Scott J. Mubarak, MD
Dr. Scott Mubarak has been nominated for the POSNA Hall of Fame by Dr. Hank Chambers and Dr. Salil Upasani for his leadership in our Society, for his contributions to our scientific literature and for being an outstanding clinician.
Dr. Mubarak grew up in a small town in western Wisconsin. His father was the town’s principal general practitioner and his mother was a nurse. While he played golf and ran track, he was primarily a nerdy student with an aptitude in science and math. He was the valedictorian of Tomah High school and then attended Ripon College. He went to medical school at the University of Wisconsin where he met his bride-to-be Sandy, who was a nurse.
After finishing medical school, he and Sandy moved out west with their six-week-old son Jason to begin his internship at Mercy Hospital in San Diego. He flourished during that year rotating with many surgical specialties and was accepted to the Orthopedic Surgery Residency program at the University of California San Diego under Dr. Wayne Akeson. During his first year of residency Dr. Mubarak treated a patient with compartment syndrome, which sparked his interest in measuring compartment pressures and led to a lifetime of research and several highly influential articles on the slit-wick catheter, the double-incision fasciotomy and Volkmann’s contracture - a body of work that earned him the AAOS Kappa Delta Award and the Nicholas Andry Lifetime Achievement Award.
Dr. Mubarak, Sandy and 2 youngest granddaughters
While remembering those early years, Dr. Mubarak emphasized the importance of studying a disorder or disease thoroughly. He encourages young clinician-scientists to “stay focused on a topic and to understand its pathophysiology, etiology, diagnosis, treatment and prevention.”
Dr. Mubarak’s passion for pediatric orthopedics started during his residency. He trained under Dr. David Sutherland who encouraged him to pursue a fellowship at one of the most prestigious programs in North America (the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada). He trained with Drs. Salter, Rang, Gillespie, Bobechko, Gibson and his mentor Dr. Norris Carroll. He recalls, that with a thorough patient’s history and physical exam, no mysterious disease would slip by the brilliant “Detective Carroll.” Throughout his career, Dr. Mubarak has emphasized the importance of a thorough clinical exam and developed dozens of tips and tricks to train countless medical students, residents and fellows.
Although, Dr. Mubarak started his career as the Chief of Orthopedics at the VA Hospital in San Diego, he soon transitioned to a private practice in pediatric orthopedic surgery in 1982. His next focus was to understand and improve our management of hip dysplasia. He designed a new harness and defined the application process with detailed drawings and careful instructions, leading to the classic article describing the Pearls and Pitfalls of the Pavlik Harness. Within 2 years, he had developed a booming practice and he recruited Dr. Dennis Wenger to join him in San Diego. They teamed up on many landmark accomplishments including developing the San Diego Pelvic Osteotomy and performing the first Cotrel-Dubousset spinal instrumentation in the western United States. After 2000 he focused on foot deformities, including 3 C (calcaneal, cuboid, cuneiform) osteotomies for pes valgus and cavus deformity, diagnosis and treatment of tarsal coalition, and bracket epiphysis.
They also established the San Diego Pediatric Orthopedic Surgery and Scoliosis Clinical Fellowship in 1986, and by 1995 they had grown to a solid core group of surgeons to include Drs. Doug Wallace, Hank Chambers, and Peter Newton. During that same year, Dr. Mubarak recalls operating on his most famous patient, Ndjia, a two-year-old Western Lowland Gorilla at the San Diego Wild Animal Park. Ndjia had developed a 90-degree knee flexion deformity and a physeal bar from a prior distal femur fracture. Dr. Mubarak and his team successfully operated to straighten her knee and resect the physeal bar earning him a spot on the popular 90s TV show, “That’s Incredible.”
Besides being an influential figure in San Diego, Dr. Mubarak has served our Society in countless ways. Not only was he President from 2004-2005, but he has also served on basically every committee in our Society (Awards Committee 2003-2004, Bone & Joint Initiative Committee 2003-2004, Communications Council 2003-2004, Development Committee 2004-2005, Development Committee 2005-2007, Education Council 2007-2008, Hall of Fame Committee 2018-2021, Health Care Delivery Council 2003-2004, History and Archives Committee 2004-2008, Industry Relations Committee 2003-2008, Long Range Planning Committee 2005-2007, President's Council 2007-2009, Public Education and Media Relations Committee 2003-2004, Publications Committee 2003-2004, Technology Oversight Committee 2003-2004, Trauma, Prevention, and Disaster Response Committee 2003-2004, Traveling Fellowship Committee 2005-2007, Treasurer's Committee 2005-2007). He has also had an international impact on our field through collaborations and friendships with pediatric orthopedic thought-leaders throughout the world and the International Pediatric Orthopedic Think Tank (IPOTT).
Most importantly, he has also been blessed with a beautiful family with 2 sons and 5 granddaughters. Dr. Mubarak emphasizes to have fun with your family along the way. He and Sandy have a number of interests outside of orthopedics including breeding llamas on their ranch, creating award-winning wine with his Old Coach Vineyards and now travelling the South Pacific and authoring award-winning books under his penname CJ Cook in his retirement.
Dr. Mubarak, Sandy their 2 sons (Jason and Josh) and their families
In summary, Dr. Scott Mubarak is a 2022 Inductee into the POSNA Hall of Fame in recognition of his contributions to our field, teaching of hundreds of residents and fellows, his service to the growth and development of POSNA, and a legacy that will continue to influence generations of pediatric orthopedic surgeons for years to come.
CJ Cook selling his wares
Biography written by Dr. V. Salil Upasani, on behalf of the Hall of Fame Committee. 2022.