Robert K. Kerlan (May 13, 1922 – September 8, 1996) was an American orthopedic surgeon and the co-founder, along with Dr. Frank Jobe, of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic. He was regarded as a pioneer in the discipline of sports medicine.[1][2]

Kerlan was the Los Angeles Dodgers' first team doctor after their move from Brooklyn to Los Angeles in 1958, and diagnosed Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax with traumatic arthritis in his left elbow. He also became team physician for other Los Angeles-based sports teams including the Rams, Lakers, and Kings.[2]

Kerlan remained active in his sports medicine practice despite a long-standing case of arthritis that required him to use crutches periodically for years, and permanently after 1977.[3]

Education Kerlan graduated from Aitkin High School in Aitkin, Minnesota, where he was a star athlete. He started college as a basketball letterman at UCLA, but eventually gave up playing. He graduated from Stanford Medical School in 1948 with Dr Toby Freedman. He then completed his residency with Toby in 1951 at the USC Medical Center under the direction of Dr. Max Gaspar.

Kerlan died in Santa Monica, California at age 74 in 1996. The cause of death was variously reported as heart failure[2] and pneumonia.[1]


1948 1951