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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

Northwestern Orthopaedic Leader Honored by Trainees, Patients, and Friends

Photographed in 2002-2003 (from left to right): Andrew D. Bunta, MD, associate professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Feinberg; Dr. Howard Sweeney; Nasim A. Rana, MD, now an orthopaedic surgeon at NorthShore; Dr. Michael Schafer; and Paul R. Meyer Jr., MD, former professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at Feinberg.

Alumnus Michael F. Schafer, ’72 MD, served with distinction as the Edwin Warner Ryerson Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chair of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine for more than 30 years. Today, Dr. Schafer continues to provide important leadership to the department, as well as world-class care to his patients.

The Michael F. Schafer, MD, Fund was created to honor Dr. Schafer and recognize his innumerable contributions to the both the department and Northwestern. This year, thanks to the generosity and participation of current and former trainees, patients, and friends of the department, the Schafer Fund surpassed its endowment goal of $500,000—one year ahead of schedule. Now that it is endowed, the Schafer Fund will advance the research and training missions of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in perpetuity.

“It was a privilege and an honor to serve as chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery,” said Dr. Schafer. “I was fortunate to have a faculty that was dedicated to the educational mission of our residents. The success of the fundraising for this endowment ensures that our current and future residents will have the resources to enhance their educational pursuits.”

Dr. Howard Sweeney (left) and Dr. Michael Schafer on Thesis Day at the medical school in 1981.

When describing their love of Northwestern and strong connection to the department, supporters often cite their experiences as trainees under the able guidance and mentoring of Dr. Schafer.

One such trainee is Patrick J. Sweeney ’88 MD, ’93 GMER, whose connection to Dr. Schafer extends even beyond their relationship as trainee and trainer. While a resident himself, Dr. Schafer trained under Dr. Patrick Sweeney’s father, Howard J. Sweeney ’49, ’51 MD, associate professor emeritus of Orthopaedic Surgery. In addition to his role on faculty, Dr. Howard Sweeney served as Northwestern’s team surgeon for 38 years and is included in the Northwestern Athletic Hall of Fame.

"Dr. Schafer and the entire staff and faculty of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Northwestern have been pivotal figures in my life. The privilege of training under them continues to be one for which I am forever grateful,” said Dr. Patrick Sweeney. “Dr. Schafer is a warm-hearted and gifted surgeon, physician, and leader, to whom I credit much of my success and will forever be indebted. The department continues to be a premier one, with Dr. Terrance Peabody carrying on the traditions established by Dr. Schafer. It is an honor to be able to make a gift to recognize their tireless work."

“We are so pleased that we are lauding Mike’s innumerable contributions to the department and Northwestern through this endowed fund that will support generations of Northwestern orthopaedic faculty and trainees,” said Terrance D. Peabody, Edwin Warner Ryerson Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and chair of the department. “The fact that so many people came together to support this fund is a true testament to the impact of our program and its bright future.”

Dr. Michael Schafer

A Life in Service to Northwestern

Dr. Schafer has trained more than 300 orthopaedic surgery residents and fellows during his tenure and has provided expert, compassionate care to countless patients. He has made a positive difference in the lives of so many patients, families, and Northwestern trainees.

At the age of 10, Dr. Schafer was infected with the life-threatening bulbar form of polio. His experiences while in the hospital led him to pursue a career in orthopaedics as many of his caregivers were surgeons in this field. He distinguished himself early in his career, winning the intern of the year award at Wesley Hospital and the resident of the year award during his first year of training.

Dr. Schafer continues to serve with distinction on faculty as professor of Orthopaedic Surgery. He recently received the national William W. Tipton Jr., MD, Leadership Award recognizing his leadership contributions to the field of orthopaedics.