William H Harris, MD

William H Harris, MD

Bill Harris was born in Great Falls, Montana in 1927, joining a strong medical family.  His father and grandfather were physicians, his daughter is a midwife, his brother and his nephew are physicians.  After graduating from Haverford College with High Honors in Chemistry in 1947 as a member of Phi Beta Kappa at the age of 19, he received the M.D. Degree from the University of Pennsylvania as a member of AOA in 1951.  His internship and general surgical training were at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, and his Orthopaedic training was in the Harvard Program at the Children’s Hospital of Boston and the M.G.H.

Following his Chief residency in Orthopaedic Surgery in 1959, he studied at the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies and The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, London, England.

He first came to the M.G.H. in 1957 and joined the staff in 1960, becoming the Chief of the Adult Reconstructive Unit in 1974, Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1975 and the Alan Gerry Clinical Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery in 1997.  Haverford College granted him the D.Sc Degree in 2000.

His major interests have been in all aspects of total hip surgery, with contributions to reducing fatal pulmonary emboli, implant design, surgical techniques, registry follow up studies, and materials research.

He founded and directed the Harris Orthopaedic Laboratory at the M.G.H.  Most recently, he directed the creation of electron beam crosslinked polyethylene by the Harris Laboratory for use in total joints.  This material appears to have made a major contribution to the conquest of the worldwide iatrogenic disease called “periprosthetic osteolysis”.  Over 7 million people are now walking on this material around the world.