Once in a Lifetime Reunion Honors Harry McKellop, Ph.D.
Fêting the Incomparable Harry McKellop, Ph.D.
Celebrated scholars from around the world gathered in Los Angeles this month to celebrate the nonpareil career achievements of one of their own: Harry McKellop, Ph.D.
McKellop, who retired in December from his position as Vice President Research, Orthopaedic Institute for Children, is the holder of eight patents and numerous coveted awards in his field. These include an unprecedented three Charnley awards from the Hip Society, and the Kappa Delta Award, the highest honor for research in the field of orthopaedics, for his work in total hip replacement. His innovative development of cross-linked polyethylene created hip implants that could last a lifetime, rather than the prior standard of 10 years, allowing recipients to lead comfortable, more active lives.
The event's speakers and guests represented not only global talent in the field but alos mentors, friends and protégés of McKellop's whose stories underscored his intelligence, humor, dedication, and capacity for great friendship.
The evening's first speaker, Adolfo Llinás, M.D., spent six years (1989-1994) at the institution, then Orthopaedic Hospital, working with Augusto Sarmiento, M.D., McKellop and Eddie Ebramzadeh, Ph.D. Llinás is currently the Medical Director of the largest University Hospital in Colombia: Fundación Santa Fe de Bogotá. Adolfo described research as "a difficult and profound moral enterprise," adding, "The ability to set the moral tone is one of the hallmarks of great leadership. It is the essence. And Harry has it."
Peter Liao, Ph.D. conducted his doctoral dissertation project in McKellop's lab in the 1990s, and is now in charge of a large wear research program at DePuy Orthopaedics. He commended his mentor: "A superhero is someone who helps people to stand up and move out. Harry is my superhero."
Sepaking after Liao were internationally renowned researchers Ian Clarke, Ph.D., Roy Bloebaum, Ph.D., and Tom Gruen, M.S. Clarke has been a friend, mentor and colleague to Harry since the early 1970s. Together, they established a wear research program at UCLA under Harlan Amstutz, M.D. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, all four researchers moved from UCLA to the newly established Biomechanics lab at Orthopaedic Hospital, then affiliated with USC.
Another distinguished speaker was Tord Rostlund, M.D., Ph.D., who came to McKellop's lab in 1987 and again in 1988 to conduct a major part of his doctoral dissertation research in the wear lab here. Tord is currently the Associate Head of the Department of Orthopaedics in Hallands Hospital, Varberg, the largest hospital in Southern Sweden.
James V. Luck, Jr., M.D., OIC's past president and CEO, described the moment McKellop came to him wiwth a one-page graph showing the pre-clinical experimental wear data for the cross-linked ployethylene material. "It was a horizontal line - indicating no wear - a huge breakthrough."
Ebramzadeh, who served as the event's emcee, read tributes from invitees who were unable to make the event, including Dr. Sarmiento, whose vision led to the establishment of Biomechanics research at Orthopaedic and Richard Tarr, the first engineer who set up the Biomechanics lab at Orthopaedic.
Anthony A. Scaduto, M.D., president and chief executive officer of OIC, rounded out the evening with a toast, in which he lauded his former reserach head, noting "few scientists in the world could claim the impact he has had on the quality of life for people around the world."
McKellop called the gathering, "Beyond anything I could have imagined. I will remember it for the rest of my life."