Fig. 1 The first four presidents of the AOFAS (left to right): Robert J. Joplin, MD; Robert L. Samilson, MD; Nathaniel Gould, MD; and Nicholas J. Giannestras, MD.


Published 7/1/2009
Judy Datz

Ruby slippers for foot and ankle surgeons

AOFAS celebrates 40 years of growth

“The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) has been an integral part of my adult life. The intellectual gratification and the friendships that we have established are immeasurable.”

These words from Mark S. Myerson, MD, a past president of the AOFAS, summarize the emotion and excitement of AOFAS members as they culminate the celebration of the society’s 40th anniversary at the AOFAS annual summer meeting in Vancouver this month.

Looking back
It began one quiet evening in New York City during the 1969 AAOS Annual Meeting. Several fellows had gathered at the apartment of Melvin H. Jahss, MD, to discuss the future role orthopaedists should play in the medical care of the foot and ankle. Because care of the foot and ankle represented approximately 20 percent of an orthopaedic surgeon’s practice, they felt it was time to establish a society to represent those orthopaedists who specialized in this field.

Present at that informal meeting were Nicholas Giannestras, MD; Nathaniel Gould, MD, Melvin H. Jahss, MD; Robert Joplin, MD; Hampar Kelikian, MD; Paul Lapidus, MD; and Joseph Milgram, MD. Thus was born the American Orthopaedic Foot Society, which later became the AOFAS (Fig. 1).

Approximately 50 founding members attended the organizational meeting in May 1969. Bylaws were written and Robert Joplin, MD, was elected as the first president. During the next two years, the first member committees were created and members attended symposia held in various parts of the United States.

Their hard work to create this society was recognized in 1971 when the first Specialty Day on Foot and Ankle was held at the AAOS Annual Meeting in San Francisco. More than 800 surgeons attended a special session on club foot. From these beginnings grew the AOFAS annual summer meeting, regional courses held each year throughout the country, growth in international membership, and a leadership role in the medical and surgical care of the foot and ankle.

Today’s AOFAS
Since then, the AOFAS has experienced impressive growth, far exceeding the expectations of the seven founders. The increase in membership is driven by expanded opportunities and member benefits, plus ongoing outreach to foot and ankle surgeons in the United States and around the world. Total AOFAS membership will reach 1,800 by this year’s annual summer meeting, with more than 1,500 members in active practice.

Three out of four AOFAS members reside within the United States, with the remainder composed of international members.

Going forward
AOFAS President Robert B. Anderson, MD, will preside over this year’s 25th annual summer meeting. A symposium on “Then and Now,” an AOFAS historical timeline, a 5K run/walk appropriately named “Best Foot Forward on the 40th,” and an evening celebration are among the festivities planned in honor of the 40th Anniversary. As the meeting concludes, Charles L. Saltzman, MD, will become the next president.

For additional information on the American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society, visit

Judy Datz is communications manager for the AOFAS. She can be reached at