By Mary Vanac
Renown hand surgeon to professional athletes, Dr. Thomas Graham, is returning to Cleveland as chief of Cleveland Clinic Innovations, the corporate venturing unit of the Cleveland Clinic.
Graham, 47, will be the first Cleveland Clinic Innovations chief since Dr. Jay Yadav left the Clinic in 2006. With his arrival, the unit that commercializes Clinic inventions will go back to reporting to chief of staff in the Professional Staff Affairs Office Dr. Joseph Hahn. Innovations had been reporting to the Emerging Business unit headed by Dr. Michael Modic since that unit’s creation in 2007.
Eventually, Graham is expected to set up his practice to care for professional athletes’ and entertainers’ hands and wrists in Cleveland. In addition to being an orthopedic surgeon, Graham also is a businessman, entrepreneur and inventor.
Graham is an East Liverpool, Ohio, native who earned his M.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. He joined the Cleveland Clinic’s Department of Orthopedic surgery in 1994 and left as leader of its Upper Extremity Division in 2000, according to Medical Peer Review Resource LLC, for which Graham its medical director.
While at the Clinic, Graham was recognized for his expertise in hand, wrist and elbow surgery with special concentration on complicated reconstruction after trauma, complex elbow and congenital hand disorders surgery, said the patient safety organization in Akron, Ohio. He also began taking care of elite athletes’ hands and elbows.
Graham was hand surgery consultant for professional sports teams in Cleveland, and still is for the Cleveland Indians and the Cleveland Cavaliers. He also consulted for the Cleveland Symphony and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. He left Cleveland in 2000 to direct the Curtis National Hand Center — the world’s largest hand center — at Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland.
He also was chief of Union Memorial’s Division of Hand Surgery, vice chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and had appointments as associate professor in both orthopedic and plastic surgery at Johns Hopkins. Graham estimates he helped 1,700 professional athletes during his decade in Baltimore, according to the Baltimore Sun.
Because of his experience and relationships in professional sports, Graham added another job in 2002: director of MedStar SportsHealth. There, Graham built a large program for the care of athletes and active individuals through partnerships with his health system, sports teams, corporations, schools and the government.
On the business side, Graham completed the Executive Management Program in Health Care Administration, a program sponsored by the Clinic and the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University, while still in Cleveland. He also had an administrative role as chief of the Orthopaedic Specialty Hospital of Cleveland at Lutheran Hospital from 1997 to 2000.
Graham has several patents on implants and other devices that have helped his specialty advance the health and function of patients worldwide.