Alfred R. Shands Jr., M.D.
A Brief Profile of Alfred R. Shands Jr., M.D.
“Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
Alfred R. Shands Jr., M.D. presented this proverb as a cautionary reminder of the need for orthopaedists to look to the future of the profession in his presidential address at The American Orthopaedic Association Annual Meeting on June 9, 1954. In his address he stated: “We of this generation should be doing as our forefathers did for us; we should be ‘sowing the seed’ to bring forth the ‘harvest of the future’ for the oncoming generations.” Committed to this mission of investing in the future of orthopaedics, Alfred R. Shands Jr., M.D. — along with Joseph S. Barr Jr., M.D., James A. Dickson, M.D., Francis M. McKeever, M.D., Harold A. Sofield, M.D., and Philip D. Wilson Sr., M.D. — founded the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation in 1955. Since then, the Foundation has funded nearly $88 million dollars in research and education.
The accomplishments of Alfred R. Shands Jr., M.D. are many. Born into an eminent family of physicians in Washington in 1899, he graduated with his medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1922 and received his internship and residency training at John’s Hopkins. In 1930, while serving at Duke University School of Medicine, he founded the orthopaedic department and developed the first orthopaedic resident training program. During his last two years with the university he wrote the Handbook of Orthopaedic Surgery.
From 1937 to 1969, he held the position of Medical Director of the Nemours Foundation for Crippled Children. He was not only instrumental in helping to establish the Alfred I. duPont Institute, but also served as its Surgeon-in-Chief from 1940 to 1962.
In 1941, Dr. Shands accepted the position of Visiting Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania. During World War II, he served in many capacities with the United States Army Air Force, including as Senior Consultant on Orthopaedic Surgery and Chief of the Surgical Branch. His commitment extended after WWII, as he served on the Armed Forces Medical Policy and Advisory Councils from 1951 to 1954.
In 1955, Drs. Shands, Barr, Dickson, McKeever, Sofield, and Wilson founded OREF, setting orthopaedics on a new course.
To honor his many contributions to orthopaedics and in keeping with his vision of fostering new research in the specialty, the Foundation established the Alfred R. Shands Jr., M.D. Circle in 1994. Members of the circle are helping to fulfill Dr. Shands’ vision by demonstrating a long-term commitment to the endowment that provides funding for orthopaedic research and education in perpetuity.