April – May is conference season where those of us that lecture nationally are on the road giving presentations at this meeting or that association. I’ve just returned from New Orleans having finished most of my speaking engagements, the last being later this month at Baylor College of Medicine. This morning’s blog is both about that upcoming talk and a gestalt of where we are in 2015, in physician led stem cell therapies. Or to put a finer point on it, the state of physician stem cell education is poor.
First, my lecture at Baylor is a big honor. I’ve been picked by the residents as the lecturer they wanted to hear from for their annual lecture. So what can I tell those residents about the state of the art of stem cell therapy for orthopedic injuries in 2015 after lecturing at all of these conferences?
The state of orthopedic stem cell therapy is hopeful, confused, and woefully misinformed, all at the same time. On the hopeful side, we’re seeing an explosion in interest by physicians, which is always a good thing. They are beginning to understand en masse, that stem cell therapies will be their future. It’s confused because we have many novices and few established physician experts. Most of the docs claiming to be experts in the last few years know little about the basic science behind these therapies, but think nothing of hitting the paid lecture circuit. So as I told one young doctor this past month, right now it’s the blind leading the blind. In addition, misinformation is everywhere. What is legal, illegal, right, wrong, ethical, unethical are all living in a twilight zone of misinformation. Add in that 98% of the doctors I’ve spoken to this past month don’t even know how to perform a basic stem cell harvest procedure that will actually maximize stem cells and you get an idea of just how misinformed.
The upshot? It’s fantastic to see so many doctors who want to do this work, but upsetting to see confusion and misinformation reign. Maybe by educating young physicians correctly, we can at least be sure that the next generation of physicians will be more knowledgeable about stem cells than their forebears!