25 power players in spine


Multiple spine surgeon leaders are advancing the industry through their work and innovations.

Here are 25 power players in spine surgery:

Editor's note: Leaders are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Hyun Bae, MD. Dr. Bae is a spine surgeon with the Commons Clinic in Los Angeles. He is co-director of its new Center for Spine Economics, Outcomes & Research, which is investing $100 million over the next decade.

Scott Blumenthal, MD. Dr. Blumenthal is with the Texas Back Institute in Plano, and he is the first surgeon in the U.S. to dedicate his practice to artificial disc replacement. He played a key role in bringing the procedure to the U.S.

Robert Bray Jr. MD. Dr. Bray founded and is the CEO of DISC Sports and Spine Center in Newport Beach, Calif. He is an early pioneer of minimally invasive spine surgery. 

Frank Cammisa Jr., MD. Dr. Cammisa is chief emeritus of New York City-based Hospital for Special Surgery's spine service. He earned HSS' Lifetime Achievement Award in 2023.

Edward Dohring, MD. Dr. Dohring was the 2021-2022 president of the North American Spine Society. He has practiced in Arizona since 1993 and works at the Spine Institute of Arizona in Scottsdale.

John Finkenberg, MD. Dr. Finkenberg has worked in private practice in San Diego since 1992. He served as president of the North American Spine Society in the 2022-2023 term.

Michael Gallizzi, MD. Dr. Gallizzi is a spine surgeon at The Steadman Clinic in Vail, Colo., and focuses on endoscopic and robotic surgery. He has completed more than 200 robotic and endoscopic spine cases. 

Brian Gantwerker, MD. Dr. Gantwerker is an active member of the North American Spine Society. He earned NASS' Advocacy Award in 2021 for his involvement on the advocacy council, legislative committee and political engagement committee. He works at Craniospinal Center of Los Angeles.

Zoher Ghogawala, MD. Dr. Ghogawala is a neurosurgeon with Beth Israel Lahey Health in Burlington, Mass. He was named president of NASS for its 2023-2024 term. 

Choll Kim, MD, PhD. Dr. Kim is double board certified in minimally invasive spine surgery, and he founded Minimally Invasive Spine Centers of Excellence. His practice focuses on laser endoscopic spine surgery.

Todd Lanman, MD. Dr. Lanman is known for his work with artificial disc replacement at his practice in Beverly Hills, Calif. He has been a principal medical investigator for motion preserving and artificial disc clinical trials. In 2021, he expanded his practice to Florida.

Lawrence Lenke, MD. Dr. Lenke is a leader in spinal deformity surgery. He developed the classification system for adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Dr. Lenke is surgeon-in-chief at NewYork-Presbyterian Och Spine Hospital in New York City.

Isador Lieberman, MD. Dr. Lieberman established the scoliosis and spine tumor program at the Texas Back Institute in Plano. He is president of the medical staff at Texas Health Plano Hospital and Texas Back Institute. Along with his clinical work, he has helped develop multiple spine implants.

Morgan Lorio, MD. Dr. Lorio is chair of the International Society for Advancement of Spine Surgery's Task Force for coding and reimbursement. He has advocated at Capitol Hill for spine surgeon interests and earned the first Distinguished Service Award from ISASS in 2017.

Philip Louie, MD. Dr. Louie is a minimally invasive spine surgeon at Seattle-based Virginia Mason Franciscan Health. He was named co-program chair of the Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery in 2023.

Frank Phillips, MD. Dr. Phillips is director of spine surgery at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. He was one of the first in Chicago to perform minimally invasive spine surgery and is a past president of the Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery.

Sheeraz Qureshi, MD. Dr. Qureshi is co-chief of spine at HSS. He performs nearly 300 minimally invasive spine surgeries yearly. Before joining HSS he was chief of minimally invasive spine surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

Andrew Sama, MD. Dr. Sama is co-chief of spine surgery at HSS and is involved in multiple professional spine societies. He has been involved in the development and design of spine implants and is a consultant with the the medical staff of the United States Olympic Committee.

Alok Sharan, MD. Dr. Sharan, of Spine and Performance Institute in Edison, N.J., is an early adopter of awake spine surgery. He has taught awake techniques to several surgeons, including one in the United Kingdom.

Leo Spector, MD. Dr. Spector is the new CEO of Charlotte, N.C.-based OrthoCarolina. He spent 17 years in leadership at OrthoCarolina before taking the top role. He was instrumental in helping OrthoCarolina to establish new clinics, ASCs and orthopedic urgent care facilities.

Alex Vaccaro, MD, PhD. Dr. Vaccaro, president of Philadelphia-based Rothman Orthopaedic Institute, was named the top-rated spine expert by Expertscape. He has more than 900 peer-reviewed publications and 200 non-peer-reviewed publications. He has plans to expandRothman into its fifth state in 2022.

Jeffrey Wang, MD. Dr. Wang is a past president of the North American Spine Society and Cervical Spine Research Society. He's co-director of the spine center at Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

Michael Wang, MD. Dr. Wang is chief of neurosurgery at the University of Miami (Fla.) Hospital. He is co-president of ISASS and is involved in several other professional spine societies.

Richard Wohns, MD. Dr. Wohns is founder and medical director of NeoSpine in Puyallup, Wash. He has been in practice for more than 30 years. He also volunteers and performed the first cervical and lumbar disc replacements in te Maldives.

Vijay Yanamadala, MD. Dr. Yanamadala was the first surgeon to perform an awake spinal fusion in New England. He also was the second surgeon in the world to use Carlsmed's patient-specific spine implant. 

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