Dr. John Elfar has been named chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, effective Aug. 15.
Elfar joins the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson from the Penn State College of Medicine and Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, where he is vice chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and the Michael and Myrtle Baker Professor of Surgery. Elfar is the founder and director of the Penn State College of Medicine Center for Orthopaedic Research and Translational Science, which is focused on expanding the scope of basic science, translational research and regenerative medicine, and a professor in the departments of public health sciences and neural and behavioral sciences.
He graduated from Johns Hopkins University with degrees in biomedical engineering and electrical and computer engineering and earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School. He completed his orthopedic surgical residency at the University of Rochester Medical Center, followed by fellowships in AO/ASIF advanced trauma at AO International in Boston, and hand and upper extremity surgery at Cincinnati Hand Surgery Specialists. He holds subspecialty certificates of added qualification in sports surgery and hand and upper extremity surgery from the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.
“Dr. Elfar is a true surgeon-scientist with exceptional clinical and research credentials,” said Dr. Michael Abecassis, dean of the UArizona College of Medicine – Tucson. “This is a somewhat rare combination in the field of orthopedic surgery, and it fits well with the strategic direction and tripartite mission of the college and of Banner – University Medicine Tucson.”
Elfar, who specializes in hand and upper extremity surgery including sports and orthopedic reconstructive surgery, will be providing care for Banner – University Medicine patients.
“The partnership between Banner and the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson brings clinical care delivery, education and research to the forefront of the patient experience, and Dr. Elfar’s leadership and expertise will greatly impact each of these key areas,” said Dr. Joshua Lee, physician executive for Banner — University Medicine Tucson.
Throughout his career as a surgeon-scientist, Elfar has been actively engaged in delivering orthopedic surgical care while promoting the development of translational approaches to research. His research funding includes nearly $5 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health and Department of Defense. He has authored or co-authored nearly 100 peer-reviewed articles and 12 textbook chapters.
His laboratory defined new roles for pharmacological management of traumatic injuries that have implications in areas beyond orthopedic surgery, such as prostate cancer and severe wounds and burns. He co-founded and is chief medical officer of a company that will bring these treatments to the public in both civilian and military applications. Elfar’s current research is focused on severe trauma-related injuries, which often involve unrecoverable muscle and nerve damage. This research emphasis will complement the well-established orthopedic trauma service in the Level 1 trauma center at Banner — University Medical Center Tucson.
“Orthopedics is about hope,” Elfar said. “We provide patients with hope for a better life after pain and injury, and we ourselves need hope to deliver the best care. Our commitment includes the most advanced research and training. Our goal is to be the best place to receive and deliver care. If we can do that, everybody gains enough hope to live meaningful lives. I am honored to play a role in leading the talented orthopedic team at the College of Medicine – Tucson and Banner Health. We are here for world-class comprehensive musculoskeletal care.”
Elfar is active in many national societies and professional organizations and is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He is a reviewer for several journals and serves on national committees including the AAOS Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery Program committee and the Orthopaedic Research Society’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee, among others.