But for Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, being named president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in his home town of Chicago is a pinnacle honor. When he took the stage at McCormick Place during the 2013 Ceremonial Meeting, he acknowledged the impact of his predecessor John R. Tongue, MD, and thanked his colleagues for the honor and privilege of serving.


Published 4/1/2013

Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, Takes Helm in Home Town

Chicago native named 81st president of AAOS

He has already served as president of the Orthopaedic Research Society and the U.S. Bone and Joint Initiative. He is a nationally known researcher and educator, the William A. Hark, MD-Susanne G. Swift professor and chairman of the Rush Medical College department of orthopaedic surgery, a partner and member of the executive committee of Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, and an adjunct professor in the department of materials science and engineering in the McCormick Technological Institute at Northwestern University.

Joshua J. Jacobs, MD


“I am humbled and honored to serve as your president during these interesting times,” said Dr. Jacobs, referencing the first of three “curses” he discussed during his presidential address.

“In the past year, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and its architect Barack Obama have been tested—and they have withstood the challenge. Healthcare reform is the law of the land, and it has created a new reality for our patients and our profession. It is time to move forward and clearly demonstrate how we are part of the solution to our nation’s healthcare crisis,” he said.

Matching priorities
As a clinician, educator, and researcher, Dr. Jacobs noted that his priorities are well aligned with the Academy’s. He has served on all the Academy’s major governing bodies—the Council on Education, Council on Research and Quality, Council on Advocacy, and Communications Cabinet—and on numerous committees and project teams since his first committee assignment in 1993.

“The Academy has a tremendous opportunity to leverage and grow our educational programs throughout the world,” said Dr. Jacobs. He recently led a workshop for the AAOS Board of Directors on international opportunities that focused on ways to expand the Academy’s reach and establish cooperative programs with other national orthopaedic associations around the world.

In addition, he wants to make quality a top priority. “With our quality initiatives and patient satisfaction data, we can advocate for our patients and communicate the invaluable role orthopaedic surgeons can and do play in the improvement of both quality and efficiency of overall healthcare delivery in this country,” he said.

A focus on quality
It is this focus on quality, he noted, that will help turn the second curse—“May the government be aware of you”—into a blessing.

“Our goal will be to make sure that patients are well represented and continue to have access to high quality musculoskeletal health care,” said Dr. Jacobs. “Working with the talented AAOS staff, we will develop and implement initiatives that show our commitment to excellence in orthopaedics and to the patients we serve.”

In his address, Dr. Jacobs noted that orthopaedists and orthopaedic procedures have come under scrutiny from the government, the media, and other healthcare stakeholders.

Dr. Jacobs’ family joined him on stage: (from left) sons Max and Ross, Mrs. Jacobs, Dr. Jacobs, daughter Eve.

“Such a steady stream of scientific papers, editorials, op-ed pieces, and media reports have been released about the so-called overutilization of joint replacement procedures that the idea is threading its way into the fabric of the discussion of healthcare costs and threatening to affect healthcare policy,” he warned.

But for Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, being named president of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in his home town of Chicago is a pinnacle honor. When he took the stage at McCormick Place during the 2013 Ceremonial Meeting, he acknowledged the impact of his predecessor John R. Tongue, MD, and thanked his colleagues for the honor and privilege of serving.

As a result, he said, “this steady stream of negative attention has fostered a distorted image of who we are and what we do. We need to urgently address this distorted image to restore the public’s confidence and policy makers’ trust in our recommendations.”

“The AAOS is the premier advocacy organization for the specialty of orthopaedics,” he noted. “We will continue to be active in making sure that patients have access to orthopaedic care and that the care given is excellent, high-quality care.”

One voice, delivering value
It was under Dr. Tongue’s leadership, noted Dr. Jacobs, that the Academy undertook an exhaustive economic analysis to identify the value to society of several orthopaedic procedures, including total knee replacement, rotator cuff repair, anterior cruciate ligament repair, fixation of hip fractures, and repair of a herniated intervertebral disc. This study, he said, will help transform the third “curse”: “May you find what you are looking for,” into a blessing.

“Dr. Tongue is an inspiring, passionate leader,” said Dr. Jacobs. “He focused on programs at the Academy that prioritized communication between surgeons and also between patients and surgeons. He is keenly interested in improving patient care, and led the implementation of a large-scale research study on the social and economic value of orthopaedic care. These results, once published, will help the AAOS in advocating for access of the public to the effective services we provide and will help in communicating our specialty’s effect on patient’s lives.”

“The challenge before us,” he continued, “is communicating that value to policymakers and politicians while simultaneously improving quality and reducing costs.”

Dr. Jacobs called for enhanced advocacy efforts focused on regulatory issues such as the implementation of PPACA and urged the orthopaedic community to work together.

“The fact that the Academy, with its equity partners—the Arthroscopy Association of North America, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons and the Orthopaedic Learning Center—will relocate into a modern, efficient building together with 21 other orthopaedic organizations is a powerful expression of …. unity,” he noted.

“I am an optimist,” he concluded. “Although we face many difficulties and challenges in the implementation of healthcare reform, we can meet these challenges. Our profession is populated by the best and brightest minds in our society and our premier professional organization is strong, credible, and accomplished. We have a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate the value we provide to society and to each and every citizen of our country.”

Personal background
Dr. Jacobs is a board-certified and practicing adult reconstructive orthopaedic surgeon with an expertise in total joint replacement and a research interest in the biocompatibility of orthopaedic biomaterials.

A graduate of Northwestern University with a bachelor of science in materials science and engineering, Dr. Jacobs earned his medical degree with honors from the University of Illinois College of Medicine, and then completed an orthopaedic surgery residency in the Combined Harvard Orthopaedic Surgery Program in Boston. Subsequently, he completed a fellowship in joint replacement surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago under the tutelage of Jorge O. Galante, MD.

In addition to his multiple positions with the Academy, Dr. Jacobs has also served as a trustee of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation and is past chair of Committee F04 on Medical and Surgical Materials and Devices of the American Society for Testing and Materials International (ASTMI). He completed a 4-year term on the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Advisory Council and has chaired multiple National Institutes of Health study sections.

Dr. Jacobs has been a leading researcher investigating the impact of metal-on-metal implants for joint replacement patients and has published many articles on this topic. He has won several research awards, including the Ann Doner Vaughan Kappa Delta Award, the Otto Aufranc Award from the Hip Society, and the Mark Coventry Award from the Knee Society. Among his published works are more than 200 peer-reviewed manuscripts, five books, and more than 35 book chapters. He has presented extensively at a variety of national and international continuing medical education venues.

Despite his busy schedule of operating, teaching, lecturing, and research, Dr. Jacobs enjoys spending time with his wife, Faye, and their three children—Ross, Max, and Eve. He also enjoys long-distance cycling and being a “frustrated baritone saxophonist.”