On 9 March, the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the Jagiellonian University was conferred upon Prof. Joseph Schatzker. The awarded researcher, who is of Polish descent, is a world-famous orthopaedist and traumatologist. Thanks to his various activities, he has been recognised by the Polish orthopaedic environment as both a disseminator of knowledge and the catalyst for further successful endeavours in this branch of medicine.
Conferring the title of Doctor Honoris Causa upon Prof. Schatzker is a sign of recognition of his research and clinical activities in the area of orthopaedics and traumatology, which have significantly contributed to advancement and development of modern treatment therapies and resulted in an overall improvement of the patients’ quality of life, but also of his passion for teaching and spreading of knowledge, evidenced by innumerable lectures, courses and books which he authored. The JU Senate also recognised the quarter of a century long cooperation between Prof. Schatzker and the JU MC Faculty of Health Sciences as well as ‘an outstanding ethical code as a physician and friend to several generations of Polish orthopaedists’.
In his laudatory speech, Prof. Tadeusz Niedźwiecki described Prof. Schatzker as ‘one of the most outstanding scholars with expertise in injuries of the musculoskeletal system. Together with a group of Swiss researchers, [he] created the foundations of modern traumatology’.
‘Although you left Poland a long time ago, in your childhood, you never forgot your native country, nor its language. When after 50 years you came to your former homeland in the role of a lecturer and teacher of Polish orthopaedists and trauma surgeons, you made it a question of honour to do everything in your might so that the level of Polish traumatology would catch up with the world league as soon as possible. It was you who were really behind organising the first AO specialised trauma treatment courses using state-of-the-art methods in Kraków’, said Prof. Niedźwiecki.
Prof. Schatzker was born on 9 August 1934 in Stryj near Lviv. His father, a Polish Army Officer, was killed by the NKVD, and he ended up Warsaw Ghetto with his mother. From there, he was able to escape to Austria, where he attended primary school. In 1949, he left for Canada, where he graduated from secondary school and medicine at the University of Toronto.
After graduation, Prof. Schatzker completed specialist internships under the direction of eminent professors, and after obtaining a specialisation in surgery, he went to Europe’s most renowned medical centres and universities to gain experience in the field of the latest methods of bone fixation and vascularisation. After returning to Canada, you continued your scientific career, and as soon as 1979, he became an Assistant Professor, and in 1984, a Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto. At the same time, he was appointed as the head of the division of orthopaedic surgery at Sunnybrook Hospital, the largest and most important centre for orthopaedics and traumatology in Canada.
Prof. Schatzker’s scientific and professional output is related to the theoretic and practical aspects of orthopaedics and the traumatology of the musculoskeletal system, such as bone response to the internal fixation of fractures, biomechanical considerations in internal fixations of bones, bone response to the implantation of artificial joints, osteointegration of implants and prostheses, classifications of fractures, reasons for spinal stenosis, selected issues concerning chronic osteomyelitis, hip resurfacing, problems of biological tolerance of bone cement, durability of prosthetic joints, fractures of the hip area in elderly people, consequences of elements of prosthetic joints wearing out, documentation and assessment of clinical activity in reconstructive and trauma surgery, assessment of surgical procedures and their results and functional assessment of fracture treatment results.
As a passionate teacher, Professor Schatzker authored and co-authored 10 textbooks and 2 monographs. As part of his scientific and teaching duties he also works for editorial committees of the two most important orthopaedic periodicals: The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and The Journal of Orthopaedic and Trauma Surgery.
Due to Professor Schatzker’s outstanding personality and authority, his accomplishments in the field of traumatology and orthopaedics were appreciated in more than 30 countries in which Professor Schatzker received the highest national distinctions or accolades from scientific societies. Also in his own country he received the highest distinction – the Order of Canada. In Poland, the Polish Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology recognised the professor with its honorary membership and the Adam Gruca Medal and Jan Mikulicz-Radecki Medal.