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About Sickkids
About SickKids

Howard Clarke, MD, PhD, FRCS(C), FACS, FAAP

The Hospital for Sick Children
Plastic Surgeon
Cleft Lip and Palate Program

University of Toronto

Phone: 416-813-6444
Fax: 416-813-6147
Alternate Contact: Heather Sellars

Brief Biography

Howard M. Clarke is a Professor in the Departments of Surgery and Physical Therapy at the University of Toronto where he has been on the faculty since 1987.  He has been in practice in the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto since completing his fellowship training.

Dr. Clarke’s major clinical and research focus is in obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  He is responsible for the Brachial Plexus Programme at the Hospital for Sick Children which includes a weekly multidisciplinary clinic for the evaluation of children with obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  He is extensively involved in both primary and secondary reconstructive procedures for these children.  This brachial plexus program is the largest program in Canada and is recognized at an international level.  The brachial plexus team in Toronto has developed the Active Movement Scale, a validated and reliable tool for the assessment of infants and children and the ‘Cookie Test’ for the assessment of the adequacy of spontaneous recovery in these infants.  With these tools, the team has produced a series of clinical studies taking advantage of reliable data collected across treatment to demonstrate statistically the advantages of neuroma resection and grafting.  His clinical interests beyond brachial plexus surgery include cleft lip and palate surgery and congenital hand surgery.

Dr. Clarke studied medicine at the University of Toronto and entered the plastic surgery training programme there upon graduation.  Graduate training in the Institute of Medical Science was integrated into this training programme under the supervision of Ralph Manktelow and Nancy McKee.  Dr Clarke’s Ph.D. thesis entitled ‘The Haemodynamics and Viability of Skin and Muscle Flaps’ was completed in 1985. Fellowship training followed at Harvard University studying hand surgery with Joe Upton and at the University of Tokyo undertaking microsurgical training with Professor Kiyonori Harii

Dr. Clarke has been a member of the American Society for Peripheral Nerve since 1999 and has served on the Programme Committee many times acting as its chair for the 2005 meeting. He has served as Secretary, Vice President and President-Elect before becoming the President of the Society. Dr. Clarke has organized or participated in many panels on obstetrical brachial plexus palsy and paediatric nerve surgery for many international meetings.

For Canadian surgery, Dr. Clarke serves as a member of the Examination Board of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the Surgery Test Committee of the Medical Council of Canada. Internationally, he was an Associate Editor of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery from 2002-07 and is currently on the Editorial Board of the Journal of Reconstructive Microsurgery. He is a Membro Correspondente of the Associação Brasileiro de Cirurgia da Mão and has served as a Clinical Professor of the College of Medicine at  Korea University in Seoul. He has traveled on medical missions to Ecuador, China and Honduras.

At the University of Toronto, Dr. Clarke is enthusiastic about teaching at the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate levels. He was the recipient of the PAIRO (Professional Association of Interns and Residents of Ontario) Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award in 2002.  Dr. Clarke has recently been appointed a Senior Fellow at Massey College, a prestigious residential college for graduate students at the university.

Dr. Clarke has been on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Stage Company and is presently on the board of Touchmark Theatre.  His other interests include travel, even if it involves work, and photography.  He is an artist member of Gallery 96, an artist-run space in Stratford and has won the Bronze Medal of the Canadian Association for Photographic Art.

Academic Background


M.D. 1977 University of Toronto

Ph.D. 1985 Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto


Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Toronto, 1985


1978-81, 1984 Research Fellow, Division of Plastic Surgery, University of Toronto

1986 Clinical Fellow, Microvascular Surgery, University of Tokyo, Tokyo; with Dr K. Harii

1987 Clinical Fellow, Hand Surgery, Harvard University, Boston; with Dr J. Upton


F.R.C.S.(C) 1987 Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada (Specialist Certificate in Plastic Surgery)

F.A.A.P. 1992 Specialty Fellow of the American Association of Pediatrics

F.A.C.S. 1992 Fellow of the American College of Surgeons


Professor, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto


Active Staff Surgeon, Plastic Surgery, Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto


American Academy of Pediatrics
American Association of Plastic Surgeons
American Burn Association
American Society for Peripheral Nerve
American Society of Plastic Surgeons
Associação Brasileiro de Cirurgia da Mão
Canadian Society of Plastic Surgeons
International Confederation for Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery
International Federation of Societies for Surgery of the Hand
International Society for Burn Injuries
Plastic Surgery Research Council
The Sunderland Society

Research Interests

Obstetrical brachial plexus palsy

Learning Interests


Obstetrical brachial plexus palsy
Congenital hand surgery
Upper limb trauma
Cleft lip and palate


2002 - Pairo Excellence in Clinical Teaching Award
1997 - Arni Freiberg Teaching Excellence Award
1995 - Por Christo Volunteers of the Year


Lin, J.C.; Schwentker-Colizza, A.; Curtis, C.G.; Clarke, H.M.  Final results of grafting versus neurolysis in obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 123:939-948, 2009.

Fisher, D.M.; Borschel, G.H.; Curtis C.G.; Clarke, H.M.  Evaluation of elbow flexion as a predictor of outcome in obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 120:1585-1590, 2007.

Marcus, J.R.; Clarke, H.M.  Management of obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  In Principles & Practice of Pediatric Plastic Surgery.  Bentz, M.K.; Bauer, B.S.; Zuker, R.M.; eds.  Quality Medical Publishing, St. Louis.  2008, pp. 1427-1453.

Curtis, C.; Stephens, D.; Clarke, H.M.; Andrews, D.  The active movement scale:  An evaluative tool for infants with obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  J. Hand Surg. [Am]  27:470-478; 2002.

Clarke, H.M.; de Chalain, T.  Burns and post-burn care:  Surgical considerations.  In Pediatric Anesthesia:  Principles and Practice. Bissonnette, B.; Dalens, B.J.; eds.  McGraw-Hill, New York.  2002, pp. 1414-1427.

Capek, L.; Clarke, H.M.; Curtis, C.G.  Neuroma-in-continuity resection:  Early outcome in obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 102:1555-1562; 1998.

Fraulin, F.O.G.; Bahoric, A.; Harrop, A.R.; Hiruki, T.; Clarke, H.M.  Autotransplantation of epithelial cells in the pig via an aerosol vehicle.  J. Burn Care Rehabil. 19:337-345; 1998.

Clarke, H.M.  Cleft hand and symbrachydactyly.  In Pediatric Plastic Surgery.  Bentz, M.L.; ed.  Appleton & Lange, Stamford, Connecticut.  1997, pp. 969-991.

Clarke, H.M.; Al-Qattan, M.M.; Curtis, C.G.; Zuker, R.M.  Obstetrical brachial plexus palsy:  Results following neurolysis of conducting neuromas-in-continuity.  Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 97:974-982; 1996.

Clarke, H.M.; Curtis, C.G.  An approach to obstetrical brachial plexus injuries.  Hand Clin. 11:563-580; 1995.

Al-Qattan, M.M.; Clarke, H.M.; Zimmer, P.  Radiological signs of entrapment of the median nerve in forearm shaft fractures.  J. Hand Surg. [Br] 19:713-719; 1994.

Michelow, B.J.; Clarke, H.M.; Curtis, C.G.; Zuker, R.M.; Seifu, Y.; Andrews, D.F.  The natural history of obstetrical brachial plexus palsy.  Plast. Reconstr. Surg. 93:675-680; 1994.