Career Choices

Leanne Turner, Orthopedic Prosthetic Eng.

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Leanne Turner, Orthopedic Prosthetic Engineer


Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University

Career Description

I am a Program Manager in the Total Hip division of DePuy Orthopaedics, Inc., a Johnson & Johnson company.  I work in product development, designing and testing artificial hips for people who need to have a hip replaced.  My job has two main responsibilities, project leader and development engineer.  As a project leader, I work with a team to bring a new hip product from concept through to commercial launch.  The team consists of many individuals from very different backgrounds, from orthopaedic surgeons to manufacturing engineers. 

This is the surgical, development, marketing, and sales team that was present for the first implantation of the Ultamet metal-on-metal articulation hip.

Through the engineering development side of my job, I work with orthopaedic surgeons and marketing to determine design specifications for new products.  I then design and test the product to ensure it will meet all of the required design criteria for use in the human body, strength and function.  Finally, I work with manufacturing and quality to find the best way to manufacture and inspect the new product.  I have always had an interest in both science and medicine; I am able to pursue both of these interests through my job in product development for a medical device company.

I typically spend most of my time in the office, working with my project team.  We meet regularly to make sure that the project is on schedule and that any issues with product design, manufacturing or delivery are discussed.  I also travel frequently to places all over the US and Europe to visit surgeons, meet with my international colleagues, and attend industry meetings. 

This is an x-ray showing a total hip replacement.  The socket side of the hip has a Pinnacle acetabular cup implanted, and the femur side has an SROM stem implanted.

The best part of my job is knowing that the products I work on significantly improve the quality of life for many total hip replacement patients.  Through the surgeons who use our products, we hear many wonderful success stories of patients whose lives have been changed for the better as a result of using our products.  My least favorite part of my job is working in cadaver labs.  We often work with surgeons to test our implants and instruments in human cadavers as part of the product development process.  While I appreciate the value of this work, I do not particularly enjoy it!

 The most exciting part of my job is launching a new product.  It generally takes between 18 months and 3 years to develop and launch a new product.  After spending so much time and energy on one thing, it is nice to see the impact it makes on other people.  When we release a new product for commercial use, we like to view some of the first surgeries to make sure everything works properly; it is very rewarding to come out of a case that went exactly as planned.  The most exciting work related thing that has happened to me was being awarded the Johnson Medal, the highest award given for research and development in the Johnson & Johnson corporation.  The award was given to my team for work surrounding a new product for Total Hip Replacement which has had a significant impact on our business.

An example of one of the products I have designed.  The Pinnacle acetabular cup can be used with different insert materials (polyethylene, metal or ceramic) depending on the patient's needs and the surgeon's choice.

Over the last ten years the orthopaedic industry has seen a tremendous emphasis on new technologies.  The most notable new technologies that have been implemented in hip surgery in recent years are new materials (such as lower-wearing polyethylene and new ceramics), less invasive surgical techniques, and more advanced bearing couples (pairing different materials on the ball and socket sides of the joint).  Over the next ten years I think that we will see the incorporation of more orthobiologic products into total joint surgery.  These would be products that help restore and/or repair the bone and soft tissues surrounding the joint, perhaps allowing the delay of surgery for some patients.