Robert J. Ferguson, MD, and his daughter, Cristin M. Ferguson, MD (pictured at age 2). Nancy E. Ferguson donated to OREF as a way to honor her husband, and support her daughter’s research.


Published 6/1/2007

Orthopaedic research unites family, links generations

Orthopaedic research has been among the ties that bind Nancy E. Ferguson, RN, and her family. Mrs. Ferguson discovered the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) through her daughter, Cristin M. Ferguson, MD.

“Several years ago I was at the AAOS Annual Meeting with my daughter,” Mrs. Ferguson recalls. “I was visiting some of the scientific exhibits and picked up some materials about OREF, which impressed me greatly.”

That encounter led Mrs. Ferguson to make a $100,000 gift to OREF in 2003, as a way to honor the memory of her husband, Robert J. Ferguson, MD, and his twin brother, William T. Ferguson Jr., MD, thus qualifying her for membership in the Shands Circle.

“My husband loved medicine and loved his family, so becoming a Shands member brought that together,” says Mrs. Ferguson.

Her involvement with OREF also helps Mrs. Ferguson continue a family tradition.

“I knew that my daughter had received a grant from OREF when she was a resident, which helped her with her training. In addition, both my husband and his twin brother were orthopaedic surgeons,” says Mrs. Ferguson.

“Donating to OREF is an excellent way to continue our family’s involvement in orthopaedic medicine. I also learned that my brother-in-law was an early—and life-long—supporter of OREF.”

Dr. Cristin Ferguson, an assistant professor in orthopaedics at Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C., is a clinician/researcher and a graduate of the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Mich., the same institution where Mrs. Ferguson taught medical surgical nursing for five years.

Dr. Cristin Ferguson’s interest in orthopaedic research was fueled during her residency under Regis J. O’Keefe, MD, at the University of Rochester, Rochester, N.Y., and furthered during her sports medicine fellowship at the Hughston Clinic in Columbus, Ga.

“The research my daughter did under her OREF grant concerned the molecular biology of cartilage and growth factors,” explains Mrs. Ferguson. “When my daughter completed her research, I was able to attend the presentations that she and the other residents had to make about their findings, and I was so impressed.”

Dr. Ferguson, whose cartilage research began with an OREF Resident Research Grant, will receive OREF’s 2007 Clinician Scientist Award, funded by the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery (JBJS). She will use this award to continue her work to develop a tissue-engineered meniscus replacement to help treat patients with meniscus deficiency.

Mrs. Ferguson pointed out that although her daughter is the first in the family to pursue orthopaedic research, she is not the first to reap its rewards.

“My husband and brother-in-law were both general orthopaedists. They didn’t do research, but they benefited from it, as all orthopaedic surgeons do,” notes Mrs. Ferguson. “In fact, I was interested to learn just how much of today’s orthopaedic practice has developed from research.”

Mrs. Ferguson is confident that the current generation of investigators is up to the challenge research brings.

“The young people are so fantastic and the work they are doing is so important!” she says. “OREF grants are helping them start their careers and perform work that will benefit patients in the long run.”

Mrs. Ferguson used a charitable remainder trust (CRT) to make her donation. CRTs provide some income for the donor, and another beneficiary if desired, with a wide range of tax benefits.

“I had been trying to get more involved with estate planning since my husband passed away and to take a more active role in making financial decisions,” recalls Mrs. Ferguson. “I wanted to learn how I could support OREF, so I contacted my attorney. I chose a charitable remainder trust because it supports OREF and I do get some income until I’m deceased.”

OREF Shands Circle
Endowments are funds created to receive gifts with the intent that all of the money contributed will be reserved in principal, and only the interest from the money will be used to support research and educational programs. Shands Circle contributions fund the OREF Endowment.

More than 460 orthopaedists have joined the Shands Circle, OREF’s highest donor recognition society. They join because they appreciate the value that OREF-funded research provides to improve the practice of orthopaedics.

For more information about Endowment Giving or the Shands Circle, please log on to or contact Gene Wurth, OREF president and CEO at or (847) 384-4362 or Ed Hoover, associate vice president, development at or (847) 384-4354.