Through a long-standing tradition of rigorous training, active research and attentive clinical care, our department has established strong roots in the Western New York medical community.
The University at Buffalo is New York state’s premier public center for graduate and professional education. Founded in 1846, the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences is the University’s oldest division and is one of the major biomedical research facilities in the state university system.
The history of orthopaedics at UB reaches back to the school’s beginnings. Franklin Hastings Hamilton, MD (1813–1886), one of the school’s founders and its first dean and chief of surgery, published the first English language textbook on fractures and dislocations in 1860, entitled A Practical Treatise on Fractures and Dislocations.
His interest in the musculoskeletal system, along with his interest in trauma and fractures, qualify him as the “father of orthopaedic surgery” at UB.
Orthopaedic surgery — as a defined medical specialty — at UB began with Bernard Bartow, MD (1849–1920), one of the foremost orthopaedic surgeons in the country. He was the first physician in western New York to limit his practice to orthopaedics, and offered the university’s first course in orthopaedic surgery during the spring of 1884.
Many of Bartow’s patients were children; he helped establish the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, which opened in 1892. He served as the head of orthopaedics at the University at Buffalo School of Medicine, Buffalo General Hospital, and the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Bartow retired in 1915.
William Ward Plummer, MD (1877–1953) continued this tradition of excellence throughout a fifty-year career marked by many pioneering accomplishments, including the first nailings in Western New York, the first cup orthoplasty of the hip and the first Bankart operation.
He was appointed full professor of orthopaedic surgery in 1917, and held the post until his retirement in 1942. The UB University at Buffalo Orthopaedic Residency Program was started by Plummer in 1939; it was based at Buffalo General Hospital and had one enrolled resident. The monthly stipend for residents was $25 and included room and board.
Other leaders in orthopaedics include Frank N. Potts, MD (1890-1961) — who succeeded his mentor, Plummer, and expanded the residency program — and Benjamin E. Obletz, MD (1907-2004), a member of the first American-British-Canadian orthopaedic exchange program in 1949.
The Obletz Award, established in 1994, honors graduating senior medicals who demonstrate excellence combined with an interest in orthopaedics. Obletz served as chief of orthopaedics at Buffalo General Hospital until 1964.
The modern history of the department is inseparable from the name of Eugene R. Mindell, MD. In 1964, Mindell became the school’s first full-time professor and chair of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery.
He worked tirelessly until his retirement in 1988 to build a world-class department, recruiting many full-time faculty members, developing the Orthopaedic Bone Pathology Laboratory, encouraging research and training residents. As professor emeritus and a leading researcher in orthopaedic oncology, Mindell continues to shape the teaching and practice of orthopaedic surgery at the university.
From 1988 to April 2001, department chairman Robert Gillespie, MBChB (1935-2001), led us to become the largest orthopaedic practice in Western New York. He markedly expanded the full-time faculty, established a comprehensive faculty practice plan and developed a basic science research laboratory at the UB medical school.
In addition, Gillespie initiated the University at Buffalo Sports Medicine Center. He was also head of pediatric orthopaedics at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. Born and educated in Scotland, he was a world authority on limb and spinal deficiencies, in particular the surgical treatment of proximal focal femoral deficiencies, and he was one of the first orthopaedic surgeons to correct limb deficiencies in children using modern limb-lengthening apparatuses.
In November 2001, Lawrence Bone, MD, was appointed department chairman; he had served as acting chairman following our loss of Gillespie in April of 2001. As the Director of the Musculoskeletal Trauma Service at Erie County Medical Center, Bone is widely recognized for markedly improving the care and outcome of the poly-trauma patient, and he is a prolific author on trauma-related subjects.