The AO Foundation celebrates

06. November 2018

Today the AO Foundation celebrates 60 years of transforming surgery and changing lives



Sixty years ago today, the AO Foundation was established at the Hotel Elite in Biel, by a group of Swiss surgeons: Maurice E Müller, Robert Schneider, Hans Willenegger, Martin Allgöwer, and Walter Bandi, who came together to champion revolutionary techniques of internal fixation that achieved unprecedented results in healing bone fractures. 

Defying conventional wisdom, the group expanded the practices and philosophy of the organization, originally known as the Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Osteosynthesefragen (Association for the Study of Internal Fixation) or AO. With the establishment of the AO, the founders dedicated their lives to improving patient care by donating their time and talents to developing the AO on a purely voluntary basis.  

The AO’s founders developed a new standardized approach to fracture treatment, offering surgeons the tools, techniques, and training they needed to radically improve patients’ quality of life.​


It was clear to the founders that teaching surgical skills and applying the new AO principles couldn't be achieved only through lectures or documentation; they taught the new techniques using face-to-face practical exercises beginning in 1960 with the first AO Davos Courses. Since then, the AO has been the gold standard in postgraduate surgical education worldwide. ​

The same commitment shown by our founders lives on today through AO surgeons that continue to break the mold with new treatments and further the AO Foundation's mission of promoting excellence in patient care and outcomes in trauma and musculoskeletal disorders.

The vision of our founders transformed orthopedic care by enabling cooperation amongst surgeons with a focus on improving patient outcomes.  Every day millions of patients worldwide benefit from the new techniques delivered by AO trained surgeons, saving the health care systems billions of Swiss Francs.

Today the AO is a global organization with a unique place in surgical history. It builds on this legacy every day–raising surgical treatment standards across the world–and remains committed to improving patient care and outcomes.

Milestones of the AO Foundation's history during the last 60 years:

The AO Today:

  • The first AO Davos Courses took place in 1960 and now the AO offers (in addition to the traditional AO Davos Courses) 830 educational events annually worldwide with over 54,000 participating surgeons*
  • Membership of over 20,000 surgeons, an extensive network of more than 170,000 health care professionals and over 8,000 faculty
  • More than 600,000 doctors from over 124 countries have participated in AO courses worldwide
  • The AO employs over 330 people of which approximately 250 are based in Davos

*figures from the Annual Report 2017
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