Building Orthopaedic Research & Training with University of Missouri’s Orthopaedic Association

UMOA Group Photo
Dr. Gainor is pictured far right in a yellow shirt, and MU junior resident Dr. Steve Olson is in a white T-shirt in the upper back row (arrow) left.

In 1979 when Dr. Barry Gainor joined the MU orthopaedic faculty as its fourth member, the program was young and included only eight residents. The teaching curriculum lacked structure, and there was little or no tradition of research. Designing a weekly conference schedule to educate our residents was readily achievable, but establishing a tradition of scholarly research fueled by intellectual curiosity was not an overnight job. Dr. Gainor promptly initiated a small mid-Western resident teaching conference to encourage the MU orthopaedic trainees to develop research topics and share these ideas with fellow residents from other programs.

The inaugural meeting held in the autumn of 1979 took place at St. Louis University where Dr. Gainor lectured while serving in the military at the nearby Scott Air Force Base. The conference was an immediate success and was then relocated to the more central location of Columbia, where it attracted additional residents from the University of Kansas, the University of Kansas at Kansas City, Washington University, and Southern Illinois University. Visiting Professors were also invited to critique the research projects, and Dr. Terry Canale from the Campbell Clinic was the guest lecturer in 1983. He later became President of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons 2000-2001. The day-and-a-half conference featured an "Ortho Show-Me Classic" softball game among the participants who were issued souvenir T-shirts as seen in the attached photo.

After completing his residency at MU in 1991, Dr. Steve Olson later joined the orthopaedic faculty at Duke University. In 1994, he established the Olson Award at Mizzou to annually recognize a MU resident with exemplary research accomplishments as adjudicated by our orthopedic faculty. Dr. Olson received the Kappa Delta Award in 2015 which is the highest research award conferred by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons.

In 1980, the foursome of MU orthopedic faculty founded the University of Missouri Orthopedic Association to specifically fund resident research and travel to educational conferences. Dr. Gainor was Secretary-Treasurer of the UMOA from 1980 to 2016. The Residents Conference was discontinued after 1987, as our trainees were beginning then to present their research at regional and national meetings -- and win awards. These certificates were framed and displayed as motivational prizes along the wall of our main conference room in the university hospital.

In 1985, Dr. Gainor joined Orthopedic Overseas, an organization devoted to teaching modern medical care in resource-poor countries worldwide. St. Jude Hospital on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia had no capability to provide prosthetic limbs for its amputees, so Dr. Gainor established a St. Jude Hospital Fund in 1989 as an UMOA account. Our graduates donated so generously to this fundraising project, that Dr. Gainor took his nurse Sylvia Petro and senior resident Dr. Joel Jeffries with him on the trip to help set-up an amputee clinic on the remote island. Dr. Jeffries was our first orthopaedic resident to accompany an MU faculty member on an overseas medical mission trip. Years later, Dr. Jeffries departed private practice and served as our Program Director from 2009 to 2015. The tradition of taking orthopaedic residents on medical missions is now continued in our program by pediatric orthopedist Dr. Sumit Gupta who travels to the KMC Hospital-Attavar in Mangalore, India. Dr. Gainor provides financial airfare assistance to the participating residents via donations to the UMOA.

In the 1990s, Dr. Gainor sought to sustain and improve quality research in the orthopaedic residency program at Mizzou, so he instituted a monthly noon-hour interactive conference where our trainees would present the on-going status of their projects. This forum allowed the exchange of ideas and advice among junior and senior residents. When Dr. Gainor retired in April of 2016, the faculty graciously offered to finance the travel and lodging of a special guest, mentor, or valued colleague to attend the retirement party. Dr. Gainor politely declined the kind offer, but suggested that the proposed monies be deposited in the UMOA account to support our research initiatives. The faculty and graduates established the Barry J. Gainor, MD Endowment Fund for Orthopedic Resident Research and Travel.

Along with Dr. & Mrs. Gainor’s incredibly generous support, donors from around the world have quickly built this fund into a very substantial endowment that has significantly expanded the support for MU Orthopaedic resident research and training.

“The impact of the Gainor Endowment has been tremendous,” said Dr. Jimi Cook, Vice Chair for Orthopaedic Research. “Having this ‘forever money’ dedicated to resident research and training in conjunction with the UMOA’s financial support for residents means that we are able to say yes! to their research ideas and training opportunities, which has resulted in tremendous scholarly productivity, educational value, and waving of the Mizzou Orthopaedics banner around the world. We are so grateful to Dr. Gainor for investing in our program and our people and so pleased that he gets to see the fruits of his labors in person as he continues to engage in all that we do.”