Patrick J. Kelly, MD, FAOA
Honored as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession

Patrick J. Kelly, MD, FAOA is being recognized as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession for his leadership and lifelong contributions to resident education, research, and dedicated service in several professional orthopaedic societies. The champion for this effort on his behalf is Bernard F. Morrey, MD, FAOA.


Dr. Patrick J. Kelly received his MD degree from St. Louis University in 1949 and served as a Lieutenant in the US Navy from 1950 to 1952. He completed his orthopaedic training at the Mayo Clinic in 1956 and joined the consulting staff of the Orthopaedic Department of Mayo. He was awarded a Master’s Degree in Orthopaedics in 1958 from the University of Minnesota.

Dr. Kelly had a natural academic instinct and was instrumental in developing the Mayo residency to be focused on the science of the profession. As Director of Education from 1968 – 1985, he developed a one-of-a-kind opportunity for residents to receive a Master’s degree from the University of Minnesota in orthopaedics as an option embedded in the residency program. During these years more than half of the consulting staff had completed a Master’s degree through this program. As Director of Education, Dr. Kelly was known as being stern, yet fair and supportive.

As Dr. Kelly grew his practice, he developed an interest in infection and related investigation in the microvascular circulation in bone. His National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded research resulted in the development of the use of microspheres to study the microcirculation of osseous tissue. His research led to others creating companies in the field. One company, Aircast Inc., has air bellows splints to stabilize and enhance circulation to injured bones and soft tissue. Dr. Kelly authored over 200 peer reviewed contributions to the basic and clinical understanding of musculoskeletal disease and management.

Dr. Kelly’s efforts within Mayo and nationally led to being named an American-British-Canadian (ABC) Traveling Fellow by the AOA, a distinguished alumni of St. Louis University, Alfred R. Shand’s Lectureship and an Honorary Member of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh. His service to the profession extended beyond Mayo, serving as President of the Orthopaedic Research Committee in 1970 and of the Board of Trustees of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation 1979-1982. He was Treasurer to the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1986-1987 and Vice President of the AOA from 1988-1989. Dr. Kelly retired from practice in 1989.

Dr. Kelly and his wife Sara have 8 children: Patrick, Michael, Robert, Peggy, Kathleen, Sara, Nancy, and John. Of the eight children, two are engineers, one is an orthopaedic surgeon, one a nurse practitioner, one a school nurse, and three others in hospital/business administration.

The AOA acknowledges Dr. Kelly’s lasting legacy and influential contributions to the orthopaedic specialty, and proudly recognizes him as an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession.


“Dr. Kelly was the epitome of the academic orthopaedic surgeon reflected by his innovative National Institutes of Health (NIH) sponsored research in microvascular circulation and his twenty years of service as the director of the Orthopedic Education Program and chair of the Medical Education Committee at Mayo. His busy clinical practice and research on chronic osteomyelitis which was internationally recognized also served his specialty by serving in numerous leadership capacities as President of the Orthopaedic Research Society (ORS) and of the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation (OREF). It is fitting that he ended his professional career as Vice President of the AOA in 1989. The special feature of Dr. Kelly’s contributions, however, may be the example he set for the trainees on how to balance a busy profession with the equally demanding requirements of family life. He was an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession in every sense of the word.”

– Bernard F. Morrey, MD, FAOA
Dr. Kelly’s Champion

For a list of those who contributed to this Pillar honor, please click here.

If you are interested in becoming a Champion for an AOA Pillar of the Orthopaedic Profession, you can find more information here.

Entire listing of AOA Pillars of the Orthopaedic Profession can be found here.