Dedication to Kirkham Wood, MD.
By: Christopher Bono, MD.
It is his ability to see beyond himself, the immediate world around him at Massachusetts
General Hospital, and even beyond the city of Boston, that makes Dr. Kirkham Wood, MD a
unique visionary. It is this trait, at the top of the long list of exemplary others, that makes it
exquisitely fitting to dedicate this issue of the Harvard Orthopedic Journal to such a person,
surgeon, teacher, mentor, and advocate.
As a point of history, Dr. Wood joined the staff as Chief of the Orthopedic Spine Service at
Massachusetts General Hospital in February of 2004, having spent his career up to that time
in Minneapolis establishing himself as a world renowned spinal deformity surgeon. Not a "home grown" player in the Harvard
system, Kirk's appointment at his stage of his career was a landmark acquisition for MGH. Not since the esteemed Dr. Augustus
White's prominence did someone whose name was so widely synonymous with adult spine care in Boston-a town that has enjoyed
multiple legendary figures in all other aspects of orthopaedic care. If you were to know Kirk only by his research papers, you would
realize that almost everything he has published is a widely-quoted, extremely important, landmark (and sometimes classic) paper
that has directly influenced patient care.
Understanding the significance of this new opportunity, Dr. Wood quickly sought to develop a spine program of the utmost
quality. Patients in Boston and the surrounding regions benefited from his vast experience, surgical prowess, and dedication to
excellent care. The HCORP residents benefited from his deep insight, easy manner of teaching, and kind demeanor. His colleagues
at MGH, including Frank Pedlow, Fred Mansfield, and Brian Grottkau, benefited from his leadership in developing a cohesive spine
service, fortified with the addition of Dr. Joseph Schwab, MD in 2007.
Before stepping foot into the halls of the MGH, Kirk was already looking
beyond them. In coordination with his long-term friend and colleague,
Dr. Mitch Harris of Brigham and Women's Hospital, plans were made for
a combined fellowship between the two hospitals-a collaboration with
few prior examples. In fact, as Kirk was finalizing his transition to Boston,
knowing that I was being recruited to BWH, we discussed his vision of a combined spine surgery fellowship and how we can build something unique. He was right.
Four years later, many great fellows and research papers have been produced. As a result,
the MGH-BWH Combined Spine Surgery Fellowship is an up and coming program with an
Never being complacent, Kirk looked outside of his own surroundings once again-
this time outside of the country. As part of a burgeoning relationship with a prestigious
hospital in China, Dr. Wood has established a one-month visiting exchange program during
which one of the fellows or residents has the unique opportunity to see a different side of spinal surgery. Having returned from
this rotation, Darren Lebl has described it as an "invaluable, once in a lifetime experience." Once again, thanks go to Kirk Wood's
vision and leadership.
Cloaked by Kirk's characteristic humility, one may not easily learn of the other
incredible accomplishments of this man. Kirk has received countless awards through the
years, including the Russell Hibbs Award and the John H. Moe Award from the Scoliosis
Research Society. He is a dedicated father and husband. Having completed several full
marathons recently, he is in impeccable physical shape.
It has been my distinct honor and privilege to write this dedication to Kirkham Wood, MD, and to work with him as a friend
and colleague. We have all benefitted from his foresight and perseverance; I personally can't wait to see what the next great move
from this legendary figure will be!