Dr. Ranawat views pre- and postoperative radiographs of a total knee arthroplasty using a system that he helped design.
Courtesy of Chitranjan S. Ranawat, MD

AAOS Now

Published 6/1/2010
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Lisa Applegate

Orthopaedic advances depend on research, education

Million-dollar donor to OREF encourages others to give back

To mark his dedication to ongoing orthopaedic research and education, Chitranjan S. Ranawat, MD, made a $1 million commitment to the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) to be paid through his family trust. This gift will drive orthopaedic advances in perpetuity and, he hopes, will also encourage others to give back, financially and otherwise.

Although Dr. Ranawat’s prolific career began in hand surgery, his curiosity and passion for orthopaedics extends to all parts of the human anatomy.

“I first began my career as a hand surgeon taking care of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York in 1966,” he said. His interest in reconstructive surgery for patients with RA led him to write several lead articles on management and surgery of the cervical spine in patients with RA. “From there, I became interested in hip and knee because those two joints, after the neck, are more disabling to RA patients.”

Every joint in the body
Over the years, Dr. Ranawat has performed surgery on almost every joint in the body. He has researched and published more than 200 articles on a wide variety of subjects. His main focus has always been patients with RA or osteoarthritis. He conducted much of his research by creating a database in the late 1980s to track his patients’ outcomes over the last two decades.

Currently the director of Ranawat Orthopaedics in New York City, Dr. Ranawat has helped create numerous innovative designs for total joint replacements. He co-developed the groundbreaking total condylar knee prosthesis, as well as seven different models of knee replacement implants. He has also designed a total hip system that’s named after him. He holds four patents on total joint replacements for the hip, knee, elbow, and wrist.

Dr. Ranawat also serves as professor of orthopaedic surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York. Maintaining a multidisciplinary practice that combines clinical practice, research, and education has been a priority throughout his illustrious career.

Education is paramount
“One of the tenets of becoming a doctor is to pass on your knowledge to younger people,” Dr. Ranawat said. “And that is only done through research, education, and publication.” He believes that expanding the fund of knowledge of orthopaedics will make the field stronger and help more patients.

Dr. Ranawat estimates he has touched the lives of almost 250 fellows and residents through various conferences and other training programs throughout his career. A native of India, Dr. Ranawat applies his philosophy on a global scale as well. The Ranawat Orthopaedic Research Foundation funds three fellows annually to train in the United States. He has trained more than 50 Ranawat Orthopaedic Center fellows who do a significant percentage of all of the joint replacements in India. He also visits India annually to conduct conferences on the art and science of treating arthritis, especially joint replacement surgery.

He likes to tell others, “When you have it, share it,” and to remind them, “When you’re born, you are by yourself, and when you die, you’re by yourself. So whatever you have, you’re not taking it with you. If you have it—intellectually, surgically, professionally, monetarily—share it.”

Support of OREF
Beyond his own efforts, Dr. Ranawat supports continued research and education activities of the OREF. He has been a member of the Shands Circle since its establishment in 1994. Shands Circle membership is open to all donors wishing to ensure the continued advancement of orthopaedics with a cash contribution of $20,000 or more, or a deferred gift of $50,000 or more. Shands Circle contributions are continually re-invested; only the earnings are withdrawn annually so that clinically relevant education and research projects can continue in perpetuity. Dr. Ranawat’s recent gift is at the Shands Circle Platinum level—$1 million and above.

Dr. Ranawat donates to the OREF—both through his major gift and his long-time support of the Annual Campaign—because it is “the appropriate arm for research and education.” He hopes his philanthropy will inspire more leaders in orthopaedics to share their resources, including their expertise through mentoring and serving on the OREF board of trustees.

Find more ways to contribute
Dr. Ranawat supports the cause of enhanced learning and networking by actively participating in numerous professional societies. He founded The Knee Society and was its first president. He was instrumental in establishing the American Association, of Hip and Knee Surgeons, serving as the society’s second president. In 1998, he was president of the Eastern Orthopaedic Association, and is currently the president of the Eastern Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation.

Even with his many accomplishments, Dr. Ranawat’s curiosity about orthopaedics continues to grow. One of his present initiatives involves working on new methods of pain reduction after joint replacement surgery, as well as the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to detect wear-induced implant failure. He continues to work toward finding the best possible hip and knee implants for his patients.

Dr. Ranawat and his wife, Gudrun, have four grown children, two of whom—Amar S. Ranawat, MD, and Anil S. Ranawat, MD—are also orthopaedic surgeons at the Ranawat Orthopaedic Center. His other two children are bankers. Understandably proud of his family, Dr. Ranawat believes, “All the successes in the world matter little if one has failed at home.”

Through their charitable trust, Dr. Ranawat and his family have made financial commitments to other medical institutions in addition to the OREF. These include the Hospital for Special Surgery, Ranawat Orthopaedic Center Research Foundation, Duke University, Lenox Hill Hospital, and Eastern Orthopaedic Education Foundation.

“Orthopaedics has made all of this possible—I am glad that I can give back,” Dr. Ranawat said. “We all should in any way we can.”

Lisa Applegate is a contributing writer for the OREF and can be reached at communications@oref.org