Here are 10 spine surgeon leaders to know in 2021:
1. Mark Burnett, MD (NeuroTexas Brain and Spinal Surgery, Austin): Dr. Burnett specializes in complex and minimally invasive spine surgery, sports medicine and peripheral nerve surgery. He's received multiple research grants for his work in neurophysiology and the development of noninvasive blood flow monitors for patients. He's authored more than 30 peer-reviewed manuscripts and several book chapters.
2. Adam Shimer, MD (Charlottesville-based University of Virginia Health System): Dr. Shimer's specialties include treating complex and revision cervical spine conditions and adult spinal deformity. He's also an associate professor of orthopedic surgery at UVA and is medical director for the orthopedic surgery inpatient unit. His research areas include genetic and cellular treatment of degenerative disc disease.
3. Nelson Saldua, MD (Vancouver [Wash.] Clinic): Dr. Saldua served in the Navy for 14 years, and his duties included general medical officer and orthopedic surgery department head of the NATO Multinational Medical Unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. He completed his medical degree at Bethesda, Md.-based Uniformed Services University. In a video on Vancouver Clinic's website, he said he took pride in taking care of service members.
4. Jason Lowenstein, MD (Morristown Medical Center and Atlantic Health System, both in Morristown, N.J.): Dr. Lowenstein was named a top doctor in orthopedic surgery in 2020, according to a report from Jersey's Best. He specializes in spinal deformity surgery and prefers the least invasive approaches to treatment. On his website, he features case studies of youth athletes who were able to return to sports after surgery.
5. Wellington Hsu, MD (Northwestern Medicine, Chicago): Dr. Hsu is a spine surgeon with practice areas focusing on spinal fusion, spinal stenosis and sports-related injuries. He has residency training from the University of California Los Angeles Medical Center and completed a fellowship at UW Health in Madison, Wis. Last year, he was featured in an Indianapolis Star report after he treated a Purdue University soccer player with spondylolisthesis.
6. Stephen Banco, MD (Keystone Spine and Pain Management Center in Wyomissing, Pa.): Dr. Banco is an orthopedic spine surgeon and is on the editorial review board for Clinical Spine Surgery. He recently authored two chapters in The Spine and published research in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Spine and Current Opinion in Orthopaedics.
7. Robert Molinari, MD (University of Rochester [N.Y.] Medical Center): Dr. Molinari is internationally recognized as an expert in complex spine surgery. He's authored eight book chapters and more than 60 articles in the field. He's a veteran and served in the United States Armed Forces as a regional expert for treating complex spine disorders. Dr. Molinari still has a military teaching appointment at Bethesda, Md.-based Armed Forces Medical School.
8. Chanland Roonprapunt, MD, PhD (Mount Sinai Hospital, New York City): Dr. Roonprapunt is a board-certified neurosurgeon, and his special interests include spinal conditions and syringomyelia. His research focuses on the spine, and he works with the department of orthopedics on methods to improve the placement of spinal instrumentation while correcting deformities. Dr. Roonprapunt was recognized by the American Registry with the Patient's Choice Award and Compassionate Doctor Award from 2010 through 2013 and was named a Top Doctor of New York in Neurological Surgery by Castle and Connolly.
9. Srdjan Mirkovic, MD (NorthShore Orthopaedic & Spine Institute, Chicago): Dr. Mirkovic serves on staff at NorthShore University HealthSystem. He also is a spine consultant for the Chicago Bears and Chicago Fire. Dr. Mirkovic has held committee responsibilities for the North American Spine Society and International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. Dr. Mirkovic won two North American Spine Society Outstanding Spine Research Awards. Spine and the Journal of Spinal Disorders, among others, have published his work. Dr. Mirkovic completed his spinal surgery fellowship at the University of California San Diego.
10. James Harrop, MD (Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, Philadelphia): Dr. Harrop originally went to school to become an actuary but became interested in spine surgery toward the end of college. He went on to complete his medical degree and a residency at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. He also did a fellowship at Cleveland Clinic.
This is not an exhaustive list. Becker's aims to highlight at least two spine surgeons each week. To nominate a spine surgeon, contact Carly Behm at firstname.lastname@example.org.