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38 spine surgeons under 40 to know Featured

Written by  Laura Dyrda | Saturday, 04 October 2014 00:00
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These surgeons are among young leaders in the spine field today. Many were chief residents and underwent prestigious spine and neurological surgery fellowships.

The list was developed based on publicly-solicited recommendations and editorial research. Please contact Laura Dyrda with questions, comments and recommendations for additional inclusions at ldyrda@beckershealthcare.com.

 

Neil Badlani, MD, MBA (The Orthopedic Sports Clinic, Houston). Dr. Badlani has a special interest in minimally invasive spine surgery and serves as a reviewer for The Spine Journal. He performs artificial disc replacement and designed an in-house "back school," a program to treat back pain through core strengthening, improved posture, flexibility and fitness. His research has won awards from the American Academy of Sports Medicine and the Western Orthopaedic Association. Dr. Badlani completed an adult and pediatric spine surgery fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.
 
Michael Chang, MD (Sonoran Spine Center, Phoenix). Dr. Chang was the chief resident of orthopedic surgery at the University of Iowa in Iowa City before undergoing a spine fellowship at Washington University in St. Louis under Keith Bridwell, MD, Lawrence Lenke, MD, and K. Daniel Riew, MD. He currently is a complex spine surgeon at Sonoran Spine Center and an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Arizona. He is also a member of the Scoliosis Research Society, North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He has appeared on several local TV shows and in publications discussing spine and scoliosis care.

 

Terrence Crowder, MD (Sonoran Spine Center, Phoenix.). Dr. Crowder is a spine surgeon at Sonoran Spine Center and member of the North American Spine Society and J.R. Gladden Orthopaedic Society. He has a special interest in cervical spine conditions and motion preservation technology, including cervical disc replacement. In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Crowder is focused on research and has made media appearances to discuss the benefits of spine surgery for appropriately indicated patients. He also uses robotic technology for guidance during his procedures. Dr. Crowder completed a spine surgery fellowship at William Beaumont Hosptial in Royal Oak, Mich.

 

Jason Datta, MD (Sonoran Spine Center, Phoenix). Dr. Datta is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a special interest in degenerative spine conditions and scoliosis deformity treatment. He is active in academic research and participates in the Sonoran Spine Research and Education Foundation. He's at the cutting-dge of artificial disc replacement and minimally invasive techniques. Dr. Datta is a member of the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He also completed his spine surgery fellowship at the Spine Education and Research Institute in Denver.

 

Ian Dorward, MD (Washington University Physicians, St. Louis). Dr. Dorward completed his medical degree, neurological surgery residency and fellowships in orthopedic spine surgery research and spine surgery at the Washington University School of Medicine. He received the Robert L. Grubb, Jr., M.D. Neurosurgical Resident Clinical Excellence Award and Tae Sun Park, M.D. Award for Excellence on the Neurosurgery Written Board Examination. He also has interest in narrative medicine focusing on the process of training and developing surgeons, transforming from a layperson to a surgeon and the ability to relate to patients as well as family and friends.

 

Dilantha B. Ellegala, MD (Centra Medical Group, Lynchburg). Dr. Ellegala is a neurosurgeon and medical director at Centra Brain and Spine Institute at Centra Health. He previously served as Director of the Center for Global Health at Medical University of South Carolina. He is an expert reviewer and witness for the defense in medico-legal cases. Dr. Ellegala is on the board for the Foundation for International Education in Neurological Surgery and executive committee member of the Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care of the AANS/CNS. He completed his fellowship in cerebrovascular and skull base surgery at Brigham & Women's Hospital in Boston.
 
Ersno Eromo, MD (The Spine Institute of Columbia Memorial Hospital, Hudson, N.Y.). Dr. Eromo is the director of The Spine Institute of Columbia Memorial Hospital. He has special training in pediatric spine, trauma, deformities and scoliosis. He also has significant Level 1 Trauma center treating major spinal cord injuries with the latest minimally invasive technology, including percutaneous spinal fusion. Dr. Eromo completed the combined orthopedic and neurosurgical spine fellowship at the Norton-Leatherman Spine Center in Louisville, Ky.


 
Meagan M. Fernandez, DO (Geisinger, Danville, Pa.). Dr. Fernandez is a spine surgeon at Geisinger with a special interest in treating pediatric tumors, scoliosis, spinal deformity and other orthopedic and sports medicine injuries and conditions. For her scoliosis procedures, Dr. Fernandez uses robotic guidance technology. She completed her fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at Scottish Rite Children's Medical Center in 2011.

 

Brian Gantwerker, MD (The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles). Dr. Gantwerker provides care at The Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles. He is board-certified and is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Congress of Neurological Surgeons, Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and North American Spine Society. He has a professional interest in minimally invasive procedures, and performs complex brain procedures and spinal surgeries. He has completed a complex spine fellowship at the Barrow Neurological Institute.

 

Christopher Good, MD (Virginia Spine Institute, Reston). Dr. Good is director of research and director of scoliosis and spinal deformity at Virginia Spine Institute. He performed the first robot-guided surgery in the mid-Atlantic region and has a special interest in less invasive and motion-sparing techniques. He was also among the first spine surgeons in Virginia to explore genetic counseling for adolescent scoliosis patients and he previously served on the Fairfax County Public Schools' School Health Advisory Committee. He is a volunteer for the Foundation of Orthopaedics and Complex Spine, which provides care to underserved populations in Ghana. He completed his fellowship in spine surgery at Washington University in St. Louis.

 

Jocelyn Idema, DO (Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute, a division of The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, Frederick, Md.). Dr. Idema is a spine surgeon with a special interest in minimally invasive techniques and motion preservation at Mid-Maryland Musculoskeletal Institute, a division of The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics. She treats sports-related neck and back injuries, degenerative scoliosis and other spinal conditions. Dr. Idema completed her fellowship training at the Spine Institute of Arizona in Scottsdale.

 

Safdar Khan, MD (The Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center, Columbus). Dr. Khan is the chief of the division of spine surgery and an assistant professor of orthopedics at The Ohio State University Wexler Medical Center. He joined The OSU Medical Center in August 2011 after completing a spine and scoliosis surgery fellowship at Rush-St. Luke's Presbyterian Medical Center and Shriner's Hospital for Children in Chicago. In his budding career, Dr. Khan has already served on the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Biological Implants Committee and received awards for his research from the Orthopaedic Research and Education Foundation, Scoliosis Research Society and Orthopaedic Trauma Association.

 

Richard Kube, MD (Prairie SurgiCare in Peoria, Ill.). Dr. Kube is a fellowship-trained spine surgeon and founder of Prairie SurgiCare, which opened in April 2012. He led the project from blue prints to construction and full accreditation in three months as an addition to the practice he founded, Prairie Spine and Pain Institute. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Kube serves as a faculty member at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Peoria and sits on the board of directors for the American Board of Spine Surgery.

 

Ilya Laufer, MD (Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York City). Dr. Laufer is a neurosurgeon with a special interest in spinal disorders. He is a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Tumor Center with the goal of using modern surgical and radiation techniques to reduce back pain and neurological deficits. His research interests include the design and oversight of longitudinal studies and prospective clinical trials designed to optimize patient treatment. He completed a fellowship in spine oncology and complex reconstruction at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

 

Thomas Lawhorne, MD (Optim Healthcare, Savannah, Ga.). Dr. Lawhorne is a spine surgeon at Optim Healthcare. He completed his residency at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City and a fellowship at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He is recognized on Healthgrades Honor Roll.  Dr. Lawhorne completed his medical degree at Emory University in Atlanta and is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.

 

Tien V. Le, MD (Tampa Bay Neurosurgery & Spine, Brandon, Fla.). Dr. Le is co-founder of Tampa Bay NeuroSurgery & Spine Specialists. He studied under Kevin Foley MD, and completed his fellowship in minimally invasive spine surgery at the University of Tennessee/Semmes-Murphey Neurological Spine Institute — one of only two neurosurgeons selected for the fellowship. He completed an additional fellowship in scoliosis, deformity and reconstructive surgery. Throughout his career, Dr. Le has already authored more than 20 peer-reviewed spine and neurosurgical journal articles, several book chapters and presented at various professional meetings.

 

Richard Lee, MD (Hoag Orthopedic Institute, Newport Beach, Calif.). Dr. Lee has a professional interest in treating spinal conditions. Before joining Hoag Orthopedic Institute, he served as a NASA researcher and worked in a laboratory on the impact of microgravity on gene expression in bone and muscle cells in outer space. These experiences led him to orthopedic surgery, and he eventually completed the combined orthopedic and neurosurgical spinal surgery fellowship at Harvard Medical School in Boston. He has a clinical interest in minimally invasive spine surgery and returning patients to function as quickly as possible.

 

Tan D. Ly, DO (Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Sarasota, Fla.). Dr. Ly has a special interest in microsurgery and minimally invasive spine surgery techniques. He joined Southeastern Spine Center & Research Institute in Sarasota in 2011. He completed his spine surgery fellowship at the Spine Institute of Arizona in Scottsdale. Dr. Ly attended Des Moines University College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Garden City Hospital of the Michigan University Statewide Campus System.

 

Behrang T. Mazahery, MD (Commonwealth Orthopaedics, Reston, Va.). Dr. Mazahery is an orthopedic spine surgeon at Commonwealth Orthopaedics. He completed his spine surgery fellowship under Henry Bohlman, MD, at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and is now a member of the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He stays on the cutting-edge of spinal technology, including minimally invasive techniques, the lateral approach, computer-assisted robotic surgery and complex spinal deformity correction.

 

Matthew McGirt, MD (Carolina NeuroSurgery & Spine Associates, Charlotte, N.C.). Dr. McGirt is a complex and minimally invasive spine surgery specialist at Carolina NeuroSurgery & Spine Associates. He is vice-director of the National Neurosurgery Quality and Outcomes Database. He previously served as director of clinical research and director of the quality improvement and patient safety departments of neurological surgery and orthopedic surgery at Vanderbilt University. He has served several other leadership roles within professional societies, including the AANS Young Neurosurgeons' Committee NREF Fund Raising Committee Chair and on the North American Spine Society's Value Committee. Dr. McGirt completed his spine fellowship in surgical oncology at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

 

Keith W. Michael, MD (Emory University Orthopedic and Spine Hospital, Atlanta). Dr. Michael is an orthopedic spine surgeon with a clinical interest in disc herniation treatment, spinal cord compression, trauma and deformity and minimally invasive techniques. He recently joined Emory University Orthopedic and Spine Hospital as an assistant professor. He previously spent two years practicing at Duke University in Durham, N.C., in a similar capacity. He completed his fellowship in spine surgery at Emory University Medical Center in Atlanta.

 

Payam Moazzaz, MD (Tri-City Medical Center, Oceanside, Calif.). As a junior medical student, Dr. Moazzaz was co-president of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society. He previously joined Orthopaedic Specialists of North County in 2011 after completing a residency at the University of Los Angeles and spine surgery fellowship at the San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders and Scripps Green Clinic. He is currently using robotic guidance for spine surgery. He has a special interest in motion preservation and quicker recovery times. He has published several articles in peer-review journals and presented at more than 20 national and international meetings. He also serves as a key investigator in many ongoing clinical trials.

 

Kenji Muro, MD (Advocat Health Care, Downers Grove, Ill.). Dr. Muro is a neurosurgeon and member of Advocate Physician Partners. He previously served on the Northwestern Medical Faculty Foundation and was co-principal investigator of a translational project studying the application of real-time optimal imaging techniques in brain tumor surgery. His clinical practice is focused on the brain, spinal cord and spine. Dr. Muro completed his residency in neurological surgery at Northwestern University's McGaw Medical Center.

 

Robert P. Norton, MD (Robert Norton MD, Boca Raton, Fla.). Dr. Norton is in private practice in Florida and has a special interest in treating complex spinal conditions. He also focuses on academic medicine and is involved in teaching and research. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Norton has authored several peer-reviewed journals and textbooks. Dr. Norton earned his medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and completed the orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Hospital. His additional training includes advanced training in spine surgery at the New York Hospital for Joint Diseases.


 
Adebukola Onibokun, MD (San Jose Neurospine). Dr. Onibokun is founder and director of San Jose Neurospine and dedicates his practice to minimally invasive spine surgery. He completed a seven-year residency in neurosurgery at UCLA Medical Center. He has co-authored one of the sentinel articles on minimally invasive pedicle screw fixation techniques that led to the publication of the first article defining anatomic considerations for cervical pedicle screw insertion using multiplanar CT measurements. He served as chief of neurosurgery at Elmhurst Memorial Hospital in Chicago where he established their minimally invasive spine surgery program. He has a special interest in motion preservation, endoscopic spinal fusion, robotic computer assisted image guidance and complex spinal reconstruction.

 

Donato R. Pacione, MD (NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City). Dr. Pacinoe is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at NYU Langone Medical Center. During his training, Dr. Pacione was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society and graduated as valedictorian of his medical school class in 2006. He completed a minimally invasive and complex spine fellowship after his neurosurgery residency at NYU Langone Medical Center. He also has research interest into percutaneous fracture treatment and the anatomic and radiographic comparison of open and endonasal approaches to the skull base.

 

Themistocles S. Protopsaltis, MD (NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City). Dr. Protopsaltis is the director of the Bellevue Orthopaedic Spine Service and clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. His clinical interests include cervical radiculopathy, disc replacement, cervical spine deformity and spinal stenosis treatment.  He also conducts research and has co-authored several articles in peer review journals. This past year, Dr. Protopsaltis received the best podium presentation award at the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery annual meeting. Dr. Protopsaltis completed his fellowship in spine surgery at New York University and is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

 

Srinivas Prasad, MD (Jefferson University Hospitals, Philadelphia). Dr. Prasad is a surgeon in the department of neurological surgery and orthopedic surgery. His research interests include surgical robotics, image guided surgery, tele-surgery and artificial intelligence. Dr. Prasad completed his spine fellowship at Cleveland Clinic. He attended Boston University School of Medicine and completed his neurosurgery residency at Washington University in St. Louis.

 

Zak Ray, MD (Washington University Physicians, St. Louis). Dr. Ray is an assistant professor of neurosurgery at Washington University and has a special interest in spinal oncology, spinal cord injury and complex spinal reconstructions. He has co-authored several articles published in peer-review journals and received the Neurosurgery Research Symposium Basic Science Award and AANS/CNS Spine & Peripheral Nerve Section Mayfield Basic Science Award in 2010. He was the chief resident of neurosurgery at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and completed two fellowships: one in spine surgery at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City and in neurosurgery at Canterbury District Health Board, Christchurch Public Hospital in New Zealand.

 

Dmitry Ruban, MD (Rush-Copley Medical Group, Aurora, Ill.). Dr. Ruban has a special interest in neurosurgery, particularly minimally invasive procedures. He performs several less invasive and complex procedures, and uses image-guided technology during surgery. Dr. Ruban is a member of the North American Spine Society and Congress of Neurological Surgeons. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Ruban has published several articles in peer-review journals based on his research. He completed a residency at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago.

 

Nima Salari, MD (Desert Institute for Spine Care, Phoenix). Dr. Salari was chief resident during his training at Johns Hopkins Hospital and then completed a spine surgery fellowship at Stanford University. His clinical work focuses on spinal deformities, degeneration, infection and tumors. He uses minimally invasive techniques and image-guidance to perform his procedures. Dr. Salari is also involved in musculoskeletal research. He is a member of the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. During his training, Dr. Salari earned membership into the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society.

 

K. Samer Shamieh, MD (DISC of Louisiana, Covington). Dr. Shamieh completed his minimally invasive spine surgery fellowship at The Spine Institute of Arizona under Edward J. Dohring, MD. His area of expertise includes minimally invasive spine surgery and he treats sports-related spine issues in addition to a variety of degenerative conditions and scoliosis. He was trained in artificial total disc replacement. Dr. Shamieh is a member of the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

 

Jeremy Smith, MD (Orthopaedic Specialty Institute, Medical Group of Orange County, Orange, Calif.). Dr. Smith is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon with a special interest in spinal procedures. He's already made significant contributions to the advancement of spinal cord injury treatment and research. He served as an assistant professor in the orthopedic surgery department at the University of Southern California and was co-director of the USC Center for Spinal Surgery. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Smith volunteers his time to teach residents and conducts research in academic spine surgery. He's published several articles in peer-reviewed journals that received honors and awards at the national level. Dr. Smith completed a spine surgery fellowship at Rothman Institute and Thomas Jefferson Hospital in Philadelphia.

 

Michael L. Smith, MD (NYU Langone Medical Center, New York City). Dr. Smith joined NYU Langone Medical Center in 2008. He is an assistant professor of neurosurgery for adult and adolescent brain and spine disorders. His practice includes simple and complex spinal treatment, and he spends time conducting research into spinal tumors, minimally invasive surgical techniques and intraoperative monitoring. Dr. Smith completed his fellowship at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

 

Sam Schroerlucke, MD (Tabor Orthopedics, Memphis, Tenn.). Dr. Schroerlucke is an orthopedic spine surgeon with Tabor Orthopedics. During his fellowship at the San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders, he was exposed to complex pediatric and adult spinal condition treatment. His research interests include early onset scoliosis, adult spinal deformity and minimally invasive surgical techniques. He is a member of several professional societies, including the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

 

Oszkar Szentirmai, MD (Lawnwood Neurosurgery, Fort Pierce, Fla.). Dr. Szentirmai is chief of neurosurgery at Lawnwood Regional Medical Center and is currently building a comprehensive neurosciences program with his partners at the University of South Florida, where he serves as an assistant professor. He is the only endoscopy fellowship-trained neurosurgeon in the area and uses robotic guidance for his procedures. He is a member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and American Association of Neurological Surgeons.

 

Lyle Young, MD (Sonoran Spine Center, Phoenix). Dr. Young is an orthopedic spine surgeon who completed the prestigious spine surgery fellowship at The Emory Spine Center in Atlanta. He trained with several leaders in spine surgery there and has already authored textbook chapters on revision cervical disorders. Dr. Young has presented at national meetings and is active in teaching and research. In training, Dr. Young was the chief resident at the University of Florida, where he served on the Hospital Ethics Committee. He is a member of the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

 

Jason Zook, MD (Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists, Hickory, N.C.). Dr. Zook is an orthopedic spine surgeon at Carolina Orthopaedic Specialists. He previously was the spine team leader at Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va., and completed a tour a duty in Afghanistan where he was department head of orthopedic surgery at the NATO Role 3 Hospital. He has performed more than 200 surgeries on gunshot, blast and other injury victims. Dr. Sook has a special interest in minimally invasive spine procedures and has published his research in several professional journals. Dr. Zook completed his training at five different Level I trauma centers and the combined orthopedic and neurosurgical spine Leatherman Spine Fellowship in Louisville, Ky.

 

More articles on spine surgeons:
DISC Sports & Spine, SCA form joint venture
Lower resident hours do impact spine surgery outcomes—but not in the way intended
10 spine, neurosurgeons in the headlines this week

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 April 2015 22:12
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