I am originally from Belgrade, Serbia (not Montana, Minnesota…there are seven cities named Belgrade in the US). Although I grew up in Belgrade, my education took me to several different cities and countries so I have few hometowns. My family and I now live in Pasadena, California.
I received my undergraduate degree in molecular biology and physiology from the University of Belgrade, Serbia. Upon completion of my undergraduate studies I moved to Germany and obtained my PhD from the University of Ulm, Germany. After that I did my postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at University of California San Francisco, the place which defined my career goals.
I am an Assistant Professor of Research in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Southern California. In 2014, I was recruited by Dr. Jeffrey Wang to join his team and the interdisciplinary Spine Center. My research focuses on spine pathologies and disc regeneration utilizing both basic science models and clinical research. I feel lucky to be part of our department ... the dynamic collaborations with other faculty have had a big impact on my research.
I joined NASS in 2014, and I’ve attended meetings since 2009. My initial drive was research and education. As I am becoming more involved, I have realized that NASS is not only providing a medium for the exchange of research and education, but also integrates important information through various committees and issues guidelines. NASS uniquely covers all segments of spine care and research.
I am very honored to be a member of the Section on Biologics, a very knowledgeable and productive group of people. The newest updates on biologics in pre-clinical and clinical settings have been a crucial part of every annual and specialty meetings. In addition, the committee has been heavily involved in coverage recommendations for cell-based grafts, allografts and synthetics. I truly believe that biologics will have a major impact on spine care in the coming years.
I would highly encourage everyone to submit their findings for the annual and specialty meetings. NASS provides a great opportunity to learn and network, but most importantly it is the source of information on current concepts and trends in spine care. NASS is the only place where each subspecialty has dedicated sessions and very active discussions.
Value-based medicine is a challenge for spine care and requires a fine balance between the costs and quality. We are seeing that the industry is trying to address this balance, however we are walking a fine line between value and “just good enough.” Adequate data collection and analysis of new products takes time, but it is the only way to understand how to improve quality of spine care while reducing the costs.
Personally I don’t use social media much. I think various platforms can be very helpful in highlighting the quality of institutions and in educating patients. Unfortunately, social media is often misused.
Not enough, the coverage is minimal. Our health care industry is very complex and constantly changing. We have to make an effort to provide more transparent information, so the general public can understand the complexity of health care and the associated costs. For example, better patient education could prevent the damage done by bogus injections and treatments for low back pain.
I spend all of my spare time with my family. Watching my daughter grow up is all the entertainment I need.