Dr. Marlowe Goble isn’t any ordinary Doctor. As part of his research, he pioneered the knee replacement surgery and holds over 100 medical patents today. Through it all he’s gained a unique perspective on life; “This life is meant to have one challenge after another that you're supposed to solve”
Alan: Welcome back I'm here today with Marlowe Goble, welcome to today's show.
Marlowe: Thank you
Alan: So Marlowe for the listeners can you give the overview your background and what brought up to where you are today, some of the things that you worked on in life and I know you've done quite a few things.
Marlowe: Well the first of all I'm a father and a husband and a grandfather and I have a great family and I'm pleased to be talking to you but it's because I think it was because I was raised by a good family and I had the benefit of being raised by a family that didn't have any resources and any money. My dad was a World War 2 vet and came home discharged in Salt Lake, met my mother and he was from Kentucky and ended up staying in Idaho and so I became an Idaho boy and so I got to learn what I think is important for everyone to learn growing up and having the kind of work for everything that was important.
Alan: Now from Idaho you went on and you were able to do some schooling, then I'm saying you also played some sports during college which became a big part of your life.
Marlowe: Yeah when I was in high school I took care of a potato farm on the Fort Hall Indian reservation so I learned how to take care of myself. I was a pretty good football player for Idaho so I tried to use that at Oregon State, but I wasn't that good there so I didn't get the scholarship I wanted and so I just went on.
Alan: But that led you into I guess- moving from Idaho- Oregon was it primarily the football and what brought you over to Oregon?
Marlowe: Well I had a teacher in high school that talked a lot about Oregon State. Oregon State in 1965 was a big football power. Terry Baker was a Heisman Trophy winner and so the idea of going to Oregon State was exciting. And I had a scholarship to go to University of Idaho but Protheroe the coach was recruited at Oregon State and they asked me to come with him and so I I'd never been out of Idaho so I got on a Greyhound bus and into Corvallis and played football.
Alan: It must have been a big adjustment.
Marlowe: I was never so homesick of my life.
Alan: So at Oregon State then, you were there for the football and it didn't quite work out the way you wanted?
Marlowe: I learned that there were guys- I was pretty fast- but they were guys 30 pounds bigger me that was just as fast and so I really was a second tier player. And I only lasted a year and then in the church that I'm a member of they have missions. The send you away for two years to help you grow up and so I went away to California, a LDS- a Mormon mission and spent two years there.
Alan: You were in where, California, Arizona?
Marlowe: I was in Orange County, San Diego County and Arizona.
Alan: And that was that a developing or defining moment of your life during that period of time that you were serving?
Marlowe: As I look back it fit in well with where I eventually ended up because it taught me to take care of myself and to be responsible for my own decisions and to dream.
Alan: So after the mission you then returned back to school, was it Oregon State or where did you end up?
Marlowe: I basically returned and went to the University of Utah.
Alan: Oh wow- they have a good medical school I think.
Marlowe: They are, but I was an undergraduate then. But again my family had no money and so I took a job from midnight till 8:00 at the Clearfield steam plant which is at the Freeport Center, the tax-free area in Clearfield Utah. And so I'd work every night from midnight to 8:00 and then I'd go to school and I'd show up at class I looking- my face full of coal dust but I'd do my study at night and I still have my books. And if you open up my organic chemistry book it's it's all coal.
Alan: Oh my gosh, you must been doing your sleeping during class then or something.
Marlowe: I was
Marlowe: But I thought that was normal, I enjoyed it, I didn't need any sleep and I spread it and so I was, I decided to go to pre-med because I liked to chemistry. So I did pretty well and then I went and finished and I was accepted at Washington University in St. Louis.
Alan: And that was for the medical degree?
Alan: So Marlowe, I need to take a quick break, I'm visiting here today with Marlowe Goble, and we've been visiting about his a path in life but Marlowe ended up doing something really special after he came out of medical school and that we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Welcome back I'm here today with Marlowe Goble and Marlowe we were talking about the first part of your path in life of coming out from Idaho working on a farm jumping over to school- Oregon State doing an LDS mission and then eventually when you returned back you've started in a pre-med program eventually ending up at Washington University of St. Louis. So I'm going to fast forward this. So you got your medical degree,
Alan: And then what?
Marlowe: Well then I went back to the University of Utah for a residency in orthopedic surgery. And Utah was known for its orthopedics and I was really fortunate, I actually didn't have to do an internship because why she was such a great teaching institution and I went in without an internship and went right into a residency but that allowed me to take a year off and do research and the chairman of the department was named Harold Downie he's a great man, world renowned surgeon and he needed a research resident. So I took a year off and helped him in surgery, he develop anterior approaches to the spine injuries and I worked on that and then I developed my own interest in knees and we utilized sheep for our surgery and we did a lot of research and it's spent a whole year just doing that and that was the key to really the rest of my life.
Alan: And you actually developed something there out of the knee that that a lot of people have benefited from.
Marlowe: Yes in 1976 the anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments were not appreciated, in fact there was doctors that called in vestigial, meaning they used to be important in humans but they weren't anymore and they certainly were not being repaired and so I started studying them and all my resident fellow residents, they didn't even know anything about them so they thought I was wasting my time but timing was good and we found that they were important and I did a lot of strain gage studies published in the Journal of biomechanics with Paul France who was an engineer and we were really the first to look hard at ACLs and things went fast from then.
Alan: And so today, how many patents are you holding, not only the artificial limbs but in your research?
Marlowe: My research with knees- probably approaching 140 that are both granted and in the process
Alan: Wow so you've moved on where you spent time as an active surgeon doing a lot of surgery and knee replacements?
Marlowe: Really the whole spectrum of knees, sports medicine, ligament replacements and also total knee replacements and minimally invasive total knee reconstruction. All of that area consumed my research time, I'd spent several years in clinical then I'd take four years off and just do research, and I did that three times.
Alan: How many how many knee replacements would you guesstimate that have taken place as a result of all your research?
Marlowe: I had a really great assistant that just left me recently, who's been with me forever, Becky, she told me that I've done 14,000.
Alan: 14,000 oh my gosh, well that's really and it's evolved since the first one was in was it '76, I know you started your research but when was the actual first knee surgery that you did on a human?
Marlowe: Well we were doing that in residency of course, but I was the responsible surgeon- was in- well I spent a year in Europe doing a fellowship, that's an extra year and then a year in timing at the Slocum clinic in Oregon, this is the time that one chooses a mentor and you get schooled by them and then I came back in Logan Utah, then at Utah State I started my practice in about 1983.
Alan: I'm visiting here today with Marlowe Goble, he is a renown surgeon in the area of research that he's accomplished in knee replacements and knee surgery orthopedics. Marlowe, I need to take another break and we'll be right back after these messages.
Alan: Are you actively doing surgeries now or where you in life right now?
Marlowe: Well I just turned 70 years old but I'm pretty healthy I still participate in the world game sprinting and things like that so I try to stay young but I'm teaching you know in rural areas helping people stay home for surgery and it's working out well. I help with teaching about knees and the rural areas in Wyoming and I love doing that and we actually take people from Utah into Wyoming and operate on them and I have something to do with the teaching of the nurses and the docs and so it's a good thing for an aging physician to do. I don't like to spend all my time taking care of the patients, I'm just there for the surgery and the other docs do that.
Alan: Well I understand that being in the rural area of Idaho/Wyoming you also learned to pick up a hobby of fishing.
Marlowe: Oh yes I've always fished and I love to fish, I love to be in the outdoors and right now my family's down in Lake Powell and I'm here in the mountains because in the summers I don't go any place besides the Rocky Mountains.
Alan: So if you were advising a person starting out young in their career and kind of looking at, you know directions of life, what lessons have you learned that that you would pass on to them?
Marlowe: I think I'm doing something wrong when an obstacle comes along. I've said why isn't it smooth, I mean I've done everything I think I should, but every time I have a success something blocks it and interrupts it. And there's another fight, there's another disappointment that shouldn't be there and I've I spent a lot of time thinking about that Alan and I don't know what's going on but no matter how well I conduct myself or how well I plan, after a success, I'm met with an obstacle, a problem and I don't think I deserve that. And as I talk to people that are a little older than me or that are introspective, they tell me the same thing. I've got to the point that I that I don't believe life is meant to just go smoothly and we don't like the interruptions because it pains us and it gives us consternation and we have pain either because of things that occur with our family or ourselves or the controversies we get into and then we work it out and if I work it out right then I'm back feeling good that I have a successful life. And then another obstacle comes along.
Alan: So when everything's said down how would you define the success in your life?
Marlowe: Well I don't think it's over and I don't think my challenges are over. I think this life is meant to have one challenge after another that you're supposed to solve. And different people have different philosophies of why that exists and nobody's ever completely figured it out you know and there are philosophies and religions and sectarian ideas but, I'm not a very spiritual/religious person but in terms of understanding why we have to go through these things, I privately am like Einstein said one day, I'm privately one of the most religious of people because I think about those things.
Alan: There's an interesting part of your life Marlowe about the study of Greek and Roman and Phoenician philosophy that I find fascinating. Not many people have dealt in this area, so what brought you into that the study of the ancient philosophies?
Marlowe: Some of the things I talked about in previous segments, I wanted some answers to, so I thought maybe these guys that studied all their lives- these Greek philosophers might have thought about these, and indeed, like others have said, there's no place that we have gone that the Greeks haven't already been there. And I read a lot about Winston Churchill, he was a hero of mine, he studied certain things when he was in India and they included the Iliad and the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, a book by Edward Gibbon, so I read that stuff and I learned what elevated language was and why in Winston spoke like the way he did. But I also learned that these Greek philosophers especially have had the same thoughts that I just expressed previously and they talked about it. And they talk about a lot of things that sometimes as I look at our politicians dealing with world matters, I'm not sure they read ancient history- it would be helpful because they've been there. For example you know Plato in the Republic, he said, you know war is the natural state of man. Humans are pretty mean to each other and they- I think if we spent a little more time realizing that the only difference between us and the people back in Rome and Greece is antibiotics and gunpowder otherwise they're the same civilization. They had the same thoughts we have and...
Alan: You know it's often referred to the inner self, the spirituality within man, the fact that we think alike even though we're in such a vast difference of time, let's talk about our true nature.
Marlowe: Our nature is no different than the ancient people and the thoughts that they had, except for they explained it supernatural by talking about demigods, Zeus and Athena and they explained things they didn't couldn't explain by the intervention of something they didn't understand. And indeed him you know our look at Christ you know look to them he's a demigod he had an immortal father an immortal mother.
Alan: Yeah that's interesting so the question is in my mind of Phoenician, I've never met anyone he's delve into it. Where do you go to study the Phoenicians?
Marlowe: Well you know the Iliad really in the 12th century before Christ is the first written material that we really have and their language is beautiful. They always used to speak in terms of memory and the ability to communicate something we don't have and once we lost we started writing things but the Phoenicians were actually before them and if you go in the islands of Greece previous to the stories in the Iliad and the Odyssey, it's the Phoenicians that build all of those things and they didn't record because we didn't we don't have written things from them other than here and there and the oral stories that are told so to learn what the Phoenicians thought isn't as possible as with Homer and what he expressed with the Greeks and the alphabet that was brought in that we adopted from the Egyptians and when you go into that, it puts an understanding of where we are now and why we ought to learn from them because they've got stories to tell and they explain the answer to a lot of our questions.
Alan: You know I'm curious, in the overview of the Phoenicians, it was progressing with Phoenicians, the Greeks and then the Roman?
Alan: And how well-educated it was in those societies that the philosophers are usually the spokesperson for the people or what?
Marlowe: Philosophers then are a little different than our intellectuals today who really are University based and they do a lot of thinking but they don't really have a lot of experience a lot of them. It was common in a Greek time that their philosophers the leaders were at once great generals and the Greeks and the Romans they gave primary respect to victory with hand-to-hand combat and Socrates was a great combatant wielded the broadsword and he was, he was quite a fighter and so the people respected these people not just because they could think, but they had proved- something we don't acquire sometimes.
Alan: I've been visiting here today with Dr. Marlowe Golbe, and we're out of time today on today's show, but thank you very much for being here.
Marlowe: Thank you for inviting me.