Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

The honor of being recognized by his peers as the first AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession of 2021 goes to Joseph D. Zuckerman, MD, FAOA for his distinguished contributions to orthopaedic surgery, training and mentoring, and research. The effort to recognize Dr. Zuckerman was led by Kenneth A. Egol, MD, FAOA with the generous support of the residents trained by Dr. Zuckerman at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases.


Dr. Zuckerman is the Walter A. L. Thompson Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at the NYU School of Medicine (SOM) and Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Health. He is a graduate of Cornell University and of the Medical College of Wisconsin, where he was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his residency in orthopaedic surgery at the University of Washington Affiliated Hospitals, a fellowship in adult reconstructive surgery and arthritis research at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and was a visiting clinician in shoulder surgery at the Mayo Clinic.

Dr. Zuckerman joined the faculty of the Hospital for Joint Diseases (HJD) in 1984 and was appointed Chair of its Department of Orthopedic Surgery in 1994. Three years later, he became chair of the NYU Department of Orthopedic Surgery and initiated the successful merger of the two departments. He served as director of the orthopaedic residency program, one of the largest in the country, from 1990 to 2006. Being involved in resident education has always very been important to Dr. Zuckerman. It was one of the most important reasons he chose an academic career. He takes great pride in the fact that since 1984 he has been actively involved in the education of almost 320 orthopaedic residents. Dr. Zuckerman’s dedication to orthopaedic resident education is evident by the fact that he is a five-time recipient of the “Teacher of the Year” award from the NYUHJD orthopaedic residents. In 2011, he received the “Distinguished Teaching Medal” from New York University. In 2013, he received the Master Educator Award from the NYU School of Medicine and in 2015, received the Distinguished Educator Award from the American Orthopaedic Association.

Dr. Zuckerman is an internationally recognized expert in shoulder surgery and hip and knee replacement. He established the Hip Fracture Research Group and the Shoulder Research Group and is a design surgeon of a shoulder replacement system for the treatment of glenohumeral arthritis and proximal humerus fractures.

Dr. Zuckerman has received the Clinical Research Award from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF), the Mel Post Award from the American Shoulder and Elbow Surgeons (ASES), Alumnus of the Year from the Medical College of Wisconsin and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arthritis Foundation’s New York Chapter. He was selected as an American-British-Canadian (ABC) Traveling Fellow by the American Orthopaedic Association (AOA). He serves as a spokesman for the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), sits on the editorial board of several medical journals, and has authored 16 textbooks and over 400 scientific articles. He is former president of the ASES and former chair of the Council on Education for the AAOS, which is the largest professional orthopaedic association in the world. He completed a four-year term as a member of the AAOS Board of Directors serving as second vice-president, first vice-president, and president from 2009-2010. More recently, he chaired the New Building Campaign Steering Committee which successfully raised almost $10M. He currently serves as Chair of the AAOS Committee on Outside Interests.

In addition to Dr. Zuckerman’s educational, research, and administrative responsibilities, he maintains an active clinical practice specializing in shoulder replacement and hip and knee replacements, performing over 300 operative procedures each year. His responsibilities at the NYU School of Medicine have included serving as President of the Medical Staff at Bellevue Hospital Center from 1999 to 2003. He has chaired numerous Chair Search Committees at NYUSOM including Surgery, Radiology, and Medicine and also chaired the Search Committee for the Dean/CEO of the Medical Center.

He is married to Janet Rivkin Zuckerman, PhD, a clinical psychologist, who is also a graduate of the NYU post-doctoral program in psychoanalysis. They have two sons, Scott, age 34, currently in a spine fellowship at New York Presbyterian Medical Center and Matthew, age 31 is an architect with a PhD from Yale University School of Architecture. Their home is in Mamaroneck, New York.

The AOA acknowledges Dr. Zuckerman’s outstanding contributions to the orthopaedic community and recognizes him as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.


“Joe Zuckerman is the embodiment of the term “Pillar” within the field of orthopaedics. Clinically, he has performed the most complex hip, knee and shoulder arthroplasties for over 35 years. He has personally recruited and developed the network of musculoskeletal physicians encompassing the NYU Langone Health Department of Orthopedic Surgery and has been responsible for the care of hundreds of thousands of patients in our community.

In education, as faculty and a Training Program Director for 20 years, Dr. Zuckerman has personally trained more than 400 orthopaedic surgeons, all practicing and providing outstanding musculoskeletal care in their communities. He has trained or mentored 6 department chairs, 10 program directors, 6 ABC fellows and 7 Presidents of orthopaedic societies. In the leadership realm, our profession has been enhanced in numerous ways directly due to Joe Zuckerman’s perseverance and professionalism. Having been a champion of leadership, professionalism and diversity throughout his career, as AAOS and ASES President as well as Department Chair of the NYU Langone Orthopedic Hospital, he has been able to shape the course of these organizations, benefitting the membership and ultimately the public.

Finally, Joe Zuckerman has championed musculoskeletal research. With over 450 peer reviewed publications, 20 textbooks edited and 120 book chapters, he has demonstrated support through outstanding contributions to scholarly activity. Not only is Joe Zuckerman a “Pillar”, he is a “Mensch” of orthopaedic surgery.”

– Kenneth A. Egol, MD, FAOA
Dr. Zuckerman’s Champion

For a list of those who contributed to this Pillar honor, please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion for an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession, you can find more information here.

Entire listing of AOA Pillars of the Orthopaedic Profession can be found here.