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Release: Dec. 3, 2002

UI surgeon named Bonfiglio Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery

The late Michael Bonfiglio, M.D., professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Iowa, was known as a dedicated physician, a meticulous researcher and an inspiring teacher. Bonfiglio's commitment to education in orthopaedics has been memorialized through several endowments in his name established with gifts made through the UI Foundation including a medical student research award, a medical student teaching center and a lectureship.

Charles R. Clark, M.D., University of Iowa professor of orthopaedic surgery and biomedical engineering, has been named the Dr. Michael Bonfiglio Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. This professorship, which honors Bonfiglio's career in teaching, research, and patient care, was initiated by Bonfiglio's former students and colleagues. His widow, Mrs. Ruth Bonfiglio, provided major funding for this endeavor.

"This is a tremendous honor for me," Clark said. "Dr. Bonfiglio was internationally respected for his care of patients, his emphasis on teaching and his careful attention to the basics that he believed underpinned excellent medicine. He was the master at intermingling research, patient care and teaching; I learned a great deal from him."

Clark earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and his medical degree from the University of Michigan. After he completed a residency in orthopaedic surgery at Yale University, Clark joined the UI Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1980 and was promoted to full professor in 1988. Clark also became a member of the biomedical engineering faculty in 1984. Clark is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons.

Clark's clinical and research work focuses on hip and knee replacements and cervical spine function. Clark also is director of medical student teaching in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, a position he has held since 1981 and which was previously held by Bonfiglio. This position is an integral part of the Dr. Michael Bonfiglio Professorship reflecting Bonfiglio's commitment to medical student education.

"Dr. Clark is an exceptional teacher and physician, and therefore it is very fitting that he has been named to the Dr. Michael Bonfiglio professorship," said Joseph A. Buckwalter, M.D., UI professor and head of orthopaedic surgery. "This professorship will support medical student education and scholarship in orthopaedics and will allow us to advance Dr. Bonfiglio's legacy at the UI. We deeply appreciate Ruth Bonfiglio's generosity, which allowed us to create this professorship."

A named professorship recognizes distinguished faculty and provides funding in partial support of salary or teaching, research or scholarship expenses.

In addition to the named professorship to be held by Clark, the Department of Orthopaedics has in place three other endowments and projects memorializing Bonfiglio.

The Bonfiglio Orthopaedic Education Center, which is located in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, provides resources to facilitate individualized and small-group student and resident educational programs.

The Michael Bonfiglio Award for Student Research is given annually to medical students who, in the course of their medical training, undertake excellent research projects focused on orthopaedic issues. This year, Kerri Ann Maiers Yelden, M.D., a surgical resident, and Thomas Ward Throckmorton, M.D., a resident in orthopaedic surgery, received the award.

Mrs. Ruth Bonfiglio also recently created an endowment that will fund the Dr. Michael Bonfiglio Resident Research Fund, which will support residents in orthopaedic surgery. This funding will help residents create and carry out research projects and provide funds for residents to present their findings at national conferences.

Bonfiglio was a professor of orthopaedic surgery at the University of Iowa from 1950 until he retired in 1987. During the course of his extensive studies on bone pathologies, Bonfiglio catalogued and collected thousands of slides and tissue samples, which formed the basis of a premier learning and research center at the UI. Over the years, much of the material used in the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery's oral examinations has been derived from Bonfiglio's collection. Bonfiglio was known for his commitment to resident education and served as an examiner for the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery from 1955 to 1987. He died in 1995.

"Dr. Bonfiglio never missed an opportunity to learn something new and to pass that knowledge on to others," Clark said. "These awards are his legacy and it is fitting that they support teaching and learning, which were so important to him."

The UI Foundation is acknowledged by the UI as a preferred channel for private contributions that benefit all areas of the university. UI Foundation staff work with alumni and friends to generate funds for scholarships, professorships, facilities improvements, equipment purchases, research and other UI initiatives. For more information about the UI Foundation, visit its web site at

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