This is a list of 10 spine surgeons who are using stem cells to promote healing during spinal procedures in their practice or who are researching and innovating in the field of spinal biologics. Inclusion on this list is not an endorsement of a surgeons’ or organization’s clinical abilities.
Rick B. Delamarter, MD (Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles). Dr. Delamarter is the co-medical director of the Cedars-Sinai Spine Center and vice chair for spine services in the department of surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. He has a vast interest in non-fusion and minimally invasive techniques, including the use of growth factors for fusion and stem cells for repairing degenerative disc disease. During his career, he was among the first to use growth factor tissue engineering for intervertebral discs as well as multi-level artificial disc replacement for both the lumbar and cervical spine. His research has also reflected his passion for advanced spinal procedures, and his research has been recognized by the North American Spine Society and International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine. Dr. Delamarter earned his medical degree at the University of Oregon Health Science Center in Portland and completed his residency at the University of California, Los Angeles Medical Center. His additional training includes a fellowship in spine surgery at Case Western Reserve University in Detroit and additional training at the Acute Spinal Cord Injury Unit at Cleveland Veteran’s Hospital.
Randall Dryer, MD (Central Texas Spine Institute, Austin). Dr. Dryer has an interest in several spine surgery techniques, including harvesting adult stem cells from a patient’s body and using them during spine surgery to promote tissue regeneration. Throughout his career, he has participated in several research projects on topics such as spinal joint/facet replacement for lumbar spinal stenosis and disc replacement, including research on Medtronic Prestige cervical disc. He is a member of several professional societies, including North American Spine Society and Cervical Spine Research Society. He is also a past president of the Texas Spine Society. Dr. Dryer earned his medical degree at the University of Iowa Medical School in Iowa City and completed a fellowship in spine surgery at New Addenbrooks Hospital in Cambridge, England.
Richard Fessler, MD (Northwestern University, Chicago). Throughout his career, Dr. Fessler has been a pioneer in minimally invasive surgical techniques and was among the first spine surgeons to perform human embryonic spinal cord transplantation. He has also participated in a clinical trial to test the use of embryonic stem cells in patients with thoracic spine injuries. During the trial, surgeons injected a specific type of embryonic stem cells directly into the injury site to create myelin for protecting the nerves. This past summer, Dr. Fessler participated in an Illinois panel to protect stem cell research, hosted by U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). Dr. Fessler previously founded and directed the Institute for Spine Care at Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch and has served as a professor of neurological surgery at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Fessler earned his medical degree at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, where he also completed his residency in neurological surgery. His additional training includes research fellowships in physiatry and neurosurgery at the University of Chicago Medical Center.
Stanley Jones, MD (SpineCare, Houston). Dr. Jones recently earned national recognition for performing spine surgery using stem cells on Texas Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Perry. The procedure, developed by RNL BIO, a company specializing in adult stem cell therapeutics, is one that Dr. Jones received himself in Kyoto, Japan. He found the spinal infusion procedure so effective that he decided to incorporate it into his spine practice. Dr. Jones currently serves as the director of spine care services at Memorial Hermann Hospital, Southwest, and is a diplomat of the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery. He is also a member of North American Spine Society, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons and American Board of Spine Surgery. Dr. Jones also spent time serving as captain in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. Dr. Jones earned his medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas and completed his residency at the University of Texas Medical School in Houston. His additional training includes a fellowship at Wellseley Hospital in Toronto.
Jeffrey Kleiner, MD (Medical Center of Aurora, Aurora, Colo.). Dr. Kleiner was among the first spine surgeons to perform a discectomy in the United States using adult stem cell to help repair a patient’s lower back in 2008. He partnered with the Colorado-based company Regenerative Sciences to perform the surgery. For the procedure, surgeons harvest stem cells from the patient and culture them before placing them into the patients’ spines during minimally invasive surgery. Dr. Kleiner earned his medical degree at the University of Colorado Health Science Center in Denver and completed his residency at the University of California in San Diego. His additional training includes a fellowship at Rocky Mountain Spine Clinic in Lone Tree, Colo.
Carl Lauryssen, MD (Tower Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine, Beverly Hills, Calif.). Dr. Lauryssen was among the first neurosurgeons in the country to inject stem cells into a human spinal cord as part of an FDA trial. He currently serves as the co-director of spine research and development and lead spine surgeon at Olympia Medical Center in Los Angeles. His research and surgical interests focus on minimally invasive surgery and motion preservation, and he has been awarded the young investigator award twice from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons for his work with cervical disorders and stem cell research. In addition to his clinical work and research, Dr. Lauryssen has participated in device development and holds multiple patents and inventions currently used by spine surgeons across the country. Dr. Lauryssen earned his medical degree at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and completed his neurosurgical residency at University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada. His additional training includes a fellowship in spinal neurosurgical surgery at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.
Chris Meyer, MD (Foundation Surgical Hospital, Bellaire, Texas). Dr. Meyer is at the forefront of using stem cell therapy for regenerating tissue and has extensive experience harvesting adult stem cells during routine spine procedures to treat back pain. After harvesting bone marrow from the iliac crest, he processes it in the Celling Technologies system that concentrates the bone marrow to the desired level for healing. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Meyer has been on faculty at the University of Texas and is interested in developing new techniques and instrumentation for minimally invasive procedures. Dr. Meyer has served as the president of the Texas Spine Society and is a member of North American Spine Society. Dr. Meyer earned his medical degree at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center/New York Orthopedic Hospital, both in New York City. His additional training includes a spine fellowship at the Kenton D. Letherman Spine Program in Louisville, Ky.
Kenneth Pettine, MD (Rocky Mountain Associates in Orthopedic Medicine, Loveland, Colo.). Dr. Pettine recently became the first spine surgeon to successfully use the Mesoblast Limited technology during the Phase 2 clinical trial of its Adult Mesencymal Precursor Cell product for treating patients with lower back pain and degenerative disc disease. The injection of Mesoblast’s allogenic MPCs is designed to reverse the degenerative process, re-grow disc cartilage and sustain normalization of disc pathology, anatomy and function. Dr. Pettine is the co-founder of Rocky Mountain Associates, The Spine Institute and Loveland Surgery Center. Throughout his career, Dr. Pettine has been an innovator and is the co-inventor of the Maverick Artificial Disc. He holds three patents for artificial discs and has been involved in several investigations of spine devices. Dr. Pettine earned his medical degree at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. His additional training includes a fellowship at the Institute for Low Back Care in Minneapolis.
Scott Spann, MD (Westlake Orthopedics, West Lake Hills, Texas). After recovering from a cycling accident that left him quadriplegic, Dr. Spann became interested in the use of stem cells in orthopedic and spine applications. He is among the leading innovators in minimally invasive spine surgery and clinical stem cell use. In addition to performing procedures using stem cells, he provides instruction and consultation on the technique around the world. During his career, he has participated in FDA trials focused on bringing new spine technology and products to the market. Later, he became a founder of Westlake Orthopaedics and Westlake Hospital. Prior to his medical career, Dr. Spann was a world-class swimmer. He earned his medical degree at the University of South Carolina in Columbia and completed his residency in orthopedic surgery at Ochsner Foundation in New Orleans. He also spent time in the US Army Medical Corps and completed a fellowship in spine surgery in Atlanta.
Gowriharan Thaiyananthan, MD (Chapman Neurosurgical Spine Institute, Orange, Calif.). Dr. Thaiyananthan is the co-medical director at Southern California Center for Neurosciences and Spine at Chapman Medical Center. He has experience using cadaveric stem cells, donor stem cells and patients’ own mesenchymal stem cells as graft material during spine procedures. He also has a professional interest in minimally invasive surgical techniques and often treats patients with degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis and scoliosis. In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Thaiyananthan has published articles in several peer-reviewed journals and is a member of the North American Spine Society and American Association of Neurological Surgeons. He earned his medical degree at the University of California, San Francisco, and completed his neurosurgery residency at Yale New Haven (Conn.) Hospital. His additional training includes a fellowship in minimally invasive and complex spine surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Institute for Spinal Disorders.
Written by Laura Miller