Joshua J. Jacobs, MD, and Gary E. Friedlaender, MD

AAOS Now

Published 4/1/2014
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Jennie McKee

Gary E. Friedlaender, MD, Receives Tipton Leadership Award

Honored for outstanding efforts as mentor, clinician, and researcher

“He’s a scientist, he’s a clinician, he’s a teacher, he’s a leader, and he’s a good human being,” said Marna P. Borgstrom, president and CEO of Yale New Haven Health System and Yale-New Haven Hospital, of Gary E. Friedlaender, MD. Dr. Friedlaender is the 2014 recipient of the William W. Tipton, Jr, MD, Leadership Award.

The Tipton Leadership Award recognizes Academy members who have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities that have benefitted the orthopaedic community, patients, and/or the American public. The award honors and celebrates the life of the late William W. Tipton, Jr, MD, an orthopaedic surgeon, educator, and former AAOS chief executive officer.

Dr. Friedlaender, a preeminent orthopaedic oncology surgeon, researcher, and mentor to hundreds of young orthopaedic surgeons, received the award during the Ceremonial Meeting at the 2014 AAOS Annual Meeting.

According to Brian G. Smith, MD, professor and director of pediatric orthopaedics at Yale University, who nominated Dr. Friedlaender for this honor, the mentorship and wise counsel Dr. Friedlaender provides to young orthopaedic surgeons “exemplify his status as a master teacher and role model in orthopaedics.”

Dedicated teacher, mentor, and leader
Dr. Friedlaender is the Wayne O. Southwick Professor of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and professor of pathology at Yale University School of Medicine. He has presided as chair of the Yale orthopaedic department for 29 years, making him among the longest-serving orthopaedic chairs in the United States. He also serves as clinical program leader of the sarcoma program at Smilow Cancer Hospital at Yale-New Haven.

He has also served as president of the American Orthopaedic Association, the Orthopaedic Research Society, the Academic Orthopaedic Society, the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons, and the American Association of Tissue Banks. Through these positions, Dr. Friedlaender has mentored and educated hundreds of young orthopaedic surgeons.

“Leadership is not about getting your own way,” said Dr. Friedlaender. “Leadership is really about causing, coaxing, and inspiring people to do the right thing.”

According to Dr. Smith, Dr. Friedlaender has “always felt that the best physician, the best orthopaedist, is one who is well-educated, not just in orthopaedics, but well-immersed in our world.” He cited Dr. Friedlaender’s long-standing support of a book club for Yale residents and faculty as one of the many ways that he fosters fellowship and personal growth.

“The book club has run for decades,” said Dr. Smith. “It’s a great opportunity for the residents to see him and interact in a different sort of situation, and explore the great writers of the day.”

Peter Jokl, MD, who praised Dr. Friedlaender for establishing the orthopaedics department at Yale, lauded his colleague for being “an educator first.”

“His legacy will be an outstanding orthopaedic department that will contribute to orthopaedic knowledge in the future,” said Dr. Jokl.

One of Dr. Friedlaender’s biggest accomplishments, according to Dr. Smith, was “transitioning the division of orthopaedics in the department of surgery to the department of orthopaedics in the first few years of his tenure as chief of the division.”

He added that “this program has produced numerous leaders in orthopaedics, including the only current U.S. Senator who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon, Sen. John A. Barrasso, MD, of Wyoming. It is also acknowledged to be the department that has produced the most orthopaedic chairmen of any program in the country.”

Dr. Friedlaender noted that “having the base I have here at Yale—the colleagues that I have, the staff, the students, the patients, has been an education to this very day.”

Skilled researcher and clinician
Throughout his career, Dr. Friedlaender has made significant contributions to the profession of orthopaedics as an early investigator in basic science research in the area of tissue transplantation and bone grafting.

According to Dr. Smith, he also “has been instrumental in developing some of the limb-salvage techniques in orthopaedic oncology surgery as well as doing some of the basic science research in the field. This has been of great benefit to his patients who still come from long distances to seek his care and attention for their musculoskeletal tumors.”

Dr. Friedlaender’s contributions to the literature and research include more than 175 peer-reviewed publications. In addition, he has served as author or coauthor of many textbooks.

“Dr. Friedlaender exemplifies all of the great characteristics Bill Tipton had, but he has almost been a superman in crossing every barrier and making his influence felt in every corner of the orthopaedic world,” said Michael G. Ehrlich, MD. Dr. Ehrlich credited Dr. Friedlaender with innovative work in the field of tissue banking, “which has led to many of the anterior cruciate ligament allograft replacements, or cadaver bone grafts, or fillers that are so much a part of orthopaedics today.”

Dr. Smith agreed that Dr. Friedlaender’s “ground-breaking research in transplantation of musculoskeletal tissues … has transformed the field and use of bone grafting in orthopaedics.” Much of that work was based on his early experience in the tissue bank division of the Naval Medical Research Institute while serving in the U.S. Navy at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.

“Dr. Friedlaender’s early interest in bone graft immunology has led the way and resulted in the modern uses of bone graft and bone substitute materials that currently benefit orthopaedic patients,” continued Dr. Smith. “The ramifications and impact of the developments in bone banking and tissue transplantation have certainly enhanced the lives of countless patients who have received bone grafts or orthopaedic tissues throughout our country from their orthopaedic surgeons.”

Upon being presented with the Tipton Award, Dr. Friedlaender acknowledged his own mentors and expressed his gratitude.

“Dr. Bill Tipton was an exceptional mentor and role model for leadership, respect, diversity, and fellowship,” said Dr. Friedlaender. “His values have been immortalized and adopted as core values of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and I’m humbled to be this year’s reason to reflect upon Bill Tipton’s important legacy.”

Jennie McKee is a senior science writer for AAOS Now. She can be reached at mckee@aaos.org

2014 Annual Meeting Video Presentations
Gary E. Friedlaender, MD, William W. Tipton, Jr., MD, Leadership Award