems in manufacturing and biomechanics. He is currently involved with research projects in the extended finite method for modeling solidification processes, the finite element modeling of sheet metal forming, modeling the flow of granular material, stress analysis and design of ankle replacement components, and the study of the wear of polyethylene joint components.
     
     
    Sports Orthopaedic Research Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Christopher D. Harner, MD
    Blue Cross Professor of Western Pennsylvania
    Medical Director, UPMC Center for Sports Medicine
    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
    Clinical Director


    Xudong Zhang, PhD
    Associate Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery
    Scientific Director/Sports Orthopaedic Research Laboratory


     
    Contact Information
    Christopher Harner, MD
    Blue Cross Professor
    412-432-3690
    harnercd@upmc.edu
    UPMC Center for Sports Medicine
    3200 South Water Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15203
     
     
    Clinical Research Faculty and Staff Back to top
     
     
    Dr. James J. Irrgang; PhD PT ATC
    Director of Clinical Research


    Dr. Irrgang’s personal research interests include:

    • Development and validation of patient-oriented outcome measures
    • Evidence-based practice
    • Clinical research related to diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of musculoskeletal conditions involving the knee and shoulder

    The clinical research staff includes Research Coordinators and Clinical Research Assistants. Ms. Kimberly Francis serves as the Research Coordinator for the Division of Sports Medicine and Ms. Alma Heyl serves as the Research Coordinator for the Divisions of Adult Reconstruction and Musculoskeletal Oncology. Within their respective Divisions, the Research Coordinators are responsible for establishing and maintaining a patient registry, obtaining and maintaining IRB approval for clinical research studies, subject recruitment, obtaining informed consent, assisting with data collection, data entry, managing administrative and compliance issues and providing supervision for the Research Assistants.

    The Research Assistants are responsible for enrolling new patients into the research registry, instructing patients in the use of the computerized patient-intake system, collecting and recording examination data, recording surgical findings and procedures, entering clinical and surgical data into the computerized clinical data repository, maintaining a schedule to collect follow-up data, identifying and screening subjects for participation in ongoing clinical research studies and ensuring that all clinical research activities are performed in compliance with HIPAA and IRB regulations. The current Research Assistants within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery are Nnamdi Okeke and Sarah Henry, who are third year medical students that are completing a year-long Clinical Research Fellowship and Gregory Bonci.

    Dr. Irrgang’s personal research interests include:

    • Development and validation of patient-oriented outcome measures
    • Evidence-based practice
    • Clinical research related to diagnosis, treatment and prognosis of musculoskeletal conditions involving the knee and shoulder

    The clinical research staff includes Research Coordinators and Clinical Research Assistants. Ms. Kimberly Francis serves as the Research Coordinator for the Division of Sports Medicine and Ms. Alma Heyl serves as the Research Coordinator for the Divisions of Adult Reconstruction and Musculoskeletal Oncology. Within their respective Divisions, the Research Coordinators are responsible for establishing and maintaining a patient registry, obtaining and maintaining IRB approval for clinical research studies, subject recruitment, obtaining informed consent, assisting with data collection, data entry, managing administrative and compliance issues and providing supervision for the Research Assistants.

    The Research Assistants are responsible for enrolling new patients into the research registry, instructing patients in the use of the computerized patient-intake system, collecting and recording examination data, recording surgical findings and procedures, entering clinical and surgical data into the computerized clinical data repository, maintaining a schedule to collect follow-up data, identifying and screening subjects for participation in ongoing clinical research studies and ensuring that all clinical research activities are performed in compliance with HIPAA and IRB regulations. The current Research Assistants within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery are Nnamdi Okeke and Sarah Henry, who are third year medical students that are completing a year-long Clinical Research Fellowship and Gregory Bonci.


     
    Contact Information
    James J. Irrgang; PhD PT ATC
    Director of Clinical Research
    412.605.3351
    irrgangjj@upmc.edu
    Suite 911 Kaufmann Medical Building,  3471 Fifth Avenue,  Pittsburgh, Pa 15213
     
     
    Molecular Therapeutics Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Dr. Bing Wang works as an associate professor and the director of the Molecular Therapy Laboratory in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Wang received his M.D. degree in 1986 from Tong-Ji Medical School, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, and Ph.D. degree in 1998 from the Chinese Academy of Science. Before joining the University of Pittsburgh in 1999, he held an associate professor in the Chinese Academy of Science.


    His current research interest is focused on gene and cell therapies combined with bioengineering for musculoskeletal diseases and regenerative medicine. Dr. Wang is currently leading a research team dedicated to the study of gene and cell-based molecular treatment for musculoskeletal diseases and regenerative medicine, mainly for repair and regeneration of muscle, bone, ligament, tendon, and joint capsules. In addition to the viral vector-mediated in vivo gene replacement and anti-inflammation for the treatment of genetic musculoskeletal diseases, his laboratory also focuses on genetically engineering stem cells that enhance osteogenesis or chondrogenesis for bone and cartilage healing by using ex vivo gene transfer of growth factors in stem cell. Since 2008, he has authored and co-authored 22 peer-reviewed publications, 2 review papers, 3 book chapters, and has published 53 abstracts in international conferences. As an expert in gene therapy, Dr. Wang has several collaborations and participates in the Editorials Boards of several professional journals. Dr. Wang was elected to the Nominating Committee of the Orthopaedic Research Society for a 2013-2014 term. He also continues to serve as a committee member of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy -The Musculoskeletal Gene & Cell Therapy - for another term, 2013 to 2016.
     
    Contact Information
    Bing Wang, MD, PhD.
    Associate Professor,br>Director, Molecular Therapeutics Laboratory
    412.383.6955
    bingwang@pitt.edu
    Stem Cell Research Center
    Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
    University of Pittsburgh
    450 Technology Drive
    Bridgeside Point II
    Suite 216
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219
     
    Links
  • Molecular Therapeutics Laboratory
  •  
     
    Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Dr. Rocky S. Tuan is the Director of the Cellular and Molecular Engineering Lab, located in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, within the School of Medicine, here at the University of Pittsburgh.

    Rocky is also a Professor and the Executive Vice Chairman for Orthopaedic Research, and serves as the Arthur J. Rooney, Sr. Chair Professor in Sports Medicine, within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. He also holds a secondary appointment as a Professor within the Department of Bioengineering.

    "My longstanding research activities in musculoskeletal biology and tissue regeneration cover basic science and engineering, as well as translational and clinical applications. In basic research, my interests range from skeletal patterning and embryonic cartilage development, to mechanistic aspects of cell signaling and matrix biology, to the biology of adult stem cells and reprogrammed stem cells. My translational and engineering investigations include nanomaterials, bioscaffold design, bioreactor technology, the biology of cell-material interactions, and tissue engineering and regeneration. My clinical research topics of interest include periprosthetic osteolysis, molecular diagnosis of orthopaedic infection, development of biodegradable drug delivery systems, articular cartilage repair, and developmental defects of the skeletal system. I have a long, established history in the biology of adult stem cells, particularly sourcing and mechanistic analysis of the signaling mechanisms regulating their proliferation and differentiation. In addition, I have extensive experience in applying adult stem cells for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine. We have also studied the trophic influence of adult stem cells on the immune and vasculoendothelial systems as well as tissue functions."

    Resources and Facilities at the Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering and Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, University of Pittsburgh:

    CCME research is carried out in the newly established Center for Cellular and Molecular Engineering of the University of Pittsburgh, located on second floor of the BSP-2 Building. The CCME represents the University’s continued commitment to interdisciplinary research activities that link biomedical sciences and engineering disciplines. Dr. Rocky S. Tuan, has been recruited to direct this new Center, which will include faculty members from various departments in the School of Medicine, Dental School as well as School of Engineering. Dr. Tuan’s lab in the CCME is located one floor away from the McGowan Institute for Regenerative Medicine and adjacent to the Department of Bioengineering. Dr. Tuan’s lab is also located two floors away from the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics in the new BSP-2 Building. Thus, expertise in cell and molecular biology, bioengineering and regenerative medicine is amply represented in the immediate environment of the performance site.

    Dr. Tuan's laboratory is a brand new facility that currently occupies approximately 4,000 sq ft of contiguous laboratory space, and consists of an open-laboratory set up that can accommodate over 20 researchers for wet lab and engineering activities. Dedicated spaces and instrumentations are available for cell and tissue culture, biomaterials fabrication, biomechanics, microscopy and imaging, and molecular analyses. Ample computers with ethernet connection are available for lab personnel to access online literature and data transfer. There is ready access to core facilities, such as fluorescence-activated cell sorting equipment, confocal laser scanning microscope, micro-CT, X-ray imager, and genomics and proteomics facility.


    Animal and vivarium facility is a brand new component of the BSP-2 building, located on the first floor of the building, and consists of 15,000 sq ft of space, with over 50% being support space and 300 square feet for rodent surgery.

     
    Contact Information
    Tim McCann
    Research Administrator
    412-624-7639
    mccannt@pitt.edu
    Bridgeside Point II, 2nd Floor
    450 Technology Drive
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219
     
     
    Orthopaedic Robotics Laboratory Faculty Back to top
     
     
     
    Contact Information
    Kevin M. Bell, PhD
    Research Assistant Professor
    kmb7@pitt.edu
    Center for Bioengineering - CNBIO
    300 Technology Drive
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219
     
    Links
  •  
     
    Sports Medicine Concussion Program Lab Faculty Back to top
     
     
    Michael W. Collins, PhD, Associate Professor, Research Director

    Anthony Kontos, PhD, Associate Professor, Assistant Research Director

    Jonathan French, PsyD, Instructor

    Luke Henry, PhD, Instructor

    Eric Johnson, PsyD, Assistant Professor

    Nathan Kegel, PhD, Assistant Professor

    Alicia Puskar, PsyD, Instructor

    Erin Reynolds, PsyD, Instructor

    Vanessa Fazio Sumrok, PhD, Assistant Professor
     
    Contact Information
    Anthony Kontos, PhD
    Associate Professor, Assistant Research Director
    akontos@pitt.edu
    UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program
    UPMC Center for Sports Medicine
    3200 S. Water Street
    Pittsburgh, PA 15203
     
     
     
     


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