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Emeritus President & CEO; Emeritus Professor and Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Barrow Neurological Institute
Robert F. Spetzler will be presenting, "What Cavernous Malformations Have Taught Us," during the General Scientific Session on Monday, October 10, 2022.
Robert F. Spetzler, M.D., was born in Stierhoefstetten, Germany in 1944. In 1953, his family moved to the United States and on July 16, 1965, he was naturalized. He attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois, and graduated cum laude with Bachelors of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry in 1967. In 1967, he entered medical school at Northwestern University, where he obtained his M.D. in 1971 and completed his internship in 1972.
In 1972, Dr. Spetzler moved to the University of California at San Francisco where he trained as a resident under Charles B. Wilson, M.D., Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery. It was there, under the expert tutelage of Dr. Wilson, that his interest in neurovascular surgery developed and his commitment to academic neurosurgery was established. Before finishing his residency, he had already published 15 articles in refereed journals, on eight of which he was first author; had helped edit two books; and had made almost 20 presentations at national and international meetings. During the last year of his residency, he was awarded a Trauma Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He also received the Annual Resident Award at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
After his residency, Dr. Spetzler joined the Department of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio as an Assistant Professor. In 1980, he received his first major grant from NIH, developing a baboon model of stroke that has been particularly generative for testing new therapeutic treatments for stroke and cerebral ischemia. In 1981, he was promoted to Associate Professor, holding that appointment until 1983.
In 1983, Dr. Spetzler was recruited by Dr. John R. Green to assume the J. N. Harber Chair of Neurological Surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) in Phoenix, Arizona. Under Dr. Spetzler's leadership, the BNI has grown from primarily a regional center to an internationally recognized center of excellence that attracts both visiting health care professionals and patient referrals from around the world. The residency program has become the largest and one of the most highly sought programs because of the diversity of clinical experience and the emphasis on developing independent research projects.
Among just a few of Dr. Spetzler's contributions, have been the development of the NPPBT and a grading system for cranial and spinal AVMs; cardiac arrest for giant infratentorial aneurysms and the development of innovative approaches for CM’s in the brainstem and thalamus. Overall, he has published 856 articles in refereed journals and authored 29 books. He has presented virtually every named lectureship nationally and internationally.
Among countless honors, Dr. Spetzler was awarded an honorary doctoral degree from his undergraduate alma mater, Knox College, and was chosen as the Honored Guest of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons 1994-the youngest member ever to receive this award. In 2017 he received the AANS highest honor, the Cushing Medal. He is happily married to Nancy, his inspiration and the mother of their two precious children.