The Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Orthopaedics is pleased to announce that Mitchel B. Harris, MD, has been named chief of the Department of Orthopaedics, effective October 1, 2017. Dr. Harris comes to Mass General from Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH), where he served as chief of the Orthopaedic Trauma Service.

With more than 25 years of experience in academic orthopaedic surgery, Dr. Harris brings to his new leadership role at Mass General a depth of expertise that will be integral to building the department in the coming years.

“I feel like this is an absolutely unique opportunity, and I’m overwhelmed with excitement and optimism,” says Dr. Harris. “I recognize what a unique opportunity it is to be part of an institution that is so rich in tradition and culture like Mass General.” 

Rich Leadership Experience

In addition to his leadership role in trauma, Dr. Harris spent the past 14 years serving as an active member of the Orthopaedic Spine Service and initiated a weekly multidisciplinary spinal oncology meeting.

Prior to working at BWH, Dr. Harris was at Wake Forest University in North Carolina, where he served as chief of the Adult Spine Surgery Service and chief of Orthopaedic Trauma. From 1990 to 1993, he directed the Orthopaedic Trauma Service at Charity Hospital in New Orleans and continued to serve as chief of the Adult Spine Surgery Service there until 2000. During his tenure at Louisiana State University, Dr. Harris served as the director of its residency program.

The Mass General Connection

Well-known to the Mass General Orthopaedic Surgery community, Dr. Harris was the primary interface for BWH with Mass General in the Partners Orthopaedic Trauma Service, a highly integrated clinical service across the two academic medical center campuses. The collaboration expanded several years ago to include Boston Children’s Hospital and Beth Israel Deaconess hospitals, becoming the Harvard Orthopedic Trauma Initiative. The combined service is consistently identified by the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program as a top teaching and clinical experience.

Training, Service and Recognition

After earning his medical degree from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in 1984, Dr. Harris completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in 1989. He then went to the University of Toronto, Sunnybrook Health Science Center, for his fellowship in orthopaedic spine and trauma in 1990, followed by a fellowship in Orthopaedic Spine and Trauma Surgery at Queen's Medical Centre in the United Kingdom in 1994.

Among his many accolades, Dr. Harris received the BWH Hippocrates Society Humanitarian Award and both held the chair position and served as a mentor for the AAOS’s Leadership Fellows Committee. He is the inaugural recipient of the Stepping Strong Distinguished Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery while serving as the founding director of the Gillian Reny Stepping Strong Center for Trauma Innovation. Dr. Harris chaired a Department of Defense peer-reviewed Orthopaedic research program, and has authored or co-authored more than 150 peer-reviewed academic publications.

Dr. Harris is a widely respected and beloved teacher. He received the coveted Golden Apple Award, presented to the Harvard orthopaedic faculty member identified by the residents as the teacher/mentor of the year. He also has received numerous faculty teaching awards in his previous academic positions. During his early years at BWH, he co-directed the initiative to create a mid-career physician leadership course in collaboration with Harvard Business School. This course has subsequently educated more than 300 mid-career health care providers since its inception eight years ago.

A Vision for the Future

As he prepares for his role as chief, Harris explains, “What I’m most excited about is concentrating on helping the Mass General Department of Orthopaedics ascend to the next level. My priorities include departmental issues surrounding further growth and collaboration. I want to make our department a more cohesive, integrated team and a department that is attractive to young clinicians and scientists.”

Our deepest thanks goes to Andy Freiberg, MD, who provided superb leadership and a steady hand at the helm as interim chief of orthopaedic surgery. We also want to express our sincere gratitude to Harry Rubash, MD, who led the Mass General Department of Orthopaedics for 19 years before stepping down as chief last year.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Harris on his new leadership role at Mass General.