19 Spine Practices & Surgeons With Research Foundations

Laura Dyrda -  
Here is a list of 19 spine groups and surgeons that have founded research institutes.
If you would like to submit a surgeon or practice for this list, please contact Laura at lmiller@beckershealthcare.com.

Antoine G. Tohmeh, MD (Spokane, Wash.). Antoine G. Tohmeh, MD, a physician with Northwest Orthopaedic Specialists, is the founder of the Spine Research Institute of Spokane. He has a professional interest in minimally invasive spine surgery, spine trauma, adult spinal deformity, failed back surgery and cervical and lumbar procedures. His clinical trials include Extreme Lateral Total Disc Replacement and the Procrit, HEALOS and Oxiplex studies. He has been a clinical advisor for NuVasive and Medtronic Sofamor Danek. During his career, he has received the XLIF Pioneer Award and is a member of North American Spine Society. He is a founding member of the Society of Lateral Access Surgery. Dr. Tohmeh earned his medical degree at the American University of Beirut and completed his residency at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore. His additional training includes a spine surgery fellowship at the University of Maryland.

Baron S. Lonner (New York City). Dr. Lonner is the director of Scoliosis and Spine Associates and founder of the Scoliosis Research and Education Foundation. Established in 2002, the organization was created to contribute to the knowledge and research in spinal deformity and scoliosis and foster education worldwide. The non-profit organization also aims to train residents, fellows and attending spine surgeons on spinal deformity care and provide charitable care to underdeveloped countries. The foundation's current areas of study include genetic contributions to scoliosis, cost analysis of scoliosis treatment, impact of truncal anterior deformity and international disease severity. Charitable trips for the foundation include Ghana, Cairo and Santa Domingo most recently. Throughout his career, Dr. Lonner has published several articles in professional journals and presented at meetings for the Scoliosis Research Society and North American Spine Society. He earned his medical degree at Boston University School of Medicine and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y. His additional training includes a fellowship in spine and scoliosis surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Boulder (Colo.) Neurological & Spine Associates.
Boulder Neurological & Spine Associates is home to the Justin Parker Neurological Institute, which was founded by BNA leader Alan Villavicencio, MD, and John Parker, MD, in memory of their son and brother Justin. Dr. Villavicencio serves as chairman of the board of directors for JPNI, a scientific organization formed to conduct clinical research and disseminate information to the medical community. The primary research areas are brain and spinal disorders. Current and future projects include the use of osteogenic protein for instrumented posterolateral fusion, comparing minimally invasive spinal fixation systems and implementation of prospective patient clinical outcomes database. JPNI offers a fellowship in conjunction with BNA open to both neurological and orthopedic trainees.

Deuk Spine Institute (Melbourne, Fla.).
Founded by Ara Deukmendjian, MD, Deuk Spine Institute surgeons perform a variety of interventions for back pain, including a new procedure Dr. Deukmendjian developed called Deuk Laser Disc Repair. He also founded the Deuk Spine Foundation, a non-profit organization focused on research and education related to back pain and spine care. The foundation exists to advance spine research and provide a forum for public education and treatment for spine disease. Coupled with the public education on spinal conditions, the foundation supports clinical research to test different treatment options against worldwide registries of outcomes data. Deuk Spine Institute surgeons compare results from the Deuk Laser Disc Repair to other minimally invasive and open back procedures. The foundation also sponsors seminars, student projects, senior center discussion groups, scholarships and other outreach initiatives to promote spine health.

Frank Cammisa Jr., MD (New York City).
Dr. Cammisa is chief of spine services at Hospital for Special Surgery and creator of the National Spinal Research Foundation. He has also been affiliated with the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis. Dr. Cammisa's current research includes computer assisted image guidance, demineralized bone matrix and bone morphogenic protein use. He also examines minimally invasive and endoscopic spine surgery as well as bone growth enhancement. Throughout his career, Dr. Cammisa has also received grants for his research and was one of the lead investigators for a national study funded by the National Institutes of Health. He has published more than 100 research articles and manuscripts, including a study that found surgery was twice as effective as nonsurgical approaches in reducing pain and restoring function. He is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, North American Spine Society and International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery. He earned his medical degree from the College of Physicians & Surgeons in New York and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at HSS. His additional training includes a spine fellowship at the University of Miami, Jackson-Memorial Medical Center.

Georgia Spine and Neurosurgery Center (Atlanta). 
Dr. Kaveh Khajavi recently co-founded the Institute for Neurosurgical and Spine Research Foundation, a scientific research organization designed to facilitate research collaborations among minimally invasive spine surgeons. The foundation also collaborates with other spine surgeons participating in data collection and research, with studies focusing on clinical outcomes and comparative effectiveness for minimally invasive procedures and emerging technologies. The practice has been collecting outcomes since 2003 and has more than 1,000 patients in the database. Dr. Khajavi is a founding member of the Society for Lateral Access Surgery and has been treating degenerative scoliosis patients with minimally invasive surgical techniques since 2004. He earned his medical degree from Georgetown University School of Medicine in Washington, DC, and completed his neurosurgical residency at Cleveland Clinic. He is also the neurosurgical consultant to the Atlanta Falcons.

Midwest Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists (Omaha). Midwest Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists includes locations in Nebraska and Iowa as well as the Midwest Imaging Center. In addition to the clinical practice, the surgeons created the Midwest NeuroScience Foundation to fund research and education for patients with brain and spine injury and illness. Leslie C. Hellbusch, MD, founded Midwest NeuroScience Center and Midwest Neurosurgery & Spine Specialists. Surgeons at the practice have a special interest in treating patients with artificial disc surgery, gamma knife surgery and spinal tumor surgery.

Nebraska Spine Center (Omaha, Neb.).
The spine surgeons of Nebraska Spine Center founded the Nebraska Foundation for Spine Research in 1998. The non-profit foundation supports research by the Nebraska Spine Center and carries out research sponsored by other companies. Studies through the foundation that are currently enrolling patients include a trial for DePuy Spine's Discover Disc, AxioMed Spine's Freedom Lumbar Disc and the use of rhBMP-2 for anterior cervical decompression. The foundation's goal is to promote research that can improve patient care and offer novel treatments at reduced or no cost. Many of the surgeons associated with the foundation have published articles as a result of their work and are committed to serving as a source of education and information related to spinal disease and disorders.

NeuroSpine Institute (Orlando).
NeuroSpine Institute President Robert L. Masson, MD, a neurosurgeon with a special interest in spinal injury and sports neurosurgery, founded the NeuroSpine Institute Foundation and currently serves as chairman of the board. The foundation was formed in 2010 and has been focused on its educational mission ever since. NSIF's main goal is to promote youth sports and education about how to stop preventable inujuries, including concussions and spinal cord injury, from occurring in young athletes. NSIF recently held its 1st Annual Celebrity Reception & Golf Tournament, which raised money for the first phase of education for coaches, parents and players.

San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders (San Diego).
Behrooz Akbarnia, MD, director of the San Diego Center for Spinal Disorders, founded the San Diego Spine Foundation in 2004 to support spine-related research and education. The foundation's mission is to improve the global care of spine patients through research, education and professional development. The foundation provides funding for the San Diego Spine Fellowship Program, allowing young surgeons to pursue clinical and research education in spine surgery. Since its inception, SDSF has received and provided grants for research studies in adult and pediatric spinal disorders and deformities. Several of these studies have been published in professional journals. In addition to research, the foundation is involved in educational endeavors such as the sponsorship of the San Diego City Wide Spine Meetings for spine surgeons and their clinical staff.

Seton Spine & Scoliosis Center (Austin, Texas).
There are four spine surgeons and two nonsurgical care physicians practicing at Seton Spine & Scoliosis Center. The surgeons perform minimally invasive spine surgery, artificial disc replacement and surgical correction of scoliosis. The surgeons are led by co-chief Matthew J. Geck, MD, who also founded SpineHope to support children with spinal deformities through surgery, education and research. Dr. Geck recently traveled to Columbia to develop further sites in Central and South America. Co-chief John K. Stokes was a principle investigator in the FDA IDE study of the Mobi-C artificial cervical disc.

Sonoran Spine Center (Mesa, Ariz.).
The Sonoran Spine Center is committed to research through its Sonoran Spine Research and Education Foundation. The foundation is an independent, non-profit organization that conducts and supports spine research. The clinical research conducted through the foundation focuses on several areas, including scoliosis, new techniques for kyphosis correction, spine trauma, ostoporosis-related spine fractures and biologic enhancement of spinal fusion. The researchers are also interested in sports-related and work-related injuries. In 2011, surgeons and researchers with the foundation gathered and presented information on several different topics, including the use of rhBMP-2 in transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion and long-term work capacity after spine surgery. In addition to its focus on research, the foundation also supports public awareness programs and advocacy groups for spinal disorders.

Southeastern Spine Center (Sarasota, Fla.).
Southeastern Spine Center includes a research institute to provide objective evaluation of outcomes for operative and non-operative care for treatment with spinal disorders. Surgeons at the center are currently comparing minimally invasive endoscopic interbody fusion with open interbody fusion as part of a multi-centered study being conducted around the United States. The surgeons are also working on a retrospective evaluation comparing open versus endoscopic lumbar decompression, fusion and instrumentation. A third study examines upright MRI with flexion and extension in comparison to supine MRI for differentiating clinical findings. The surgeons have participated in several clinical research trials and worked on designing and developing metallic implants for both cervical and lumbar spinal disorders.

Spine Colorado (Durango).
Spine Colorado includes fellowship-trained spine surgeons and physical medicine physicians. The surgeons perform deformity correction, trauma surgery and total disc replacement procedures. Some of the procedures are performed in an outpatient surgery center. The practice is led by co-founder Jim A. Youssef, MD, who is a member of the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery, North American Spine Society and Cervical Spine Research Society. He also started the research department at Spine Colorado in 2002 and has participated in studies for new spinal implants and procedures. The physicians are engaged in research and lecture across the country on spine-related topics. The practice has three locations and provides care for several local athletes.

Spine Institute Santa Monica (Santa Monica, Calif.).
The Spine Institute has a focus on research and clinical trials for several types of spine and back pain management procedures. During the past 10 years, the institute's research has emphasized the in vivo application of proteins, growth factors, stem cell therapy and biologics to promote spinal tissue generation or regeneration. The Spine Institute's Spine Research Foundation has participated in several clinical trials, including the study of BMP-7 and nucleus replacement. Current open trials include the treatment of lumbar internal disc disruption with the Biostat System and Intradiscal rhGDF-5 as a growth factor for patients with lumbar degenerative disc disease. Much of the research done at the Spine Research Foundation is later published in professional journals, and the surgeons are often called upon to provide expertise to media sources on spine research and innovation.

SpineCare Medical Group (San Francisco).
SpineCare Medical Group's nonprofit research and development arm is the San Francisco Spine Institute. SFSI is led by Chairman James B. Reynolds, MD, President of Orthopedic Spine Surgery Paul Slosar, Jr., MD, and CEO Jodie L. Faier, PhD. SpineCare Medical Group is a large group of physicians that emphasizes minimally invasive and arthroscopic surgical techniques when possible. The surgeons engage in research and hold public forums to educate physicians, therapists and the general public about spine care. Current research includes assessing the safety and efficacy of the Impliant TOPS System and Prospective Spine Treatment Outcomes Study. The group also has a fellowship program.

Texas Back Institute (Plano, Texas).
In 1985, the Texas Back Institute Research Foundation was founded to improve care for patients with back pain through research and education. The foundation's work has included total disc replacements, minimally invasive procedures and pre-surgical psychological screening. TBIRF also has a fellowship program that has trained more than 70 spine surgeons through fellowships and visitor programs, and much of the research done at the foundation has been published in professional journal. In 2004, Texas Back Institute also formed Texas Back Institute Clinical Research, an organization dedicated to advancing new spinal technologies and techniques, which has supervised clinical research trials, research studies and education programs. The current clinical trials include a study comparing the VertiFlex Superion Interspinous Spacer to the X-Stop Interspinous Process Decompression System for spinal stenosis; and the clinical and radiographic outcomes of anterior lumbar interbody fusion using a novel stand-alone interbody fusion device.

Twin Cities Spine Center (Minneapolis).
The Twin Cities Spine Center has a research department, which is an extension of the research conducted by John H. Moe, MD, focusing on scoliosis treatment and care. The surgeons now involved with the research department examine operative and non-operative treatment, diagnostic methods and the natural history of spine problems. More than 500 medical papers have been published in peer-reviewed medical journals as a result of research done at the practice. The findings associated with the Twin Cities Spine Center research department include a clinical classification of surgical adolescent idiopathic scoliosis cases and a functional outcome analysis for surgically treated isthmic spondylolisthesis.

Virginia Spine Institute (Reston, Va.).
Virginia Spine Institute President Thomas C. Schuler, MD, founded the practice in 1992, and since then VSI spine surgeons have participated in several cutting-edge research and development projects. These projects include studying the safety and effectiveness of the Maverick Total Disc Replacement for lumbar degenerative disc disease, Prestige LP Cervical Disc and a clinical trial involving anterior cervical interbody fusion using rhBMP-2 soaked into an absorbable collagen sponge. In 2002, Dr. Schuler founded The Spine Research Foundation and continues to serve as president and director of the organization, while Brian R. Subach, MD, is the director of research. The foundation was formed with the goal of promoting fact-based medicine among spinal healthcare. In addition to the focus on research, The Spinal Research Foundation has also built an education program to promote spinal health awareness among the general public, with efforts including the "We've Got Your Back" race, walk and spinal health fair held at locations around the country.

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