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Goldfarb installed as inaugural Gelberman professor

National leader in orthopedic surgery honored for clinical excellence, compassionate patient care

by Marta WegorzewskaMay 3, 2024

Dan Donovan

Charles A. Goldfarb, MD, a widely respected hand surgeon, has been named the inaugural Richard H. Gelberman, MD, Distinguished Professor in Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The professorship was established to honor renowned hand specialist Richard H. Gelberman, MD, a former longtime head of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Goldfarb, executive vice chair of the department, was installed by Chancellor Andrew D. Martin and David H. Perlmutter, MD, the George and Carol Bauer Dean of the School of Medicine, executive vice chancellor for medical affairs, and the Spencer T. and Ann W. Olin Distinguished Professor.

“The establishment of this professorship by the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is a testament to the many lives Dr. Gelberman has impacted through his clinical expertise, leadership and mentorship,” Martin said. “We are grateful for the philanthropic support of so many donors who have made this possible. Their generosity is key in recognizing Dr. Goldfarb and the profound dedication to patient care and advancement of the field of orthopedics that he and Dr. Gelberman share. Both are extremely deserving of this honor.”

Goldfarb specializes in the care of children with hand and upper-limb differences – including genetic conditions that are present from birth or arise from trauma or illness. Helping such children is his passion and has greatly influenced his research. In 2014, he co-led the development of a consortium of institutions and national leaders committed to advancing the understanding of care for children with birth differences of the upper extremity.

“Dr. Goldfarb is a skilled surgeon, an innovative physician-scientist, and a sincere and thoughtful mentor and leader,” Perlmutter said. “This professorship was born out of the desire of many to honor Dr. Gelberman’s many years of leadership and his impact on countless lives — those of his patients, his colleagues, and so many orthopedic surgeons around the country he helped mentor.”

When Goldfarb was a co-director of the department’s Hand and Microsurgery Service, the division emerged as a national leader, attracting top fellowship applicants. As director of pediatric and adolescent orthopedics, Goldfarb expanded and elevated the clinical program, providing excellent care for children and adolescents with spine, hip, hand, leg and foot differences, as well as those with traumatic bone and muscle injuries. Since 2019, Goldfarb has been the executive vice chair of the department, where he oversees its 11 divisions.

“Dr. Goldfarb’s clinical care and research have established Washington University as one of a few major hand-difference treatment centers in the United States,” said Regis O’Keefe, MD, PhD, the Fred C. Reynolds Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and head of the department. “He also cares for athletes at all levels, and professional athletes come from across the country seeking his care. He has a remarkable ability to provide outstanding care with compassion and respect.”

An innovative and talented clinician-scientist, Goldfarb has been awarded the department’s Palma Chironis Award for teaching excellence, and the Jerome Gilden Compassionate Physician Award, an honor decided by residents that recognizes commitment, skill and compassion for patients. He also received the Andrew J. Weiland Medal for Outstanding Research in Hand Surgery, from the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand in 2021.

Gelberman – who studies the effects of growth factors and inflammatory cytokines on tendon healing – led the department from January 1995 until October 2014. As the inaugural department head, he recruited and assembled a team that set the national standard for clinical excellence and research in orthopedic surgery. He has been recognized with myriad awards, among them his election to the National Academy of Medicine. He is one of very few orthopedic surgeons to receive the honor.

About Washington University School of Medicine

WashU Medicine is a global leader in academic medicine, including biomedical research, patient care and educational programs with 2,900 faculty. Its National Institutes of Health (NIH) research funding portfolio is the second largest among U.S. medical schools and has grown 56% in the last seven years. Together with institutional investment, WashU Medicine commits well over $1 billion annually to basic and clinical research innovation and training. Its faculty practice is consistently within the top five in the country, with more than 1,900 faculty physicians practicing at 130 locations and who are also the medical staffs of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals of BJC HealthCare. WashU Medicine has a storied history in MD/PhD training, recently dedicated $100 million to scholarships and curriculum renewal for its medical students, and is home to top-notch training programs in every medical subspecialty as well as physical therapy, occupational therapy, and audiology and communications sciences.

Marta covers pathology & immunology, cell biology & physiology, pediatrics, radiology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, and technology management, among other topics. She holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Georgetown University and a PhD in immunology from the University of California, San Francisco. She did her postdoctoral work in Washington University’s Department of Pathology & Immunology. Marta joined WashU Medicine Marketing & Communications in 2023 after working as a science writer in the Department of Biology on the Danforth Campus for five years.