PrintEmailBookmark and Share

History of Washington University Orthopedics


Our commitment to excellence in education, research and patient care is deeply woven into the fabric of our history. During the last century, developments in and around the St. Louis community, surgical and technological advancements in the specialty of orthopaedic surgery, and leading academic and clinical pursuits by our orthopaedic faculty have laid the foundation for excellence in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine.

By the turn of the 20th century, orthopaedic surgery at Washington University was emerging as a dynamic subspecialty of medical education. The majority of clinical orthopaedic care and education was conducted at institutions affiliated with the university such as the O'Fallon Dispensary, the Polyclinic Hospital and Dispensary and St. Johns' Hospital.


In 1910, an affiliation with Barnes Hospital (now known as Barnes-Jewish Hospital) was made that established Barnes as a primary teaching hospital for the university. Drs. Nathaniel Allison, Charles Allen Stone, J. Archer O'Reilly and Leroy Abbott are included as key figures in the development of orthopaedic surgery during the years following this affiliation.

In 1918 the university was formally named the Washington University School of Medicine (its present title). Shortly thereafter Shriners Hospitals for Children - St. Louis was completed. Education in orthopaedic surgery under the directorship of the clinical orthopaedic faculty at Washington University was offered at this facility.


After WW II, Dr. J. Albert Key, Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at WUSM, established a formal training program in orthopaedic surgery at Barnes Hospital. During the duration of his leadership, Dr. Key remained active in research and teaching. The J. Albert Key Library in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery is a living legacy to the current and future generations of orthopaedic surgeons who train and work at this institution.


In 1955, Dr. Fred Reynolds assumed directorship of the department as well as the positions of Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the WUSM and Chief of Orthopaedics at the Barnes and Allied Hospitals. Dr. Reynolds, an advocate of orthopaedic education, helped to establish the national reputation long associated with the training program. Dr. Reynolds was also involved in the care of the St. Louis Cardinals Professional Football Team.


Arthur H. Stein, Jr., M.D., H. Relton McCarroll, MD, Paul Manske, MD and Richard H. Gelberman, MD, are among the key figures who served terms as the Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery following Dr. Reynolds. The Arthur H. Stein, Jr., MD and the H. Relton McCarroll, MD Memorial lectures commemorate the dedication of both men to the field of orthopaedic surgical education.


In 1995, a formal Department of Orthopaedic Surgery was established at Washington University School of Medicine. Richard H. Gelberman, MD, became the Fred C. Reynolds Professor and Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery. He assembled a faculty of experts in their respective orthopaedic subspecialities, including a team of full-time research scientists.


Washington University Orthopedics and Barnes-Jewish  Hospital opened an Outpatient Orthopedic Center in Chesterfield, Missouri.


Regis J. O'Keefe, MD, PhD, was named Chairman of Orthopaedic Surgery. A highly regarded orthopaedic oncologist and a national leader in musculoskeletal research, Dr. O'Keefe came to St. Louis from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, where he was the Majorie Strong Wehle Professor in Orthopaedics and chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation.

Team Care

Since the establishment of the program, our orthopaedic specialists have been active in the medical care of Washington University athletes as well as professional athletes. From the sideline vigils of Dr. Fred Reynolds at the stadium to the compassionate care that Dr. Jerome J. Gilden provided to our Saint Louis Blues Hockey Team, our department has been entrusted with the care of St. Louis's top collegiate and professional athletes.

Physicians on the faculty within the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery currently provide medical care for the Washington University Bears athletic teams and the St. Louis Blues Hockey Team.