Douglas Dirschl to lead orthopaedics at the University of Chicago Medicine

January 2, 2013

Douglas R. Dirschl, MD

Douglas R. Dirschl, MD, a nationally recognized orthopaedic surgeon, administrator, teacher and researcher, will chair the newly created Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Chicago Medicine starting Jan. 1, 2013.

Dirschl, 50, is coming to Chicago from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, where he has been chairman and the Frank C. Wilson Distinguished Professor in the Department of Orthopaedics since 2003. He is a former president of the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA), considered the premiere orthopaedic academic organization in the United States.

"An extensive national search identified Douglas Dirschl as a leader in orthopaedic surgery who is held in highest regard nationally and internationally," said Kenneth Polonsky, MD, executive vice president for medical affairs at the University of Chicago and dean of the Biological Sciences Division and Pritzker School of Medicine. "He also is known for his clinical and teaching skills, his ability to motivate scientists and clinicians to work toward shared goals, and for elevating standards and practices of patient care and education."

Dirschl has conducted original research relevant to the practice of orthopaedic surgery and to the understanding of the biological basis of the surgery. In his studies of the practice, he has focused on the critical assessment of factors that influence reliability in classifying fractures of various types. His studies focus on the quality of radiographs and the reliability of interpretation, as well as the use of binary decision-making strategies to enhance reliability. In his studies of the biological basis of surgery, Dirschl has focused on a variety of biological correlates of orthopaedic injury such as hemorrhage in pelvic fractures as a means of classifying factors that influence pelvic bleeding.

As president of the AOA, Dirschl played an instrumental role in the development and launch of the organization’s "Own the Bone" campaign, designed to increase awareness of the serious consequences of bone loss and the growing prevalence of osteoporosis. "There are three times as many fragility fractures each year in the United States as there are heart attacks," he said. "This is a huge and under-recognized public health issue."

Dirschl described his new role at the University of Chicago Medicine as a "remarkable opportunity" to expand on current strengths and establish new programs, particularly with the opening of the Center for Care and Discovery.

"The medical center already has many outstanding, cohesive, team-oriented faculty," he said. "The state-of-the-art surgical facilities in the Center for Care and Discovery will provide unprecedented opportunities for us to expand orthopaedics. We intend to double the number of faculty physicians and find innovative ways to deliver superior patient care."

A leader in medical education and health policy, Dirschl has received multiple teaching awards for his work with medical students and residents. He has co-authored three books, 40 book chapters, and more than 75 peer-reviewed scholarly articles and lectured all over the world. He sits on editorial and review boards for several notable scientific journals, including the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma and Operative Techniques in Orthopaedics.

Dirschl graduated with distinction in 1984 from Stanford University with a degree in chemical engineering and with high honors in 1988 from the Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) School of Medicine. He did his internship in general surgery and residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of North Carolina (UNC) Hospitals, where he joined the faculty in 1993. He returned to OHSU in 2001 as professor and chairman of orthopaedics, and was recruited back to UNC in 2003.

He is relocating to Chicago with his spouse, Katie Koenig, an accomplished health care administrator, who will be associate vice president of strategic projects at the University of Chicago Medicine.

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