Carl Brighton, PSOM

Carl T. Brighton, emeritus professor of orthopaedic surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine at Penn, died July 3. He was 87.

Dr. Brighton earned his bachelor’s degree from Valparaiso University in 1953, and he graduated from Penn’s School of Medicine in 1957. Starting in 1954 he also worked as an assistant in physiology. He went on to receive his PhD in anatomy from the University of Illinois in 1969. He did his residency at the US Naval Hospital in Philadelphia and also was a veteran of the Vietnam War.

In 1968 he returned to Penn, where he became an assistant professor in orthopaedic surgery, and he earned full professorship in 1973. A few years later, he was appointed chair of the department and became the Paul B. Magnuson Professor of Bone and Joint Surgery, holding both appointments until 1993. Dr. Brighton was a pioneer in using electricity to stimulate bone growth.

According to Penn Medicine’s website, in his role as chair, Dr. Brighton immediately established the importance of basic research. He developed an interdepartmental research enterprise that was “the envy of every department in the country.” He also was responsible for the development of subspecialty services at Penn. The orthopaedic residents at Penn participated in basic investigations and received a “bedside” education in clinical orthopaedic surgery. This tradition of a preceptorship in the office, operating room and ward, in addition to emphasis upon the basic aspects of pathophysiology at the cellular and molecular levels, continues to characterize educational pursuits at Penn today.

Dr. Brighton held a secondary appointment as a professor of bioengineering and also served on the Senate Advisory Committee. While at Penn, Dr. Brighton received the Kappa Delta Award of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons in 1974 and served as president-elect of the Orthopedic Research Society in 1976. In 1988, he was given a MERIT Award from the NIH. He was editor-in-chief of the journal Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 1993-2002 and was visiting professor at 36 universities and medical schools. He published over 200 articles in medical journals and obtained 29 patents. He retired in 1996 and earned emeritus status in 1997.

Dr. Brighton is survived by his wife, Ruth Louise; children, David (Marcia), Sue Terrell (Thomas), Andrew (Trisha), Joel (Jo Ann); grandchildren, Michelle, Emily, Jonathan, Benjamin, Elizabeth, Jenny, Ellie, Luke, Rachel, Lydia, Miriam, Abigail, Casey, Carl John, Micah and Zachary; and five great-grandchildren.