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)

2018 Awards

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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.

2018 Award Recipients

Henry Farfan Award

To recognize outstanding contributions in spine related basic science research.

Jeffrey C. Lotz
MD

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

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

Jerome Schofferman
MD

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

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

Sohail K. Mirza
MD, MPH

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

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.

John G. Finkenberg
MD

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

To recognize a Past President of NASS who has made exceptional contributions to the society and its mission.

Jean-Jacques Abitbol
MD

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