Published 10/1/2012
Edward Akelman, MD; Ramon L. Jimenez, MD

AAOS/AEEF/OREF: Alphabet Soup or Education Sandwich?

Edward Akelman, MD, and Ramon L. Jimenez, MD

Do you know the difference between the AAOS, the AEEF, and the OREF? This alphabetic trio of orthopaedic entities may sound confusing and overlapping, but each entity has a clear mission and distinct responsibilities. They do, however, work together to develop, fund, and deliver the best in orthopaedic education and research.

Founded in 1933, the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) is the preeminent provider of continuing medical education (CME) to orthopaedic surgeons and other healthcare professionals who treat musculoskeletal conditions. Accredited with accommodation by the Accreditation Council for CME, the Academy provides 36,000 members worldwide with the broadest, deepest, and most engaging educational opportunities—including a world-class annual meeting.

AAOS can also stand for the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, which was established in 1997 to conduct health policy and advocacy activities on behalf of musculoskeletal patients and the profession of orthopaedic surgery.

The AAOS Education Enhancement Fund (AEEF) was introduced in December 2010, the first initiative under a new partnership arrangement that made the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF) the Academy’s official fund-raising arm. Designed to directly support new cutting-edge educational programs and products that feature innovative state-of-the-art technologies, the AEEF delivers unique educational opportunities to AAOS members and helps ensure that AAOS education programs retain their world-class level of excellence.

The AEEF is under the direction of a Governance Committee, which monitors the investment of funds and approves funding proposals for projects. The AEEF is already paying dividends by delivering the following exceptional education experiences to AAOS members:

  • Poster Enhancement Project—At the 2012 AAOS Annual Meeting, attendees enjoyed hundreds of audio-enhanced poster presentations. Throughout 2012, orthopaedic surgeons who couldn’t attend—or who want to revisit the research—can view the posters and listen to the authors’ presentations for free at http://aaos.posterview.com

At the 2013 Annual Meeting, this project will bring even more posters and authors to your attention.

  • Pilot Multicomponent CME Course—Course elements—including a webinar, video and multimedia presentations, teleconference small group discussions, self-assessment, and social media features—will be presented over a series of weeks, delivering a convenient, interactive learning experience directly to your home or office.

These groundbreaking opportunities for learning depend on the generous support of Academy members and AAOS and OREF staff. AEEF enables AAOS members to support CME innovations, expanded online CME offerings, and new tools that help Academy members maintain certification.

Founded in 1955 by members of the AAOS, the American Orthopaedic Association, and the Orthopaedic Research Society, the OREF is an independent organization that provides funding for high-quality basic and clinical research by seasoned researchers as well as the next generation of new investigators who are searching for answers to key questions. Efforts supported by the OREF have led to significant advances in diagnostic techniques and treatment options, including the following:

  • approaches for repairing joint surfaces to lessen arthritis pain
  • treatments for osteoporosis that reduce fractures or other injuries
  • employment of biofactors to improve clinical outcomes of tendon-to-bone healing
  • identification of the best, most cost-effective treatments for trauma and other orthopaedic conditions
  • methods to prevent bone loss around implants

The OREF’s work matters from many perspectives. To clinicians, supporting orthopaedic research is a meaningful way to contribute to the growth of their specialty and to provide their patients with the best possible care. Researchers understand the prestige that comes with OREF funding. In fact, many view OREF funding as a key stepping-stone to obtaining funding from the National Institutes of Health, Department of Defense, and other large-scale funders. The OREF is a valued partner of industry, working together to identify mutual areas of concern and collaboration to reach common goals. Faculty and residents appreciate the opportunities the OREF offers to support and nurture new investigators. And patients realize that without robust orthopaedic research, many of today’s most valuable treatment options would be decades off.

Generous contributions from orthopaedic surgeons, institutions, and industry have enabled the OREF to support more than 4,000 grants and awards—totaling more than $120 million—since 1955. OREF depends on donations to its Annual Campaign to make grant funding possible.

Here’s a tip
As you finalize your charitable giving for this year, consider including both the OREF Annual Campaign and the AEEF in your plans. That way, you support the research grants funded directly by OREF that have specific impact on patient health and the innovative educational programs funded by the AEEF that the AAOS brings you. For more information, visit

Edward Akelman, MD, chairs the AEEF Governance Committee; Ramon L. Jimenez, MD, is the current president of the OREF Board of Trustees.