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New chair in orthopaedics honors memory of alumnus Robert Kerlan

Left, donors Jerry and Ann Moss join Rachel Kerlan and James Tibone, professor of clinical medicine, in honoring the memory of orthopaedic surgeon Robert K. Kerlan with a chair bearing his name.

Photo – Jon Nalick

Honoring his physician and friend, music producer Jerry Moss recently pledged $750,000 to establish the Moss Professorship in Sports Medicine in Memory of Dr. Robert K. Kerlan.

Kerlan, a prominent orthopaedic surgeon who died of pneumonia in 1996, was a clinical professor in the USC Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, a founding member of the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and a past president of both the NBA Team Physicians and the NFL Physicians Society. He also served as a former team physician to the Los Angeles Rams, Lakers and Dodgers.

Treating famous athletes such as basketball stars Wilt Chamberlain and Magic Johnson and jockey Bill Shoemaker, Kerlan continued to practice until 1994 when, at 72, he retired following heart bypass surgery.

During a lunchtime ceremony last week at the California Club, Moss, co-founder of A&M Records and producer of musical acts including Burt Bacharach and the Beach Boys, said the gift was intended to celebrate Kerlan’s life and pay tribute to his courage, grace and skill.

“He was a great doctor and it was my pleasure to be in his company,” Moss said. “Hopefully by the nature of this professorship, people will find out more about him and seek to emulate his ways.”

Moss also praised Kerlan, who suffered from a severe form of arthritis that required him to rely on canes to walk, for his determination.

“It was difficult for him to move but he always carried himself with elegance and courage. I really loved Dr. Kerlan. He meant a lot to me personally and if this can keep alive his memory and what he stood for, it’s something my wife and I are very proud to do,” he said.

During the ceremony, Joseph Van Der Meulen, vice president for health affairs, thanked the Moss family for the gift, adding that it would serve as “a fitting tribute to an outstanding man.”

Orthopaedic surgeon James Tibone, professor of clinical medicine, will be the first holder of the Moss Professorship in Sports Medicine in Memory of Dr. Robert K. Kerlan.

Tibone is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, the American Orthopaedic Associations, the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, and the American Shoulder and Elbow Society. He also serves as the North American editor of the Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery.

He has also served as medical director for the Los Angeles Lazers soccer club and Los Angeles Express football team, the Los Angeles Kings.

New chair in orthopaedics honors memory of alumnus Robert Kerlan

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