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Paul H. Curtiss Jr., MD 1920-2007

The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery: February 01, 2008 - Volume 90 - Issue 2 - p 459-460
doi: 10.2106/JBJS.G.01554
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Paul H. Curtiss Jr., MD 1920-2007

Paul H. Curtiss Jr., editor emeritus, former editor, and former chairman of the Board of Editors of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, passed away on September 25, 2007. At the time of his death he was receiving hospice care close to the home he had cherished and lived in for close to thirty years, on the banks of the Charles River in South Natick, Massachusetts. The Journal and the entire orthopaedic community suffered a great loss with his passing.

Dr. Curtiss was born in Kokomo, Indiana, on June 2, 1920. He obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1941 and his Doctor of Medicine degree in 1944 from the University of Wisconsin. He met his future wife, Maria, while attending the University of Wisconsin, and their marriage lasted for more than fifty years, until Maria's death in 2001. After completing an internship at the University of Oregon Medical School Hospitals and Clinics, he undertook residency training at the Beekman Downtown Hospital, New York, and the New Jersey Orthopaedic Hospital and Dispensary, Trenton, and completed his orthopaedic residency at the Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, in 1952. He then spent a year as a research fellow in orthopaedic surgery at Western Reserve University Medical School in Cleveland and joined the faculty of that institution as an assistant professor when he completed his fellowship in June 1953. He was named an associate professor in 1964. During this period, The Journal recognized his research work by publishing his three-part series, “Immunological Factors in Homogenous Bone Transplantation,” and acknowledged his clinical acumen by publishing his articles, “Transitory Demineralization of the Hip in Pregnancy” and “Spinal-Cord Tumor—A Cause of Progressive Neurological Changes in Children with Scoliosis.”

In collaboration with Dr. LeRoy Klein, Dr. Curtiss received the prestigious Kappa Delta Award from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 1963 for their research project, entitled “Possible Mechanisms of Articular Cartilage Destruction in Septic Arthritis.” In addition, Dr. Curtiss was named one of the American Orthopaedic Association's American, British and Canadian (ABC) Traveling Fellows for the 1957 Tour of Great Britain.

In 1965, Dr. Curtiss was appointed professor and head of the Division of Orthopaedic Surgery at Ohio State University College of Medicine in Columbus, Ohio, and he served in that capacity until 1978. During those years, he made major contributions to our specialty; he was a member of the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery from 1968 through 1974, serving as chairman of the Examinations Committee, as treasurer, and as a member of the Finance Committee at various times during his tenure. He was secretary and treasurer of the Orthopaedic Research Society from 1958 through 1961 and president of this society in 1964, president of the Russell A. Hibbs Society in 1964, president of the Orthopaedic Chairman's Association in 1974, and president of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation in 1974. He was chairman of the Committee on Undergraduate Education of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons from 1970 through 1977. Dr. Curtiss was named president-elect of the American Orthopaedic Association in 1981 and served as president of the association at the Combined Meeting of the Orthopaedic Associations of the English-Speaking World in Cape Town, South Africa, in 1982.

Dr. Curtiss had an early and lasting interest in this journal, and was selected by Dr. Thornton Brown to serve as a member of the Board of Associate Editors from 1962 through 1967. He became a member of the Board of Trustees of The Journal in 1971 and served as chairman of the board from 1976 through April 1978. Dr. Curtiss was named editor designate of The Journal in June 1978 and became editor and chairman of the Board of Editors in January 1979. He served in that capacity for six years and was named an editor emeritus of The Journal in 1985, and he continued to serve The Journal in an active capacity, editing manuscripts, until he retired in 1990.

Those individuals who submitted manuscripts to Dr. Curtiss for consideration always believed they would receive a fair and accurate assessment of their papers and knew that he always dealt with authors in a fair and professional manner and with gentlemanly concern. He provided constructive critiques with rejected manuscripts and provided extremely helpful guidance to young investigators on how to prepare material for publication. For those who became involved with the editorial process of The Journal during his tenure, he served as a positive role model, always providing a kind word while encouraging us to improve our skills in the process of editing a manuscript.

Dr. Curtiss added new features to The Journal during his tenure, establishing both the Current Concepts Reviews and the Letters to the Editor sections. In order to accommodate more material, a ninth issue was added in 1981. Dr. Curtiss was the first medical editor to suggest that authors disclose potential conflicts of interest; an editorial requesting suggestions for such a policy was published in The Journal in December 1984. The formal Conflict of Interest Disclosure Policy was outlined in an editorial in June 1985 and was implemented in July of that year. In 1985, the first randomized clinical trial in orthopaedics was published in this journal.

Dr. Curtiss was keenly interested in the study of history, particularly the study of the history of the Native American population in the area of his home in South Natick, and he served as a volunteer at the South Natick Historical Society, welcoming visitors on Saturday mornings to explain the history of the area to them. Living on the banks of the Charles River, he had a passion for water sports, including sculling on the Charles in his own racing shell and fly-fishing. Following retirement, he used his skilled surgeon's touch to hand-paint historically accurate miniature regimental soldiers.

He is survived by a son, a daughter, and five grandchildren. For those who wish to remember him, memorial gifts may be directed to the Cheryl Chagnon Lymphoma Research Fund, P.O. Box 2355, Natick, Massachusetts 01760 or Parmenter Wayside Hospice, 266 Cochituate Road, Wayland, Massachusetts 01778.

Dr. Curtiss was a distinguished scholar; all of us who experienced the honor of working with him remember him with great admiration and respect. He will be missed.



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