Remembering Prof Stephan M Perren

The AO community remembers an AO founding father, scientist, mentor and friend

22 November 2019

The passing of the globally acclaimed research scientists and AO founding father Stephan Perren on Wednesday, November 21, 2019, has inspired an outpouring of whole-hearted tributes from around the world.

In addition to the full obituary,  these tributes include the following remembrance from AO Past President (1998–2000) Joseph Schatzker, an honorary AO member and author of the book, Maurice Edmond Müller—In His Own Words:

With the death of Stephan Perren, we have lost one of the great pioneers of the AO. Stephan took over the leadership of the AO Research Institute in the late 1960s. Almost from day he took over, he began to advance our knowledge about the relationship between bone healing and bone surgery.

Stephan’s brilliant scientific research explained, step by step, all the mysteries surrounding the surgical manipulation of bone and its biological consequences. Without his research, the AO would not have had the solid scientific foundation that was necessary to refute its many opponents who ridiculed the idea that bone could heal under compression.

Each AO clinical advance was matched by an equally brilliant scientific explanation provided by Stephan and his colleagues in the AO Research Institute working under his leadership. He was also a brilliant teacher. During AO courses, we saw him lugging fully stuffed briefcases as he rushed from one lecture theater to another. His teaching was innovative; he enlivened his lectures with many simple teaching aids that he created to explain the concept he was attempting to demonstrate beyond any doubt. He had the gift to make the most complex biomechanical concept simple.

Under Stephan’s leadership, the scientific discoveries developed in the AO Research Institute Davos were matched by the arrival of new implants. First came the justification for compression plating, followed by the Dynamic Compression Plate (DCP), then the Limited Contact Dynamic Compression Plate (LC-DCP), then the Point Contact Fixator (PC-Fix), and finally the limited invasive stabilization system (LISS). Stephan understood research and researchers; he created an environment which attracted creative minds and allowed them to flourish.

Not only a dedicated physician and an enthusiastic researcher, who never retired from working on innovative projects, Stephan was also a courageous pilot with many exploits to his credit. He was devoted to his family and a great friend to many. The AO community has lost one of its most distinguished members. He will be very much missed. I have lost a close friend and colleague, whom I admired for the past fifty years.


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