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Education & Research

Hoag Orthopedics is a 501c3 non-profit founded by Hoag Orthopedic Institute physicians. The non-profit exists to foster education, research and community outreach in orthopedic medicine.


We are actively involved in medical research and support multiple projects teamed with industry leaders and innovators to develop new orthopaedic treatment modalities based on scientific methodology. This will lead to improved patient outcomes and world-class orthopedic care.


In addition to research, education will be a focus to support fellowship training. Research and resident education is equally important to train the next generation of skilled surgeons. Financial support for this endeavor is achieved only through generous donations to the institute.


Executive Director - Carlos Prietto, M.D., MEd.

Dr. Carlos Prietto is a board certified orthopaedic surgeon with subspecialty training in sports medicine. His clinical practice is devoted to arthroscopic and reconstructive surgery of the shoulder and knee, sports medicine, and knee replacements.

A native Californian, Dr. Prietto completed both his Bachelor of Arts and Master’s Degree in Education at Gonzaga University. He taught high school science and coached basketball for a short period before going on to medical school and graduating from the University of California, Irvine with Alpha Omega Alpha honors. His internship was performed at Los Angeles - USC Medical Center and an orthopaedic residency at the University of California, Irvine. A sports medicine fellowship at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in Inglewood, CA followed thereafter.

Early in his orthopaedic career, Dr. Prietto established a Neuro-Muscular basic science laboratory on the medical school campus at the University of California, Irvine. He has published numerous scientific articles on both basic science and clinical levels, and lectured extensively on sports medicine topics. He teaches arthroscopic surgical procedures to other orthopaedic surgeons in a variety of settings both here and abroad.

Dr. Prietto has been Clinical Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of California, Irvine and member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the Western Orthopaedic Association. He is the Head Team Physician for the University of California, Irvine Athletic Program and team physician for Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, CA.

He has been honored by his peers in Orange Coast Magazine for three four as one of the “Top Docs” for his work as an orthopaedic surgeon in Orange County. He has also been recognized by the University of California, Irvine Medical School as a Distinguished Alumnus.

Dr. Prietto now serves as the president and interim CEO of the Hoag Orthopedic Institute in Irvine and the Executive Director and Chairman of the Board for Hoag Orthopedics.

Medical Director - Vance Gardner, M.D.

Vance is an orthopaedic surgeon and spine surgeon. His undergraduate degree is from USC and MD from Washington University School of Medicine.

He was faculty at the University of California, Irvine for 10 years. For the past 17 years he has concentrated on research and education instead of clinical practice.

In addition to developing his own projects, he has also been medical director of a multihospital system research department and chief medical officer of a biotech company. His experience in the medical device and drug development industries provides much needed expertise in these fields. Vance is married with 4 adult children and lives in Irvine. He enjoys hiking, boating and relaxing with his family.

Administrator - Ryan Helber, M.B.A.

Ryan began working for Hoag Orthopedics in early 2016 as the Institute Administrator. Prior to joining Hoag Orthopedics, Ryan worked for 8 years in clinical research management for several organizations, including regional and national health systems. His experience in clinical research includes managing both investigational drug and device trials.

Since joining Hoag Orthopedics, Ryan has helped to grow the research and education program by adding several experienced team members that provide essential oversight on the increasing number of research projects and educational events.

Ryan received a B.S. in Biology from Westminster College in Salt Lake City, UT, in 2008, and an M.B.A. from the University of Colorado, Boulder. Outside of Hoag Orthopedics, Ryan enjoys spending time with his family, relaxing at the beach, and traveling.


Clinical Research Manager - Marie-Claire Fickenscher, A.S., C.C.R.P.

Marie-Claire began working for Hoag Orthopedics in early 2017 as a Clinical Research Coordinator. Prior to joining Hoag Orthopedics, Marie-Claire worked at an Independent Review Board (IRB) for six years where she helped protect the rights and welfare of human subjects involved in clinical research. Throughout her time working at an IRB, Marie-Claire worked with major sponsors, ranging from large pharmaceutical corporations and device manufactures to small and growing biotechnology companies, as well as many industry leading contract research organizations (CROs). During this time, Marie-Claire gained a deep knowledge of all stages of clinical trials and mastered FDA regulations pertaining to clinical research.

Since joining Hoag Orthopedics, Marie-Claire has helped grow the research program by sharing her extensive IRB and regulatory knowledge to strengthen the research integrity. Marie-Claire has been integral in drafting orthopedic protocols and consent forms. She has begun managing multiple projects and administers informed consent and study questionnaires to these patients at numerous clinics. Marie-Claire enjoys working in clinical research as it plays a vital part in advancing healthcare and finding ways to help people live longer and more robust lives.

Marie-Claire received an Associate of Science degree in 2004 from Perimeter College at Georgia State University. Before finding her love of research, Marie-Claire had eight years’ experience in customer service and office management. Outside of Hoag Orthopedics, Marie-Claire enjoys beating her husband at board games, bicycling local greenways, reading, and playing with her goldendoodle, Lucy.

Clinical Research Coordinator - Marlee Fruto, M.S.

Marlee recently joined our team in July 2020 as a Clinical Research Coordinator. She will help facilitate clinical trials across various orthopedic specialties in addition to managing the data collection for several studies.

Marlee graduated magna cum laude from California State Polytechnic University-Pomona in 2017 with a B.S. in Biochemistry and earned her M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Oregon in 2018. Following the completion of her master’s degree, Marlee was subsequently hired to be the Research Coordinator for the Muscle Cellular Biology Lab (MCBL) within the Department of Human Physiology at the University of Oregon. At the MCBL, Marlee coordinated studies which investigated human skeletal muscle at the cellular and metabolic level. The overarching goal of these studies was to identify mechanisms that can explain age-related and acute changes to skeletal muscle structure and function in order to improve rehabilitation outcomes in older adults at risk for physical disability. Marlee is excited to apply the skills she developed at the MCBL to her new role of Clinical Research Coordinator for Hoag Orthopedics during this year before she goes to medical school.

Marlee has committed to attend Keck School of Medicine of USC for medical school and will start there next August (2021). She aspires to be an orthopedic surgeon.

In her recently acquired free time, Marlee enjoys playing basketball, practicing Tahitian dance, visiting her boyfriend in Toronto, and catching up on sleep.

Clinical Research Coordinator - Edward (Teddy) James Quilligan, B.S.

Teddy began working for Hoag Orthopedics in late 2016 as a research coordinator. Teddy has always had enthusiasm for the study of orthopedics and medical devices in general. He received his degree in Biomedical Research from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He has participated in several medical device engineering projects and has always had a passion for research. His experience includes collaborating on start up products for endocrinology, orthopedic surgeons, and vascular surgeons.

Since joining Hoag Orthopedics, Teddy has helped to facilitate the ongoing of several projects. His focus is on spine surgery studies. He has helped in various studies that will progress orthopedic patient outcomes such as preserving spine alignment goals for post spine surgery patients.

Outside of Hoag Orthopedics, Teddy enjoys going to live concerts, surfing, camping and recording music.

Clinical Research Coordinator - Madeline Stewart, M.S.

Madeline joined Hoag Orthopedics in the fall of 2019 as a Clinical Research Coordinator. In this role, she is responsible for supporting both investigator-initiated and sponsored clinical trials across Sports Medicine, Spine, and Total Joint orthopedic specialties. As a research coordinator, she enjoys being able to spend time with patients while balancing multiple projects.

Madeline received her B.S. in Biological Sciences from University of California, Irvine (UCI) and completed her M.S. in Biomedical Sciences in the spring of 2019. While at UCI, she had the opportunity to work on multiple research studies focusing on children with autism and lead an internship program advising undergraduate and graduate students. During her master’s program, she served her peers in the Graduate Curriculum Committee and WASC Senior College and University Committee. With her eagerness to lead, learn, and spend time with patients, Madeline initially aspired to become a physician. However, she later discovered her passion for clinical research during her time at Edwards Lifesciences and graduate school.

Outside of clinical research, Madeline loves eating out, going to Disneyland with her fiancé, reading, and spending time with family.

Clinical Data Coordinator - Noemi Urquiza, B.A.

Noemi began working at Hoag Orthopedics at the start of 2018. As a Clinical Data Coordinator, she is responsible gathering data from source documents, entering data, and supporting research activities across the three research specialties.

Noemi graduated in 2017 from Harvard College with a B.A. in Neurobiology; Mind, Brain, and Behavior Track. While completing her degree, Noemi worked as a student researcher on visual event-related potential data analysis in the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratories at Boston Children’s Hospital. Noemi was the recipient of the 2015 and 2016 Harvard College Research Program grant.

She is deciding on a career in academia or medicine before applying to graduate or medical school. She is eager to learn more about clinical research and orthopedics. Noemi has been practicing martial arts since she was five and in her spare time likes to compete in tournaments. She also enjoys running, searching for the best cheap eats in Orange County, playing violin covers of video game music, and volunteering in the local community.


Program Manager - Vanessa Glotzbach, B.A., C-TAGME

Vanessa began working for Hoag Orthopedics in May 2016 as the Education Coordinator. She has a background in genomic research, and non-profit education coordinating. At Hoag Orthopedics, Vanessa oversees three surgical fellowship programs, coordinates visiting residents, and the monthly Grand Rounds sessions. In her time here, she has grown our educational event offerings to include a fellow’s course, an annual healthcare economics course, and our annual Orthopedic Fellowship Research Day.

She has also expanded community outreach at Hoag Orthopedics by producing the biannual event, “Back to Play”, which exposes high school students to a variety of healthcare careers through a play. Additionally, Vanessa worked to partner Hoag Orthopedics with the University of California, School of Social Ecology Field Study Program. She coordinates the internships of our Field Study and Advanced Field Study students, keeps them involved in our day-to-day operations, and encourages them to take on their own projects. Vanessa also manages Hoag Orthopedics volunteer program from recruitment to onboarding, and beyond. She produces the Hoag Orthopedics quarterly newsletter, manages the webpage content, and coordinates fellowship grant writings and fundraising.

Vanessa has taken on the role of Program Director for Hoag Orthopedics Health Policy & Management Fellowship. In this role she has executed the implementation of the program from fundraising and curriculum development, to candidate recruitment.

Vanessa received a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior from the University of California, Irvine in 2015. She has a passion for outdoor adventures, backpacking, mountain biking, SCUBA diving, traveling, and fire dancing.

Education Coordinator - Katie Ngo, B.A.

Katie joined Hoag Orthopedics in July 2020 as an Education Coordinator under the stewardship of Vanessa Glotzbach, Program Manager. Katie earned her B.A. in Public Health from the University of California, Merced in 2019. She has had numerous experiences working in community education and outreach, working with the Long Beach Unified School District in her previous position. Katie is passionate about making a difference in the community, building personable relationships wherever she goes, and educating students in her community to lead them to the right path in their career development. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors at the beach surfing, hanging out with friends, spending time with family and reading.

Education Coordinator - Emily Van Gilder

Emily joined Hoag Orthopedics in April 2019 as an education coordinator under the stewardship of Vanessa Glotzbach, Program Manager. Throughout the winter, Emily worked with the education team as a quarterly field study intern from the University of California, Irvine School of Social Ecology. As a pre-medicine double major in psychological science and biological sciences, she is planning for a medical career as a psychiatrist. Emily pursued a career at Hoag Orthopedics to seek a hands-on role in health administration and clinical research, exposing her to new, enriching opportunities in the field of healthcare. Specifically, she is excited to facilitate fellowship program and project management and gain more knowledge about the physician-administration relationship. In her free time, Emily enjoys playing the French Horn and singing.