James R. Urbaniak, M.D.


James R. Urbaniak, M.D. is recognized as a pioneer in the replantation of severed digits and hands. For the past 40 years he has conducted significant research in the area of microsurgical reconstruction of traumatized extremities and avascular necrosis of the femoral head. This research has been supported for over 20 years by a R01 grant from the National Institutes of Health.

In 1958, Dr. Urbaniak graduated, Magna cum Laude, from the University of Kentucky, where he attended on an athletic scholarship and was honored with the as an Academic All-American in football. In 1962 he received his Doctor of Medicine, from Duke University School of Medicine where he also completed his surgical internship and orthopedic surgery residency. He joined the faculty in 1969 as an assistant professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and became a professor in 1977 and chief of the division in 1985-2002. He built an academic orthopedic division to be one of the largest in the country which now has a full-time faculty, doctoral candidates, research associates, residents and fellows numbering more than 120. He was Director of Hand Surgery from 1975 – 2005. He is responsible for developing an internationally recognized basic research program that now has more than 10 million dollars of NIH funding. He has trained more than 152 residents, 52 clinical fellows and 72 research fellows over half of whom are in academic orthopedics. In 1991 he was appointed the Virginia Flowers Baker Professor and in 1994 Vice Chairman of the Department of Surgery for Clinical Affairs.

During his distinguished career, Dr. Urbaniak has served as president of numerous professional societies, including the American Orthopaedic Association, Eastern Orthopaedic Association, American Society for Surgery of the Hand, American Society of Reconstructive Microsurgery, The American Board of Orthopaedic Surgeons, The Sunderland Society, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery and the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation. He was President of the International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand from 2007-2010.

Some of his awards include AOA ABC Travel Fellow (1972), the Bristol-Meyers-Squibb/Zimmer Award for Distinguished Achievement in Orthopaedic Surgery (2001), the American College of Surgeons’ Thomas G. Sheen Award (1999), The Kappa Delta Award of the AAOS/OREF (1994), the Distinguished Southern Orthopaedist Award (1996)and the IFSSH Pioneer in Hand Surgery (2007). In 2002 he received the Duke Medical Alumni Association’s Distinguished Faculty Award, the AOA Distinguished Contributions to Orthopaedics Award in 2010 and the William G. Anlyan, MD Lifetime Achievement Award. His most cherished award is the Duke Orthopaedic Residents and Fellows Teaching Award (2001, 2006).

James R. Urbaniak, M.D.

Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Duke University Medical Center


Magna cum Laude, University of Kentucky;
MD, Duke University School of Medicine