Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory

Penn Vet, surgery at New Bolton CenterThe Translational Services Program (non-clinical and clinical) is one of the core capabilities of the Penn Vet CORL Group in the Section of Surgery, Department of Clinical Studies New Bolton Center. It is comprised of the Surgical Models Services, Non-Clinical (GLP) and Clinical (VICH-GL9) Trials Design and Management, Imaging and Histological Services.

The focus of the Translational Services Program is directed towards supporting product development at any level providing a “one-stop-and-shop” R&D platform within and outside the University of Pennsylvania biomedical community. This program has the skills, experience and knowledge to assist researchers, product developers and project managers in a modular manner starting with project design and ending with data analysis, study audits, final report, regulatory filings and publication. The main partners for collaborative projects are scientists from the greater Philadelphia area, national and international clinicians, material scientists and industrial partners. The investigations are typically of an applied nature and are conducted under a research agreement or a fee for services arrangement.

The PENN VET CORL Group in its current make-up has been a partner in pivotal studies for 10 years, assisting device manufacturers in the successful translation of novel therapeutic interventions and its submission of regulatory filings.

The Translational Services Program has a well-established infrastructure within New Bolton Center’s Hospital for Large Animals at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.  Access to clinical expertise in various veterinary specialties to carry out research projects helps further leverage study design and execution according to the highest standards. A rigorous compliance program (GLP & VICH-GL9) consisting of an internal Quality Assurance Unit and an external Q/A entity monitor all regulated projects.

The Focus Areas of the Translational Services Program

  • Surgical Models (with emphasis on clinical relevance)

  • Non-Clinical (GLP) and Clinical (VICH-GL9) Trial Design and Management

  • Bioskills Laboratory

  • Histological Services

Penn Vet, CORLSurgery Suite with CT and Fluoroscopy (neurovascular capabilities)

Our designated surgery suite, equipped with a C-arm fluoroscopy, CT and arthroscopy equipment available as required provides an ideal setting for a wide range of surgical procedures including cath lab interventions.

Pre-surgical Planning, Device Prototyping & Mechanical Device Testing

Designated laboratory space accommodates in vitro and ex vivo analyses including mechanical testing with a material-testing machine (Instron 1331) linked to LabView™ equipped with various pressure sensor systems and fluoroscopic capabilities during testing for prototyping of surgical devices and surgical planning. Ex vivo tissue dissection and preparation, implant retrievals and cadaveric studies can also be conducted in this location.  

Histological Services

Our specialized in-house histology group supported by state of the art equipment for calcified and non-calcified tissue processing and imaging provides rapid turn around of specimen preparation. 

Veterinary Care

CORL veterinarians provide expert care for all our animals. Certified staff and faculty of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine New Bolton Center Campus augment the core team at CORL and include anesthesia, central supply (surgical service, equipment and sterilization) and operating room personnel.

Ancillary Facilities

Certified staff and faculty are available to the clinical and research community of New Bolton Center with services available to CORL as required.

  • Clinical Pathology Laboratory

  • Pathology and Necropsy Service (large animal pathologists)

  • Microbiology, Toxicology , ISO certified Drug Lab

  • Digital Radiography, Ultrasound, ESOATE open MRI, Scintigraphy

  • Treadmill facility

  • Telemetric accelerometer systems

  • Imaging cores for SEM, Micro-CT and specialized microscopy

  • Biomics core for molecular deep sequencing and bioinformatics

Our laboratory has extensive experience testing novel orthopedic trauma  systems in a variety of models in both academic and industrially-driven settings. This uniquely qualifies us to advise and assist with all stages of project development and device testing. Our excellently equipped facilities enable in vitro and ex vivo pre-surgical planning, test article design and development as well as mechanical testing. We have expertise designing and planning in vivo experimental studies in accordance with guidelines and regulations set forth by various regulatory bodies.

Long Bone Trauma

  • We have perfected multiple fracture-healing models with which to assess safety and efficacy of orthopedic long bone fracture repair systems, including augmentation technologies, and functionalized hardware surface technologies in both a clean and infected setting.

Cranio-Maxillo-Facial (CMF)

  • Using specialized craniotomy equipment we can test craniofacial fixation devices and in situ performance of novel biomaterials.

Sports Medicine

  • Our laboratory uses a variety of models to evaluate the safety and efficacy of emerging technologies for total or subtotal articular cartilage resurfacing, subtotal or total meniscus replacement, etc.


  • We have experience in various interbody fusion models, laminectomy and craniotomy models designed to evaluate bioperformance of test articles in an acute or chronic setting. Furthermore, our laboratory has developed protocols for open and percutaneous induction of intervertebral disc degeneration.

Material Bioperformance Testing

  • We have standardized defect models for pre-clinical safety and efficacy evaluation  of test articles using ISO 10995 standards.

Artherosclerosis Models for Vascular Interventions

  • Using validated protocols, we provide various disease models to study novel vascular interventions in an acute or chronic setting.

  • Tissue-device interface histologyPenn Vet, CORL
  • Calcified and decalcified bone
  • Soft tissue, vascular stents
  • Fresh-frozen soft and hard tissue processing 

The Penn Vet CORL histology lab has a 30 year plus history in orthopedic tissue processing specializing in hard tissue histology containing devices of various materials. State of the art equipment for fresh frozen and fixed soft tissue processing with paraffin embedding complement our services offered.

Non-regulated projects are analyzed in-house in collaboration with our colleagues in the Penn Vet Department of Pathobiology. Specimens of trials  supporting regulatory submissions are analyzed by our contributing test sites with whom we have a long-standing collaboration.

Our Address:

Comparative Orthopaedic Research Laboratory
University of Pennsylvania
New Bolton Center
382 West Street Rd
Kennett Square, PA 19348

Research Team
  Name Title
 Thomas P. Schaer, VMD
 610-925-6237  corl@vet.upenn.edu
 Joanne Haughan, Mag.Med.Vet
 Research Associate,
Study Director
 Zosia Zawacki, VMD
 Research Fellow
 Karie L. Durynski, AS
 Quality Assurance Unit
 Animal Care & Operating
Room Coordinator
 Large Animal Attendant