AFSH Presidential Update

November 10, 2014

John M. Bednar, MD
President, American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand
Update and Vision for the Future of the Hand Foundation

The mission of the American Foundation for Surgery of the Hand is to advance the care of hand and upper extremity disorders by supporting research, education, and outreach.Let me update you about the Foundation successes and vision for the future.


In 1990, the AFSH awarded 5 grants totaling $22,130.  In 2014, the Hand Foundation will fund $260,000 in support of 10 new basic science and clinical research grants, 4 resident/fellow fast track grants, 2 Goldner Awards, 1 Weiland Medal award and 1 Gelberman Scholar.  We have come a long way thanks to the support of our members and corporate donors!

For many years, the Foundation only gave out basic science and clinical grants, at a $20,000 level.  The Foundation has worked towards the goal of expanding its portfolio of research grants distributed each year and currently sponsors young investigators to attend grant-writing workshops, hosts mentoring workshops at the Annual Meeting, awards Resident & Fellow Fast Track Grants yearly, and partners with others to award large, multi-year grants.

In 2012, the AFSH commemorated its 25th Anniversary by awarding a $100,000 grant for a well-designed, prospective multi-center clinical research study.  Kevin A. Hildebrand, MD received a two-year clinical research grant to conduct a study at two hospitals in Calgary for his project titled “Randomized Controlled Trial of Ketoprofen to Prevent Post-traumatic Elbow Contractures.”

In 2013, the Foundation offered a $100,000 clinical arthritis grant.  Jennifer F. Waljee, MD, MPH, MSc was awarded a two-year grant for her project titled “The Influence of Biologic Therapy on the Surgical Management of Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Population-Based Study.”

In 2013, the AFSH presented its first Hand Surgeon Scientist Award.  John C. Elfar, MD first received an AFSH Basic Science Grant in 2009 for his project on “Erythropoietin for Neuroregeneration.”  The findings from that grant and others resulted in Dr. Elfar being awarded a K08 grant from NIH.  Dr. Elfar was awarded an $187,500 grant (over five years) as the Hand Surgeon Scientist Winner. 

In 2014, the Foundation announced a new partnership with the American College of Surgeons (ACS).  The AFSH/ACS Joint Research Career Development Award is open to surgeons specializing in hand surgery who have received a K08 or K23 award.  The award recipient will receive an initial grant of $80,000 and is eligible for a renewal of the award for up to five years.

The AFSH is proud to be the sponsor of so many successful research seed grants.  In 2007, the Foundation began tracking new grants that have resulted from initial AFSH funding.  Over 2007-2013, $2,307,000 in AFSH seed grants have generated $12,683,869 in new extramural grants!  These numbers demonstrate the quality of the research projects being funded and represent an incredible return on our investment in funding research.


Four new named awards were announced at the 69th ASSH Annual Meeting in Boston: 

Richard H. Gelberman Scholar - This $7,500 award will be used to defray all or part of the cost of a young hand surgeon’s visit(s) to a national or international center of excellence in order to learn necessary operative or research techniques that will be utilized early in the surgeon’s academic practice of hand, upper extremity, or microsurgery.  Jennifer F. Waljee, MD, MPH, MSC was announced at the 2014 ASSH annual meeting as the first Gelberman Scholar Award winner.  She will present an update on her travel at the 2015 ASSH Annual Meeting in Seattle, WA. 

A. Lee Osterman Excellence in Education Award - This award will recognize and honor a senior ASSH member who has dedicated his/her career to education.  The first Call for Nominations was announced at the 2014 ASSH Annual Meeting and a winner will be announced in December. 

Daniel C. Riordan Scholarship - This award provides a $1,500 scholarship for a resident or fellow who has shown a sincere interest in teaching and patient care, to attend the ASSH Residents and Fellows meeting and the ASSH Annual meeting.  The first winner, Captain John Dunn, MD was announced at the 2014 ASSH Annual Meeting.

Ronald Linscheid James Dobyns Excellence in Wrist Surgery Award - This award will annually recognize the best wrist research paper presented at the ASSH Annual meeting with a $5,000 honorarium to present an Instructional Course at the following Annual Meeting.  We are pleased to announce that Mark Vitale, MD, MPH has been named the 2014 “Ronald Linscheid-James Dobyns Excellence in Wrist Surgery” honoree.  Dr. Vitale’s paper Intra-articular Fractures of the Sigmoid Notch of the Distal Radius was presented during the 2014 ASSH Annual Meeting in Boston, MA. 

Harold Kleinert Traveling Fellowship (pending) - Daniel J. Nagle, MD is leading a fundraising effort to solicit donations and pledges to create the Harold Kleinert Traveling Fellowship award.  The Kleinert Fund will establish a “reverse Bunnell” traveling fellowship with a $25,000 stipend for a non North American hand surgeon to visit centers of his/her choice.

The Foundation supports many educational programs.  New for 2014, the AFSH/ASSH offered a “fellows only” surgical skills pre-course on “Flaps Every Fellow Should Know.”  This sold-out course was a success and will occur annually the day before the residents and fellows course with a rotating curriculum.

Additionally, the Annual Meeting Traveling Scholarship program continues to offer residents, fellows, and active duty military the opportunity to receive a $1,500 scholarship to attend the Residents and Fellows Conference and the ASSH Annual Meeting.  This program has continued to grow in popularity since it’s inception in 2008.  Our tracking data on past recipients to date indicates the scholarship is very successful in steering residents to choose a career in hand surgery and influences the majority of fellow recipients to become ASSH candidate members and new members.  I am happy to say that the support of this program from members, hand clubs, and our industry partners has also grown exponentially, and this year for the very first time, we were able to provide a scholarship to every qualified applicant.

Our goal is for the Foundation to not only support education but also to develop a grant process to fund innovative educational programs and ideas that will change how we learn.  The AFSH in conjunction with the ASSH is currently developing new processes to fund new, innovative education grants and explore ways to support our joint educational mission. 


The Touching Hands Project is a new clinical outreach program that will help fund short term missions to underserved communities.   Scott H. Kozin, MD, ASSH Immediate Past President (2013-2014) reported on the Touching Hand’s recent mission to Haiti during his presidential address at the ASSH Annual Meeting in Boston.  Additional missions are planned to not only Haiti but also South America and Africa.  Our goal is to grow this program into its own established charitable brand and will require significant resources to cover management and expansion of the program.  We are grateful to those who have already made their donation or pledge in support of our new outreach program.

25th Anniversary Campaign Update: $3,968,431 of $5,000,000 goal raised thru 12/31/2013.  Campaign runs thru 12/31/2015.

I sincerely thank all who have contributed to the campaign. Your generous support will allow us to achieve our goals in supporting research, education and outreach!  To the members who have not yet supported the 25th Anniversary campaign, join your colleagues and get involved. Commit time, expertise, and financial support and take the time to learn about all of the opportunities available to participate.  Make a meaningful pledge and join one of our Giving Circles or the Order of the Complus Manus.  Volunteer to participate in a Touching Hand’s Mission, get involved with committees that support Foundation work such as the Research Management Committee, Residents and Fellows Conference Committee, and the Corporate Support Committee, to name a few.

And yes, make the commitment to pledge financial support on a regular basis.  $20 per week from each member will be a small individual sacrifice but generate an incredible benefit in the long term.  You can also support the Foundation by doing nothing but shopping through “Amazon Smile.”  By shopping through rather than and selecting the AFSH as your preferred charity, the Amazon Smile Foundation will donate 0.5% of purchases to the AFSH.  That’s it!This tremendous growth of the foundation and its success is due to the support and hard work of our members, new, mid-career, and lifetime and our corporate partners.  

I want to thank all of you for your hard work and generous support.  I look forward to working will all of you as we continue to grow the foundation and make our vision a reality.


John M. Bednar, MD
AFSH President