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Joseph C. Wenke, PhD

Wenke, Joseph


Professor, UTMB Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation
Director of Research, Shriners Children’s Texas


Dr. Wenke attended Baylor University for his undergraduate education and earned his PhD from the Texas A&M University, where he focused on skeletal muscle injury and disuse atrophy.  He completed a National Research Council post-doctoral fellowship at the US Army Institute of Surgical Research (USAISR) in San Antonio. In 2004, Dr. Wenke was hired by USAISR as a research physiologist and promoted to Manager of Extremity Trauma and Regenerative Medicine in 2008. Since then, he has led a group of scientists, clinicians, surgeons, research nurses, research technicians, and students to improve outcomes of battlefield wounds such as open fractures and burns.   

His primary contributions have been defining wound patterns, complications, and outcomes of combat casualties; mobilizing clinical studies to evaluate current standards of care; regenerating of musculoskeletal defects; and preventing and treating infection. The epidemiological and outcomes studies allowed a clear understanding of medical issues, which directed both the efforts within his laboratory and medical funding for the Department of Defense. Dr. Wenke was the primary force behind developing a funding announcement and was the program manager for an orthopaedic trauma research consortium. This allowed the establishment of the Major Extremity Trauma and Rehabilitation Consortium, which has enrolled more than 20,000 patients in clinical studies over the past decade. Since reducing complications of open fractures has been his primary research focus, Dr. Wenke has made his biggest contributions on bone regeneration and infection. He is probably best known for his work on preventing and treating wound infections, particularly recalcitrant biofilm infections.  

Dr. Wenke has received funding from the Department of Defense, National Institutes of Health, and industry. He has co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and given invited presentations at national and international conferences, universities, hospitals, the Pentagon, and the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, Dr. Wenke is an active member of the Orthopaedic Research Society and is on the editorial board of several journals. He expects to continue a portion of his ongoing research efforts but will focus on topics that address the pediatric patient population of Shriners, which is regenerative medicine approaches for orthopaedics and reducing scar and lean body mass loss after severe burn.


2003: PhD, Exercise Physiology
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

1998: MS, Exercise Physiology
Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

1997: BS, Health Science
Baylor University, Waco, TX

Professional Experience:

2021-present:  Director of Pediatric Research, Shriners Children’s Texas, Galveston, TX
2021-present:  E. Burke Evans Emergency Room Distinguished Professorship in Orthopaedics, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
2021-present:  Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
2008-present:  Supervisory Research Physiologist (DB-0413-4); Capability Area Manager, Extremity Trauma & Regenerative Medicine, US Army Institute of Surgical Research, JBSA Fort Sam Houston, TX
2018-present:  Adjunct Assistant Professor, Institute of Biomedical Studies, Baylor, University, Waco, TX
2018-present: Adjoint Professor, Department of Biology, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
2016-2019: Adjunct Associate Professor, University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth, Center for Anatomical Sciences, Fort Worth, TX
2012-2018: Adjunct Associate Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio, Department of Radiology, San Antonio, TX
2009-2016: DoD Program Officer and Grants Officer Representative, Major Extremity Trauma Research Consortium
2007-2016: Adjunct Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Memphis, Memphis, TN
2007-2008: Interim Task Area Manager; Hard and Soft Tissue, US Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, TX
2006-2016: Manager, Orthopaedic Extremity Trauma Research Program, US Army Institute of Surgical Research, JBSA Fort Sam Houston, TX
2004-2008: Research Physiologist (DB-0413-3); Hard and Soft Tissue, US Army Institute of Surgical Research, Fort Sam Houston, TX
2003-2004: Postdoctoral Fellowship, National Research Council, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX
1997-2002: Graduate Research Assistant, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX

Recent Peer Reviewed Scientific Publications (from a list of 221):

  1. Moriarty TF, G Muthukrishnan, JL Daiss, C Xie, K Nishitani, Y Morita, H Awad, KL de Mesy Bentley, E Masters, T Bui, M Yan, J Owen, B Mooney, S Gill, J Puetzler, JC Wenke, M Morgenstern, WJ Metsemakers, C Noll, A Joeris, RG Richards, EM Schwarz, SL Kates. Bone infection: a clinical priority for clinicians, scientists and educators. Eur Cell Mater. 2021 Oct 18;41:312-333.
  2. Whitely ME, PB Collins, M Iwamoto, JC Wenke. Administration of a selective retinoic acid receptor-γ agonist improves neuromuscular strength in a rodent model of volumetric muscle loss. J Exp Orthop. 2021 Aug 12;8(1):58.
  3. Muire PJ, MG Schwacha, JC Wenke. Systemic T Cell Exhaustion Dynamics Is Linked to Early High Mobility Group Box Protein 1 (HMGB1) Driven Hyper-Inflammation in a Polytrauma Rat Model. Cells. 2021 Jun 30;10(7).
  4. Boller LA, SM Shiels, DC Florian, SH Peck, JG Schoenecker, C Duvall, JC Wenke, SA Guelcher. Effects of nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite concentration and skeletal site on bone and cartilage formation in rats. Acta Biomater. 2021 Jun 12:S1742-7061(21)00366-4.
  5. Buie TW, M Whiteley, A Balakrishnan, A Jose, J McCune, Z Lan, J Wenke, and E Cosgriff-Hernandez. Comparative efficacy of resorbable fiber wraps loaded with gentamicin sulfate or gallium maltolate in the treatment of osteomyelitis.  J Biomed Mater Res A. 2021 May 5. doi: 10.1002/jbm.a.37210. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33950552.
  6. Shiels SM, NM Sgromolo, JC Wenke.  Negative Pressure Wound Therapy Does Not Diminish Efficacy of Topical Antibiotic Powder in a Preclinical Contaminated Wound Model: A Proof of Concept.  Bone Joint Res 2021;10(2):149–155.
  7. Schwarz EM, AC McLaren, TP Sculco, B Brause, M Bostrom, SL Kates, J Parvizi, V Alt, WV Arnold, A Carli, AF Chen, H Choe, DC Coraca-Huber, M Cross, M Ghert, N Hickok, JA Jennings, M Joshi, MJ Metsemakers, M Ninomiya, K Nishitani, I Oh, D Padgett, B Ricciardi, K Saeed, P Sendi, B Springer, P Stoodley, JC Wenke.  Adjuvant antibiotic-loaded bone cement:  concerns with current use and research to make it work. J Orthop Res. 2021; 39 (2), 227-239
  8. Boller LA, MAP McGough, SM Shiels, CL Duvall, JC Wenke, SA Guelcher.  Settable Polymeric Autograft Extenders in a Rabbit Radius Model of Bone Formation. Materials 14 (14), 3960, 2021.
  9. Burbank KM, RA De Lorenzo, SG Schauer, JC Wenke. Early Application of Topical Antibiotic Powder in Open Fracture Wounds: A Strategy to Prevent Biofilm Formation and Infections. OTA Int. 2020 Oct 12;3(4):e091
  10. Watson E, BT Smith, MM Smoak, AM Tatara, SR Shah, HA Pearce, KJ Hogan, J Shum, J Melville, I Hanna, N Demian, JC Wenke, GN Bennett, JJJ. van den Beucken, JA Jansen, ME Wong, AG Mikos.  Localized mandibular infection affects remote in vivo bioreactor bone generation.  Biomaterials. 2020;256:120185.
  11. Muire PJ, LH Mangum, JC Wenke. Time course of immune response and immunomodulation during normal and delayed healing of musculoskeletal wounds. Front Immunol. 2020;11:1056.
  12. Corona BT, JC Rivera, KA Dalske, JC Wenke, SM Greising.  Pharmacological mitigation of fibrosis in a porcine model of volumetric muscle loss injury.  Tissue Eng Part A. 2020 Jun;26(11-12):636-646.
  13. Alamanda VK, CA Krueger, RB Seymour, DJ Stinner, J Wenke, JR Hsu.  Tiered team research: A novel concept for increasing research productivity in the academic setting.  Educ Health (Abingdon). May-Aug 2020;33(2):46-50.
  14. Shiels SM, LH Mangum, JC Wenke.  Revisiting the "Race for the Surface" in a Pre-Clinical Model of Implant Infection.  Eur Cell Mater. 2020;39:77–95.
  15. Walker JA, TJ Walters, MD Parker, JC Wenke.  Can Dynamic Contrast-Enhanced CT Quantify Perfusion in a Stimulated Muscle of Limited Size? A Rat Model.  Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2020;478(1):179–188.
  16. McGough M, L Boller,  D Groff, J Schoenecker, J Nyman,  JC Wenke,  C Rhodes, D Shimko, FL Duvall, L. Craig, SA Guelcher. Nanocrystalline hydroxyapatite-poly(thioketal urethane) nanocomposites stimulate a combined intramembranous and endochondral ossification response in rabbits.  ACS Biomater Sci Eng. 2020 Jan 13;6(1):564-574.
  17. Mangum LC, GR Garcia, KS Akers, JC Wenke. Duration of Extremity Tourniquet Application Profoundly Impacts Soft-Tissue Antibiotic Exposure in a Rat Model of Ischemia-Reperfusion Injury. 2019 Dec;50(12):2203-2214.
  18. Mangum LH, JJ Avila, B Hurtgen, AL Lofgren, JC Wenke.  Burn and thoracic trauma alters fracture healing, systemic inflammation, and leukocyte kinetics in a rat model of polytrauma.  J Orthop Surg Res. 2019 Feb 19;14(1):58.
  19. Moriarty TF, LG Harris, RA Mooney, JC Wenke, M Riool, SAJ Zaat, A Moter, TP Schaer, N Khanna, R Kuehl, V Alt, A Montali, J Liu, S Zeiter, HJ Busscher, DW Grainger, RG Richards.  Recommendations for design and conduct of preclinical in vivo studies of orthopedic device-related infection. J Orthop Res. 2019 Feb;37(2):271-287.
  20. Wetzel MD, JC Wenke.  Mechanisms by which hydrogen sulfide attenuates muscle function following ischemia-reperfusion injury: effects on Akt signaling, mitochondrial function, and apoptosis.  J Transl Med. 2019 Jan 21;17(1):33.  
  21. McGough MAP, SM Shiels, LA Boller, KJ Zienkiewicz, CL Duvall, JC Wenke, SA Guelcher.  Poly(thioketal urethane) Autograft Extenders in an Intertransverse Process Model of Bone Formation.  Tissue Eng Part A. 2019 Jul;25(13-14):949-963. 
  22. Shiels SM, DJ Tennent, AL Lofgren, JC Wenke.  Topical Rifampin Powder for Orthopaedic Trauma Part II: Topical rifampin allows for spontaneous bone healing in sterile and contaminated wounds.  J Orthop Res. 2018 Dec;36(12):3142-3150.
  23. Shiels SM, DJ Tennent, JC Wenke.  Topical rifampin powder for orthopedic trauma part I: Rifampin powder reduces recalcitrant infection in a delayed treatment musculoskeletal trauma model.  J Orthop Res. 2018 Dec;36(12):3136-3141.
  24. Mangum LC, NA Franklin, GR Garcia, KS Akers, JC Wenke.  Rapid degradation and non-selectivity of Dakin's solution prevents effectiveness in contaminated musculoskeletal wound models.  Injury. 2018 Oct;49(10):1763-1773.
  25. Wheeler AR, JC Wenke.  Military Fractures: Overtraining, Accidents, Casualties, and Fragility.  Clinic Rev Bone Miner Metab.  2018. pp 1-13. 
  26. Naylor JF, K Burbank, MD April, JC Wenke, JK Maddry, SG Schauer. Effects of prehospital wound prophylaxis in Iraq and Afghanistan on mortality. J Trauma Treat 2018, 7: 424. 
  27. Juarez JK, MJ Pugh, JC Wenke, JC Rivera JC.  Infection Precedes Heterotopic Ossification in Combat Wounded. US Army Med Dep J. 2018 Jul-Dec;(2-18):1-5.
  28. Lu S, MAP McGough, SM Shiels, KJ Zienkiewicz, AR Merkel, JP Vanderburgh, JS Nyman, JA Sterling, DJ Tennent, JC Wenke, SA Guelcher. Settable polymer/ceramic composite bone grafts stabilize weight-bearing tibial plateau slot defects and integrate with host bone in an ovine model.  Biomaterials. 2018 Oct;179:29-45.
  29. Aurora A, JL Roe, NA Umoh, M Dubick, JC Wenke, TJ Walters.  Fresh Whole Blood resuscitation does not exacerbate skeletal muscle edema and long-term functional deficit after ischemic injury and hemorrhagic shock. J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2018 May;84(5):786-794.
  30. Juarez JK, JC Wenke, JC Rivera.  Treatments and Preventative Measures for Trauma-Induced Heterotopic Ossification: A Review.  Clin Transl Sci. 2018 Jul;11(4):365-370.
  31. Blanchette KA and JC Wenke.  Current therapies in treatment and prevention of fracture wound biofilms: why a multifaceted approach is essential for resolving persistent infections.  J Bone Jt Infect. 2018; 3(2): 50-67.
  32. Shiels SM, M Bouchard, H Wang, JC Wenke.  Chlorhexidine releasing implant coating on intramedullary nail reduces infection in a rat model.   Eur Cell Mater. 2018 Mar 22;35:178-194.
  33. Tennent DJ, SM Shiels, JA Jennings, WO Haggard, JC Wenke.  Local control of polymicrobial infections via a dual antibiotic delivery system.  J Orthop Surg Res. 2018 Mar 15;13(1):53.
  34. Benov A, B Antebi, JC Wenke, AI Batchinsky, CK Murray, D Nachman, P Haim, B Tarif, E Glassberg, A Yitzhak.  Antibiotic Treatment - What Can Be Learned from Point of Injury Experience?  Mil Med. 2018 Mar 1;183(suppl_1):466-471.
  35. Pollot BE, CR Rathbone, JC Wenke, T Guda.  Natural polymeric hydrogel evaluation for skeletal muscle tissue engineering.  J Biomed Mater Res B Appl Biomater. 2018 Feb;106(2):672-679.
  36. Mangum LC, GR Garcia, KL Niece, JC Wenke, KS Akers.  A Rapid, High-Throughput Iodometric Titration Method for the Determination of Active Chlorine Content of Topical Antiseptic Solutions. J Antimicrob Agents 3: 152. doi:10.4172/2472-1212.1000152

    Book Chapters:

    1. Doll BA, JC Wenke, JO Hollinger.  “Critically Sized Bone Defects.”  Translational Approaches in Tissue Engineering and Regenerative Medicine, editors, JJ Mao, G Vunjak-Novakovic, AG Mikos, A Atala.  Pps. 253-269.  Artech House, Inc, Norwood, MA. 2008.   
    2. Raut VP, TP Patterson, JC Wenke, JO Hollinger, GF Muschler.  “Assessment of Biomaterials: Standardized In Vivo Testing.”  An Introduction to Biomaterials, editor, Jeffrey O. Hollinger, 2nd edition.  Pps. 157-174.  CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, FL. 2012. 
    3. Jones CB and JC Wenke.  “Open Fractures.”  Skeletal Trauma:  Basic Science, Management, and Reconstruction, FIFTH EDITION, editors, Bruce D. Browner, Jesse B. Jupiter, Christian Krettek and Paul Anderson. Pps. 465-487.  Elsevier Saunders, Philadelphia, PA. 2015 
    4. Akers KS, JC Wenke, CK Murray.  “Biofilms and Wound Infection Research in the US Military”.  Targeting Biofilms in Translational Research, Device Development, and Industrial Sectors, editor, Dustin L. Williams.   Pps. 55-69.  Springer, Switzerland.   2019. 

    Invited Scientific Meeting Participation (Since 2015):

    1. Invited Presentation.  “Race for the Surface – Orthopaedic Implants and Infection”.  Orthopaedic Trauma Association Basic Science Focus Forum.  October 2021.  Fort Worth, TX. 
    2. Invited Presentation.  “Combat Wound Care:  Supplementing Clinical Data”.  Joint Trauma System Conference.  April 2021.  Virtual meeting.  The entire Joint Trauma System to included deployed personnel participate, approximately 250 people. 
    3. Moderator. Intersection of Fracture Healing & Infection Panel, Orthopaedic Research Society Annual Meeting. February 2021. Virtual meeting.
    4. Invited Presentation.  “Preclinical models to assess emerging therapies”.  Intersection of Fracture Healing & Infection Panel, Orthopaedic Research Society Annual Meeting. February 2021. Virtual meeting.
    5. Invited Presentation. “Scientist’s Perspective: Translating a Technology from Bench to Bedside”.  FDA 2020 Orthopedic Device-Related Infections Workshop.  November 2020.  Streamed interactive workshop. 
    6. Orthopaedic Infections Research Interest Group, Orthopaedic Research Society. February 2020. Phoenix, AZ.
    7. Invited Presentation.  “What to Do When Coverage is Delayed? An Evidence-Based Update and What’s on the Horizon”. Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons (SOMOS) Extremity War Injuries XV. January 2020.  Washington, DC. 
    8. Invited presentation. “Tissue Engineering Strategies for Treatment of Infected Defects”, 27th Annual Advances in Tissue Engineering Short Course, Rice University.   August 2019.  Houston, TX.
    9. Invited panelist.  HSS Biofilm Symposium.  Niarchos Foundation Complex Joint Reconstruction Center.  July 2019. New York, NY.    
    10. Invited keynote lecture.  “Challenges and Strategies of Protecting Orthopaedic Implants from Bacterial Colonization”, 2019 eCm Orthopaedic Infection.  June 2019.  Davos, Switzerland.
    11. Invited Presentation.  “Institute of Surgical Research:  Translational Readiness for the Wounded Warrior”. Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons (SOMOS) Extremity War Injuries XV. January 2019.  Washington, DC.  
    12. Invited presentation. “Tissue Engineering Strategies for Treatment of Infected Defects”, 26th Annual Advances in Tissue Engineering Short Course, Rice University. August, 2018.  Houston, TX.
    13. Invited Presentation.  “Infection Diagnosis, Treatment, and Prevention Technologies on the Horizon”.  AAOS and ORS 2018 Annual Conference.  May, 2018.       
    14. Invited presentation. “Tissue Engineering Strategies for Treatment of Infected Defects”, 25th Annual Advances in Tissue Engineering Short Course, Rice University. August, 2017.  Houston, TX.
    15. Invited faculty presenter.  “Orthoapedic Infections”, ORS/OREF Basic Science Course, Orthopaedic Research Society 2017 Annual Meeting.  March, 2017.  Orlando, FL.     
    16. Invited presentation, “Tissue Engineering Strategies for Treatment of Infected Defects” Biomedical Engineering Department Seminar Series, Texas A&M University.  October, 2016. College Station, TX.
    17. Invited faculty presentation. “Translational Research and Future Technologies in Orthopaedic Trauma Infections”, OTA Annual Conference.  October, 2016.  National Harbor, MD.    
    18. Invited keynote speaker.  “Complex Injury Mitigation Strategies”, Trauma Innovation Conference.  September, 2016.  Birmingham, UK.
    19. Invited presentation. “Tissue Engineering Strategies for Treatment of Infected Defects”, 24th Annual Advances in Tissue Engineering Short Course, Rice University. August, 2016.  Houston, TX.
    20. Invited faculty presenter.  “Orthoapedic Infections”, ORS/OREF Basic Science Course, Orthopaedic Research Society 2016 Annual Meeting.  March, 2016.  Orlando, FL.  
    21. Invited moderator, “What Have We Funded and What Are the Outcomes?”, Extremity War Injuries XI: Maintaining Force Readiness During an Era of Military Transition.  January, 2016.  Washington, DC.
    22. Invited presentation. “Tissue Engineering Strategies for Treatment of Infected Defects”, 23th Annual Advances in Tissue Engineering Short Course, Rice University. August, 2015.  Houston, TX.
    23. Invited keynote speaker. “Strategies for reducing infection in open fractures”  eCM Bone & Implant Infection Meeting. June, 2015. Davos, Switzerland.
    24. Invited faculty presenter.  “Orthoapedic Infections”, ORS/OREF Basic Science Course, Orthopaedic Research Society 2015 Annual Meeting.  March, 2016.  Las Vegas, NV. 
    25. Invited presentation.  “Development of Therapeutics for Wound Infections”, SHORESH Meeting.  March, 2015. Tel Aviv, Israel.