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Sports medicine pioneer Robert Kerlan, 74, dies of heart failure

by Christopher Tedeschi

Robert K. Kerlan (M.D. 1946), a clinical professor of orthopedics at the School of Medicine and a pioneer of sports medicine, died on September 9, in Santa Monica, Calif. He was 74.

After an orthopedic internship and residency at LAC+USC Medical Center, Kerlan began volunteering as a team physician with local schools and colleges.

When the Dodgers left Brooklyn and arrived in Los Angeles, Kerlan joined their medical staff. He was joined in 1965 by orthopedist Frank Jobe. Their stellar reputations grew in the sports world, drawing athletes from around the country. In 1973 they founded the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedics Clinic for sports medicine, which is considered one of the top centers in the nation.

Kerlan had been unable to practice medicine since 1994, when he underwent his fourth hip replacement and had a massive coronary.

Kerlan had suffered from debilitating arthritis, which had forced him to use crutches since the late 1960s.

Even with this handicap, he maintained a full work schedule, helping some of the greatest names in sports.

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