Remembering Wen Luo


Ostrow Communications


29 Jan 15

Above: Wen Luo, M.D.

Wen Luo. M.D., a long-time USC faculty member, researcher and educator passed away on Jan. 21, 2015.

Wen was trained as a pathologist, and his interests in life systems were a major driving force in his research. He pursued connections among many of the body’s physiologic systems well before this line of investigation became popular. From developmental biology to disease pathogenesis, Wen made many contributions to basic biomedical research. He also spent a great deal of his energy with the early problem-based learning pedagogy in dental education at the Ostrow. Wen contributed many medical refinements to the cases that comprised the curriculum at that time. Wen worked on biomineralization and had a lifetime of research expertise in ameloblast cell biology and molecular biology.

Wen spent some of his childhood in the United States when his father lived and worked in the Midwest. He came to love the Western genre of writing, radio and TV shows. After his graduation in 1953 from the Medical College of Lingnan University in Canton, China, Wen was first an associate professor of pathology at West China Medical University and later at Jinan University Medical College. After meeting former dean and faculty member Harold Slavkin ’61, DDS ’65 at a scientific conference in 1985, Wen returned to the United States for a sabbatical at USC. He stayed to make USC his new academic home until retiring in 2006.

Wen valued and pursued truth and freedom. In the early phases of his career he refused to sign death certificates as “unknown” when the cause of death was nutritional wasting during famines. He gave up a gentle retirement in China instead to bring his wife and their children to the United States. He became a naturalized American citizen and wore his Chinese heritage and American citizenry with pride.

Wen was known as the “fire engine” because of his boundless energy, which he focused on his work. Nonetheless, he always had a smile and a laugh for those with whom he worked. Wen was sought out by colleagues of all ages for his careful and balanced advice. Wen asked that there be no celebration of his life with his passing, saying that, “I came to this world without any attention and will leave the world in same way.” As for many other great men, Wen lived his life as a humble man that contributed greatly to the lives of others and a model for many. In this way, Dr. Wen Luo will always be remembered.

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