The Healthcare & Life Sciences: Top 50 Irish Innovators

Irish innovators who are leading the way in diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease.

Irish America Magazine—August 11, 2014

Dr. Jo Hannafin became the first female president of the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine when she assumed her appointment in July.

An orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) in New York City, Jo argues that preventative and non-surgical care for sports-related injuries are a crucial part of sports physicians’ missions and have a huge impact on the rest of the population. In a 2013 interview, she pointed out that “studies of muscle movement also have guided designers of office furniture and equipment to reduce injury risk from repetitive motion, and in the next five to ten years, we’ll learn more about the effects of physical activity on the risk of developing progressive diseases. We’ll learn more about the effects of changes in exercise and fitness patterns, together with changes in other lifestyles and their roles in [the] prevention or delay of recurrent or extended disease.”

Jo’s great-grandparents on both parents’ sides immigrated to the U.S. from Ireland. She traces her roots to Countries Kerry and Cork. A lifelong rower- she was a three-time national rowing champion and silver medalist at the 1984 World Championships- she serves as a team physician for the United States rowing team. She is the co-author, with Marian Betancourt, of the book Say Goodbye to Knee Pain.

Dr. John Kennedy, born in Dublin and educated at Ireland’s Royal College of Surgeons, is a surgeon at New York Hospital for Special Surgery. John met Flip Mullen, a retired FDNY officer, six years ago at the Irish America Top 100 awards dinner. Both were being honored for their work helping others: John for performing orthopedic surgeries free of charge in Santo Domingo, and Mullen for his work with the Wounded Warrior Project. The two met and began to talk, and out of their conversation a new partnership was born.

Mullen and other Wounded Warriors counsel injured soldiers to consult John, for a second opinion. He and his associate Dr. Austin Fragomen in turn meet with the wounded soldiers, look at their injuries, and have in certain cases performed surgeries saving soldiers from amputation. Mullen and his wife, Rita, house the soldiers and their families while they are in New York.

John is currently the clinical director of the running clinic at the Hospital for Special Surgery. His interest in sports medicine of the lower limbs is generated by a long personal history in sports, where he competed at national and international levels in track, rugby, fencing, and water skiing.

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