SRS Newsletter
June 2011
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Federico Adler, MD

Prepared for the Scoliosis Research Society by Marc Asher based on Dr. Adler's obituary in the Kansas City Star, March 3, 2011

Federico Adler, MD passed away quite unexpectedly on February 28, 2011. Fred was devoted to physical fitness well before it was popular. Running was probably his favorite method. On nice weekends he could be seen many miles from home, just chugging along and always looking like he was enjoying himself. He had an exercise room at home and died suddenly while exercising. He had always said that when his time came he hoped he was either on top of a mountain or exercising. He was "only" 82; we all thought he would live "forever", or at least another 10-15 years.

Dr. Adler lived a remarkable life. Born in Austria in 1929, he and his family escaped in 1938 just after the Nazi invasion and Kristallnacht. His extended family was destroyed. His parents settled in Quito, Ecuador. In the following 17 years Fred completed his medical studies, became medical director of a small rural public health clinic performing surgeries, delivering babies and practicing general medicine. He also met the love of his life, Betty Burbano, and began a 55 year love affair.

In 1955 Fred and Betty moved to Kansas City where Fred joined the orthopedic residency program at the University of Kansas Medical Center. Following a brief stint on the faculty he was in private practice for 30 years, becoming Chief of Staff at Menorah Medical Center and caring for thousands of grateful patients.

For the next 13 years he practiced at the Veterans Administration Hospital, mentoring orthopedic residents who adored him.

In 2006 Fred returned to his academic home at the Kansas University Medical Center and pursued two lines of original research. One was aimed at better understanding the pathophysiology ARDS/Fat Embolism syndrome. He had original ideas about possible new drug therapies. He and his team had published two papers and submitted a third. The second was aimed at identifying an inexpensive carrier for osteogenic therapy to fracture and arthrodesis sites. This was proving to be the harder study, but progress was being made. Initiating and conducting original bench research after 40+ years of clinical practice puts Fred in a unique category.

He was a world traveler, having visited every continent and the Arctic Circle. Also an avid mountaineer, he had climbed several major peaks including Kilimanjaro, Fuji, Elbrus, Cotopaxi and Chimborazo.

Dr. Adler's family was his greatest joy and priority. His beloved Betty died in 2005. His two daughters were his closest friends. He enjoyed his six grandchildren from birth to adulthood and he developed close, unique relationships with each. And he was starting the process again with his two great grandchildren.

Dr. Adler was a doctor's doctor and an inspiration to us all. In 2007 he established the Betty and Fred Adler Resident Award Endowment at the Kansas University Endowment Association. Each year the orthopedic resident who has performed the most original research or made the most original contribution is recognized.

In every sense Dr. Adler was a renaissance man...a gentleman, scholar and loyal friend. His legacy lives on.