Link: University of Iowa

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Alumni Interview

Lawrence Dorr, M.D.

Lawrence Dorr, M.D.

2006 Distinguished Alumnus

65MS, 67MD
Recipient of the 2006 Distinguished Alumni Award for Service

As a medical student at The University of Iowa, Lawrence Dorr thought he might become a heart surgeon. “I wanted to be the next deBakey,” Dorr said recently. An internship and residency at Los Angeles County Hospital turned him to orthopaedics instead, and a fellowship at New York City’s Hospital for Special Surgery gave him the final push to sub-specialize in joint replacement.

Now he’s an internationally recognized authority in that field, teaching, lecturing, publishing and treating patients. Total joint replacement, Dorr said, is “tremendously effective in getting people back to being mobile, productive and not in pain.”

Dorr, who practices in and around Inglewood, Calif., is medical director of the Arthritis Institute at Centinela Freeman Regional Medical Center and of the Dorr Institute for Arthritis Research and Education Foundation. He also holds a clinical faculty appointment at the University of Southern California.

Based on his research and on experience performing thousands of knee- and hip-replacement procedures, Dorr has helped design the artificial joints used by many doctors and hospitals.
Outside the medical profession, Dorr may be best known as the founder of Operation Walk, which sends teams of physicians, nurses and physical therapists to medically underserved countries to provide joint replacements and to train local surgeons. The organization’s success helped earn Dorr the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons’ Humanitarian of the Year award in 2005.

Dorr credits his Iowa upbringing and education for much of his success. The state’s renowned work ethic and sense of community shaped his outlook, he said, while Des Moines public schools and Mount Vernon’s Cornell College - where he founded Dimensions, a pre-medicine program to prepare students to practice both the art and science of healing - gave him a foundation for continued learning. He’s particularly proud of his medical education at Iowa and of the master’s degree he earned in pharmacology, which taught him the fundamentals of scientific research.

Also instrumental is his wife, Marilyn Dorr, who has provided the support he needed to pursue his career. “She understood the amount of work it took to be successful,” Dorr noted.


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