Professor Josep Trueta became the third Nuffield Professor of Orthopaedics, and Head of Department, in 1949. Originally from Catalonia, Trueta received his medical training at the University of Barcelona and the Hospital de la Santa Creu I Sant Pau. He was a surgeon during the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), when he fully developed his methods of treating war injuries, which were later used extensively in the treatment of war casualties.
As a Catalan nationalist, Trueta was forced into exile after the Spanish Civil War, arriving in England in 1939. He became an adviser to the Ministry of Health, and in September 1939 G. R. Girdlestone, the first Nuffield professor of orthopaedic surgery, heard Trueta lecture on bombing casualties and invited him to Oxford. Their friendship led to the establishment of the Oxford school of orthopaedics and the Wingfield-Morris Hospital (now the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre).
During his time as Head of Department, Trueta was instrumental in persuading Lord Nuffield to finance the construction of the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre. He was a pioneer of combining medical research with the treatment of patients. He retired in 1966 and moved back to Catalonia. During his lifetime he was awarded 66 distinctions from governments, Universities and Scientific Societies around the world. He published nearly 200 papers and 15 books.
Trueta's great-granddaughter Julia Strubell began her visit with a series of presentations by students in Prof Dani Prieto-Alhambra’s group, each presenting on their area of research. She deliberated over each of the ‘elevator pitches’ presenting a prize to the one she considered most insightful and engaging. The prize went to Annika Jodicke whose research highlighted the collaboration between Spain and the UK.
Prof Martin McNally, President of the Girdlestone Orthopaedic Society (GOS), shared some history of Trueta and his life and legacy at Oxford. Trueta was the first GOS President and started the Thursday morning limb reconstruction clinic at the NOC, which Martin ran for 23 years. He presented a "Trueta Medal", which used to be given out to Trueta Lecturers, to Julia for the family to keep.
Clearly moved by the occasion Julia said she was humbled and happy to be at Oxford and the visit had helped her not only understand Trueta as a figure but also his influence at Oxford.
The current Head of Department Prof Jonny Rees, showed Julia an exhibition of artefacts and photos, including a bust of Prof Trueta, that led an exchange of stories about the history of the NOC and development of orthopaedic research at the department, that had been spearheaded by Trueta’s early work and publications.