Mayo Clinic physician to lead new Musculoskeletal Center

Mary I. O'Connor, M.D., has been named the inaugural director of the Musculoskeletal Center at Yale School of Medicine (YSM) and Yale-New Haven Hospital (YNHH), starting in May 2015. Her appointment was announced today by YSM Dean Robert J. Alpern, M.D., and YNHH President Richard D'Aquila.

Similar to the Yale Cancer Center, the Musculoskeletal Center will coordinate interdepartmental clinical and research programs at the medical school and hospital. As a clinical and research center, it brings together specialists in orthopaedics, neurosurgery, neurology, rheumatology, rehabilitation, biomedical engineering, and other specialties to provide a wide range of services, including joint replacement, pain management, and advanced treatment for arthritis, spine disorders, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson disease, and other conditions.

Dr. O'Connor is professor of orthopedic surgery at Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and program director of the adult reconstructive fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Florida. She is the medical director of the Mayo Clinic Integrity and Compliance Office and an associate medical director for the Department of Development. She completed her tenure as chair of the Orthopedic Surgery Department at Mayo Clinic in Florida in early 2014 and served on Mayo's Florida Executive Operations Team from 2002 to 2013. She earned her B.A. degree in biochemistry from Yale University and her M.D. degree from Medical College of Pennsylvania. She went on to attend Mayo Graduate School of Medicine, where she completed an internship and residency in orthopaedics and fellowship in orthopaedic oncology.

In her practice at Mayo, Dr. O'Connor treats both orthopaedic oncology patients and adults requiring complex reconstructive surgeries for degenerative joint diseases. Her research has been published in high-impact scientific journals. She leads studies focused on joint replacement surgery of the hip and knee, limb salvage surgery for bone and soft tissue tumors, the influence of sex and gender on treatment and outcomes in arthritis, and processes to improve value in the delivery of health care. She is co-investigator on a new pilot study to determine if injecting a patient's stem cells into his or her knee joint will slow the progression of—or possibly reverse—arthritic changes.

Dr. O'Connor has received numerous awards and honors during her training and career, including being named a Distinguished Clinician at Mayo Clinic and receiving The Corinne Farrell Award from the International Skeletal Society in 2009. She received the Congressional Gold Medal as a 1980 Olympian and is noted for her encouragement of women in career advancement.

Dr. O'Connor has served as president of the Association of Bone and Joint Surgeons, the International Society for Limb Salvage, the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons, the Musculoskeletal Tumor Society, and the Ruth Jackson Orthopaedic Society. She is a board member of The Perry Initiative Foundation, a group focused on introducing orthopaedics and engineering to young women. She is a consultant with the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices Panel for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Medical Devices Advisory Committee and is a panel member for the Medicare Evidence Development & Coverage Advisory Committee. She also serves as chair of the Diversity Advisory Board of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons and co-chairs the national Movement is Life Caucus, a multi-stakeholder group devoted to decreasing musculoskeletal healthcare disparities.

This article was submitted by Michael Fitzsousa on January 6, 2015.