Rush International Spine Education (RISE) Faculty and Disclosures

Robert S. An, MD
Howard S. An, MD

Morton International Chair Professor
Director, Spine Fellowship
Department of Orthopaedic Surgery
Rush University Medical Center
Chicago, USA

Co-Director – Rush International Spine Education (RISE)

Dr. An has nothing to disclose.


Dr. Howard An is a renowned spine surgeon and researcher for disorders of the spine. As one of the leading authorities on spinal surgery, he has published more than 350 peer-reviewed articles, 100 book chapters and edited 20 textbooks on spinal surgery and instrumentation. He holds the inaugural Morton International Endowed Chair position at Rush University Medical Center since 1997, and is currently Director of the Spine Surgery Fellowship Program at Rush. He had previously served as Director of Spine Surgery at the Medical College of Wisconsin and of Spine Surgery at Rush.

As a medical graduate from the Medical College of Ohio in 1982, he stayed at the school to complete his internship and residency in orthopedic surgery. He followed his internship and residency with a spine surgery fellowship at Rothman Institute-Pennsylvania Hospital and Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia.

Howard was the recipient of the 1990 North American Traveling Fellowship from the American Orthopaedic Association and the 1995 Scoliosis Research Society Traveling Fellowship, Kappa Delta Elizabeth Winston Lanier Award from Orthopaedic Research Society in 2011 and served as the President of International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine in 2010. In addition to an active surgical practice in all aspects of spinal disorders, especially of the cervical spine, he is currently involved in research in the fields of spinal biomechanics and tissue engineering with extensive funding from NIH, industries, and foundations.

Dino Samartzis
Dino Samartzis, DSc

Associate Professor

Department of  Orthopedic Surgery 

Rush University Medical Center

Chicago, USA 


Director, International Spine Research and Innovation Initiative (ISRII)
Co-Director, Rush International Spine Education (RISE)


Dr. Samartzis has nothing to disclose.


Dino Samartzis obtained his undergraduate degree from Northwestern University (Evanston/Chicago, USA), and further pursued graduate studies in biological sciences, evidence-based health care, clinical epidemiology, public health, medical sciences, and international relation studies at Harvard University (Boston), University of Oxford (Oxford, UK), University of Cambridge (Cambridge, UK), Erasmus University (Rotterdam, The Netherlands), Charles University (Prague, Czech Republic), and the London School of Economics and Political Science (London, UK). He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Biochemistry at The University of Hong Kong. He went on to become the Gilbert Beebe Fellow of the Radiation and Nuclear Board of the National Academies of Science (NAS) in Washington D.C. and the United States Department of Energy, the Radiation Epidemiology Branch of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, and at the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (a.k.a. Atomic Bomb Casualty Commission) in Hiroshima, Japan addressing the longitudinal effects of atomic nuclear power/radiation and their health-related risks upon the musculoskeletal system.   


Dino has spearheaded numerous projects and has published over 350 peer-reviewed studies in high-impact journals (e.g., Lancet, Arthritis & Rheumatism, Pathology, JBJS, etc), book chapters and web-based articles, has produced approximately 30 surgical spine videos, been involved in over 400 presentations at international conferences and institutes, and has received over 50 team and personal research-related awards and honors from the spine community (e.g., ISSLS Clinical Prize in 2010 and 2016, ISSLS MacNab/LaRocca award, SICOT, NASS, etc.) and externally (e.g., NASA, NSF, NIH, Fulbright). He has been the Editor-in-Chief of several textbooks (e.g. Textbook of the Cervical Spine, Spinal Phenotypes, etc) and journal theme issues, and has served a key role as Advisor or Deputy Editor in over 2 dozen medical journals. In particular, he is the Emeritus Editor-in-Chief of the Scoliosis and Spinal Disorders journal as well as the Deputy Editor for the Global Spine Journal and on the Executive Board of the European Spine Journal.


Dino has chaired/organized/hosted several spine conferences/meetings worldwide, he has worked with industry, held leadership positions in numerous sectors of the health-care/research field, collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNSCEAR, and has mentored/supervised numerous international students, fellows and the like. Among several society and board positions he has held, he is the current elected Chair of the International Research Commission, AO Spine. 


Dino is currently an Associate Professor at the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Rush University Medical Center and the Director of the International Spine Research and Innovation Institute (ISRII) at Rush as well as the Director of RUSH’s International Spine Education (RISE) platform. He is an Adjunct Professor at the Department of Bioengineering at the University of Illinois in Chicago. He is also a RUSH and United States Public Voices Fellow, focusing on increasing public impact of numerous health-related and social issues via collaboration with various media outlets. His main research focuses on spine degeneration and low back and neck pain, big data and multi-omics platforms, artificial intelligence/machine learning and precision spine care. Various expert channels (e.g. Jane Semantics, ExpertScape) regard Dino as the world’s foremost expert on intervertebral disc degeneration.  

Professor Richard Assaker
Richard Assaker, MD


Department of Neurosurgery
CHRU Lille

Hospital Salengro, Lille France


Professor Richard Assaker is a highly experienced Spine Surgeon and a key member of the eccElearning Spine Surgery Education Programme Faculty


Dr. Assaker has nothing to disclose.


Dr. Richard Assaker is a Professor of Neurosurgery at CHRU Lille, Hôpital Salengro in Lille, France. He obtained his medical doctorate degree from Liege Medical University in Belgium. Dr. Assaker qualified as a neurosurgeon at Lille University at CHRU Lille in Lille, France. He went on to obtain a PhD in biotechnology.

He was President of the French-speaking Neurosurgical Spine Society and of the French Spine Society, and was Chair of the international resident education program of the North American Spine Society among other distinctions. He has published several research studies in peer-reviewed journal and has been an invited speaker in many countries. In addition, he is the designer of numerous surgical spinal instrumentation, such as the ApoFix, Centaur and Zephir, that have been used in more than 25,000 operations worldwide.

Matthew Colman
Matthew W. Colman, MD

 Associate Professor
 Division of Spine Surgery
 Department of Orthopedic Surgery
 Rush University Medical Center
 Chicago, USA


Dr. Matthew Colman specializes in spine surgery and musculoskeletal oncology. 


Dr. Colman receives royalties from Iphatec Spine; is a consultant to Iphatec Spine, Orthofix, Stryker/K2M, Spinal Elements, and HT Medical; receives research grants from CSRS, MSTS, NASS and AO Spine.


Dr. Colman completed his undergraduate training cum laude with honors from Dartmouth College, earned his medical degree with honors from the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, and went on to complete his residency in orthopedic surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA.


He has been fellowship trained in pediatric and adult musculoskeletal oncology at Harvard University and orthopedic and neurosurgical spine surgery at the University of Utah.


Dr. Colman has an interest in treating bone and soft tissue tumors wherever they occur, including the spine. He also treats a comprehensive set of non-tumor-related spinal problems, including degenerative disease, deformity, and trauma.


He is a member of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), AOSpine, the North American Spine Society, and Alpha Omega Alpha, University of Chicago Chapter.

Harel Deutsch
Harel Deutsch, MD

Associate Professor
Co-Director, Rush Spine Center
Department of Neurosurgery
Rush University Medical Center
Chicago, USA


Dr. Deutsch has nothing to disclose.


Harel Deutsch, MD, is co-director of the Rush Spine Center, and his subspecialty is spine surgery. He is skilled in complex spinal procedures and spine tumor surgery. Deutsch specializes in the care of patients with degenerative and traumatic disease of the cervical, thoracic and lumbar spine with a strong emphasis on minimally invasive surgery. Deutsch has a special interest in failed previous spine surgery and failed back syndrome. He is also involved in research on motion preservation technology and artificial disk technology.


Deutsch has numerous publications in peer-reviewed journals and has published abstracts and book chapters. His research interest is in the etiology of chronic back pain. He is also involved in professional education on a national level and is an associate editor at


Deutsch earned his medical degree from University of Miami School of Medicine, graduating with honors in 1996. He completed his internship in surgery and residency in neurosurgery at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. Following his residency, Deutsch continued with a spine surgery fellowship at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. He joined Rush University Medical Center in Chicago in 2003.

Christopher J. DeWald, M.D.
Christopher J. DeWald, MD

Assistant Professor

Director, Section of Spinal Deformity

Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Rush University Medical Center
Chicago, USA


A board certified orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Chris DeWald is a member of several professional organizations. He has lectured both nationally and internationally on advanced techniques in spinal surgery. Living and studying abroad has given Dr. DeWald a progressive perspective of this surgical specialty. Moreover, he is admired by his patients for his sensitivity to their needs.


A graduate of Knox College, cum laude, Dr. DeWald lettered in varsity football and played Lacrosse. He went on to medical school at Rush Medical College and fulfilled a five-year orthopedic surgery residency at the University of Illinois Hospital. During this period, Dr. DeWald’s experience included training at Cook County Hospital, West Side Veterans Hospital, Shriner’s Hospital for Children, Michael Reese Hospital, and the University of Illinois Hospital.

To further enhance his knowledge of spinal surgery, he served as a fellow in the elite Chicago Spine Fellowship with responsibilities to both Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and Shriner’s Hospital for Children. Dr. DeWald developed an international understanding of spinal surgery through fellowship training in Germany, France, England, and Japan.


Dr. Christopher DeWald was voted among the top 10-15% of Top Doctors in America® by U.S.News & World Report and Castle Connolly. The Top Doctors list is widely regarded as a high-quality reference guide to the medical profession.

Richard Fessler
Richard G. Fessler, MD


Department of Neurosurgery

Rush University Medical Center

Chicago, USA


Dr. Fessler has nothing to disclose.


Dr. Richard G. Fessler serves as Professor of Neurosurgery at the Rush University Medical Center. Prior to assuming this position he was Professor and Vice Chair of Neurosurgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine of Northwestern University, and the John Harper Seeley Professor and Chief of Neurosurgery at the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics. He previously founded and directed the Institute for Spine Care at the Chicago Institute of Neurosurgery and Neuroresearch (CINN) after serving as Director of Clinical Services and Education at the University of Florida Brain Institute. Additionally, at the University of Florida, he held the Dunspaugh-Dalton Chair of Brain and Spinal Surgery and served as Professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery.


Dr. Fessler completed his Medical Doctorate with honors, and Surgical and Neurosurgical residencies at the University of Chicago. In addition to surgical training, Dr. Fessler completed a Doctorate of Philosophy in Pharmacology and Physiology, and a Masters of Science in Psychology. His undergraduate degree was from Lawrence University, Appleton, WI, also in Psychology, where he also earned a certificate of education. Continuing education after earning doctoral degrees, Dr. Fessler held research Fellowships at the University of Chicago Medical Center in Neurological Surgery and Psychiatry. The Chicago Surgical Society honored Dr. Fessler with the Excellence in Surgical Research award.


Dr. Fessler is internationally known for his contributions to endoscopic and microendoscopic surgical developments. He has been instrumental in developing many of the current minimally invasive surgical techniques, including “minimally invasive decompression of lumbar stenosis”, “minimally invasive microendoscopic posterior cervical discectomy”, “minimally invasive decompression of cervical stenosis”, “unilateral transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion”, “minimally invasive correction of adult spinal deformity”, and has contributed to the development of many more. The Kambin Foundation awarded Dr. Fessler their annual research award for his research in the field of minimal invasive spinal surgery. He was also asked to deliver the inaugural “Rhoton lecture” of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons on these revolutionary surgical techniques.


Dr. Fessler also has a particular interest in transplantation of nerve tissue or cells and is considered one of the leading authorities on innovative methods to repair spinal cord injuries. In 1997, Dr. Fessler’s team performed the first nerve tissue transplant, using cells derived from fetal spinal cords to try to repair a spinal cord injury. He is also a medical specialist and flight surgeon for NASA.

Dr. Fessler is a prolific author, having published more than 200 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He has been the Editor-in-Chief of over a dozen medical textbooks, such as the Textbook of the Cervical Spine, Atlas of Neurosurgical Techniques, and an Anatomic Approach to Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery among others. He is also a board member of various medical journals and societies.

Ricardo B. V. Fontes, MD, PhD
Ricardo B.V. Fontes, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor

Department of Neurosurgery
Rush University Medical Center

Chicago, USA


Dr. Fontes is a consultant to Globus.


Ricardo B.V. Fontes, MD, PhD, received his medical degree in his home country at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. This is where he also went on to complete a residency in neurosurgery. Fontes then completed both a neurosurgery residency and spine neurosurgery fellowship at Rush University Medical Center before joining the department as an assistant professor in neurosurgery in 2015.


Fontes has already contributed to more than 70 journal and book chapter publications, in both English and Portuguese. Areas of clinical and research interest for Fontes include conventional and minimally invasive treatment for different forms of pediatric and adult deformity, including scoliosis, kyphosis, sagittal imbalance revision surgery and cervical deformity.

Sapan Gandhi
Sapan Gandhi, MD

Assistant Professor

Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Harvard Medical School

Boston, USA


Dr. Gandhi has nothing to disclose.


Sapan Gandhi, MD is an Orthopaedic spine surgeon at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, MA, as well as Signature Healthcare in Brockton, MA.  He obtained his bachelor and medical degree at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA.  He then completed his Orthopaedic surgery training at Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak, MI, followed by a fellowship in Spinal Surgery at Rush University Medical Center.  Dr. Gandhi is extremely active in academic spine community, having authored numerous peer-reviewed publications and textbook chapters, as well as presented original work at national and international meetings.  He is currently on the teaching faculty of the Beth Israel Deaconess/Harvard Spine Surgery fellowship, as well as on faculty at Harvard Medical School.

Sravisht Iyer
Sravisht Iyer, MD

Assistant Professor

Department of Orthopedic Surgery

Hospital for Special Surgery
New York, USA


Dr. Sravisht Iyer is a spine surgeon specializing in the application of minimally invasive surgical techniques to treat and manage spinal conditions involving the cervical, thoracic or lumbar spines. Dr. Iyer believes strongly in working with his patients to identify and deploy surgical techniques that provide a durable long-term outcome while minimizing postoperative pain and optimizing recovery time.


Dr. Iyer completed his undergraduate training in biomedical engineering at Johns Hopkins University where he was inducted into the Tau Beta Pi honor society. He subsequently attended Harvard Medical School – receiving an MD with honors (Magna Cum Laude) and a specialized degree in Health Sciences in Technology with coursework at Harvard and MIT. He completed his orthopedic residency at HSS followed by fellowship at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Iyer has also had the opportunity to travel internationally to learn specialized techniques in spinal surgery including time spent with Dr. Oheneba Boachie-Adjei at the FOCOS Orthopedic Hospital in Accra, Ghana.


Dr. Iyer strongly believes in advancing the field of spine surgery. His research interest in spine surgery began in medical school where he published and presented award-winning research on the biomechanics of spine. Dr. Iyer has since completed a research fellowship at HSS, spending a year in the lab to improve patient outcomes and pain control following spinal procedures. His work has been presented and honored at several national and international conferences and has since appeared in the pages of prestigious peer-reviewed journals including Spine, Neurosurgery and the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery.


At HSS, he has received several honors, including: the HSS Academic Achievement Award, the Weill Cornell Medical Center Distinguished Housestaff Award, the Eduardo A. Salvati Resident Research Grant and the Lewis Clark Wagner Resident Research Award.


Dr. Iyer currently sees patients in New York, Westchester and Connecticut. He feels honored to participate in the care of every patient he sees. Please do not hesitate to contact his office with any questions or inquiries.

Krrish Khanna
Krishn Khanna, MD

Division of Spine Surgery

Orthopaedics Northeast

Boston, USA


Dr. Khanna has nothing to disclose.


Dr. received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at the University of California-San Francisco.  He then went on to the renowned Rush University Medical Center where he completed his spine fellowship training with world leaders in the field.  He is now a spine surgeon at Orthopaedics Northeat in the Boston area.  Dr. Khanna takes pride in caring for his patients the way he would care for his own family.

Ralph Kothe
Professor Ralph Kothe, MD

Head of Department

Schoen Clinic Hamburg Eilbek

Schoen Clinic Back Institute Hamburg



Dr. Kothe has nothing to disclose.


Dr. Ralph Kothe obtained his medical degree at the Medizinische School University of Hannover, Germany. He completed his residency training at the Department Traumatology, Nordstadthospital, Hannover, Germany and at the Department Orthopaedics, School Medicine, Heinrich Heine University, Düsseldorf, Germany. He was a research fellow in the Biomechanics Laboratory at the Department Orthopaedics, Rehabilitation, Yale University, School Medicine, New Haven, USA. He is currently the head of the Spine Surgery Department at the Schoen Clinic.  


He has been active in various research endeavors, has published extensively and remains active with different societies in key leadership roles.  

Stephane Litrico
Stephane Litrico, MD


Department of Neurosurgery

University Hospital of Nice



Dr. Litrico has nothing to disclose.


Dr. Stephane Litrico is a neurosurgeon and educator. He has served on various boards with industry and societies, notably as the President of the French Spine Surgery Society in 2019-2020. He has been the chief investigator for the National Research program on Cervical Disc Prosthesis and has published extensively.  

Philip Louie
Philip K. Louie, MD

Assistant Professor

Division of Spine Surgery
Neuroscience Institute
Virginia Mason Medical Center 

Seattle, USA

COO & Co-founder of STREAMD


Dr. Louie is a stockholder in STREAMD, and receives royalties from Elsevier, Thieme, and Springer.


Philip K. Louie, MD is a Spine Surgeon at the Virginia Mason Neuroscience Institute (Virginia Mason Medical Center). He received his Bachelors Degree in Business Administration and Medical Degree (MD) at the University of Washington. He subsequently completed his Orthopaedic Surgery Residency at Rush University Medical Center with Midwest Orthopaedics. At which point, he was a founding member of the International Spine Research & Innovation Initiative (ISRII). During his residency, he developed a training simulator focusing on the fundamental skills in spine surgery, and subsequently won the Golden Apple Chief Resident Teaching Award. Dr. Louie completed an Orthopaedic Spine Surgery Fellowship at the world-renown Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. He has authored over 85 peer-reviewed publications as well as 2 textbooks, numerous abstracts, book chapters, and regularly presents research at both national and international conferences.

Frank Phillips, M.D.
Frank M. Phillips, MD

Ronald DeWald, Endowed Professor of Spinal Deformities

Director, Division of Spine Surgery

Director, Section of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery

Fellowship Co-Director, Spine Surgery

Rush University Medical Center

Chicago, USA

President, International Society for Advanced Spine Surgery (ISASS)


Dr. Phillips is a stockholder in Surgio, Theracell, Nuvasive, SI Bone, Edge Surgical, Spinal Simplicity, and Augmedics; receives royalties from Nuvasive; and is a consultant to Nuvasive, Spinal Kinetics, Stryker, SI Bone, Medtronic, and Globus.


A visionary in the field of minimally invasive spine surgery, Dr. Frank Phillips was one of the first in Chicago to begin using these procedures in the 1990s. He specializes in minimally invasive cervical and lumbar reconstructive surgery. He also has expertise in motion preserving procedures and was a principle investigator in FDA trials on cervical disc replacement.


Dr. Phillips is a leader in the field and is a founder, board member and past president of the Society of Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery. Dr. Phillips has participated in the development of and pioneered a number of minimally invasive spinal techniques that are now widely used. He regularly teaches and lectures to spine surgeons nationally and internationally on minimally invasive spinal surgery.


Before coming to Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in 2003, Dr. Phillips served as the director of the Spine Center at The University of Chicago. Dr. Phillips is currently a Professor of Orthopedic Surgery and Director of the Division of Spine Surgery at Rush University Medical Center. He has published and lectured extensively, received numerous research awards and grants and frequently directs spinal educational courses for other spine surgeons. Dr. Phillips was recently named one of the top 28 spine surgeons in the country by Orthopedics this Week and is listed in Becker’s Orthopedic Spine and Pain Management as one of the nation’s Top 100 spine surgeons and specialists.


A medical graduate from the University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa, Dr. Phillips completed his orthopedic residency at The University of Chicago Medical Center. In addition, he served a spine fellowship at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. He is board certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery.


Dr. Frank Phillips was voted among the top 10-15% of Top Doctors in America® by U.S.News & World Report and Castle Connolly. The Top Doctors list is widely regarded as a high-quality reference guide to the medical profession.

 Vincent Traynelis
Vincent C. Traynelis, MD


Director, Spine Fellowship Program

Director, Residency Program

Department of Neurosurgery

Rush University medical Center

Chicago, USA


Dr. Traynelis is a consultant to Medtronic and NuVasive, and receives royalties from Venture and Zevo Medtronic.


Vincent C. Traynelis, MD, received his medical degree from West Virginia University School of Medicine in Morgantown, where he also completed an internship in general surgery and a residency in neurosurgery. Traynelis is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in complex spine surgery, spinal deformity, spinal arthroplasty, spinal reconstruction, spinal tumors, spinal cord tumors and minimally invasive spine surgery. He is past president of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the Cervical Spine Research Society, and past chairperson of the Joint Section of Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves. He is the chairman of the editorial board of the Journal of Neurosurgery Spine.


Traynelis is a regularly invited speaker at continuing medical education programs and is a frequent guest lecturer in this country as well as abroad. He has published more than 150 papers in peer-reviewed journals, more than 80 chapters, four books and almost 200 editorials. He is past chairman of the editorial board of the Journal of Neurosurgery Spine. Traynelis also serves on the editorial boards of Neurosurgery, Spine, The Spine Journal and the Journal of Spinal Disorders and Operative Techniques. He was a director of the American Board of Neurological Surgery for six years and served as the vice chair of the ABNS in 2014-15. Traynelis’ research interests include cervical spine surgery, spinal infections, operative monitoring and spinal biomechanics. He has received grants from the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Army.