Pitt med student graces Forbes’ ’30 under 30′

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Pitt med student graces Forbes’ ’30 under 30′

Chris Murawski, 25, was featured on Forbe's

Chris Murawski, 25, was featured on Forbe's "30 under 30." | John Hamilton | Staff Photographer


Chris Murawski, 25, was featured on Forbe's "30 under 30." | John Hamilton | Staff Photographer



Chris Murawski, 25, was featured on Forbe's "30 under 30." | John Hamilton | Staff Photographer

By Lauren Wilson / Staff Writer

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When Chris Murawski injured his ankle playing baseball in high school, he didn’t know the subsequent surgery would lead him to a career in orthopedic surgery — and to a spot on Forbes Magazine’s “30 Under 30” list.

By his senior year of high school, Murawski knew he wanted to go into medicine, but at the age of 25, Murawski, a medical student at Pitt, has published 52 papers in peer-reviewed journals and presented his orthopedic research 61 times.

Just two years into medical school, Murawski has appeared in Forbes’ “30 Under 30 of Health Care,” an annual feature that recognizes the top young medical professionals in the country. The list, which came out in January, named him a top contributor to the health care sector.

Murawski’s career, which focuses on foot, knee and ankle research, began when surgeon John Kennedy inspected his ankle injury. Murawski mentioned his interest in orthopedics, and the doctor invited him to spend his summer working at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

“I graduated high school on a Thursday, and the next Monday I was standing in an operating room,” Murawski said.

Murawski stayed in the operating room all summer, and then spent every summer during his undergraduate career working with Kennedy, where he observed clinical practice and surgery, wrote research papers and collected data.

During the summer, Kennedy and Murawski worked on at least 20 projects at a time, which led to a very close relationship.

“Dr. Kennedy has treated me like a son,” Murawski said. “He gave me a lot of opportunities early on.”

As an undergraduate at Pitt, Murawski started his research career with Freddie Fu, chair of orthopedic surgery at Pitt’s Medical School. Fu and Murawski first met at the Hospital for Special Surgery and then worked together for two years studying knees, surgical techniques and healing processes.

“He has incredible energy and very scientific mind,” Fu said. “I think he will be a leader in medicine in some way.”

Murawski said he’s honored to represent Pitt in the “30 Under 30” list, but that it doesn’t change the way he sees his lifestyle or work.

“There’s no replacement for hard work,” he said. “[The article] doesn’t mean things are going to be handed to me.”

Despite his success, Murawski said he tries to maintain a lively social life, making time to spend with his friends and to go to the gym. His key to happiness, he said, is time management.

“I think if you’re organized, and you have time management and things like that, you can really do what you want,” Murawski said. “Everybody’s busy, but there’s always time for things you want.”

Although not every day, Murawski said he often spends full days in the lab working on a scholarly project, which all Pitt medical students complete throughout their academic careers.

Murawski’s project leads him to the lab after his classes, where he studies musculoskeletal regeneration and seeks ways to halt or reverse cartilage and bone aging.

His mentor, MaCalus Hogan, an orthopedic surgeon and professor at Pitt’s School of Medicine, said his working relationship with Murawski has been a “two-way street” for knowledge.

“I think he is a young man who is definitely wise and aware beyond his years,” Hogan said. “He certainly has a lot of eagerness and excitement for what the future holds for medicine.”

Murawski and Hogan first met at the Hospital of Special Surgery, where Hogan was a clinical fellow. The two have worked together on foot and ankle research in the orthopedic department of Pitt’s School of Medicine.

In regard to his current work, Murawski said he looks forward to taking his findings from the laboratory to the real world.

“I think what’s fun about research is that it starts with a question, and ultimately, you hope to have results and a conclusion, but at the end of the day, research asks more questions,” he said. “It’s not the means to an end. It’s something that spurs further interest and questions.”

Set to finish medical school in 2018, Murawski hopes to start working as an orthopedic surgeon, following in Kennedy’s footsteps.

“I think no matter what you do, what drives you is that there’s an opportunity to, in some way, make a small contribution to patient care,” Murawski said. “Whether it’s now or in the future.”

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