Judith F. Baumhauer, M.D., M.P.H., has been a trailblazer for years in the field of foot and ankle orthopaedics and today is no different: She was installed as president of the American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society (AOFAS), the first time in its 42-year history that a woman will lead the professional organization.
“The AOFAS membership is dedicated to advancing patient care through research, education, and humanitarian efforts, and it is truly an honor to lead such a dedicated, vibrant, committed group of orthopaedic surgeons,” Baumhauer said.
The AOFAS presidency became official at the Society’s 27th Annual Meeting in Keystone, Colorado. In her new position, Baumhauer also will serve on the Board of Directors of the Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Outreach & Education Fund (OEF).
The latest honor follows several other leadership roles. In 2008 she was elected the first woman president of the Eastern Orthopaedic Association, a regional professional organization. Before that, Baumhauer was the first female faculty member appointed to the University of Rochester Medical Center Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation, and she is one of the nation’s few female professors of foot and ankle surgery.
Baumhauer treats patients, conducts research, and directs a busy laboratory, the Strong Foot and Ankle Institute, a joint venture in clinical care and research with the Ithaca College Physical Therapy Department. Physicians and scientists at the Institute study a variety of problems including plantar fasciitis, amputation, arthritis of the foot and ankle, painful flatfoot, and the most cost-effective ways to treat common ailments such as bunions and hammertoes.
Her focus has been to help people function as normally as possible, whether they have a life-altering degenerative disease, a serious injury, or a chronic condition.
“We tend to take our feet and our ability to move for granted,” Baumhauer said. “However, about half of all Americans will face a problem with a foot or ankle at some point in their lifetime. Due to a growing population of older people who want to stay active, we have a great need to continue to conduct research that guides evidence-based, cost-effective treatment.”
Last summer Baumhauer traveled to Vietnam as a surgical volunteer with the AOFAS Overseas Outreach Project, where she worked in primitive, minimally supplied facilities to correct patients’ severe limb deformities due to accidents, birth defects, or other health problems. A few months later in January 2011, she visited India to give lectures and conduct three live surgeries to teach the latest procedures.
Baumhauer is a graduate of Medicine University of Vermont College of Medicine. She completed her orthopaedic surgery residency at the Residency Medical Center Hospital of Vermont, and continued training with a fellowship at the Foot and Ankle Surgery Medical College of Wisconsin. She joined the URMC faculty in 1995, and also earned a masters degree in Public Health from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry.
In addition to serving on the AOFAS board of directors, Baumhauer is the recipient of the prestigious Roger Mann Award for excellence in clinical research and the J. Leonard Goldner Award for outstanding basic science research. (The AOFAS has more than 1,800 members.)
Baumhauer is a reviewer for several scientific journals including Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Journal of Orthopaedic Research, Techniques in Foot and Ankle Surgery and American Journal of Orthopaedics.
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