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 (Candidate must be 2 years removed from Presidency/Awarded every three years)

2023 Recognition Awards

2023 Nominations are now open.
Winners will be notified by Mid-Summer 2023 and announced at the NASS 2023 Annual Meeting.

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Current NASS Board Members are not eligible.
View the current list of NASS Board Members here.

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 following their presidency. (Candidate must be 2 years removed from Presidency/Awarded every three 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
2021 David Selby Donna D. Ohnmeiss, PhD
2021 Leon Wiltse Frank M. Phillips, MD
2021 Henry Farfan Matthew Smuck, MD
2021 NASS Spine Advocacy Brian R. Gantwerker, MD, FAANS, FACS
2021 Past President Gregory J. Przybylski, MD
2020 David Selby Michael R. Klein, Jr., MD, FACS
2020 Leon Wiltse Richard D. Guyer, MD
2020 Henry Farfan Barbara D. Boyan, PhD
2020 NASS Spine Advocacy Jeffrey C. Wang, MD
2019 David Selby Gregory L. Whitcomb, DC
2019 Leon Wiltse Charles G. Fisher, MD, FRCSC, MHS
2019 Henry Farfan David J. Kennedy, MD
2019 NASS Spine Advocacy Neil Kahanovitz, MD
2018 David Selby Jerome Schofferman, MD
2018 Leon Wiltse Sohail K. Mirza, MD, MPH
2018 Henry Farfan Jeffrey C. Lotz, MD
2018 NASS Spine Advocacy John G. Finkenberg, MD
2018 Past President Jean-Jacques Abitbol, MD
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

2022 Recognition Award Recipients

2022 Recognition Award Winners will be announced at the NASS 2022 Annual Meeting.

Henry Farfan Award

John A. Hipp
John Hipp has been a NASS member since 2007 and has been serving on the The Spine Journal’s Peer Reviewers Committee since 2013. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and then went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship in the Orthopedics Biomechanics Lab at Beth Israel.

For the past 33 years, he has devoted his work to orthopedic biomechanics and the spine in particular. He directed the Spine Research Lab at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX for over a decade. In 2000, he founded Medical Metrics, Inc, a medical imaging core laboratory, where he remains today as the Chief Scientific Officer.

Dr. Hipp has made several contributions to science, and one of his greatest fundamental achievements has been the development of technology to evaluate spinal motion and stability. This has evolved from what was a manual process to one that now involves artificial intelligence to make this simpler, faster and more accurate. The understanding of intervertebral motion and spinal stability is of critical importance to clinical spine care. It influences treatment strategies including surgical decision-making on a daily basis. He has spent an exhaustive amount of time and effort to try to understand this, measure it, adapt it for practical use, and provide quantitative information to be used for practical clinical applications.

Medical Metrics has been contracted to provide data for many clinical research studies that have resulted in over 150 peer review publications on fusion, motion sparing and other spine technologies. This is a testament not only to the quality of their work and fidelity of their information, but also to their integrity as individuals and ease with which they collaborate. Dr. Hipp has authored 116 peer review papers on various topics in biomechanics.

While he has forgotten more about spinal biomechanics than most of us will ever hope to know, it is not his brilliance, work ethic, innovation or vision that distinguish him— it is the person he is. His main goal is to make a difference; to bring some meaningful clinical understanding to the evaluation of instability. He is extremely humble. He cares much less about the credit or acknowledgement, and much more about the outcome. He is the ultimate team player and an incredible asset as a collaborator. His lack of notoriety should not undersell his value to our field. His contributions have been substantial, and he’s not done yet.

Nominated by Charles A. Reitman, MD

David Selby Award

Jamie Baisden
Jamie Baisden is a 27-year NASS member. She has made extensive and under-recognized contributions to the science of spine care, the teaching of spine care, and the management of spine care. She has served on multiple NASS committees over many years, and participated in the important work of developing several NASS Guidelines. Her research contributions include over 80 peer-reviewed publications and multiple book chapters.

After a spinal injury at age 17 derailed her hopes for a professional tennis career, she set her sights on becoming an academic spinal neurosurgeon. She finished her residency from the University of Massachusetts and entered a dual Fellowship in Complex Spinal Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin and Spinal Cord Medicine at the Zablocki VA. She remained as faculty at MCW under the mentorship of Drs. Sanford Larson, Joseph Cusick and Jamie Baisden, MD, FACS, FAANS Dennis Maiman. During this time, she was able to develop her skills as a spine surgeon and acquired her interest in spinal biomechanics under the mentorship of Dr. Narayan Yoganandan. While at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Drs. Arthur Derse and Cynthia Morgenweck fostered her interest in bioethics.

NASS has enabled her professional development since she first started going to the Annual Meeting as a resident. She has been able to participate in multiple NASS committees focusing particularly on the development of Evidence-Based Guidelines, Coverage Recommendations, and in ethics and professionalism. She says: "Being in NASS, academic medicine and spinal neurosurgery for over 25 years has allowed me to mentor students, residents, spine fellows and graduate students and ’pass it forward‘ from clinical, biomechanical and ethical perspectives."

Nominated by Karin R. Swartz, MD and Gregory L. Whitcomb, DC

Leon Wiltse Award

Virginie Lafage
Virginie Lafage has been a member of NASS since 2009 and has had more than 300 podiums and 150 posters accepted for presentation at the NASS Annual Meeting since 2007. After becoming a mechanical engineer in France, she pursued her PhD in Biomechanics, specializing in finite element analysis and biomechanical simulations of scoliosis surgery under the direction of Pr. Jean Dubousset and Pr. Wafa Skalli. This led to extensive training in the clinical realm of spine surgery thanks to the mentorship of Jean-Pierre Farcy, MD and Frank Schwab, MD. Together, their research interest evolved around sagittal spinopelvic alignment, adult spinal deformity, cervical deformity and soft tissue analysis. She became adept in multiple areas of clinical research, including managing multicenter trials, radiological and force plate analysis, complex statistical analysis, computer programming and manuscript preparation. Her role as a scientific representative of the International Spine Study Group and Director of Research at NYU, HSS and Lenox Hill Hospital has led to more than 550 peer-reviewed publications, 1200 podium presentations and speaking engagements across the globe.

To bridge the gap between academic research and clinical practice, Drs. Lafage and Schwab co-founded Surgimap, a free FDA-authorized platform, which permits the user to compile medical images, evaluate spine-specific alignment parameters in a semi-automatic way using computer vision, plan complex spine surgeries, simulate outcomes with various spine implants and share this information with colleagues.

Dr. LaFage is particularly proud of her opportunity to mentor and guide well over 70 research assistants, residents, clinical fellows, research fellows, engineers and physicians interested in spine research. Acting as a mentor has provided her with a wide network of collaborations across the globe, which she actively engages in. She has a passion for teaching and inspiring others to do quality research in this field and believes this can further be achieved through mentorship and collaboration.

While her life’s work has been dedicated to the field of spine surgery, Dr. Lafage has taken a new position as Associate Vice President of Clinical Research for Orthopedics at Lenox Hill Hospital, further expanding her knowledge and experiences in orthopedic research.

Nominated by Bassel G. Diebo, MD

Spine Advocacy Award

R. Dale Blasier
R. Dale Blasier is a professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Arkansas Children’s Hospital. He has been a member of NASS since 2006. He has served on many committees and councils in support of spine advocacy. He has served as the orthopedic advisor to AMA Relative Value Update Committee from 2002-2008 and panel member of the committee since 2009. He has served as representative to the AMA House of Delegates for the American Orthopaedic Association from 2007-2013 and for NASS since 2013. He was the NASS representative to the AAOS Board of Specialties from February 2014 to 2016. He cochaired the NASS Coding Committee from 2011-2018 and is still an active committee member. He is an active member of both the Political Engagement and the Legislative Committees under the Advocacy Council, and is a longtime supporter of SpinePAC.

Dr. Blasier’s specialty interests include the treatment of pediatric trauma and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. Originally from Dearborn, Michigan, he graduated from the University of Michigan with a BS in Industrial and Operations Engineering. He completed medical school and orthopedic residency at Wayne State University in Detroit and pediatric orthopaedic fellowship at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg. After a four-year stint in the USAF at Travis AFB, California, he joined the UAMS faculty. He received his MBA from Capella University in Minneapolis in 2008.

Dr. Blasier has been involved in orthopedic education his whole career. Since 2003, he has been the Residency Program Director in Orthopaedic Surgery at the UAMS. As a member of many subspecialty and medical societies, he has been involved in extensive committee work. He has been a Board Examiner for the ABOS since 1996. He was appointed to the Orthopaedic Residency Review Committee of the ACGME in 2010. He has been Treasurer of the OMeGA Medical Grants Association since 2015. He was appointed to the Member Advisory Panel on Outreach and Education (APOE) for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2015. Dr. Blasier continues in active practice at the Arkansas Children’s Hospital and is active in societal volunteer work involving resident education and physician payment policy.

Nominated by Nominated by Philip L. Schneider, MD