20 Spine Surgeon Leaders in Advocacy Efforts

Written by Laura Dyrda | June 26, 2012 | Print  |
Here are 20 spine surgeons who have been leaders in spine patient advocacy efforts.

We are constantly updating this list and if you would like to recommend a spine surgeon leader in patient advocacy efforts for inclusion, please contact Laura at lmiller@beckershealthcare.com.

Jean-Jacques Abitbol, MD (California Spine Group, San Diego).
Dr. Abitbol is an orthopedic spine surgeon who has testified as a patient advocate before Congress on healthcare-related issues. He is a past president of the North American Spine Society and on the board of directors for the Cervical Spine Research Society and Federation of Spine Association. He has three offices in the San Diego area. Dr. Abitbol has a special interest in artificial disc replacement, minimally invasive spine surgery and treatment for herniated disc. Dr. Abitbol earned his medical degree at the University of Ottawa in Canada and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at McGill University in Montreal. His additional training includes a spine fellowship at Mount Sinai and Toronto General Hospital.

Daniel Albright, MD (Raleigh Orthopaedic Clinic, Raleigh, N.C.).
Dr. Albright has served as the president of "Protect Health Care Now," a statewide organization in North Carolina dedicated to spreading information about improving the state's healthcare. He has also served as president of the Wake County Medical Society and the Thomas B. Dameron, Jr. Orthopaedic Education Foundation. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Sullivan is the team orthopedist for the Carolina Hurricanes hockey team, a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and a member of the North American Spine Society. Dr. Albright is dually fellowship-trained in spine surgery and total joint replacement. He earned his medical degree at the Louisiana State School of Medicine in New Orleans and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Yale-New Haven (Conn.) Hospital. His additional fellowships were completed at St. Luke's Medical in Cleveland and Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Gunnar Andersson, MD (Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, Chicago).
Dr. Andersson serves as the chairman of the Public Policy Committee of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery, which is charged with, among other responsibilities, assisting in the crafting of policy and position statements on issues related to spinal healthcare. Dr. Andersson is also a chairman in spinal deformities at Rush University Medical Center. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Andersson has been committed to research and advancement of spine care. His efforts have been recognized by the North American Spine Society and he has received the ISSLS Stryker Spine Lifetime Achievement Award. His research interests include intervertebral disc biology and biomechanics and epidemiology of back pain. Dr. Andersson earned his medical degree at Sahlgren Hospital, University of Goteberg in Sweden, where he also completed his residency. Dr. Andersson's additional training includes a fellowship in orthopedics at The London Hospital in the United Kingdom.

Scott Blumenthal, MD (Texas Back Institute, Plano).
Dr. Blumenthal was previously the director of the board of directors for The Arthroplasty Patient Foundation, which was founded in 2006. The organization's goal is to empower patients within the global community and provide support for their journey to wellness. Dr. Blumenthal is a member of Texas Back Institute and a spine consultant with the Dallas Mavericks. He was the principle investigator for the SB III Charite Artificial Disc and serves as a clinical professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Blumenthal is a member of the North American Spine Society and the executive committee of the International Society of the Study of the Lumbar Spine. Dr. Blumenthal earned his medical degree at Northwestern University School of Medicine in Evanston, Ill., and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Dallas. His additional training includes a spinal trauma fellowship with the Midwest Regional Spinal Cord Injury Care System at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Chris Bono, MD (Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston).
Dr. Bono is the chair of North American Spine Society's Professional Economic and Regulatory Committee and a member on International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery's Public Policy Committee. Through his position with NASS, he has helped advocate for spine surgery coverage for the appropriately indicated patients. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Bono conducts spine research and has published articles in professional journals such as Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. Dr. Bono currently serves as the chief of spine surgery at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, both in Boston. He completed his medical degree at State University of New York Health Science Center at Brooklyn and finished his residency at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Medical School. His additional training includes a fellowship in spine surgery at the University of California in San Francisco.

Anthony Castellvi, MD (Florida Orthopaedic Institute, Tampa).
Dr. Castellvi is a member of the board of directors for the International Advocates for Spine Patients of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. He has a professional interest in treating patients with pediatric and adult scoliosis as well as other spinal disorders. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Castellvi conducts research focusing on bone graft substitutes, scoliosis-bracing and motion preservation in the lumbar spine. During his career, he has developed a cervical plate and designed instrumentation for other spinal disorders, including scoliosis. Dr. Castellvi is a member of the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He earned his medical degree at the University of Zaragonza Medical School and completed his residency at the University of South Florida College of Medicine. His additional training includes a fellowship at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) in spine surgery.

Michael Chang, MD (Wichita Clinic, Wichita, Kan.).
Dr. Chang is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and the National Association of Spine Specialists, a group founded to bring together spine care providers and patients with the goal of fighting for sound health policy. He has also contributed to the efforts to extend spine care across Kansas, which has been detailed in an MD News report. Dr. Chang has a professional interest in computer-assisted spine surgery, minimally invasive surgery and caring for patients with adult spine degenerative disorders. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Chang is also a clinical assistant professor at Kansas University School of Medicine in Wichita. He earned his medical degree at Mayo Medical Center in Rochester, Minn., where he also completed his orthopedic surgery residency. His additional training includes a fellowship at the University of California in San Diego.

Thomas Errico, MD (New York University Hospital for Joint Disease, New York City).
Dr. Errico is a past president of International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery and the chief of spine surgery at NYUHJD. During his time as ISASS president, Dr. Errico was instrumental in advocating for lumbar fusion coverage in states where payors were denying reimbursement to patients with degenerative disc disease. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society and the National Association of Spine Surgeons, as well as on the board of directors of the World Spine Society. During his career, Dr. Errico has participated in several studies, such as the Spine Patient Outcomes Research Trial and the ProDisc Lumbar Total Disc Replacement FDA trial. Dr. Errico earned his medical degree at New Jersey Medical School in Newark, N.J., and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at New York University Medical Center in New York City. He also completed a fellowship in spine surgery at the University of Toronto General Hospital.

John Finkenberg, MD (Alvarado Orthopaedic Medical Group, San Diego).
Dr. Finkenberg has served on the North American Spine Society Advocacy Committee and as associate editor for The Spine Journal. During his career, he has also spent time on the board of directors for the Foundation for Orthopedic Spine Research in Boston and a section editor for Spineline Journal. Dr. Finkenberg has been the chief of the orthopedic department at Alvarado Hospital Medical Center for several years and is the acting director of Alvarado Spine Center. His research includes studies on lumbar and cervical spinal fusions and he holds a patent for diagnosing fractures with intrasound vibration. Dr. Finkenberg earned his medical degree from the University of California in Los Angeles and completed his residency at Harbor UCLA Medical Center in Torrance, Calif. His additional training includes a fellowship in spine surgery at Johns Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore.

Rolando Garcia, MD (Orthopedic Care Center, Aventura, Fla.).
Dr. Garcia is a spine surgeon with Orthopedic Care Center and a member of the board of directors for the International Advocates for Spine Patients of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Garcia also participates in research and has authored articles published in professional journals. Previously Dr. Garcia served as chief of orthopedic surgery at Aventura Hospital and Medical Center. He earned his medical degree at Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, where he also completed his residency in orthopedic surgery. Dr. Garcia's additional training includes a fellowship in spine surgery at North Carolina Spine Center in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Stephen Hochschuler, MD (Texas Back Institute, Plano).
Dr. Hochschuler is co-founder of Texas Back Institute and a founding board member of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. He has served as the president of ISASS and has been the organization's chairman for the Public Policy Review Committee. He is also a member of the North American Spine Society. Throughout his career, Dr. Hochschuler has been an innovator, serving on the advisory boards for several spine device companies and the board of directors for Alphatec Spine. He is the founder of the spine division at Veterans Administration in Dallas and has published several articles in professional journals on spinal conditions. Dr. Hochschuler earned his medical degree at Harvard Medical School in Boston, where he also completed his residency. His additional training includes time in the United States Air Force, and he completed an additional residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Texas and Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas.

Neil Kahanovitz, MD (Center for Orthopaedics, West Orange, N.J.).
Dr. Kahanovitz founded the nonprofit Center for patient Advocacy in 1995 and has testified in front of Congress on healthcare issues. He was appointed a member of the Health Care Financing Administrative Medicare Coverage Advisory Committee and received commendation from the Office of the Attending Physician of the United States Congress for his efforts. Dr. Kahanovitz is currently the director of spine surgery at The Center for Orthopedics and previously served as chief of back surgery at the Hospital for Joint Diseases in New York City. He also has experience as director of spine surgery at Washington Hospital Center and president of the North American Spine Society. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Kahanovitz has conducted research, which ahs received recognition from the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine. Dr. Kahanovitz completed a fellowship in spine surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Choll Kim, MD (Center for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery at Alvarado Hospital, San Diego).
Dr. Kim is a member of the board of directors for the International Advocates for Spine Patients of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. He is also a member of the Spine Network of California, which has a new patient advocacy branch. His clinical practice focuses on minimally invasive spine surgery for treating complex spinal disorders. He performs computer-assisted procedures and endoscopic techniques. Dr. Kim is the executive director of the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery and has served as the UCSD Spine Fellowship Program head. Dr. Kim earned his medical degree from Harvard Medical School in Boston and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of California, San Diego. His additional training includes a spine surgery fellowship at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

John P. Lubicky, MD (West Virginia University, Morgantown).
Dr. Lubicky has served as advocacy and public policy chair of the Scoliosis Research Society. He has a special interest in treating spinal deformities, tumors and trauma infections. He is a member of the Spinal Deformity Study Group and American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. In addition to his clinical practice he serves as a professor of orthopedic surgery at West Virginia University School of Medicine. Dr. Lubicky earned his medical degree at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia and completed his residency at Medical College of Virginia Hospitals. His additional training includes a fellowship in pediatric orthopedic surgery at Shriners Hospital for children and a spine surgery fellowship at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center.

Frank Phillips, MD (Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush, Chicago).
Dr. Phillips is on the board of directors for the International Advocates for Spine Patients organization, which is dedicated to the advocacy of high quality, widely accessible and cost effective care for spine patients around the world. The organization was born from the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. Dr. Phillips is the director of the section of minimally invasive spine surgery at Rush University Medical Center and co-founder of the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. During his career, he has been a principle investigator in FDA trials on cervical disc replacement. His research has been published in several orthopedic journals and he directs spinal education courses for other spine surgeons. Dr. Phillips earned his medical degree from the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa and completed his residency at The University of Chicago Medical Center. His additional training includes a spine surgery fellowship at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.

David Polly, MD (University of Minnesota, Minneapolis).
Dr. Polly is the chief of the spine services at the University of Minnesota. He is a member of the board of directors for the International Advocates for Spine Patients of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. Dr. Polly has a clinical interest in treating scoliosis, spinal tumors and degenerative spine disease. During his career, Dr. Polly has been the treasurer of the Society of Military Orthopaedic Surgeons and secretary of the Scoliosis Research Society. He also served on the board of directors for the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and was co-founder of the Army Spine Study Group. Dr. Polly earned his medical degree from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences and completed his orthopedic surgery residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. His additional training includes a fellowship in spine surgery at the University of Minnesota.

Raj Rao, MD (Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee).
Dr. Rao serves as the chair of the North American Spine Society's Advocacy Committee and is currently updating the organization's Blog for Spine Care Professionals regarding healthcare issues in Congress. He also serves on the NASS board of directors and as an associate editor of The Spine Journal. During his career, he has served on many national scientific committees, including an appointment to the Food and Drug Administration Advisory Panel on Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Devices. He has published his research on topics such as spinal biomechanics, the biology of spinal fusion and gait analysis in patients with spinal disorders. Currently, he serves as a professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery at Medical College of Wisconsin, where he has been the director of spine surgery since 1999. Dr. Rao earned his medical degree at the University of Bombay in India and completed his residency at the University of Southern California School of Medicine in Los Angeles. He also completed a fellowship in spine surgery at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich.

Thomas Schuler, MD (Virginia Spine Institute, Reston).
Dr. Schuler is the president and CEO of Virginia Spine Institute and founder of The Spinal Research Foundation, a non-profit organization supporting the research, education and advocacy for spinal healthcare. The Spinal Research Foundation's signature event is the "We've Got Your Back" race/walk scheduled in multiple cities around the country with the purpose of raising awareness and funds for spinal health and research. During his career, Dr. Schuler has been a member of the Young Presidents Organization and currently serves as a team physician for the Washington Redskins. He is a member of several professional societies, including the North American Spine Society, and a founding member of the Degenerative Spine Study Group. He earned his medical degree at Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis and completed his residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. His additional training includes a spine surgery fellowship at Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles.

Jeffrey Jonathan Wise, MD (Blue Ridge Orthopaedic Associates, Warrenton, Va.).
Dr. Wise is a spine surgeon who has been active in spine advocacy for several years. He served as the chairman of the North American Spine Society's Advocacy Committee from 2005-2008 and has been a board member of the National Association of Spine Specialists since 2004. During his career, Dr. Wise has also served as president of the Fauquier County Medical Society and is a fellow of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He is also the author of several articles in professional publications and is a partner at Blue Ridge Orthopaedic Associates. Dr. Wise earned his medical degree at University of Maryland in Baltimore and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Mich. His additional experience includes a spine surgery fellowship at Rush/Presbyterian/St. Luke's Medical Center in Chicago.

James Yue, MD (Yale Medical Group, New Haven, Conn.).
Dr. Yue is a member of the board of directors of the International Advocates for Spine Patients of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. He is also co-director of the orthopedic spine service at Yale and the director of the Yale Spine Fellowship. Dr. Yue has a clinical interest in treating patients with arthritis, scoliosis, deformities and tumors. He performs ProDisc disc replacement, X-stop treatment and other motion-preservation techniques. Dr. Yue earned his medical degree at Northwestern University Medical School in Evanston, Ill., and completed his residency at the University Hospitals of Cleveland in orthopedic surgery. His additional training includes fellowships in orthopedic and spinal trauma at RA Crowley Shock Trauma Hospital at the University of Maryland in Baltimore and in spine surgery at Queen's Medical Center in Honolulu.



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