Nicholas Bernthal_KL2 Awardee

Implant infection continues to be a leading cause of increased morbidity and mortality for patients following surgery and can result in costly follow-up procedures to remove and replace the implant. 

Nicholas M. Bernthal, MD, current chair and executive medical director of the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and former UCLA CTSI KL2 Program scholar, is developing a promising antibacterial coating to prevent post-operative implant infections following orthopaedic surgery. Research published in Nature Communications showed the innovative coating  prevented infection in 100 percent of mouse models. 

Bernthal’s research has been an ongoing effort that was also an early emphasis of his CTSI KL2 project. Following an Orthopaedic Oncology Fellowship at Huntsman Cancer Institute (University of Utah), Dr. Bernthal joined the UCLA faculty in 2013 before enteringthe CTSI KL2 Program as part of the 2014 cohort. His KL2 project, “Novel Antibacterial Coatings Preventing Implant Infections,” explored using the novel antimicrobial coatings in mouse models to lay the groundwork for future large animal studies and human clinical trials. Now, Dr. Bernthal and his team are working with the U.S Food and Drug Administration to test his coating, which can be quickly prepared and applied in the operating room, in human patients.

“The impact of a CTSI KL2 award simply cannot be overstated. So many pressures are on young faculty – do more clinical care, teach more, build a lab – all while often starting or supporting a family and / or other personal commitments. The KL2 award allowed me to define myself as a “surgeon-scientist.”  It gave me the confidence to prioritize my research and safeguard that aspect of my life from other encroaching commitments.  The KL2, and the amazing support structure and mentoring that came with it, were essential for my science but maybe even more important for my career trajectory.”

--Nicholas M. Bernthal, MD

This story was adapted from a press release originally featured in the UCLA Health Newsroom