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Distinguished alumni award

Saluting outstanding alumni achievement
Living the objectives of our Alma Mater

Penn State's Distinguished Alumni Award
University Board of Trustees Recognition

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James Bradley

James P. Bradley, M.D. has been honored with the 2020 Distinguished Alumni Award, to be presented in 2021. Bradley is an orthopedic surgeon with Burke and Bradley Orthopedic Associates, UPMC Health System; and the director of Sports Medicine for UPMC—St. Margaret Memorial Hospital. He is one of the few physicians in his field to have held the office of president for the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine, the National Football League Physicians Society, and the prestigious Herodicus Society.

Bradley graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in science in 1975. He was a highly recruited football star and was named the team’s co-captain in the 1974/1975 season. After graduation, he quickly realized he could do more for sports and the game he loved by becoming an orthopedic surgeon.

Bradley completed his medical school training at Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed residency program for Orthopedic Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. He then completed a sports medicine fellowship at the renowned Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

As of 2020, Bradley has been the head team orthopedic surgeon of the Pittsburgh Steelers for 29 years. He also served 15 years as the chairman of the National Football League’s Medical Research Peer Review Committee and 25 years on the NFL Injury and Safety Panel Committee. In 2014, Bradley was honored with the Jerry Hawk Rhea Award from the NFL for being a dedicated and outstanding NFL team physician. 

An educator and innovator, he has contributed advancements in surgical techniques and patents for medical devices. Bradley continues to support sports medicine education and research currently, as a clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In this position, he encourages and mentors orthopedic surgeons in their fellowships, imparting valuable medical knowledge, experience, and surgical techniques. 

Bradley was awarded the Arthur C. Rettig Award for excellence in academic research by the National Football League Physicians Society in 2019.  He was named to the Castle Connolly America’s Top Doctors of 2019; “Becker’s Spine Review: 65 Orthopedic Surgeons recommended by Orthopedic Surgeons” in 2017; Orthopedics This Week’s “16 Standout North American Sports Knee Surgeons: 2016”; Orthopedics This Week “20 of the Top North American Shoulder Surgeons: 2015”; and Becker’s Spine Review’s “Top 55 surgeons in the country” in 2015.

About the Award:

The Distinguished Alumni Award is the highest honor The Pennsylvania State University bestows upon an outstanding alumnus/a. The award salutes the achievements of outstanding alumni whose “personal lives, professional achievements, and community service exemplify the objectives of their Alma Mater.”

For a list of additional Penn State's Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and an explanation of how you can nominate a Penn State alumnius/a for this title, please visit the Alumni Association's Distinguished Alumni Awards page.