Historical Overview

The Early Years: 1926-1992

The Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Virginia was established in 1926 by Dr. Allen F. Voshell who was hired specifically for this purpose. Dr. Voshell then went on in 1932 to become the Chairman of Orthopaedics at the University of Maryland. Dr. Robert Funsten followed Dr. Voshell and was the chairman until 1949. He was followed by Dr. J. Hamilton Allen, who in turn was succeeded by Dr. Warren G. Stamp in 1968. Dr. Funsten and Dr. Allen were excellent orthopaedic surgeons who by all accounts ran an excellent clinical department. Dr. Stamp brought the department into the modern academic era by strengthening the focus on research and medical education, especially residency and fellowship training. Dr. Stamp successfully recruited a wide variety of excellent orthopaedic surgeons and research personnel; established a large, very active and productive research lab; and fostered an atmosphere which ultimately brought to fruition the awarding of numerous research grants. Several orthopaedic surgeons, who served either as faculty or residents in the Stamp era, now chair orthopaedic departments around the country. Two have been past presidents of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, and many others have held similar positions in other regional, national and international organizations.


Dr. Gwo-Jaw Wang took over as chairman of the department in 1992. Dr. Wang brought new life to the department by expanding the department to thirteen full-time orthopaedic surgeons and four Ph.D. research personnel, as well as upgrading the Division of Prosthetics and Orthotics. The Department expanded its divisions by adding Foot & Ankle and Oncology. He also added the Adult Reconstruction and Spine Fellowships to the Department.

On February 1, 2003 Dr. Cato T. Laurencin came from Hahnemann School of Medicine and Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to become Chair of the Department. Dr. Laurencin brought an outstanding research background in the novel area of Biomedical Engineering and clinical experience in Sports Medicine and Shoulder Surgery. Dr. Laurencin left UVA to become Vice President of Health Affairs and Dean at the University of Connecticut on August 10, 2008.

Dr. Mark F. Abel became the Chair with Dr. Laurencin’s departure, having served as interim chair in 2002 and 2003 and been a faculty member for 16 years. Dr. Abel provided an integral knowledge of the UVA Health System and a balanced approach to the Department’s programs including as a top priority, exemplary clinical service which can provide the substrate for an outstanding educational experience and outlet for research. Program expansion with hiring of new academic faculty was his first priority in order to assure the departments security in the new age of health reform.


In August 2013, Dr. A. Bobby Chhabra became Chair of Orthopaedics after serving as Vice-Chair for Dr. Abel since 2008. He has been a faculty member since 2002 and was instrumental in the creation of the University of Virginia Hand Center. Dr. Chhabra’s strength has been in Orthopaedic education for which he is nationally recognized. He has also served in a variety of committees and positions within the University of Virginia Health System and School of Medicine including a two year term as the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Surgical Services. His advocacy skills have created significant changes in the OR with regard to patient-centric care, resource utilization, efficiency, quality, work place environment improvement, as well as employee satisfaction and accountability. Dr. Chhabra takes over a department that has grown to 28 faculty members and 13 physician assistants. His priority is to respond to the changing health care landscape which is moving toward a value based care system. In addition, his objectives include improving the educational curriculum for our residents and fellows while incorporating the ACGME milestones and surgical simulation and enhancing musculoskeletal research and clinical trial productivity.