Researcher at Pitt named to Olympic committee

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Should the currently second-ranked U.S. National Women's Volleyball Team lose to the third-ranked Japanese team in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, we might have a University of Pittsburgh research fellow to blame.

Daisuke Araki, an orthopedic surgeon at Kobe University in Japan who's in his final year as an international research associate in Pitt's department of orthopaedics, has been named to the medical committee of the Japanese Olympic Committee, which will host the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

The Japan Volleyball Association nominated Dr. Araki for the position.

In his committee role, he will continue serving as doctor for the Japanese Women's National Volleyball Team and Olympic team. Even though the Tokyo Olympics are seven years away, Dr. Araki, 36, of Kobe, already is serving up some lofty goals.

"The University of Pittsburgh and UPMC have enabled me to do wonderful research with a tremendous education in surgical skills to provide continuous support to the athlete," Dr. Araki said from Japan. "I hope these contributions will be the power source to beat the U.S. National Women's Volleyball Team."

This week Dr. Araki was celebrating his appointment to the Olympic Committee and Saturday's announcement that Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics. "These are good things that are happening," he said.

For more than a decade the UPMC Center for Sports Medicine on the South Side has been a destination for foreign doctors interested in American advances and techniques in sports medicine. Li Guoping, the chief medical officer for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, visited Freddie H. Fu, chairman of Pitt's Department of Orthopaedics, prior to those games.

In the past 15 years, Dr. Fu said, 600 foreign doctors have come to Pitt for training and to do research in sports medicine. Dr. Araki is part of a collaborative program Dr. Fu organized with Kobe University for Japanese doctors to do research at Pitt.

"Knowledge and education are what we do here at Pitt," Dr. Fu said. "We did play a role in China for the 2008 Olympics -- there's no question about it."

A knee specialist, Dr. Araki is studying the kinetics of knee motion to better understand knee reconstruction with a focus on injuries to the anterior cruciate ligament or ACL. Knee and shoulder injuries are common volleyball injuries, he said. But it's also important, Dr. Fu said, that a team doctor address any injuries an athlete might sustain.

On the medical staff for Japan's professional women's volleyball team for four years, Dr. Araki has served the past four years as the national team's doctor. While in Pittsburgh, he's continued traveling to international volleyball tournaments in that role, including the World Grand Prix, the World League, the World Championships and the 2012 London Olympics, where Japan's team won a bronze medal.

Dr. Araki represents the first doctor from Kobe University to be appointed to the medical committee of the JOC, Dr. Fu said.

"I'm very excited to find out that Tokyo was awarded the 2020 Olympics and to find out that Dr. Araki was officially named to this position," Dr. Fu said. "I think Dr. Araki is a very fine gentleman, and I'm happy for him and his department at Kobe University in Japan."

olympics - neigh_city

David Templeton: dtempleton@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1578.


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