Jorge Chahla, M.D.—On the Fast Track to the Future of Sports Medicine

Dr. Jorge Chahla—orthopaedic surgeon, award-winning scientist, researcher, author, musician, skier, and former rugby star who speaks three languages—has been on the fast track to a career in medicine since childhood.

At 28, he has accomplished more than most people accomplish in a lifetime. Already an M.D., he will soon complete a Ph.D. He has made presentations on three continents and co-authored more than 50 articles in peer-reviewed journals, as well as seven book chapters and a recently published iBook titled Complex Knee Surgery Made Easy. Now he is in the first year of a two-year fellowship at SPRI’s Center for Regenerative Sports Medicine.

In Argentina, Dr. Chahla’s father, also named Jorge, is an orthopaedic surgeon, and his mother, Graciela, is an obstetrician/gynecologist.

“I always loved orthopaedics. Growing up, I would go with my dad on weekends to the clinic or to the hospital to see patients,” says Dr. Chahla. “When it came time to decide on a career, I really didn’t have anything else in my mind.”

When he began playing organized sports, the connection to orthopaedic medicine became even stronger. He played rugby at first with his friends at school and later as a member of Argentina’s National Junior Rugby Team. He didn’t have typical orthopaedic injuries, but did suffer one broken cheekbone and three broken noses.

MORE THAN A MEDICAL EDUCATION

The rapid pace of Dr. Chahla’s education began in his hometown of San Miguel de Tucumán, a city of more than 500,000 in northwest Argentina. After completing his bilingual bachelor’s degree in experimental sciences, he entered the medical school at the National University of Tucumán.

He graduated in 2011, began a three-phase, five-year process of becoming licensed to practice in the United States, and served his residency at Buenos Aires British Hospital.

Dr. Chahla did more than study to become an orthopaedic surgeon. He also began work on a Ph.D. in biomedical education. He became fluent in English and French. He was team physician for a rugby club that competed in the 2013-14 Argentinian Juvenile Rugby Championship. He studied at Argentina’s Conservatory of Music for three years, learned to play two instruments, and had a band called “Julieta Brandy.”

VAIL ON HIS RADAR

The Buenos Aires British Hospital has a working agreement with Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, which paved the way for Dr. Chahla to begin further training in the U.S. Next on his radar was SPRI in Vail.

“When I started reading professional journals, I kept seeing the names of Dr. Philippon, Dr. LaPrade, and other Steadman Philippon physician/scientists. I wanted to know more about these people. I applied for and was awarded a visiting fellowship at SPRI, and later a second fellowship, also at SPRI.”

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

“I fell in love with this place immediately,” remembers Dr. Chahla. “First, it was the people. They are so happy, so helpful. They say ‘hi,’ ‘good morning,’ and they create a working environment that I had never seen at other institutions.”

“Then there are so many resources,” he says. “You could do a complete fellowship just in the lab. We have all of the equipment needed for any type of research.”

“When Dr. Huard came to Steadman Philippon, he began putting a regenerative sports medicine research team together. I was very fortunate to be able to join that team.”

“Being able to work with Dr. Huard is an honor. He is one of the most accomplished scientists in the world. He and the physicians at SPRI are like a ‘Dream Team’ of sports medicine. They understand that the traditional approach to medicine in general and sports medicine specifically is not going to last forever. Regenerative sports medicine and the use of biologics are the future, and they are going to change the way medicine is practiced.”

FOUR QUESTIONS

1) What is Dr. Chahla’s plan to be a part of that future?
“I am not a plan guy,” he says, in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary. “But I will take the advice of the doctors here and try to prepare myself to go where there are options and opportunities.”

2) In the U.S. or back in Argentina? 
“We don’t know yet, but either country will be good.”

3) Private practice orthopaedic surgery, research, or teaching?
“All three,” says Dr. Chahla, not surprisingly.

4) Greatest accomplishment?
“Without a doubt, being married to my wife, Isolina. I got lucky.”

Dr. Isolina Boero is a dentist and a former finalist in the Miss Argentina contest.

REMEMBER THE NAME

Dr. Jorge Chahla. Whether it’s medical practice, cutting-edge research, or sharing his knowledge, your support makes it possible for him to continue on the fast track as SPRI’s latest rising star in orthopaedic and regenerative sports medicine.

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