Cleber Paccola, MD, PhD, Full Professor of Orthopedics (24th July 1948–22nd June 2011)

Cleber Paccola, MD, PhD, Full Professor of Orthopedics (24th July 1948–22nd June 2011)

Injury, Int. J. Care Injured 43 (2012) 537–538 Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect Injury journal homepage:

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Injury, Int. J. Care Injured 43 (2012) 537–538

Contents lists available at SciVerse ScienceDirect

Injury journal homepage:


Cleber Paccola, MD, PhD, Full Professor of Orthopedics (24th July 1948–22nd June 2011)

There are people who stay in our lives and thoughts as a vivid example of their contribution or leadership skills. They are not mere passers by in our lives; they stay ingrained by the sheer force of their legacy, the sheer force of their being. Such a remarkable person was Cleber Paccola, who left us on June 22, 2011. In 1967 Cleber was accepted at the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeira˜o Preto – University of Sa˜o Paulo. Early on he was interested in Trauma and Orthopaedics, a field of study in which he specialised and studied under the guidance of Professor Jose´ Marcondes de Souza. Always an exemplary professional, in 1975 he was approved in first place at the national trials and obtained the title of Trauma and Orthopaedic Specialist. With a great calling for teaching, in 1976 he enrolled and was approved as an assistant professor at the Faculty of Medicine of Ribeira˜o Preto. As a result of his special interest in the field of Orthopaedic Trauma and Knee Surgery he developed a protocol for treating multiple acute ligament lesions to the knee. He wrote his habilitation thesis upon thorough detailed prospective evaluation of this technique. His counsellor at the time, professor Marcondes believed that Cleber should complete his post doctorate overseas. In the late 70s a special clinic for trauma surgery was beginning to flourish in Hanover, guided by Professor Harald Tscherne it was considered a centre of excellence. Granted post-doctorate scholarship by the Alexander Von Humboldt Foundation Cleber became an intern 0020–1383/$ – see front matter doi:10.1016/j.injury.2012.02.009

under professor Tschemes’ tutelage. According to Cleber this experience was a turning point in his professional life. Whilst in Germany Cleber was able to experience the daily routine of a clinic with high scientific productivity, where AO Foundation guidelines for principles of osteosynthesis were being applied. Upon returning from Germany Cleber knew he had a great mission ahead: to disseminate AO philosophy in Brazil. The AO group had initiated its activities in Brazil in 1975 with a course taught by Professor Hans Willeneger. Whilst in Brazil and alongside professors Nova Monteiro, Karlos Mesquita, Jose´ Soares Hungria Neto and Gottfried Ko¨berle, Cleber was one of the pioneers of the AO group in Latin America and contributed in training hundreds of orthopaedic surgeons. Tireless, Cleber travelled everywhere, sharing knowledge, teaching principles and always searching for new contributions for the improvement of trauma patients’ care. He lived and breathed the AO Foundation. He was a Trustee, founder of AO Latin America and an active member in several work commissions such as the AOTK and the AO Socioeconomic Committee. His special interest was searching for safe alternatives where surgeons could perform surgical procedures in places devoid of proper and complete infra-structure. In the late 80s there were very few hospitals in Latin America endowed with C-arm equipment in the operation theatre. Sensitive to this fact, Cleber developed a system with the objective to allow locking the intramedullary nail without the use of the image intensifier. This system was aimed to treat femoral shaft fractures and was used extensively with good results up till recently in Latin America. One of Clebers’ main concerns was proper training and continuing education of physicians. He had a special interest in professionals who lived far away from urban centres and therefore had few or no opportunities to update their skills. So, with the support of the AO Socioeconomic Committee, he helped to implement a medical training programme that was characterised by short permanence internships in Latin America centres of reference for the treatment of Orthopaedic Trauma. During this internship doctors would have the opportunity to participate in daily patient care and surgery, and also have the chance to discuss different cases with experienced trauma professionals. Upon conclusion, each intern would receive an AO manual and a credential enabling him/her to participate in an AO Principles Course. From 2001 to 2011, 183 doctors from every state in Brazil underwent training at the Trauma Clinic of Ribeira˜o Preto. In 1992 he initialised a training programme geared towards sub-specialties in the Orthopaedic Trauma and Knee Surgery field. As a pre-requisite the interested party should have a specialist title


Obituary / Injury, Int. J. Care Injured 43 (2012) 537–538

from the Brazilian Society of Orthopaedics and Traumatology. Cleber was the first surgeon in Brazil to offer integrated training for Trauma and Knee Surgery. He believed that due to its structural complexity the knee should be addressed as a whole and not under the scrutiny of an exclusive point of view of bone lesion or soft tissue lesion, as normally occurs when either trauma or knee specialists approach this joint. In 1995 he assumed the post of Head Professor of Faculty of Medicine of Ribeira˜o Preto – University of Sa˜o Paulo. Cleber trained several disciples and some of these graduates became leaders nationally and overseas. He witnessed the change and rapid growth of activities of the AO Group in Brazil during the last 30 years, a period of time when the offer of AO Principles courses boomed from 1 every 5 years to

10 yearly, meaning education opportunities for 500 doctors annually. Cleber was a man with ideas ahead of his time. A strong willed person propelled by a need for justice and fairness. He always fought for what he believed in and always kept his convictions above any political context. He had the transparency of the fearless and the straightforwardness of the righteous. As a legacy, Cleber leaves us the example of a rich professional life, filled with principles, where adversity should be faced not as an obstacle but as stimuli, giving rise to the honourable quest for new alternatives and a new horizon. On behalf of the Editors and International Editorial Board of Injury.