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John Claude Elfar, M.D.

Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation

Clinical Interests

Hand & Wrist, Pain & Injury; Peripheral Nerve Surgery; Shoulder & Elbow, Pain & Injury; Shoulder Replacement

Contact Information

Phone Numbers

Appointment: (585) 275-5321

Administrative: (585) 273-3157

Office: (585) 273-3157

Fax: (585) 276-1134


Dr. Elfar specializes in the treatment of sports and hand, wrist, elbow, and shoulder problems for patients of all ages. His clinical interests include all aspects of upper extremity trauma and reconstruction as well as injuries in the competitive and recreational athlete. He has special expertise in arthroscopy including the arthroscopic treatment of hand and upper extremity problems including the rotator cuff of the shoulder and elbow. He also has special expertise in joint reconstructive and salvage procedures for the hand, wrist, shoulder, and elbow including joint replacements, peripheral nerve surgery, and vascular surgery.

Dr. Elfar is a graduate of both Johns Hopkins University (Double Bachelors Degrees) and Harvard Medical School (Medical Doctorate). His Orthopaedic Surgery Residency training was with URMC Orthopaedics. Then, he completed an Advanced Upper Extremity Trauma Fellowship with the AO International (a Swiss organization dedicated to trauma care). He also completed advanced fellowship training in Surgery of the Hand and Upper Extremity, including shoulder and elbow reconstruction at the Cincinnati Hand Surgery Center under the directorship of Peter Stern, MD. He is board certified in orthopaedic surgery and holds Dual Certificates of Added Qualification in Sports and Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery. Dr. Elfar joined URMC Orthopaedics specializing in hand, wrist, shoulder, and elbow surgery in 2008.

If surgery is required, Dr. Elfar uses multiple surgery centers and can accommodate most patient needs using outpatient surgical procedures when possible.

Professional Background

Professional Education
• University of Rochester, Orthopaedic Surgery Residency
• Harvard Medical School (1996- 2002) - MD
• The Johns Hopkins University (1992-6)
o Bachelor's Degree with Honors in Biomedical Engineering
o Bachelor's Degree with Honors in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Fellowship Training
• Mary S. Stern Fellow in Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery Cincinnati Hand Surgery Specialists - Director: Peter J. Stern.
• AO/ASIF Advanced Trauma Fellowship AO International Boston, MA Preceptor: Jesse B. Jupiter
Professional Board Certification
• American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery
• Certificate of Added Qualification - Sports
• Certificate of Added Qualification - Hand
• Fellow of American College of Surgery
Special Awards and Honors
• Young Fellows Association Governing Council; American College of Surgeons (2015-18)
• American Orthopaedic Association North American Traveling Fellowship (2011)
• ASSH Hand Surgeon Scientist Award - 5 Year Support; American Society and Foundation for Surgery of the Hand (2013-18)
• Julian Bruner Award; American Society for Surgery of the Hand (2009)
• Young Leader; American Society for Surgery of the Hand (2008)
• Emerging Leader - American Orthopaedic Association (2008-13)
• Kenneth E DeHaven Award for Outstanding Orthopaedic Research; University of Rochester (2007)
• Resident Leader Program; American Orthopaedic Association (2007)
• Clinician Scientist Training Program; American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (2007)
• Efforts in Diversity Award; Harvard Medical School (2002)
• National Research Service Award; National Institutes of Health (2000)
• Traveling Fellow; Society for Neuroscience (1999-2000)
• Richard Allen Williams Fellowship (1998)
• Research Fellow; DuPont Merck and Harvard Medical School (1998)
• Medical Scientist Training Program Award (1996-9)
• Academic All American; USA TODAY (1996)
• OMSA Academic Honor Award; John Hopkins University (1996)
• National Torchbearer Award; NSBE (1995-6)
• Faculty for the Future Fellowship; General Electric Foundation (1995)
• Howard Hughes Undergraduate Fellowship (declined) (1995)
• The John Hopkins University Biomedical Engineering Research Award (1995)
• Whitaker Foundation Undergraduate Fellowship (1995)
• Baylor College of Medicine Premedical Academy MMEP (1995)
Leadership Positions:
• Director, Orthopaedic Hand & Upper Extremity Fellowship Program
• Director, University of Rochester Center for Orthopaedic Population Studies (COPS)
• Co-Director, University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology Orthopaedic Biomechanics Co-Laboratory
Professional Memberships
• American College of Surgeons, YFA Governing Council
• OMeGA Review Board (formerly)
• AOA Emerging Leaders Program (formerly)
National Group Committees: (only past commitments are dated)
• ACS YFA Governing Council (2015-2018)
• ACS AAOS Advisory Council (2016-2019)
• AAOS Hand and Upper Extremity Surgery Program Chair (2016-Present)
• AAOS/OREF/ORS Clinician Scholar Career Development Committee (2014)
• American Society for Surgery of the Hand; Website Committee
• American Society for Surgery of the Hand; Publications Committee
• American Society for Surgery of the Hand; Self Assessment Exam Committee (2009-14)
• Orthopaedic Medical Grants Association (2009-12)
• American Society for Surgery of the Hand - Clinical Trials and Outcomes Committee (2008-13)
Editorial Work (only past commitments are dated)
• Journal of Geriatric Orthopaedics; Review Editor
• Journal of Hand Surgery American; Reviewer
• Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery; Reviewer (2008-15)
• Yearbook of Hand and Upper Limb Surgery;Reviewer


My laboratory is a group of approximately six to ten people people working in three distinct areas: Pharmaco-aduvant therapy for orthopaedic neurotrauma; trauma outcomes assessment, and biomechanical assessments of cartilage relaxation. We are currently engaged in multiple research projects in the clinical, translational, and basic science realms. We have an approach that allows multiple teams to approach distinct projects in neuroregeneration, large-scale population studies of orthopaedic outcomes and basic biomechanics.

Our neuro-scientific research is centered on the effect of erythropoietin (EPO) and 4-aminopyridine (4AP) on regenerating peripheral nerve function after severe peripheral nerve trauma. Our work is motivated by the potent effect which EPO and 4AP have on injured nerves. These effects include the promotion of myelin production, a holy-grail in peripheral nerve injury science. We have found potent and lasting effects on the structure of the nerve at the sites of injury, which are coupled with demonstrable changes in limb function. So far, we have demonstrated that a potentially large group of agents, already approved for use in humans by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), may hold the potential to accellerate recovery after neurotrauma. In the case of several of these agents, translation to the clinic is currently underway using Investigational New Drug approval which we have been granted from the FDA. If successful, these agents will offer some of the only treatments for peripheral neurotrauma available. Our efforts are therefore directed on further study on mechanistic detail of neuroregenerative, myeloprotective, and functionally supportive treatments while at the same time conducting first-ever clinical trials on these same agents in humans.

In parallel with our translational work, my group has grown to include several members of the surgical community interested in examining surgical and trauma outcomes. We have focussed on approaches that combine large-scale big-data with small scale local chart-based validation. Thus far, we have been able to contribute studies on orthopaedic trauma outcomes centered on the quintessential hip-fracture. What grew out of a team diversion has become a full-fledged Center for Orthopedic Population Studies (COPS), which has used large database programming to produce several critical manuscripts documenting key elements underpinning cost, length of stay, and mortality after trauma.

Finally, we have delved into preliminary work on biomechanics analysis of joint reaction force measurements using the novel method of cartilage relaxation (technique, CRT). We have shown that measurements of the minute forces required to relax small and even large cartilage surfaces in joints can be measured, even in the absence of disruptive interposition of sensors. The dissection of stabilizing soft tissue to interpose such sensors alters the same forces which are to be measured. Using principles from the science of non-destructive evaluation derived from engineering methods, we have endeavored to accurately measure these minute forces without destructive interposition of sensor material - a key limitation of current methods. Thus far, this program has produced several significant contributions that center on measurements in small joints, where the dissection to interpose tissue would naturally yield spurious results.

Each of these programs has been built through collaboration with co-investigators and has garnered significant extramural funding. Each also represents a collaboration where, my role has been founding and also fostering a group which shares ownership and responsibility for funding applications, publications, successes and failures. The process of beginning and supporting independent, programmatically funded research programs is the primary interest which has fueled my work.



  • Orthopaedic Surgery - American Board of Surgery
  • Surgery of the Hand - American Board of Surgery
  • Sports Medicine - American Board of Orthopedic Surgery


Bachelor's Degree | Johns Hopkins University
Biomedical Engineering

Bachelor's Degree | Johns Hopkins University
Electrical and Computer Engineering

MD | Harvard Medical School

Post-doctoral Training & Residency

06/26/2003 - 06/25/2007
Residency in Orthopaedic Surgery at University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry

06/25/2002 - 06/30/2003
Internship in Surgery-General at University of Rochester School of Medicine & Dentistry

07/01/2007 - 07/31/2008
Fellowship in Orthopaedic Surgery: Hand Surgery at Cincinnati Children's Hospital

10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
Fellowship in Orthopaedic Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital

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2013 - 2018
ASSH Hand Surgeon Scientist Award - NIH K Award 5 Year Support
Sponsor: American Society for Surgery of the Hand AFSH/PSF

2011 - 2011
25 Sports Medicine Physicians Honored-American Orthopaedic Society / North American Traveling Fellowship

American Orthopaedic Association North American Traveling Fellowship
Sponsor: American Orthopaedic Association

Julian Bruner Award American Society for Surgery of the Hand
Sponsor: American Society for Surgery of the Hand

2008 - Present
Young Leader - American Society for Surgery of the Hand
Sponsor: American Society for Surgery of the Hand

2008 - Present
Emerging Leader - American Orthopaedic Association
Sponsor: American Orthopaedic Association

Kenneth E DeHaven Award for Outstanding Orthopaedic Research
Sponsor: Plato Schwartz Lectureship-Dept of Orthopaedic Surgery
Location: University of Rochester Medical Center

Resident Leader Program (Zimmer- American Orthopaedic Association)
Sponsor: American Orthopaedic Association

Clinician Scientist Training Program
Sponsor: American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Efforts in Diversity Award
Sponsor: Harvard Medical School

National Research Service Award
Sponsor: NIH

1999 - 2000
Traveling Fellowship
Sponsor: Society for Neuroscience

Richard Allen Williams Fellowship
Sponsor: American Board of Cardiology

Research Fellowship
Sponsor: DuPont Merck Harvard Medical School

1996 - 1999
Medical Scientist Training Program Award Recipient

Academic All American
Sponsor: USA TODAY

1995 - 1996
National Torchbearer Award
Sponsor: NSBE

1995 - 1996
Faculty for the Future Fellowship
Sponsor: General Electric Foundation

Howard Hughes Undergraduate Fellowship (declined)

The John Hopkins University Biomedical Engineering Research Award

Whitaker Foundation Undergraduate Fellowship

Baylor College of Medicine/Rice University Premedical Academy
Sponsor: MMEP

1992 - 1996
OMSA Academic Honor Award
Sponsor: John Hopkins University

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Journal Articles

Geary MB, Li H, Zingman A, Ketz J, Zuscik M, De Mesy Bentley KL, Noble M, Elfar JC. "Erythropoietin accelerates functional recovery after moderate sciatic nerve crush injury." Muscle & nerve.. 2017 Jul 0; 56(1):143-151. Epub 2017 Feb 06.

Zingman A, Li H, Sundem L, DeHority B, Geary M, Fussel T, Mooney R, Zuscik M, Elfar J. "Shoulder arthritis secondary to rotator cuff tear: A reproducible murine model and histopathologic scoring system." Journal of orthopaedic research : official publication of the Orthopaedic Research Society.. 2017 Mar 0; 35(3):506-514. Epub 2016 Sep 09.

Elfar JC. "Priming the stump in peripheral nerve injury (Commentary on Zhang et al. (2017))." The European journal of neuroscience.. 2017 Mar 0; 45(6):748-749. Epub 2017 Feb 06.

Books & Chapters

Chapter Title: Distal Radius Fractures
Book Title: Encyclopedia of Trauma Care
Author List: Elfar JC; Richardson, WL
Published By: Springer2014

Chapter Title: Nerve
Book Title: ASSH Manual of Hand Surgery
Author List: Boyer, Bozentka, Calfee, Elfar JC, Hammert
Published By: ASSH2010

Chapter Title: Hand and Wrist Arthritis
Book Title: Principles of Hand Surgery and Therapy
Author List: Peter Stern, John Elfar
Edited By: Ghazy Rayan, Jefferey Budoff, Mark Baratz, Thomas Trumble
Published By: Saunders, Elsevier2009 in Philadelphia




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