UCSD Names Dr. Susan Bukata as Chair of Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Photo courtesy UCSD

 Dr. Susan Bukata has been named chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at UC San Diego School of Medicine and UC San Diego Health, it was announced Thursday.

She is the fourth woman in the United States to lead a health system’s orthopedic surgery department.

“Dr. Bukata is a truly remarkable leader and I am thrilled to have her join our school and shepherd the department into its next chapter,” said Dr. Steven Garfin, interim dean of UCSD School of Medicine and former chair of the orthopedic surgery department.

Bukata joins the faculty from UCLA Health, where she served as orthopedic surgeon, professor and vice chair of orthopedics clinical operations, physician informaticist lead for musculoskeletal health providers and chief orthopedics liaison to community practice partners.

“While being among the first women to hold such a position is only a small part of why I took this job, it is something I take very seriously,” she said. “Only 6% of orthopedic surgeons are women and there are very few women in leadership.”

“We live in such a wonderful diverse state in California, and orthopedics is not a particularly diverse specialty,” Bukata continued. “I’m looking forward to attracting and training students, residents, fellows and junior faculty who represent the patients we serve, and as well as engaging with the local community to introduce young girls to careers in musculoskeletal health.”

Her National Institutes of Health-funded research focuses on fracture healing — developing ways to help patients heal faster, without additional surgical intervention. She holds a patent on technology for protecting and repairing cartilage and musculoskeletal soft tissue.

Bukata earned her bachelor’s degree at Harvard University and her medical degree at Columbia University. She completed her internship in general surgery and research fellowship and residency in orthopedics at the University of Rochester, as well as a fellowship in orthopedic oncology and metabolic bone disease at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and Hospital for Special Surgery.

Bukata succeeds Dr. Reid Abrams, who served as interim department chair after Garfin stepped down from the position in 2018 to serve as interim dean for the UC San Diego School of Medicine. Garfin had chaired the department for 21 years.

–City News Service