Arthritis Center Founders

University of Arizona Arthritis Center Co-Founders the late Robert G. Volz, MD (left) and the late Eric P. Gall, MD

The late Robert G. Volz, MD

Emeritus Professor, the University of Arizona Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Honorary Lifetime Surgical Director, the University of Arizona Arthritis Center
Emeritus Member, the University of Arizona Arthritis Center Advisory Board

An innovator, a visionary and a leader, Robert G. Volz, MD, has made an indelible mark on the world of modern medicine.


Dr. Volz completed his bachelor's degree at Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri in 1954 and went on to graduate from the University of Nebraska College of Medicine in 1957. He then completed his orthopaedic specialty training at the University of Kansas Medical Center. After finishing his training in Kansas, Dr. Volz went on to practice for several years in Denver, Colorado, where he served as the head of the orthopaedic service at Denver Children’s Hospital. In 1973, he was recruited to build a total joint surgery program – part of the newly-founded orthopaedic program – at the University of Arizona Health Sciences Center.


From the moment Dr. Volz stepped onto the UA campus, he began to create and to dream. His vision and his dream showed how entities could come together to achieve greatness with true leadership and direction. It was a very special day in July, 1973, that Dr. Volz began to share his dream with his soon-to-be lifelong friend, Eric P. Gall, MD. The two young physicians met in a parking lot at University Medical Center (now Banner - University Medical Center Tucson) on that warm day – each on their first day at the UA. Dr. Volz was a new attending orthopaedic surgeon and Dr. Gall a new rheumatologist. The connection between the two was immediate and the fulfillment of a dream to serve patients with cutting-edge care in orthopaedics and rheumatology began.


Dr. Volz combined his love for the practice of medicine, teaching and research and formulated a collaborative model that helped form the foundation for the many residents and fellows who trained under him. With the collaboration of Drs. Volz and Gall, orthopaedic residents and rheumatology fellows began to train together. Orthopaedic total joint surgery and rheumatology offered services to patients in the same clinic – a novel idea never before encountered.


A co-founder of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center (UAAC) and founder of the UA Orthopaedic Research Laboratory, Dr. Volz was a true pioneer in the field of orthopaedic surgery. He served as chairman of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the UA College of Medicine from 1985-1992. There, he designed some of the first artificial joints in the United States, including the first artificial wrist and created innovative designs for the elbow and knee.


His total wrist prosthesis was one of only two such devices in the world at the time and was recognized by the American Hospital Association as one of the ten major medical advances in the United States. The first prosthesis fully designed in the United States, it was implanted in August, 1974, and its success paved the way for use in medical centers throughout the world.


In 1976, Dr. Volz followed with the development of a new total elbow prosthesis. Total elbow prostheses had been shown to wear improperly; Dr. Volz’ creation more closely simulated the normal biomechanics of the elbow, allowing for more natural range of motion. He successfully implanted his first new elbow prosthesis in October, 1976. A new knee that was widely used in the United States and abroad was to follow the elbow. The advances by Dr. Volz continued to make headlines in the world of medicine.


He was chief of the Section of Orthopaedic Surgery and a professor of surgery until his retirement in 1992. Now an honored professor emeritus at the UA, Dr. Volz has been recognized as a Who’s Who in the World for his contributions to the field of medicine and was on the “Best Doctors in America” list. He also was co-founder of the Western Trauma Association, one of only two nationally recognized research trauma societies in the United States, and is the Lifetime Surgical Director of the UAAC.


Following his retirement, he and his wife, Ann, traveled to Hong Kong, Sweden, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Vietnam, Bhutan, Nepal, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and South Africa to volunteer their time, providing much-needed medical care, outreach and education.


Long known as one of the scientific leaders in the orthopaedic world, Dr. Volz has been recognized by the UA as one of its top innovators of the past 100 years. Determination, innovation, achievement and leadership have long been the cornerstones by which Dr. Volz has bettered the lives of thousands. Through treatment of patients, education of young aspiring physicians and peers, leadership in the community and love for his profession, Dr. Volz’s impact is everlasting.

The late Eric P. Gall, MD 

Emeritus Professor of Medicine, UA College of Medicine - Tucson
Emeritus Member, the University of Arizona Arthritis Center Advisory Board
Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University

Very early on, Dr. Eric Gall knew he was destined for a career in academic medicine. The son of an academic pathologist and a registered nurse, he began working in his father’s research laboratories at the University of Cincinnati at age 11. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Zoology with honors and his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. He completed his internal medicine residency at the University of Cincinnati and a fellowship in rheumatology at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Gall trained in Preventive Medicine at Brook Army Base and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Medical Research and later received an Army Commendation Medal and a Bronze Star for his service in Vietnam.


Dr. Gall was the first board-certified rheumatologist to come to the University of Arizona and served as a member of the University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine faculty for 27 years. He held multiple leadership positions, including establishing and directing the fellowship program for Rheumatology and serving as Chief of the Rheumatology/Allergy & Immunology Division. He was a Founding Co-Director of the University of Arizona Arthritis Center, Associate Director of the NIH-sponsored multidisciplinary Southwest Arthritis Center, and held the Charles A. L. and Suzanne M. Stephens Endowed Chair in Rheumatology. Dr. Gall also served as Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Chicago Medical School, Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science for 15 years.


Dr. Gall’s clinical and research interests were broad. Initially, his research focused on disease pathogenesis and animal models of inflammatory arthritis, including the role of complement. He also studied treatment options in animal models of hemophilic arthritis. He served as an expert consultant on metabolic bone disease and hypermobility disorders. Later, he transitioned to the development and evaluation of educational tools, curriculum reform, and interprofessional education.


Indeed, Dr. Gall’s impact on the field of medical education was significant. He was the founding Program Director for the UA Rheumatology Training Program, served on the UA Curriculum Committee and later became Chairman of the UA Comprehensive Curriculum Analysis and Planning Project, a project that resulted in the rollout of an innovative medical school curriculum. He became recognized as a national expert on curriculum and teaching methodology and served on numerous committees on educational development with regard to curriculum reform in medical schools. His NIH-funded research in medical education led to the use of patients for teaching medical students and primary care physicians and assessing care in rheumatic disease. He created an annual program titled “Introduction to Clinical Medicine Physical Exam Experience in Rheumatic Disease” that allowed first-year medical students to interact with patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases very early in their careers. This educational program continues to be implemented at the University of Arizona and has been disseminated to medical schools around the country and around the world. Dr. Gall served on many MS and PhD thesis defense committees, mentored more than 75 residents and fellows, and received numerous teaching awards. The Dr. Eric P. Gall Endowed Lectureship in the University of Arizona Arthritis Center was established in 2015 in recognition of his many contributions to rheumatology education.


Dr. Gall was active in advocating multidisciplinary care for patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, emphasizing the critical role of all health professionals, including physical therapists, occupational therapists, social workers, nurses, pharmacists, and others. He sought out multiple platforms and venues to promote the importance of multidisciplinary care, both on the national level and on a daily basis in his teaching of medical students, residents, fellows and junior faculty. He was a consulting editor for Clinical Care in Rheumatic Disease and chaired the Rehabilitation Section of the American College of Rheumatology. He was the only physician to serve as President of Arthritis Health Professionals Association (AHRP) and received the ARHP Addie Thomas Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his service and dedication to interprofessional education and the use of a multidisciplinary approach to the clinical care of patients with arthritis.


Dr. Gall published more than 300 scientific papers, abstracts, book chapters and reports, an authored three books: Rheumatic Disease: Rehabilitation and Management; The Examination of the Musculoskeletal System; and Rheumatoid Arthritis: An Illustrated Guide to Pathology, Diagnosis and Management.


His achievements will live on in the many, many lives he touched. As a physician who always put his patients first, he will never be forgotten by all those whose lives he impacted.