Ortho Giant Freddie Fu Changed Sports Medicine

A Tribute
Photography courtesy of
UPMC / Fu Family / Getty Images (Knee Photo)

Freddie Fu (MD ’77, Res ’82), long-time chair of the University of Pittsburgh Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, died on Sept. 24, 2021, at age 70. He was the center of a thriving sports health community, a much-beloved mentor and a fixture of Pittsburgh.

“If anyone could come close to perpetual motion, it was Freddie Fu,” said Anantha Shekhar, Pitt’s senior vice chancellor for the health sciences and John and Gertrude Petersen Dean, School of Medicine. “Dr. Fu was always learning, thinking, teaching, doing something to make life better for his patients, trainees and the community.”

Freddie Fu received the highest honors from orthopaedic societies on every continent except Antarctica. /  “Freddie Fu was truly an international superstar in orthopaedic surgery. He was known and loved throughout the world.” —Anthony Romeo / “He cared like only family would. It is family who knows us best and can show us the mirror to help humble us in the most honest ways.” —Ronald Navarro

Born in Hong Kong, Fu came to the United States to attend Dartmouth College and earned his MD from Pitt. After interning in Rhode Island, he returned to Pittsburgh and would spend more than three decades as the head team physician for Pitt’s Department of Athletics and found the School of Medicine’s sports medicine program in 1986. In 1998, he was named the David Silver Professor and Chair of Pitt’s Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.

Fu left an indelible mark on Pittsburgh—and a visible one when he helped conceptualize and design what’s now known as the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex on the South Side. In 2018, the complex’s medical building was renamed the UPMC Freddie Fu Sports Medicine Center.

He received hundreds of awards and honors from professional societies and colleagues. In 2016, the Pittsburgh City Council declared Sept. 13 “Dr. Freddie Fu Day.” He treated both elite athletes and weekend warriors, including members of professional sports teams from Pittsburgh and around the world, high school football players and ballet dancers.

“I know they named a [sports medicine center] after this guy. But they should name the whole city after him.” — Anthony “Goose” Siragusa / “He could see what we were capable of far before we could see it for ourselves. He would ask us to do the impossible knowing that he was not asking too much.” —Gloria Beim / “I practice medicine with unconditional love.” —Freddie Fu

In his pursuit of improving ACL surgery techniques, Fu studied fossils, tracked down models of early hominids and even cared for a mandrill monkey who was experiencing knee pain. The result, his “double-bundle” knee repair technique, reflected a more complete understanding of how human knees work.

A study in the Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine found that Fu published more of the top-100 cited papers on ACL reconstruction than anyone else, along with completing the surgery on thousands of patients.

Fu was particularly proud of his role as an instructor and went out of his way to celebrate students’ successes: He and his wife, Hilda Pang Fu, sponsored and hosted the 2018 White Coat Ceremony celebrating first-year Pitt Med students, and each year since led the class in reciting the Hippocratic Oath.

Fu mentee and former colleague Robin West (Fel ’03) was one of many to share stories of his energy, enthusiasm and warmth in a feature in Pittsburgh Magazine (which named him 2021 Pittsburgher of the Year). “Even though he’s talking a mile a minute and running around and multitasking, he made everyone feel like they were the only one in the room,” West said. “He made all his patients feel like they were professional athletes.”

In a UPMC video, one tribute signed, simply, Josephine, recalled: “He was compassionate and caring, with a great sense of humor. He made me laugh when I wanted to cry.”   —Adapted from a Pittwire report by Patrick Monahan

To give to the Fu Family Legacy Fund: kraigsmith@pitt.edu

To read our 2010 cover story on Fu: pi.tt/wobblyknees

Fu Degrees of Separation

Physician leaders in prominent sports medicine or orthopaedic roles who worked with or trained under the late Freddie Fu at Pitt/UPMC (includes former and current):

Professional and Collegiate Sports

Medical Directors/Lead Team Physicians

Answorth Allen, New York Knicks, USA Basketball
Christina Allen, Yale University, US Soccer
Christopher Annunziata, Washington Commanders
Neal ElAttrache, Los Angeles Rams, Dodgers
Geoffrey Baer, University of Wisconsin
Michael Baraga, University of Miami
Gloria Beim, United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, Team USA
Craig Bennett, University of Maryland
Jim Bradley, Pittsburgh Steelers
Jeremy Burnham, Southern University
George Caldwell, Miami Dolphins
Kevin Coates, Wake Forest University basketball, Winston-Salem State University
Steve Cohen, Philadelphia Phillies
Brian Cole, Chicago Bulls
Alexis Chiang Colvin, USTA
Jeanne Doperak, Saint Vincent College  
Pat Greis, University of Utah football
Kyle Hammond, Atlanta Falcons, Hawks
Darren Johnson, University of Kentucky
Deryk Jones, New Orleans Saints
Lee Kaplan, Miami Marlins, University of Miami
Bryan Kelly, New York Rangers
Scott Kling, Christopher Newport University
Bryson Lesniak, Carnegie Mellon University
Albert Lin, Duquesne University
Aaron Mares, Pittsburgh Steelers (head primary care physician)
Paul Marks, Toronto Raptors
Melissa McLane, Carlow and La Roche universities
Michael Miao, Las Vegas Raiders
Mark Miller, James Madison University
Volker Musahl/Elizabeth Herrman/Jonathan Hughes, University of Pittsburgh football 
Thierry Pauyo, Montreal Canadiens
Matthew Pepe, Philadelphia Eagles
Matthew Pombo, Emory University
Marc Safran, Stanford University
Carola van Eck, Robert Morris University
Dharmesh Vyas, Pittsburgh Penguins
Robin West, Washington Nationals
John Xerogeanes, Georgia Tech
Erol Yoldas, Miami Dolphins


Deans, Chairs & Directors

United States

Constance Chu, Stanford University, (vice chair, research), orthopaedic surgery
Thomas Donaldson, Loma Linda University Health, orthopaedic surgery
Christopher Harner, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, (vice chair), sports medicine
Jay Irrgang, UPMC/Pitt, physical therapy
James Kang, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, orthopaedic surgery
Bryan Kelly, Hospital for Special Surgery, (surgeon-in-chief and medical director)
Scott Lephart, University of Kentucky, College of Health Sciences
Samuel Robinson, Sentara Leigh Hospital, orthopaedic surgery
Harry Rubash, Massachusetts General Hospital, orthopaedic surgery
Gwendolyn Sowa, UPMC/Pitt, physical medicine and rehabilitation
Peter Tang, Allegheny General Hospital, hand and upper extremity surgery
Mark Vrahas, Cedars-Sinai (Los Angeles), orthopaedics
Robin West, Inova Sports Medicine
Dane Wukich, University of Texas Southwestern, orthopaedic surgery


Nobuo Adachi, Hiroshima University (Japan), biomedical and health sciences
Roland Becker, Brandenburg University (Germany), orthopaedic surgery
Mehmet Binnet, Ankara University (Turkey), orthopaedics and traumatology
Yi-Sheng Chan, Linkou Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Taiwan), sports medicine
Yung-Sen Chan, Taichung Hospital (Taiwan), orthopaedic surgery
Shiyi Chen, Fudan University (China), orthopaedic, sports medicine and arthroscopy
Mario Ferretti, Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein (Brazil), orthopaedics
Andreas Imhoff, Technical University of Munich (Germany), orthopaedic sports medicine
Hyoung Soo Kim, Inha University (South, Korea) orthopaedic surgery
Ryosuke Kuroda, Kobe University (Japan), orthopaedic surgery
Vladimir Martinek, Schoen Clinic Bad Aibling Harthausen Joint Centre (Germany), orthopaedics and traumatology
Rocco Papalia, Campus Bio-Medico University Rome (Italy), orthopaedics and traumatology
Gustavo Rincón, San Jose Hospital (Colombia), orthopaedics and traumatology
Patrick Yung, Chinese University of Hong Kong, orthopaedics and traumatology

Division Chiefs

United States

Christina Allen, Yale University, sports medicine
Kevin Armstrong, UC Irvine, sports medicine
Hany Bedair, Massachusetts General Hospital, hip and knee
Craig Bennett, University of Maryland, sports medicine
Lisa Sounik Blackrick, UPMC Mercy, trauma
David Caborn, University of Kentucky, sports medicine
Charles Day, Henry Ford Health System, hand and upper extremity surgery
Robert Goitz, UPMC/Pitt, hand and upper extremity surgery
Laurence D. Higgins, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, sports medicine and shoulder service
Deryk Jones, Ochsner Sports Medicine Institute (Louisiana), sports medicine
Lee Kaplan, University of Miami, sports medicine
Brian Klatt, UPMC/Pitt, adult reconstruction
John Klimkiewicz, Georgetown University, sports medicine
Mininder Kocher, Boston Children’s Hospital, sports medicine
Christian Lattermann, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, sports medicine
Benjamin Ma, UC San Francisco, sports medicine and shoulder service
William Macaulay Jr., NYU Langone Health, adult reconstruction
Gele Moloney, UPMC Mercy, orthopaedic surgery
Patrick McMahon, VA Pittsburgh Healthcare, orthopaedic surgery
Mark Miller, University of Virginia, sports medicine
Ronald Navarro, Kaiser Permanente, (regional chief), orthopaedic surgery
Eric Jon Olson, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, sports medicine
William Postma, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, sports medicine
Anil Ranawat, Hospital for Special Surgery (New York), hip and knee
Mark Rodosky, UPMC/Pitt, shoulder service
Marc Safran, Stanford University, sports medicine
Matt Salzler, Tufts University Medical Center, sports medicine
Vincent Silvaggio, UPMC St. Margaret, orthopaedic surgery
Vonda Wright, Northside Hospital Network (Georgia), sports medicine


Paulo Araujo, Centro de Ortopedia e Traumatologia de Brasilia, orthopaedic surgery
Paul Chang, Singapore General Hospital, sports medicine
Wei-Hsing Chih, Chia-Yi Christian Hospital (Taiwan), sports medicine
Mehmet S. Demirhan, University of Istanbul (Turkey), sports medicine
Kazu Fukushima, Nihon University (Japan), sports medicine
Yan Gu, Ninth People’s Hospital (China), sports medicine
Yasuyuki Ishibashi, Hirosaki University (Japan), sports medicine
Hung-Maan Lee, Taoyuan General Hospital (Taiwan), sports medicine
Kuan-Yu Lin, Kaohsiung Veterans General Hospital (Taiwan), sports medicine
Christos Papageorgiou, University Hospital of Ioannina (Greece), sports medicine and shoulder surgery
Tae Soo Park, Hanyang University Medical Center (South Korea), sports medicine and shoulder surgery
Kristian Samuelsson, University of Gothenburg (Sweden), sports medicine

Source: University of Pittsburgh Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Chuck Finder. Every effort was made to create a comprehensive list.