Howard Winet
Winet150x200Howard Winet

Howard was the first in his family to graduate college.  He considers himself "Just a scientist" in the sense that he has plugged away in the lab, struggling through small steps in advancing our understanding of nature, and has no pretentions of solving society's problems. He has won few accolades, though his mentors owned many. But they treated him with respect, making him feel of value and giving him the confidence to challenge anyone who put personal position above the data.

Born to the lower class on Chicago's West Side, he was encouraged by his grandfather, who raised him early on, to become educated, at least in his religion. Dyslexia, ADD and family disruption slowed his progress through elementary school. His third-grade teacher helped guide him, however, to a constructive learning path. After the war (WWII) his father brought him to California for his secondary education and life with stepmother #3. High school began slowly until his biology teacher took an interest and inspired him to pursue an academic career in the biological sciences. He determined to become an agronomist.

He returned to Illinois in 1955 to enter Navy Pier, the early University of Illinois at Chicago, at that time a two-year school. Working summers as a relief elevator operator, in the city and during the school year as a lab tech, he was able to accumulate sufficient funds for tuition. He lived with his grandparents to take care of room and board. At the end of his first year he decided to switch to biology teaching. Zoology became his first inspiration through the influence of Professor David Shomay, his first mentor.

After two years, he moved on to the big campus at Champaign-Urbana, now in the biology teaching curriculum. At the end of his third year the Dean of Education confronted him with the observation that he had not signed up for student teaching as was required. Howard told him that he intended to complete student teaching in California where he planned to teach. The dean discharged him from the biology teaching program forcing him to become a Zoology major.

He was captivated by Protozoology and his second mentor John O. Corliss who recommended him to Theodor L. Jahn at UCLA for graduate school in 1959. Jahn guided him to his Master's Degree in Zoology, which, together with teaching coursework set him up for a career teaching in the L.A. City Schools in 1962. His student teaching guide was George Bonorris, his teaching mentor. Pressure from T.L. Jahn to continue his education and dissatisfaction with the L.A. City School administrators' attitude toward teachers who had no post-graduate degrees, he returned to UCLA to pursue his Ph.D.  in 1966.

Prof.  Jahn now became his fourth mentor, challenging him with a Tetrahymena cell culture bioconvection problem as a Ph.D. project. A series of experiments led him to conclude that the phenomenon was gravity driven following geotactic subsurface cell accumulation. Waldo Ferguson became his fifth mentor by exposing him to the worlds of scientific history and philosophy. Jahn recommended him, upon completion of his Ph.D. in 1969, to Ted Y. Wu at Caltech for a postdoctoral fellowship. Prof. Wu, his sixth and most influential mentor, was studying the fluid mechanics of microorganism swimming.

He had shorn-up his mathematical background at UCLA and was able to converse with the stable of applied mathematicians who descended upon him for data measured from films and photographs of ciliary motion and swimming microorganisms. But he did not have the background to understand the tricks they used to solve the problems they set up. These pioneers of bioengineering were establishing a new interdisciplinary field: biofluiddynamics. The main problem in microorganism swimming was Gray's Paradox. When Stokes' Equation was applied using data it predicted zero velocity. Introduction of small corrections to the boundary conditions eventually solved the paradox, as Howard confirmed with image processing measurements from photomicrography. In a next-door lab Harold Wayland was pioneering Biorheology via his studies of microcirculation with intravital microscopy. His knowledge of optics was to be of great value to Howard years later.

Taking advantage of the superb teaching at Caltech, he sat in on Frank Marble's Hydro 101 class and learned about Rayleigh-Taylor instabilities. Concluding that this must be the mechanism for bioconvection he explained his conclusion to Milton Plesset who agreed with it. The result was a report in Nature.

At this time, he met his seventh mentor Richard Feynman. Prof. Feynman was not involved in the research as such. But he was a friend of T. Y. Wu and visited the lab to observe experimental results. Ensuing conversations about the nature of data in science, and the use of modeling allowed Howard to--with the historical perspective learned from Prof. Ferguson--fully appreciate that data were a scientist's client.

Feeling a need to gain a secure academic position, he accepted a position as Associate Professor of Physiology at Southern Illinois University in 1976. He brought his family to visit in 1977 prior to their expected transfer. His son developed asthma and when they went home at the end of the academic year, treatments were of concern. At the beginning of the 1979-80 academic year a political battle erupted between the LAS dean and the physiology department. The combination of events and his wife's reluctance to relocate her career led to the decision to leave a tenured position and return to Pasadena.

He was offered an unsecure position at Orthopaedic Hospital (OH) and USC where his wife worked. He completed the work for the NIH grant he earned, while at SIU, and then started a career as a bone physiologist. Somewhat lost in a field he had no training in, he met Fred Rhinelander, M.D., a pioneer in bone vascularity, and his eighth mentor. Rhinelander introduced him to Thomas Albrektsson, M.D./Ph.D., a student of P.I. Brånemark, M.D./Ph.D., one of the pioneers of bone intravital microscopy (IVM). This meeting led to a Fogarty Fellowship at Gothenburg university to learn IVM and how to construct and implant a rabbit bone chamber, the optical device that made bone IVM possible. With the aid of some small grants from OH's DERF fund, and further surgical training, he obtained enough data to apply to NIH and earn his first bone grant to study microcirculation during wound healing in cortical bone. With the help of Prof. Wayland he redesigned and had built a horizontal version of the IVM. For these successes, he was rewarded with a laboratory and appointment as a USC Research Associate Professor of Orthopaedics in 1984.

In 1990 he met his ninth mentor, Jeff Hollinger, D.D.S./Ph.D. who introduced him to biomaterials. Jeff, a pioneer in development of erodible polylactide-polyglycolide (PLGA) implants, was interested in engineering PLGA scaffolds and needed to understand how they interacted with bone microcirculation in situ while they were being resorbed. Howard worked with him at Walter Reed for almost two years (1990-2), learning how to use the biomaterial. Back at OH/USC he used data gathered at Walter Reed to obtain his second bone grant.

In the late 1990s he worked on tissue engineering and microcirculation problems. A significant clinical result made by Chris Martin, one of his graduate students using micro-pH meters in the bone chamber, was that the assumption that eroding PLGA creates acidosis in situ is incorrect. He also had a significant failure, trying to develop an ischemia model, learning that limb collateral circulation in the rabbit was too perfuse to allow occlusion of a single vessel with a micro-cuff. Retreating to a tourniquet model his PhD student Arthur Hsieh found evidence in 1999 that reperfusion injury in bone is detectible two hours earlier than the four-hour minimum accepted by clinicians.

His final research project was conducted by his PhD student Carrie Caulkins who in 2009 found evidence that the tibial muscle pump increases bloodflow and capillary filtration in cortical bone microcirculation. This result has led to challenges from the bone fluid flow community that argues for one optimal bone bending mechanism for fluid movement in bone. He has challenged the community to recognize the fallacy of ignoring redundancy by applying optimization theory to evolution.


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