NewsSep | 1 | 2022
Shoulder and Elbow Specialist Gus Mazzocca, MD, joins Department and System as Medical Director of Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine
Augustus "Gus" D. Mazzocca, MD, an internationally renowned orthopedic surgeon specializing in complex shoulder and elbow diagnoses, has been named the first medical director for Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine. Dr. Mazzocca will also serve as the director of the Sports Medicine Bioskills, Biomechanics and Cell Biology Laboratories, also known as the Enable Labs, which are scheduled to open in early 2023 with the goal of helping providers achieve excellence in surgical care and research.
In this Q&A, Dr. Mazzocca discusses his move to Mass General, his new role and the exciting challenges he will face as medical director.
What drew you to a career in medicine?
Growing up as an athlete—a wrestler and lacrosse player—I was always interested in the human body and how it worked. After getting a master’s degree in physiology at Springfield College, I went to work for NASA to look at astronaut muscle atrophy. It was fascinating to study the effects of zero gravity on the musculoskeletal system and learn what happens to the body under extreme conditions. After doing some doctoral research at Wright State University, I enrolled in medical school to translate what I learned at NASA and in the lab into practice with athletes.
What brought you to this role at Mass General?
I had spent my life and career in Connecticut, and I wasn't sure I would ever leave. However, when I saw that Mass General Brigham was looking for a leader for their Sports Medicine program, I decided to visit Boston and meet with the team. Mitch Harris, MD, and the rest of the faculty made me feel very welcome. It was clear at Mass General that there was a shared vision and a drive to improve: I vividly remember during my interview with Jonathan Kraft [Chair of the Mass General Board of Trustees] that he commented on the U.S. News & World Report rankings. Mass General had ranked highly, but Mr. Kraft wanted to be number one. I admired his passion and drive, and it really stuck with me. Personally, I am always trying to improve and grow. A quote that I am fond of, and that I try to live by, is, "it’s easy to be good, but hard to be great. You need to have a day-to-day determination to improve." As I got to know Mass General Brigham, I knew I had found an organization that shared my commitment to excellence.
What is Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine?
Mass General Brigham Sports Medicine is a system-wide program that enables collaboration between many of New England’s top hospitals to better serve patients with sports-related injuries, both locally and around the globe. The program has uniquely high visibility, due to the popularity of the amazing professional and collegiate sports teams our doctors treat. I was brought on board to help leadership across Mass General Brigham coordinate care for the diverse array of professional and amateur athletes served by Mass General, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, the Spaulding Rehabilitation Network and all the other great clinical and research teams that comprise Mass General Brigham.
Across the system, we have excellent teams and programs in women’s sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, emergency medicine, internal medicine, cardiac rehab, psychiatry, psychology, nutrition and everything else athletes need for comprehensive health care. My task is to improve communication and efficiencies across the system, enable our doctors to continue doing excellent work and make sure athletes know about the seamless, compassionate clinical care they can receive when they trust us with their health care.
If you could give one piece of medical or training advice to competitive athletes, what would it be?
The most important areas of focus for athletes are stretching, nutrition, sleep and psychological wellbeing. Mental preparation is key to success, but sometimes it gets overlooked in favor of activities that emphasize the physical components of preparation.
Our surgeons are in the business of repairing athletes' bodies, and it’s important that those athletes stretch, hydrate, rest and mentally prepare to avoid injury. That's why I'm so proud of Mass General Brigham's Women's Sports Program, helmed by former college athletes Miho Tanaka, MD, Elizabeth Matzkin, MD and Kelly McInnis, DO—it's extremely multidisciplinary. Across Mass General Brigham, we go beyond repairing ligaments, tendons, muscles and bones—we really listen to our patients and care for the whole athlete, before, during and after an injury.
Dr. Mazzocca is currently accepting new patients at our offices at 175 Cambridge St in Boston, at the Brigham and Women's/Mass General Health Care Center in Foxborough and at Mass General Waltham. You can request an appointment with Dr. Mazzocca online, or by calling 617-676-2714.