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Who We Are

Leadership

Ron El-Hawary, MD, MSc. is the President of the Pediatric Spine Study Group and the President of the Board of Directors for the Children's Spine Foundation. He is currently Chief of Orthopaedics at the IWK Health Centre and is Professor of Surgery at Dalhousie University. He has a background in Mechanical Engineering and Medical Biophysics and completed his orthopaedic training at Dalhousie University and the University of Western Ontario, with fellowship training at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, Texas. His areas of interest include novel and innovative approaches to the treatment of EOS.

 

David Skaggs, MD, MMM is the President-Elect of the Pediatric Spine Study Group and a member of the Board of Directors for the Growing Spine Foundation. He is a tenured Professor at the University of Souther California Keck School of Medicine, Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and holds the Children's Endowed Chair of Pediatric Spinal Disorders. He received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and completed his medical degree and residency at Columbia University. He has a special interest in all aspecs of care of growing children with spinal disorders. He has designed many spine implant systems and techniques to maximize patient safety.

 

Michael Vitale, MD, MPH is the outgoing President of the Pediatric Spine Study Group and of the Children's Spine Foundation. He is currently the Director of Pediatric Orthopaedics and Chief of the Pediatric Spine Service at the Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital of New York, while serving as the Ana Lucia Professor of Clinical Orthopaedic Surgery at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. He completed his orthopedic training at Columbia University where he also earned a Master's degree in Public Health, with fellowship training at at the Children's Hospital Los Angeles. He leads advocacy efforts with the FDA to improve access to pediatric devices and in specifically interested in innovative treatments which improve the quality and safety of patient outcomes.

 

Behrooz Akbarnia, MD is a founding member of the Pediatric Spine Study Group and the Growing Spine Foundation. He graduated from Tehran University Medical School in 1966 and continued his Orthopaedic Surgery training in the United States. He is currently a Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at University of California; San Diego. He was instrumental in the establishment of the International Congress on Early Onset Scoliosis (ICEOS), which provides an annual scientific forum for physicians and spine care professionals. He has published 2 editions of the Growing Spine textbook and pioneered the development and popularization of a new magnetic device for young children. He has a deep commitment to improving patient care in the challenging EOS population.

 

John "Jack" Flynn, MD is a founding member of the Pediatric Spine Study Group and a past-President of the Children's Spine Foundation. He is the Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. He completed his orthopaedic surgery training at Harvard University and the Children's Hospital of Boston, with fellowship training at Alfred I. duPont Institute in Delaware. He helped found CHOP's Center for Thoracic Insufficiency Syndrome in 2004, the nation's first multidisciplinary program created to treat children with thoracic insufficiency syndrome and early onset scoliosis. He pioneered use of magnetic lengthening growing rods at CHOP, saving many young children planned repetitive surgery. He is well known for his leadership and vision, and is passionate about improving long-term outcomes for children with EOS.

 

John Smith, MD is a founding member of the Pediatric Spine Study Group, a past-President of the Children's Spine Foundation, and a founding member of the Children's Spine Foundation. He completed his orthopedic training at the University of Utah and fellowship at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas, Texas. He is currently the Chief of Scoliosis Service at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, while serving as Professor of Orthopaedics at the University of Utah. He is also the recipient of the Mary Scowcroft Peery Presidential Endowed Chair in Orthopaedics. He is an active participant in both retrospective and prospective studies. His interests are in research and innovative techniques in the management of Early Onset Scoliosis. He has worked extensively on development of surgical teams and checklists to improve safety and reduce complications in this patient population.

 

Paul Sponseller, MD, MBA is a founding member of the Pediatric Spine Study Group and a past-President of the Growing Spine Foundation. He serves as Chief of the Division of Pediatric Orthopaedics at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center, as well as a Professor of Urology and Orthopaedic Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He received his B.S. from the University of Michigan. He earned his M.D. from the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed his residency at the University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics and performed a fellowship in pediatric orthopaedic surgery at Boston Children's Hospital of Harvard Medical School. He has held leadership positions in multiple organizations. His research interests include Marfan syndrome, pediatric spinal deformities, pediatric skeletal trauma and bladder exstrophy.

 
 
 
 

In Memoriam

Dr. Robert "Bob" Campbell, Jr. passed away peacefully on July 29th, 2018 surrounded by family. Though he battled illness for years, Dr. Campbell was a true warrior for his family and patients. He began his career at Christus Santa Rosa Children's Hospital/UT San Antonio, and was recruited in 2008 to grow CHOP's Thoracic Insufficiency program. In 2009, Dr. Campbelllaunched CHOP's Center for Thoracic Insufficiency (CTIS), attracting infants and children from around the world, many of whom were told "nothing can be done". He created a team approach to care, collaborating closely with pulmonologists, thoracic surgeons, intensivists and radiologists to optimize treatment of children with severe spine and chest wall deformities. Dr. Campbell invented the VEPTR device, taking a customized solution for a single child in San Antonio in desperate need of chest wall support through conceptualization, fabrication, testing and the arduous regulatory pathways of the FDA. His invention became the standard of care throughout the world for children with severe deformities of the spine and chest, saving or extending the lives of children with previously untreatable conditions. He travelled worldwide, training surgeons to treat thoracic insufficiency and assisting them with their most difficult cases. One of the least heralded contributions Dr. Campbell made to the field of pediatric surgical care was to facilitate new device development through his involvement with the FDA. Dr. Campbell leveraged the relationships he built at the FDA to foster countless other devices through the regulatory process. In recent years, the regulatory approval processes have eased considerably, paving the way for a new wave of pediatric implants to help children; this is in no small part due to his work and influence.

Dr. Campbell has left a lasting legacy through his ideas and inventions, the many surgeons and physicians he trained, and the countless patients he treated. His innovative thought-leadership changed the world's approach to caring for children with complex, life-threatening spine and chest wall deformities. On behalf of the Pediatric Spine Study Group membership, we will forever remember and be thankful for Dr. Campbell's friendship and vision.