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Brian Pietrosimone, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Orthopedics
Adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Allied Health

Contact Information:
Email: brian@unc.edu
Twitter: @BPietrosimone

 

Dr. Pietrosimone’s research focuses on understanding the multifaceted development of posttraumatic osteoarthritis following knee injuries. He is particularly interested in developing multimodal treatment strategies to prevent posttraumatic osteoarthritis in those who have sustained an anterior cruciate ligament injury. Dr. Pietrosimone has published over 160 peer-reviewed original research manuscripts and has lectured nationally and internationally on the research he has conducted with his team.

PubMed Link:  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1-UxabBDh5oAg/bibliography/public/

Previous Education
Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2009
M.Ed., University of Virginia, 2006
B.S., Springfield College, 2005

Awards and Honors
Fellow, American College of Sports Medicine. 2017
Freddie Fu New Investigator Award. National Athletic Trainers’ Association Research and Education Foundation. 2015
Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Department of Exercise and Sport Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 2015

 

Current Grant Funding & Research Projects

Biomechanical Changes Following ACL Injury that Influence the Development of Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis (Principal Investigator), Awarded by the Arthritis Foundation. 2020-2023

In Vivo Manipulation of Mechanical Loading: Using Real-Time Biofeedback to Strategically Understand the Acute Biomechanical, Biochemical and Structural Changes induced by Lower Extremity Joint Loading (Co-Principal Investigator), Awarded by National Institutes of Health. 2020-2023

Development of a Portable Gait Biofeedback System for Rehabilitation of Musculoskeletal Conditions (Principal Investigator), Awarded by Eshelman Innovation Institute. 2021-2022

Effect of ZILRETTA Injection on neuromuscular function, gait biomechanics and physical performance (Principal Investigator), Investigator Initiated Clinical Study Grant Awarded by Flexion Therapeutics. 2020-2022

Effect of Skeletal Maturity on Biomarkers for Post- traumatic OA after ACL Injury (Co-Principal Investigator), Awarded by North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute. 2020-2022

Preventing Incident Knee Osteoarthritis: The Osteoarthritis Prevention Study (TOPS) (Co-Investigator), Awarded by National Institutes of Health. 2020-2022

Effect of Knee Bracing on Improving Pain & Disability, Physical Performance, Physical Activity and Femoral Cartilage Deformation in Individuals with Medial Compartment Knee Osteoarthritis (Principal Investigator), Awarded by American Orthotic & Prosthetic Association.

 

Lab Video: https://www.unc.edu/discover/stopping-arthritis-before-it-starts/

 


The Team


Post-Doctoral Research Associates

Caroline Lisee, Ph.D., ATC
Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Educational Background:
B.S.      Ithaca College, 2013
M.Ed.   University of Virginia, 2016
Ph.D.    Michigan State University, 2020

 

Contact Information:
Email: liseecar@email.unc.edu
Twitter: @CarolineLisee
Pubmed: Caroline Lisee

Caroline’s primary research interests are to identify modifiable aspects of joint mechanical loading and develop evidence-based interventions to maintain knee joint health, reduce disability, and improve quality of life in individuals with a history of ACL injury and ACLR. Caroline hopes to accomplish this goal by bridging the gap between clinical and free-living assessment of mechanical loading behavior of patients through the application of biomechanics and wearable sensors to prevent the onset or slow the progression of post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

PubMed Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/1JUwfvfczOikr/bibliography/public/

 

Cortney Armitano-Lago, Ph.D., ATC
Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Educational Background:
B.S.      Campbell University, 2010
M.S.     University of Rhode Island, 2013
Ph.D.    Old Dominion University, 2019

Contact Information:
Email: carmitan@email.unc.edu
Twitter: @ArmitanoLago

Pubmed:  Cortney Armitano-Lago

Cortney is an experienced Postdoctoral Research Associate with a demonstrated history of working in the higher education industry. Her current research focuses on the optimization of gait biomechanics in individuals following ACL reconstruction (ACLR) to reduce the risk of the development of posttraumatic osteoarthritis. She is further interested in integrating innovative technologies such as augmented and virtual reality as well as wearable gait biofeedback systems to improve injury prevention and enhance performance in sports.


Doctoral Students

Alyssa Evans-Pickett, M.S.  
4th Year Doctoral Student

Educational Background:
B.S.      Brigham Young University, 2016
M.S.     Brigham Young University, 2018

Contact Information:
Email: alyssa7evans@unc.edu
Twitter: @alyssa7evans

Working under the direction of Dr. Brian Pietrosimone, she conducts research in the area of knee biomechanics and biochemistry, with special interests in post-traumatic osteoarthritis. She is a registered member of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and Osteoarthritis Research Society International (OARSI).

 

 

Elizabeth Bjornsen, M.S.  
2nd Year Doctoral Student

Education:
B.S. Taylor University, 2019
M.S. University of Arkansas, 2020

Contact Information:
Email: ebjornse@unc.email.edu

Elizabeth’s current research interests lie in understanding biomechanical outcomes following ACL injury and the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis.

 


Research Technicians and Affiliates

Cassidy Kershner
Research Technician

Education:
B.S. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2021

Contact Information:
Email: cekersh@live.unc.edu

Cassidy has worked in the lab since 2018 as an undergraduate research assistant, and has transitioned to a part time role following graduation in May of 2017. She is currently acting as a study coordinator for the Zilretta Injection project and is further assisting on the Real-Time Biofeedback Study. Cassidy is primarily interested in the study of recovery and prevention mechanisms through the lens of musculoskeletal disability, and plans to further explore this interest in medical school.

 

Jamison Dorsey
Research Technician

Education:
B.S. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2020

Contact Information:
Email: marissaj@live.unc.edu

Jamison is a Fall 2020 graduate of the Exercise and Sport Science Program at UNC Chapel Hill. In the lab, she is currently assisting with data collection and MRI data processing for multiple studies. She has aspirations to combine her interests by completing dental school and conducting research focused on sports dentistry and the impact of social determinants on oral health.

 

Jessica Hu
Medical Student Research Assistant

Education
B.S. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2018

Contact Information:
Email: jessica_hu@med.unc.edu

Jessica’s previous research experience included studies on cartilage regeneration in mouse models and the efficacy of hydrogel cartilage implants in rabbit models. With the Pietrosimone Lab, she is currently studying cartilage and biomechanical changes after ACL injury. Jessica plans to pursue a career in sports medicine.

 

 

Eric Cal
Medical Student Research Assistant

Education:
B.S. U.S. Naval Academy, 2020

Contact Information:
Email: eric_cal@med.unc.edu

Eric is a medical student research assistant assisting with ultra sound segmentation for further analysis of cartilage compositional changes following ACLR.

 

 

Madison Franek
Clinical Research Advisor

Education:
B.S. University of South Florida, 2015
D.PT. Duke University, 2018
CSOMT. Institute for Athlete Regeneration, 2020

Contact Information:
Email: Madison.Franek@unchealth.unc.edu

As an orthopedic and sports physical therapist, Madi’s primary clinical interests include the management of traumatic and non-traumatic knee injuries with a specific interest in anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries. As a clinical research advisor to the Pietrosimone Lab Group, his research interest includes better understanding the complex relationship between isolated capacity and task ability. In an attempt to optimize one’s quality of life after having sustained a traumatic knee injury, such as an ACL tear, better understanding this complex interplay may help minimize the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis and may better restore individuals to optimal levels of performance whether that be a return to everyday or sports-related activities.


Undergraduate Volunteer Research Assistants:

 

Abby Pitcarin
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Senior
Major: Biology B.S., Chemistry minor

Research Interests: Abby is an undergraduate research assistant who is assisting in the Zilretta Injection project and ACL Tar Heal study.  As an athlete who has dealt with her fair share of knee complications, she is very interested in orthopedics, especially when it comes to the biomechanics of the knee.  Abby plans on applying to medical school or PA school after graduation.

 

 

Banks Cisne
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Senior
Major: Biology B.S., Economics B.A.

Research Interests: Banks is primarily interested in the biomechanical and biochemical consequences of ACLR and the development of interventions to improve clinical outcomes following ACLR.

 

 

Courtney Lowman
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Senior (Graduating Fall, 2021)
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A., Coaching Education minor, Health and Society minor

 Research Interests: Courtney is a senior undergraduate research assistant majoring in Exercise and Sport Science. She is interested in the biomechanics of the lower extremities after ACL reconstruction. She plans to apply to graduate school upon graduation to pursue a career in physical therapy. In her free time she enjoys going to the gym, playing with her dog Bella, and spending quality time with friends.

 

 

Erica Zurbuch
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Senior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A., Chemistry minor, Spanish for the Health Professions minor

 Research Interests: Erica joined the lab group as an undergraduate research assistant in December of 2020. Throughout her time in the lab, Erica has worked on the Zilretta Injection project and is now assisting on the ACL Tar Heal Study. Her primary research interest is analyzing modifications in gait biomechanics in individuals with knee osteoarthritis to identify potential contributing factors, as well as prevention measures. After graduation, Erica plans to further pursue this interest in medical school.

 

Maya Berger
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Senior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A.

Research Interests: Maya is an undergraduate research assistant who is assisting in the ACL Tar Heal Study.  She is interested in the area of biomechanics of the knee in hopes of preventing the onset or slowing the progression of post-traumatic osteoarthritis in individuals who have sustained ACL injuries and ACL repairs.  Maya also plans to further explore these interests in medical school.

 

Evan Rosenburg
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: Biology B.S., Chemistry minor, History minor

Research Interests: Evan works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Pietrosimone Lab Group assisting on the Strength and Insole Study, which correlates gait adaptability capacity with quadriceps strength for individuals post-ACL reconstruction. As someone who has previously undergone an ACL-reconstruction, Evan is particularly interested in changes in gait biomechanics and hopes to further pursue this interest in medical school.

 

Tyler Parrish
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: Biology B.S., Political Science B.S., Chemistry minor

Research Interests: Tyler is interested in investigating how load shifting after ACLR affects knee cartilage long term as well as potentially examining if joint damage from ACLR recovery may be a precursor for osteoarthritis. In the future, he hopes to do cancer research after medical school, particularly with CRISPR-Cas9 and therapy development.

 


Lab Group Alumni

Brittney Luc-Harkey PhD, Clinical Research Manager, Neurological Clinical Research Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital. Graduated 2017.

Matthew Harkey PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Michigan State University. Graduated 2017.

Kyle Wallace, Medical Student, Georgetown University School of Medicine. Former Research Technician. Graduated 2019.

Hope Davis-Wilson PhD, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Interdisciplinary Movement Science Lab, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Graduated 2020.

Steven Pfeiffer PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Applied Health and Wellness, Ohio University. Graduated 2020.


What steps are the study team and UNC taking to prevent the spread of COVID?

To help prevent the spread of COVID study teams across UNC research personnel are taking the following steps:

  1. Prior to a face-to-face visit, research personnel must confirm the your appointment and perform telephone wellness screenings no more than 24 hours prior to the scheduled visit.
  1. During face-to-face visits, research personnel and you should maintain a physical distance of 6 feet whenever possible, wear a facemask and eye protection, and perform hand hygiene before and after face-to-face interaction with all participants.
  1. Interactions should take place in an outdoor setting, if possible.
  1. Research personnel have developed and implemented a regular schedule for frequently cleaning and wiping touched surfaces and objects (e.g., door and cabinet handles, faucets, light switches, keyboards, and other frequently touched objects) with an approved disinfectant or disinfectant wipes. Research personnel will also follow routine surface decontamination of common equipment like instrumentation and computers. Disinfecting any surfaces that may be thought to be contaminated and use an approved disinfectant such as a 1:10 dilution of bleach or 60% to 90% alcohol solution.
  1. Research that involves participants of 10 or fewer individuals in a group, such as a focus group, is allowed. Seating should be arranged to allow 6 feet between group members, and all focus group participants must wear masks.
  1. If research involves travel or overnight stays, accommodation and meals should allow for adequate physical distancing (6 feet or more) wherever feasible. Vehicle occupancy should be limited to no more than two people in a standard car, with open windows while travelling, if possible. Vehicle occupants should wear masks.
  1. Some locations may have additional safety procedures. If your visit is at such a location, the study team will describe what to expect when they call to confirm your study visit.