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Brian Pietrosimone, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science
Adjunct Professor, Department of Orthopedics
Adjunct 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 190 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
Mid-Career Award. Biomechanics Interest Group. American College of Sports Medicine. 2022
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

Establishing a FastOA-Focused Cohort Following Revision ACL Reconstruction (Principal Investigator), Awarded by the Arthritis Foundation. 2022-2024

Limb Underloading post ACL Reconstruction and Increased Cartilage Strain: Identifying Biomechanics Phenotypes at Risk for Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis and the Potential for Precision Gait Retraining in Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis Prevention (Principal Investigator), Awarded by Thurston Arthritis Research Center. 2021-2023

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

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

Elizabeth Bjornsen, M.S.  
3rd 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 are to understand the gait biomechanical changes that occur after ACL injury and reconstruction, with the ultimate goal of reducing risk of early osteoarthritis development. Elizabeth also has a special interest in the pediatric ACL patient population.

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

 

 

Ashley Buck, M.S. 
1st Year Doctoral Student

Education:
B.S. Pepperdine University, 2020
M.S. Seattle University, 2022

Contact Information:
Email: anbuck@unc.edu
Twitter: @Ashley__Buck

My primary research interests are in exploring the impacts of ACL injury on knee biomechanics and biochemistry to further understand the development of post-traumatic osteoarthritis. I have also worked with the Osteoarthritis Action Alliance (OAAA) in exploring the nutritional and educational needs of individuals with osteoarthritis to improve disease management.

PubMed Link: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/myncbi/10WWtmkoBpjgcI/bibliography/public/

 

Chrisitn Buttner, M.S.
PhD Visiting Scholar

Education:
B.Sc. Sports Engineering, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, 2015
M.Sc. Sports Engineering, Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany, 2015

Christin is a visiting PhD from Germany. Her research focuses on the impact of daily movement and physical activity on knee joint health after ACL injury. She is especially interested in changes of daily knee loading and its relationship to the onset of post-traumatic osteoarthritis. With her research, she hopes to contribute to the establishment of adequate daily loading doses to prevent the onset of post-traumatic osteoarthritis after ACL injury.

 

  


Research Staff and Affiliates

 

Natalia Favoreto, MS, CCRC  
Clinical Research Coordinator

Education:
B.S. East Carolina University, 2012
M.S. East Carolina University, 2015

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

Natalia is a research coordinator responsible for overseeing multiple longitudinal studies that seek to understand the development of post-traumatic knee arthritis. Natalia assists with research study design, implementation and evaluation including regulatory document development and maintenance, coordination of patient recruitment and retention as well as managing various aspects of the studies. She has more than 10 years of clinical research experience and is well-versed in various aspects of clinical trial recruitment and operations. The outcomes of her work will contribute to the advancement of new treatment strategies to lower the risk of posttraumatic osteoarthritis and improve outcomes following knee injuries.

 

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 December 2020 Exercise and Sport Science Program graduate at UNC Chapel Hill. She primarily assists with data collection and MRI data processing in the lab, including manual t1rho cartilage segmentation for multiple studies.  Jamison plans to attend nursing school to become a nurse midwife. As a nurse midwife, she will apply her clinical research experience by using evidence-based research in her practice.

 

Daniel O’Connell
Medical Student Research Assistant

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

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

Year: School of Medicine class of 2024. Daniel’s research interests include Sports medicine, ACL reconstruction, osteoarthritis, surgical cost efficiency.

 

 

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:

Evan Rosenburg
Undergraduate Research Assistant

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

Research Interests: Evan is assisting on a gait retraining study following ACLR. As someone who has previously undergone an ACL-reconstruction, Evan is particularly interested in the clinical application of this research and hopes to further pursue this interest in medical school.

 

Erin Carico
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Senior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science, Health and Society Minor, and Sports Medicine Minor

Research Interests: Erin joined the lab group as an undergraduate research assistant in August 2021. Erin has worked on the Zilretta Injection project and is now assisting on the ACL Tar Heal Study. Her primary research interest is analyzing gait biomechanics of the lower extremities in correlation with the rehabilitation process and plans to further pursue this interest in physical therapy school.

 

Olivia Sallis
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: : Exercise and Sport Science with a minor in Chemistry and Spanish for the Health Professions

Research Interests: Olivia is an undergraduate research assistant in the Pietrosimone Lab Group majoring in Exercise and Sport Science and minoring in Sports Medicine and Spanish for the Health Professions. She is interested in how load shifting after ACL repair affects the risk of developing osteoarthritis, and if there is a way to prevent its development through gait intervention. She plans to apply to medical school after graduation to pursue a career in Orthopedic Surgery.

 

 

Noah Shepanek
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: : Exercise and Sport Science Fitness Professional (B.A) and Biology (B.A)

Research Interests: Noah is an undergraduate research assistant in the Pietrosimone Lab Group assisting with the Gait Retraining Study. As an athlete on the UNC Fencing Team who has dealt with knee injuries in the past, he is interested in training in gait biomechanics. After graduation, Noah plans to pursue this interest in medical school.

 

Winter Earnhardt
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A., minor Medicine, Literature, and Culture

Research Interests: Winter works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Pietrosimone Lab Group studying ACL gait retraining post reconstruction. She plans to attend PT school after graduation and hopes to apply her research here into future clinical practices.

 

Dan Geinosky
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A, History Minor, Coaching Education Minor

Research Interests: Dan is an undergraduate research assistant who is majoring in Exercise and Sport Science. He is interested in the biomechanics of the knee during gait after ACL reconstruction. He is looking to pursue physical therapy school upon graduation and hopes to apply the knowledge he has gained here to a clinical PT setting.

 

Isabel Cardenas
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A, Nutrition minor

Research Interests: Isabel works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Pietrosimone Lab assisting with the Zilretta injection project and the ACL Tarheal study. She is interested in learning about the onset of osteoarthritis developing in individuals who have ACL injuries. Isabel hopes to use her knowledge from the lab to further assist her in her future clinical nursing classes.

Lena Einaudi
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A, in Italian and Health and Society minor

Research Interests: Lena works as an undergraduate research assistant in the Pietrosimone Lab assisting with the ACL Tar Heal study. She is interested mainly in the biomechanics of the lower extremity and plans to go to Physical Therapy school after graduation.

 

 

Nicolai Escobal
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Year:  Junior
Major: Exercise and Sport Science B.A, Sports Administration with Entrepreneur minor

Research Interests:  Nicolai has been an undergraduate research assistant in the lab since Summer 2022. After previously tearing his ACL, Nicolai developed a personal interest in understanding the clinical outcomes following ACL injury and reconstruction. He plans to apply pursue a clinical career following graduation.


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.

Cassidy Kershner, Medical Student, University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Former Research Technician. Graduated 2021.

Alyssa Evans-Pickett PhD. Graduated 2022.


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

Establishing a FastOA-Focused Cohort Following Revision ACL Reconstruction (Principal Investigator), Awarded by the Arthritis Foundation. 2022-2024

Limb Underloading post ACL Reconstruction and Increased Cartilage Strain: Identifying Biomechanics Phenotypes at Risk for Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis and the Potential for Precision Gait Retraining in Posttraumatic Osteoarthritis Prevention (Principal Investigator), Awarded by Thurston Arthritis Research Center. 2021-2023

Development of a Portable Gait Biofeedback System for Rehabilitation of Musculoskeletal Conditions (Principal Investigator), Awarded by Eshelman Innovation Institute. 2021-2023

Effect of ZILRETTA Injection on neuromuscular function, gait biomechanics and physical performance (Principal Investigator), Investigator Initiated Clinical Study Grant Awarded by Flexion Therapeutics. 2020-2023

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. 2018-2020

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

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


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.

2. 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.

3. Interactions should take place in an outdoor setting, if possible.

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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