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Nicholas U. Ahn, MD, Associate Professor

Dr. Ahn’s current research is geared both towards clinical and basic science studies. His primary basic science focus is on disk degeneration and mechanisms to reverse the degenerative process. His studies on rabbit disk metabolism demonstrated that decreased nutrition is a primary component in disk cell death. His clinical research has focused on risk factors for spinal degenerative disorders and on clinical outcomes after spinal surgery. He performed a prospective 52-year study which demonstrated that smoking, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia are risk factors in low back pain and lumbar spondylosis. This suggested that the vascular hypothesis of low back pain is valid and that diminished blood supply to lumbar disks is a causative factor in lumbar degeneration. Also, his post-operative outcomes studies demonstrated that current techniques for treatment of back pain have low success rates. This has outlined the need for new, biologic solutions for this problem which relates to the basic science aspect of his research. Finally, he is currently involved with the development of a clinical database at Case to facilitate clinical research with a focus on outcomes of surgical and nonsurgical treatments for different musculoskeletal disorders.