For over 30 years, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Freddie Fu has advanced sports medicine in Pittsburgh and around the world. The chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC has personally overseen the well-being of high school, college and professional-level athletes, as well as generations of Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre dancers. Now the accomplished physician and researcher will receive recognition for his decades of work.

On July 8, Dr. Fu was inducted into the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs, CO. Formed in 1972, AOSSM has become known as a world leader in sports medicine education, research, communication and fellowship. The Hall of Fame honor goes to individuals who have made a substantial contribution to the field.

“This is the first time that anyone from Pittsburgh has won this award,” says Dr. Fu, who previously served as AOSSM president from 2008 to 2009.

A Hong Kong native, Dr. Fu studied at Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School. He earned his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh in 1977, and completed his general surgery internship at Brown University. He then returned to Pitt for an orthopaedic research fellowship and to complete his orthopaedic residency training.

Dr. Fu attributes his interest in sports to his family, who excelled in various athletic activities. “My mother was a very good basketball player,” says Fu.

In the decades following, Dr. Fu pursued an area that, when he first began practicing medicine, was not yet taken seriously by most universities. He’s become known worldwide for his pioneering treatment of sports-related injuries, including anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction. Over the past three decades, Dr. Fu has performed over 7,000 ACL surgeries.

“You have to look at every patient individually,” says Fu. “It isn’t a one-size-fits-all surgery. Every ACL surgery for me is different.”

To facilitate further research and treatment, Dr. Fu established the first UPMC sports medicine clinic in Oakland. He also directed the conception and construction of the $80 million UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, a 60-acre, state-of-the-art sports medicine complex located in the South Side. The complex served as a model for the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex, the first-of-its-kind hockey training, rehabilitation and injury prevention facility that opened last year in Cranberry.

Photo courtesy of UPMC.
UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. Image courtesy of UPMC.

While Dr. Fu’s proven track record earned him a place in the AOSSM Hall of Fame, he dedicates the honor to his colleagues in the Pittsburgh medical community and AOSSM.

“This is really for my team and the Society that provided a framework whereby I could become a member and grow,” says Fu. “And UPMC and Pitt, who provided all the support I needed to be successful.”

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.