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Institute for Global Orthopaedics and Traumatology: A brief overview of their work

Written by:

Mehak Kakwani

4th Year Medical Student, University of Leeds


Who are they?

The Institute of Global Orthopaedic surgery (IGOT) was founded in 2006 by the surgeons at the San Francisco (UCSF) Department of Orthopaedic surgery, with the goal to improve the management of musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions globally. They are one of the first institutions to address the disparities in orthopaedic care internationally (Conway et al., 2017).

Their Mission

The burden of disease in lower-to-middle income countries (LMICs) is changing as the world develops. Non-communicable diseases, including MSK conditions are becoming more and more prevalent across the world, especially in LMICs. IGOT recognised the absence of consistent, good quality orthopaedic care in LMICs and embarked on the mission to help close this gap. With the focus of establishing collaborations with orthopaedic departments in LMICs, their goal involved establishing effective, long-lasting, sustainable methods to save limbs and lives.

IGOT Pillars

The IGOT Pillars consist of the Institution’s main areas of focus: education, research and leadership. Over the past decade they have contributed to the body of knowledge and published several papers about the challenges of orthopaedic surgery in low-income settings. An example published recently looked at

“Intramedullary Nailing Versus External Fixation in the Treatment of Open Tibial Fractures in Tanzania: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial” (Haonga et al., 2020). Linking their research initiatives to education, IGOT have established research fellowships for students and fellows interested in global orthopaedic care to participate in their projects, guiding the next generation of global orthopaedic surgeons.

Whilst surgeons across the world often travel to developing countries to help volunteer and share their expertise in LMICs, these trips are only able to provide limited, short-term relief to the country’s healthcare system. Here, in particular, is where IGOT excel. The principle of sustainability underlies all of the IGOT’s projects and is evident through their training courses. Each course aims to train up to 100 surgeons with the IGOT learning portal supplementing their teaching. These individuals are then able to implement their improved skills, leadership and knowledge to teach a further 3-5 budding orthopaedic trainees, causing a domino effect of knowledge. By focusing on the basics and utilising the limited resources in LMICs, IGOT are able to instil fundamental skills and habits within the orthopaedic departments, leading to long-term improvements in orthopaedic and trauma care. Therefore, departments are able to establish their own protocol/procedures and implement them effectively. The annual Surgical Management And Reconstructive Training (SMART) Course and continual updating of the IGOT portal help surgeons keep up-to-date with new developments in orthopaedics and trauma, improving the care that they can provide to their patients.

The achievements of the Institute for Global Orthopaedics and Traumatology show that they can be considered an example for positive global academic collaboration (Conway et al., 2017). As the years progress, they continue to build on their previous collaborations as well as begin new ones, which brings them closer to their ultimate goal of improving orthopaedic care across the world.



  • IGOT Website -

  • Conway, D.J., Coughlin, R., Caldwell, A. and Shearer, D. 2017. The Institute for Global Orthopedics and Traumatology: A Model for Academic Collaboration in Orthopedic Surgery. Frontiers in public health. 5, pp.146-146.

  • Haonga, B.T., Liu, M., Albright, P., Challa, S.T., Ali, S.H., Lazar, A.A., Eliezer, E.N., Shearer, D.W. and Morshed, S. 2020. Intramedullary Nailing Versus External Fixation in the Treatment of Open Tibial Fractures in Tanzania: Results of a Randomized Clinical Trial. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 102(10), pp.896-905.

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