AO Research Institute Davos

The ARI is the research arm of the AO Foundation (, a worldwide clinical network of more than 20,000 orthopaedic surgeons. The institute has been dedicated to fracture healing after trauma and is one of the leading institutes in this field. It has over 25 years’ experience in cartilage and bone repair, and since 2000 has been performing research into intervertebral disc. Since 1999, the cell therapy area has been run by Prof. Mauro Alini, who has expanded the research activities into Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) technology and gene therapy. The entire institute is certified according to ISO 9001:2000. Additionally, Biomechanical R&D with- in the Biomedical Services Program are certified as medical device manufacturer according to ISO 13485:2003. ARI is composed of around 55 researchers, including 3 program leaders, 13 focus area leaders, 7 post-docs, 11 PhD students and various technical staff.

At the ARI, the Regenerative Orthopaedics Program develops biological approaches addressing pathologies of the musculoskeletal system, with a particular focus on bone and cartilage tissues. ARI has developed extensive experience in designing and building custom made bioreactors for cartilage, disc and bone, scaffold materials (biodegradable polyurethane) and hydrogels (hyaluronic acid based) to enable cell encapsulation for biomechanical and cell signalling studies. The ultimate goal is to define strategies for repair of degenerative disorders of the skeleton and to re-establish its functionality. The general expertise of ARI lies in combining a cell therapy approach (in vitro and ex vivo studies) using MSCs for example, and the use of specifically designed bioreactors allowing control over the tissue environment. The group has more than 20 years’ experience with the use of custom-made bioreactors for the application of physiologically relevant mechanical loads on cartilage, disc and bone.