Recognition Awards

NASS has five awards available to recognize unique and outstanding contributions to the field of spine. Three of the awards were named for founding members of NASS who not only made outstanding contributions to the field of spinal disorder management, but also played key roles in the early success of NASS. In 2015 NASS added two awards: Spine Advocacy and Past President (Awarded every three years)

Types of Awards

Henry Farfan Award

To recognize outstanding contributions in spine related basic science research.

David Selby Award

To recognize contributions to the art and science of spinal disorder management through service to NASS but has not been elected NASS President

Leon Wiltse Award

To recognize excellence in leadership and/or clinical research in spine care.

Past President Award

To recognize a Past President of NASS who has made exceptional contributions to the society and its mission. (Awarded every 3 years)

Spine Advocacy Award

To recognize members of the North American Spine Society who have made exceptional contributions to the federal advocacy efforts on behalf of patients and members of the society.

Past Award Winners:

Year Award Winner
2017 David Selby
William Mitchell, MD 
2017 Leon Wiltse K. Daniel Riew, MD
2017  Henry Farfan S. Tim Yoon, MD, PhD 
2017  NASS Spine Advocacy David A Wong, MD, MCs, FRCS 
2016 David Selby Jim Reynolds, MD
2016 Leon Wiltse Keith Bridwell, MD
2016 Henry Farfan Makarand V. Risbud, PhD
2016 NASS Spine Advocacy Charles A. Mick, MD
2015 David Selby Donna M. Lahey, RNFA
2015 Leon Wiltse Frank J. Eismont, MD
2015 Henry Farfan James C. Iatridis, PhD
2015 Past President David A. Wong, MD, MSc, FRCS
2015 NASS Spine Advocacy Dr. Jeffrey J. Wise, MD
2014 David Selby Raj D. Rao, MD
2014 Leon Wiltse Ziya Gokaslan, MD, FACS, FAANS
2014 Henry Farfan Michael H. Heggeness, MD, PhD
2013 David Selby Marjorie Eskay-Auerbach, MD, JD
2013 Leon Wiltse Lawrence G. Lenke, MD
2013 Henry Farfan Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD
2012 David Selby Thomas Faciszewski, MD
2012 Leon Wiltse Marcel F. Dvorak, MD
2012 Henry Farfan Helen Gruber, PhD
2011 David Selby Joel Press, MD
2011 Leon Wiltse Kiyoshi Kaneda, MD
2011 Henry Farfan Gunnar Andersson, MD, PhD
2010 David Selby Serena S. Hu, MD
2010 Leon Wiltse Alexander R. Vaccaro, MD
2010 Henry Farfan Narayan Yoganandan, PhD
2009 David Selby Stanley A. Herring, MD 
2009 Leon Wiltse Michael G. Fehlings, MD, PhD, FRCSC
2009 Henry Farfan Avinash Patwardhan, PhD
2008 David Selby David A. Wong, MD
2008 Leon Wiltse Eugene Carragee, MD
2008 Henry Farfan Kenneth M. C. Cheung, MD
2007 David Selby Edward C. Benzel, MD
2007 Leon Wiltse Arthur D. Steffee, MD
2007 Henry Farfan James D. Kang, MD
2006 David Selby Hansen Yuan, MD
2006 Leon Wiltse Henry Bohlman, MD
2006 Henry Farfan Vijay Goel, PhD
2005 David Selby Scott Halderman, MD
2005 Leon Wiltse Harry Herkowitz, MD
2005 Henry Farfan Howard An, MD
2004 David Selby Tom Mayer, MD
2004 Leon Wiltse Edward C. Benzel, MD
2004 Henry Farfan James Weinstein, MD
2003 David Selby Steven Garfin, MD
2003 Leon Wiltse Scott Boden, MD
2003 Henry Farfan Bryan Cunningham, MSc
2002 David Selby Bruce Fredrickson, MD
2002 Leon Wiltse John Kostuik, MD
2002 Henry Farfan F. Todd Wetzel, MD
2001 David Selby Richard Guyer, MD
2001 Leon Wiltse John McCulloch, MD
2001 Henry Farfan Robert Gatchel, PhD
2000 David Selby David Fardon, MD
2000 Leon Wiltse Steve Garfin, MD
2000 Henry Farfan Hamilton Hall, MD
1999 David Selby Casey Lee, MD
1999 Leon Wiltse Thomas S. Whitecloud III, MD
1999 Henry Farfan Vert Mooney, MD
1998 David Selby J. Walt Simmons, Jr., MD
1998 Leon Wiltse Hansen Yuan, MD
1998 Henry Farfan Manohar Panjabi, PhD
1997 David Selby J. Elmer Nix, MD
1997 Leon Wiltse Charles D. Ray, MD
1997 Henry Farfan Tom G. Mayer, MD
1996 David Selby John P. Kostuik, MD
1996 Leon Wiltse Thomas E. Whitesides, Jr., MD
1996 Henry Farfan William C. Hutton, DSc
1991 David Selby W. H. Kirkaldy-Willis, MD

David Selby
David Selby

2018 Recognition Award Recipients

Henry Farfan Award

Jeffrey C. Lotz
Professor Jeffrey Lotz, Ph.D. is the David S. Bradford M.D. Endowed Chair in Orthopaedic Surgery and Vice Chair of Research at UCSF. He has been the Director of the Orthopaedic Bioengineering Laboratory since 1992, and is the founding director of three centers at UCSF: NIH-funded Core Center for Musculoskeletal Biology in Medicine (CCMBM); the NSF-funded Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (CDMI), and the recently formed NIDCR-funded Center for Dental, Oral and Craniofacial Tissue and Organ Regeneration (C-DOCTOR).

Dr. Lotz is a recognized national authority in biomechanics with special expertise in spine biomechanics, intervertebral disc biology, and tissue engineering. He has contributed to our understanding of disc biology through laboratory work focusing on identifying mechanisms of disc degeneration, developing novel diagnostics and therapies for low back pain, and the biomechanics of spinal instrumentation. He is an outstanding teacher, education, and student of the spine. Dr. Lotz earned a doctorate degree in Medical Engineering from the Harvard/MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology, a Master Degree in Mechanical Engineering Design from Stanford University, and Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UC Berkeley.

Nominated by Michael Heggeness, MD, PhD and Conor O’Neill, MD

David Selby Award

Jerome Schofferman
Jerome Schofferman, MD trained in internal medicine at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and remained on the faculty at UCLA and then UCSF for many years. After moving to San Francisco, he became the medical director of Hospice of San Francisco and help found the first AIDS Hospice. He developed an interest in pain medicine and began working with spine pain in the early 1980s. He is certified by both the American Board of Internal Medicine and American Board of Pain Medicine and served as a member of the Board of Directors of the American Academy of Pain Medicine. He has been a member of NASS since 1988.

As a NASS member, among other appointments, he has served as Chair of the conservative care committee and section development committee and then co-chair of the combined medical-surgical care committee. He started the Rehabilitation, Interventional and Medical Spine Section. Dr. Schofferman served on the NASS Board of Directors as Chair of both the Section Development Committee and Ethics & Professionalism and Committee. Dr. Schofferman provided critical input on the initial formulation on the society’s position on conflict of interest to put NASS at the forefront of medical societies addressing ethics and professionalism. He has championed medical ethics with thought provoking presentations and seminars.

Nominated by Charles Reitman, MD and F. Todd Wetzel, MD

Leon Wiltse Award

Sohail K. Mirza
Dr. Sohail Mirza is a nationally known orthopaedic surgeon who specializes in treating complex spinal diseases, cancers, and injuries in adults and children. He has worked extensively with the spine community to advocate for measurement of surgical complications and patient-reported outcomes. In addition to his clinical work, he is also an active researcher, studying treatments for spinal trauma and cervical spine malformations, as well as safety and outcomes data for spine surgeries. Dr. Mirza held an endowed chair in spine research at the University of Washington before being recruited as Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at Dartmouth in 2008.

Over the past 10 years, he led transformation of the orthopedics department to team-based care, consistent use of standardized coordinated care paths, and systematic tracking of patient-reported outcomes in the electronic health record, while significantly reducing direct cost of care and improving patient satisfaction scores. He also helped establish the Dartmouth Center for Surgical Innovation (CSI) – a $20M research facility and associated enterprise to promote and enable technology development and innovations across surgical specialties. In 2018, Dr. Mirza transitioned to the private sector and founded PEER (Patient Experience and End Results) Clinic for Back Pain and Spine Surgery in Fairfax, Virginia. PEER Clinic is modeled on using patient reported outcomes for clinical care decisions.

NNominated by Charles Reitman, MD

Spine Advocacy Award

John G. Finkenberg
Dr. John G. Finkenberg served on the Advocacy Council for 13 years, 6 of which he served as Advocacy Council Director and President of the National Association of Spine Specialists (the advocacy arm to NASS’ political involvement on Capitol Hill). In 2014, Dr. Finkenberg successfully sought approval by the NASS Board of Directors to elevate and transform Advocacy from a Committee into a Council and laid the groundwork for the development of the recently established NASS Legislative Committee. An avid advocate for spine care providers and patients, Dr. Finkenberg represented NASS before Congress and visited Washington. DC on numerous occasions and is well known in the hallways of Congress. Dr. Finkenberg was instrumental in advocacy efforts to replace Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula and repealing the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). During his tenure as the Chair of the SpinePAC Board of Directors, Dr. Finkenberg oversaw the second highest fundraising cycle in SpinePAC’s history, reaching $185,000 in donations during the 2015-2016 election cycle. In addition to representing NASS before Congress, Dr. Finkenberg oversaw the coordination of several NASS Town Hall events across the country and frequently attended these engagements to provide NASS members an update on the various advocacy and health policy activities of the society.

Dr. Finkenberg has been in private practice with Alvarado Orthopedic Medical Group in San Diego, California since 1992. He is a general orthopaedic surgeon who has obtained fellowship training after his orthopaedic residency in advanced spinal reconstructive surgery. After attending U.C.L.A. Medical School, he completed his orthopaedic training at Harbor-U.C.L.A. Medical Center in Torrance, California. He has been the Chief of the Orthopaedic Department at Alvarado Hospital Medical Center and has served on the Executive Supervisory Committee for many years. In his spare time, he enjoys sports, sculpting bronze figures and advocating for better health care in Washington, D.C.

Nominated by The NASS Advocacy Council

Past President Award

Jean-Jacques Abitbol
JJ Abitbol continues to be a devoted advocate for excellence in spine care through education and research. Dr. Abitbol was President of NASS in 2005-2006 and served on the Board for more than 10 years. He rose through the ranks having served on the Coding Committee, Education Council, Industry Relations Committee and acting as Program Chair for numerous programs, including the Annual Meeting when Steven Garfin, MD was President. His vision brought about the Spine Education and Research Center (SERC) at NASS where he still serves as its medical director. Dr. Abitbol has also played a key role in furthering excellence in spine care internationally through extensive participation in NASS’ international education efforts by serving as faculty or workshop instructor at programs in Dubai, Singapore, Indonesia, China as well as a multitude of other places. Dr. Abitbol has been a great ambassador for NASS and the spine field through his consistently reasonable approach to spine care through his research and his teachings.

Nominated by Jeffrey C. Wang, MD and David R. O’Brien Jr., MD