Logo for University of Iowa Health Care This logo represents the University of Iowa Health Care

Brian R. Wolf: Award for Early Career Achievement

Brian R. Wolf, portraitBrian R. Wolf has earned international recognition for his expertise in orthopedic surgery and sports medicine, particularly disorders of the shoulder, elbow, and knee. He serves as professor and vice chair of finance and academic affairs in the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation. He also is director of UI Sports  Medicine and the head team physician for the UI football, women’s basketball, baseball, and  swimming teams. He is a longtime member of the National Institutes of Health-funded  Multicenter Orthopaedic Outcomes Network research group, which studies predictors of  outcomes following ACL, shoulder, and rotator cuff surgeries. Wolf, who holds the John and Kim Callaghan Endowed Chair, has twice won the prestigious Charles A. Neer Award from the American Shoulder and Elbow Society.

When Wolf began his residency training with University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics, he didn’t plan on staying long-term. Over 20 years later and now a leader with the Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, he says he’s looking forward to 20 more.

The opportunity to help build UI Sports Medicine, which is now a nationally recognized multidisciplinary program, was impossible to turn down.

“I grew up an Iowa Hawkeye fan,” Wolf says. “I’ve been going to Iowa football games since the early Hayden Fry years.”

Wolf’s role with UI Athletics is one of his greatest personal accomplishments, he says, supporting young athletes as they compete, stay healthy, and recover from injuries and illness.

Wolf understands the physical and mental challenges college athletes face because he was a basketball player at Loyola University. His experiences working with the team’s trainer influenced his decision to pursue sports medicine.

“It was very natural for me to understand the plight of an athlete that’s going through an injury and to speak their language,” he says.

Wolf’s passion for sports medicine extends beyond the walls of the UI. He was selected to travel around the world while representing the United States as an American-British-Canadian fellow through the American Orthopedic Association.

“I'm most proud of engaging with international leadership,” he says. “It's really amazing how different things are placed to place, in country to country, and system to system.”

Contributing to the field of orthopedics, aside from medical practice and research, includes mentoring the next generation of medical professionals. 

Although medical education can be rigorous, Wolf knows from experience that it's rewarding. He tells his students that achieving success requires focusing on the big picture.

“You have to be willing to take a chance on things outside of your comfort zone,” he says.

By: Molly Allen