his Board examination, and immediately thereafter went to the United States for further training. Having been told that there were many opportunities in Minnesota, he applied for and was accepted in the Orthopaedic Residency program of the University of Minnesota. He excelled during this five year program, during which time he met his charming wife, the former Gloria Carlson, and started their family of five wonderful children. He also found time to initiate, fund, and successfully complete research on bone
blood flow, which earned him his Master’s degree of Orthopaedic Surgery.
Once Dr. Gustilo entered private practice, his multiple talents of leadership, supreme surgical skills and academic curiosity,compassionate bedside manner, honesty, and incredible energy and drive, were able to shine. He demonstrated great leadership at Methodist hospital and later at Hennepin County Medical Center. He convinced the Chief of the Department of Surgery at HCMC that Orthopaedic Surgery should be a separate department, and was appointed the first head of the Department. This he did for twenty-five years, with a visionary outlook, steady hand, and focused efforts. His five year plans are legendary.
During this time, Dr. Gustilo also became a full Professor at the University of Minnesota, and served on many of its committees, and as a member of the top leadership of the University of Minnesota Orthopaedic Surgery Department. Dr. Gustilo is also a consultant to the United States Surgeon General with a rank of full Colonel. In 1969 Dr. Gustilo served as the Chairman of the Twin City Society in 1974 and 1975 he served as the State Representative of the Subcommittee on Injuries to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, for which he was the Chairman for 5 years.
Dr. Gustilo’s international reputation as a leader in the field of orthopaedic surgery was first gained due to his painstaking work classifying open fractures, and recommending treatment based on classification. His
classification system was instrumental in improving the care and outcome of severe fractures, throughout the world, and he continues to update his recommendations. His leadership in the care of patients with
orthopaedic injuries resulted in his establishment of the Orthopaedic Trauma Hospital Association and the
Orthopaedic Trauma Association. He was founding President of both of these organizations.
Along with his work on open fractures, Dr. Gustilo established a rare expertise in muculoskeletal infections,
and established a Musculoskeletal Sepsis research unit that remains pre-eminent in the world for basic
research, and for recommending optimal clinical treatments.
Dr. Gustilo’s academic interests have benefited hundreds of orthopaedic residents and fellows who have
been fortunate to be his student. He always has time for teaching, and is superb in organizing seminars,
courses, and in being a Visiting Professor himself over seventy-two Visiting Professorships in sixty-three
institutions, nationally and internationally. Thirty years ago he initiated the HCMC Orthopaedic and Trauma
Seminar, which remains nationally a much sought after Continuing Education course. He also recognized the
need for a state of the art surgical skills training center, raised the necessary money, and established the
Orthopaedic Learning Center at HCMC, in 1989. Since that time, orthopaedic residents of the Mayo Clinic
and University of Minnesota partake in four annual courses. Numerous other surgical skills for practicing
surgeons, surgeons-in-training, and ancillary personnel are held in the Orthopaedic Learning Center.
Due to his immense curiosity and uncanny intuition, Dr. Gustilo has also had a long-term interest in basic
research. Over twenty years ago, he established the Orthopaedic Biomechanics Research Laboratory. Since
its inception with a Materials Testing Machine obtained with his future retirement money (and the
graciousness of his wife!), the lab has grown to include four engineers, engineering and orthopaedic
graduate students, a machinist/designer, technician, medical illustrator and support staff. Projects are
focused on fracture fixation and joint replacement, and how to improve patient outcome in the difficult revision surgeries. Currently the recipients of a half million dollar grant from NIH and a $280,000 grant from the Arthritis Foundation, the lab remains an active, vital member of the international Biomechanics research
Dr. Gustilo had published over thirty-one chapters in Orthopaedic Textbooks, eighty-nine full length articles in various journals and he has been invited to give over one hundred and forty three lectures both nationally and internationally. Working with his clinical fellows, Biomechanics and infectious disease colleagues, Dr.
Gustilo has forged a very innovative, productive, and prescient research group.
Another outlet for Dr. Gustilo’s enormous creativity and business sense is his extremely successful work as a
surgeon innovator. The holder of nine patents, Dr. Gustilo designed and commercialized one of the earliest
total knee replacements (Gustilo knee). He also designed the first hip replacement approved by the United
States Food and Drug Administration for use without bone cement (BIAS Hip), and one of the most
successful of the current generation of total knee replacements (Genesis knee). He also has designed
surgical instrumentation, and fracture fixation devices and implants. In addition to consulting with various
American orthopaedic manufacturers, in 1992 Dr. Gustilo founded his own company, Orthopaedic
Innovations, Inc. (OII), whose mission is to design, manufacture and market sophisticated quality and yet
affordable orthopaedic implants to Pacific Rim countries. OII has already established a manufacturing plant
in the Philippines, and has several products on the market in Asia, and will soon be on the market in the
United States as well.
These international accolades and business successes were never obtained at the sacrifice of his patient.
Dr. Gustilo continues to win well-deserved devotion from his patients, due to his excellent surgical judgement and skills, his respect for the patient and their family, his daily rounds on the patient (even in the dead of a Minnesota winter), and his incredible enthusiasm and curiosity.