Dr. Johnny Huard
Johnny Huard starts his day with a five-mile run. Like most runners, he loves the endorphins. But the knee pain? Not so much. “I feel it today,” he says, “and I’ll feel it tomorrow.”
But he isn’t just gritting his teeth and swallowing ibuprofen. Johnny Huard, Ph.D., regenerative-medicine researcher—is racing toward a remedy. A way to help the body age slower and heal faster. And he’s doing key components of that work in Vail. He is chief scientific officer at Steadman Philippon Research Institute and director of the Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine.
In addition, Dr. Huard remains the Distinguished Wallace Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.
Why the partnership in Vail? “Some of the best orthopaedic surgeons in the world are here,” he says. “And they want to be even better and help their patients heal more swiftly.”
The key is stem cells—those jack-of-all-trade cells that can morph into any type of tissue in the body. Dr. Huard should know: He’s spent 20 years unlocking the secrets of cell damage and tissue repair.
The goal of his research is to turbocharge the body’s repair mechanism by culturing a patient’s own stem cells and boosting the supply. “If we take a muscle biopsy that contains a million cells, about 100 of those will actually be stem cells,” he says. “But we can culture those 100, and in three weeks, we’ll have 20 million stem cells.”
Studies suggest stem-cell reinforcements can speed healing of injured patients. And for aging patients, a stem-cell boost can help the body resist normal wear and tear and potentially fight diseases.
“Stem cells can’t make you younger,” Dr. Huard points out. “But they can keep you healthier, and help you age better.”