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Richard Burton ’64M (Res)

Richard BurtonDr. Richard Burton is the former senior associate dean for academic affairs, past chair of the Department of Orthopaedics, and the inaugural Marjorie Strong Wehle Professor in Orthopaedics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. He is currently on sabbatical to write a book on how best to effectively lead an academic department within an academic health center, and to develop a mentoring program for that purpose. A renowned Orthopaedic surgeon with special expertise in surgery of the hand and wrist, Dr. Burton developed a breakthrough technique to successfully treat a common form of arthritis of the thumb. Known internationally as the “Burton procedure,” it has become the gold standard therapy for this condition and is taught to Orthopaedic surgeons across the country.

Dr. Burton earned his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College in 1958 and his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in 1962. After completing his surgical internship and a year of surgical residency at Strong Memorial Hospital, he proudly served two years in the U.S. Air Force Strategic Air Command and was honorably discharged in 1966. In 1970, Dr. Burton completed his Orthopaedic residency in Harvard’s combined program at Boston Children’s, Massachusetts General, and Peter Bent Brigham Hospitals. He then completed a one-year fellowship in plastic and reconstructive hand surgery at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.

In 1971, Dr. Burton began his career at Cleveland Clinic as an assistant professor and director of the hand surgery division. He was recruited back to the School of Medicine and Dentistry in 1974 as associate chair of the Department of Orthopaedics and instituted the hand surgery fellowship program. He became chair of Orthopaedics in 1986, and under his leadership, fellowships were instituted in sports medicine and spine surgery, the Orthopaedic residency program nearly doubled, the department became a national leader in musculoskeletal research, and its endowment increased tenfold.

In 2000, Dr. Burton was appointed Dean’s Professor and acting chair of neurosurgery. Two years later, he was appointed senior associate dean for academic affairs. During his 10 years in that role, he developed and moderated the School’s Conflict of Interest Advisory Group and chaired the committee in charge of all appointments, reappointments, and promotions for the School’s faculty.

A generous philanthropist who is deeply committed to medical student education, Dr. Burton established the Kenneth G. Burton, M.D. Annual Visiting Professorship in Pediatric Orthopaedics in 2007 in honor and memory of his father. Last year, the School announced the creation of the Richard and Margaret Burton Distinguished Professorship in Orthopaedics.

Dr. Burton is a diplomate and former director of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. In that role, he chaired the conjoint committee of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery, the American Board of Surgery, and the American Board of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery to write, administer, and grade the common certification examination for credentialing all eligible surgeons nationally in Surgery of the Hand. Active in numerous professional organizations, he is the
former president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand

Dr. Burton and his wife, Margaret (Peggy), live in Pittsford, New York,
and have two sons and four grandchildren.