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 exceptional orthopaedic surgeons who by all accounts ran an outstanding 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 outstanding 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. He appointed Dr. A. Bobby Chhabra as his Vice Chair. 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 2013Dr. 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 leadership positions within the University of Virginia Health System and School of Medicine including as the Associate Chief Medical Officer for Surgical Services, as President of the University of Virginia Physicians Group, and as the School of Medicine Faulty Representative to the UVA Health System Board and the Board of Visitors.

His advocacy skills have created significant changes in the OR and Orthopaedic clinics with regard to patient-centric care, resource utilization, efficiency, quality, work place environment improvement, as well as employee satisfaction and accountability. Dr. Chhabra took over a department and fostered clinical growth by recruiting some of the most talented faculty in the country.  The UVA Orthopaedic Surgery department has grown to 34 faculty members and 19 advanced practice providers. His priority has been 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.

Since the time he was appointed as Chair, Dr. Chhabra’s was committed to creating the optimal environment for Orthopaedic care in the country not only for our patients but for our team members. Over the last ten years, Dr. Chhabra has been the physician lead and driving force in the design, development, and construction of the UVA Health Orthopaedic Center at Ivy Road which opened in January of 2022. This 200,000 sq. ft. comprehensive Orthopaedic Center consolidated all outpatient Orthopaedic care at UVA into one state-of-the art facility.  The Center includes the Joint Replacement, Orthopaedic Trauma, Orthopaedic Oncology, Sports Medicine, Orthopaedic Spine, Foot & Ankle, and Hand and Upper Extremity Clinics, a Prosthetic and Orthotic Center, Clinical Trials Research, Advanced Imaging, the largest Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy gym in the region, and an Outpatient Surgery Center dedicated to same day joint replacement and sports surgeries.  The Center also includes resident and fellow education conference rooms, a bio-skills lab and the Wang Orthopaedic Education Center for community and CME conferences. Dr. Chhabra serves as the Director of the UVA Health Orthopaedic Center and is responsible for the oversight and the day-to-day operations of the facility.  Since it’s opening, the UVA Health Orthopaedic Center clinics have achieved the highest rankings for performance at UVA Health and the highest patient, team member, and faculty engagement and satisfactions results in recent surveys.