Dr. Leffers named chair of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine

David Leffers, MD

University of South Florida orthopedic surgeon David Leffers, MD, a widely-recognized authority in sports medicine, has been appointed chair of the USF Health Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Dr. Leffers takes over for Robert Pedowitz, MD, who established and led the fledgling department through its pivotal growth during his two-year tenure. Dr. Pedowitz has accepted a position as Orthopaedic Surgery Chair at his alma mater, the University of California-Los Angeles, which has a nationally ranked top 10 medical school.

“There are many heroes in the story of orthopedics at USF, Dr. Leffers and Dr. Pedowitz among them,” said Stephen K. Klasko, MD, MBA, CEO for USF Health and dean of the College of Medicine. “Four years ago USF Athletics Director Doug Woolard made it clear he wanted USF doctors to be the team doctors for the USF Bulls. To make that happen Dr. Leffers joined the College of Medicine. Dr. Pedowitz arrived to build the department, and Dr. Doug Letson built the new residency program, which became an instant success. I can’t thank all of them enough.”

“USF and the Tampa Bay community are my home. I welcome the challenge of working with an excellent group of faculty to advance the department, building upon the solid foundation established by Dr. Pedowitz,” Dr. Leffers said. “Moving forward, we will further strengthen our residency program directed by Dr. Letson and our relationships with community partners.”

Dr. Leffers, who has a longstanding affiliation with the USF College of Medicine, joined the faculty full-time as an associate professor in 2006. A team physician for the USF Bulls since 1984, he has cared for professional and amateur athletes and teams across the Tampa Bay area. He is among the core group of faculty who worked with Dr. Pedowitz to create the Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine.

Among the accomplishments of this faculty in building an integrated orthopaedics and sports medicine initiative:

• Accreditation of the USF Orthopaedic Surgery Residency training program, which was re-established after 15 years without an orthopedic training program in the Tampa Bay region. The program has expanded from six to 16 residents since July 2007 and attracts top applicants from across the country. Orthopaedic residents train at several facilities that had not previously hosted any USF residency programs (University Community Hospital, Lakeland Regional Hospital/Watson Clinic, St. Joseph’s Hospital) along with traditional teaching partners (Tampa General Hospital, the VA System and All Children’s Hospital). In addition to the residency, the USF Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Fellowship, one of few in the state, has been accredited.

• The USF Athletic Training and Education Program (ATEP), previously housed in the College of Education, was integrated into the Department. The undergraduate athletic training program is the first in the country housed in an orthopaedics department. The program recently underwent its accreditation site visit and passed with an exemplary review under the guidance of Program Director Micki Cuppett, EdD. All positions have been filled for the upcoming academic year from a highly-qualified candidate pool.

• The USF Sports Medicine and Athletic Related Trauma (SMART) program continues its push to improve sports safety statewide under the direction of Executive Director Jeff Konin, PhD, ATC, PT, vice chair of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine. SMART has placed 10 full-time certified athletic trainers in area high schools that previously had no formal health care available for student athletes. They are collecting data for a Sports Injury Surveillance Registry that will facilitate vital studies needed to prevent injuries in young athletes.

• The department has led the way in using the Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare, for surgery and for collaborating with the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences to create a comprehensive sports health team.

• The department’s basic science core, developed under the leadership of David Birk, PhD, provides a strong pathway for interdisciplinary, high-impact musculoskeletal research at USF. This program will exploit the cutting-edge resources provided by the Lisa Muma Weitz Advanced Microscopy and Cell Imaging Core.

Dr. Leffers obtained his medical degree from the University of Tennessee and completed his residency training at the University of Southern California, followed by fellowship training in sports medicine at the Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in California. He is a member of the American Orthopedic Society of Sports Medicine, the American College of Sports Medicine, the American Orthopedics Society of Sports Medicine, the National Athletic Trainers Association and the Southern Orthopedic Association.

“Dr. Leffers will lead a department with stellar faculty and a bright future,” Dr. Klasko said. “We look forward to continuing to establish the worldwide reputation of orthopaedics and sports medicine at USF.”