Born in 1950 in the Nanhai District, Foshan City, Guangdong province of Hong Kong, Freddie Fu attended St. Boy’s College and completed both his undergraduate and post-graduate degrees at Dartmouth College and Dartmouth Medical School, respectively. During his career, he focused on treating sports-related injuries and orthopedic bioengineering. He became renowned throughout his career for his revolutionary practices in orthopedic sports medicine. He studied at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where he earned his MD in 1977, completing both his residency and fellowship there. He received additional training in Germany at the Hanover Trauma Center.
In 1982, he became a member of the faculty at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine where he later became the David Silver Professor as well as the chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery in 1998. He was only the eighth professor distinguished in the University’s nearly 140-year history.
Fu also retained secondary assignments as a professor of health and physical activity, mechanical engineering, and physical therapy at the University of Pittsburgh School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. Additionally, Fu was an Editorial Board Member of the journal Orthopedics Today, which reports on the most up-to-date news and advances in orthopedic medicine.
Fu received acclaim for his teaching and research centered on innovations that were evidence-based, and not based on personal interest. His work advanced understandings in orthopedic care and sports medicine, primarily on knee injury treatments.
In 1986, Fu was responsible for founding the very first sports medicine program located in Western Pennsylvania called the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine. It later moved to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, and in 2018, the program was renamed UPMC Freddie Fu Sports Medicine Center. The center incorporates an approach to sports-related injuries and performance that is multidimensional and provides excellence in care regardless of a person’s athletic status.
In addition, Fu also started the first athletic training program for high school in Western Pennsylvania, where he was also involved in building a program for emergency medical services during high school football games. This program is one of the largest in the entire country, supporting more than 40 high schools.
Fu also worked for 37 years as the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre’s physician. This was one of the very first professional ballet companies to have a committed physician for dance-specific injuries. He attended each and every production performed by the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre and served to care for any injuries that occurred during production with immediacy. During that time, he also helped garner a relationship between the Pittsburgh Penguins and UPMC to create the UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex. This project was completed in 2015 and was used as a facility dedicated to hockey-related injuries, training, and preventative sports medicine.
From 1985 through 2003, Fu served as not only the executive medical director and board chair of the Boston Marathon, and the medical director for another annual event, the Thrift Drug Classic, a professional cycling race, beginning in 1991 through 1997.
During his lifetime, Fu received over 260 honors and awards and focused on serving his community for over 30 years in a variety of capacities. Among his most notable achievements is the July 2016 induction into the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine Hall of Fame, an honor awarded to very few notables each year. In 2011, he was awarded the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Diversity Award for his incredible contribution to drawing surgical residents from incredibly diverse backgrounds, including upwards of 1500 people from 62 distinct countries.
Family was ever important to Dr. Fu, and no matter how busy his schedule was, he made time for his family, which he cherished above all else. Married for 47 years to Hilda Pang Fu, he helped to raise two children who remember him with great fondness and love. He was also a devoted grandfather to five grandchildren.
Due to his acclaim, he attracted the most skilled surgeons, as well as other care providers in the musculoskeletal field, to his program at the University of Pittsburgh. He encouraged these brilliant medical professionals to excel in their own skills and brought out the very best in each of them through his love and care for teaching.
Dr. Fu’s work helped to transform the field of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction with passion and innovation. He was unyielding in his fight to revolutionize the treatment of ACL injuries, which are commonplace among athletes of all ranges. Throughout his extensive career, more than 1200 presentations, both national and international, can be attributed to Fu, as well as co-authoring 137 chapters in books, and the writing of nearly 700 peer-reviewed articles. He also worked to edit 30 significant orthopedic textbooks.
Dr. Freddie H Fu passed away, comforted by his dear family on September 24th, 2021, and will be remembered for his remarkable personality and his devotion to sports medicine.