Suva Named First Carl L. Nelson Chair in Orthopaedic Creativity at UAMS

By Nate Hinkel

Suva, Ph.D., a professor in the departments of Orthopaedic Surgery and Physiology and Biophysics in the UAMS College of Medicine, is director of the UAMS Center for Orthopaedic Research, which he envisioned and helped establish with then-Department of Orthopaedic Surgery chairman Nelson. Nelson, M.D., served as department chairman from 1974 until his death in 2005.

The Center for Orthopaedic Research was created to bring together basic scientists, orthopaedic surgeons, clinical researchers and students to develop a unique teaching and research environment. Researchers within the center are focused on developing new approaches for the prevention and treatment of many orthopaedic disorders, including bone cancer, arthritis and osteoporosis.

“Dr. Nelson was an outstanding surgeon and an innovative researcher who recognized that the future of orthopaedic research depended on a team approach with experts from different medical disciplines,” said UAMS Chancellor I. Dodd Wilson, M.D. “It is fitting that this endowed chair honors his commitment to research, education and patient care – all embodied in the Center for Orthopaedic Research he established with Dr. Suva.”

An endowed chair is the highest academic honor that can be bestowed by a university on its faculty. An endowed chair at UAMS is supported with designated gifts of $1 million or more.

 “Since his arrival in 2000, Dr. Suva has worked tirelessly to fulfill Dr. Nelson’s vision for the Center of Orthopaedic Research while at the same time furthering his own research projects,” said Richard W. Nicholas, M.D., chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and a professor in the departments of Orthopaedics and Pathology in the UAMS College of Medicine. “Dr. Suva also is a dedicated supporter of our education mission, teaching in all levels of graduate, medical and resident education. He has hosted and spoken to high school and undergraduate students, communicating his passion for science and education.”

Suva, a native of Australia, has more than 20 years of internationally recognized research focused on the skeletal consequences of disease. This includes more than 90 scientific publications and five patents describing the skeletal complications of diseases including breast and prostate cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis.

His career includes work in the private sector, including time at the Merck Research Laboratories during development of the world’s first osteoporosis treatment, as well as an academic appointment at Harvard Medical School. Just prior to his arrival at UAMS, he worked at GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals where he was responsible for drug discovery in the area of stimulation of bone formation.

More recently, in collaboration with V. Suzanne Klimberg, M.D., director of the UAMS Breast Cancer Program, he has been responsible for development of a potential breast cancer screening tool involving patient tears.

Nelson was recruited to Arkansas in 1974 to build a strong Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and organize the orthopaedic training program, then in its infancy. During his tenure as chairman, the orthopaedic faculty grew from two to a team of 50 professionals and he personally oversaw the education of 122 orthopaedic surgeons – many of whom stayed in Arkansas to practice.

A world-recognized expert in joint replacement surgery, Nelson produced more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications on topics ranging from orthopaedic education to psychomotor skills to bloodless surgery.

He was formally recognized for his lifetime of accomplishments in 2000 with the investiture of the Carl L. Nelson Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery. The new chair in Orthopaedic Creativity was created to continue the standards of excellence in research and education established by Nelson and to support orthopaedic education and research into orthopaedic diseases and musculoskeletal injuries.

UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a new 540,000-square-foot hospital, six centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has 2,652 students and 733 medical residents. Its centers of excellence include the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, the Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, the Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, the Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, the Psychiatric Research Institute and the Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including nearly 1,150 physicians who provide medical care to patients at UAMS, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and UAMS’ Area Health Education Centers throughout the state. Visit or