Robert F. Spetzler

1994, Chicago

Robert F. Spetzler attended Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois from 1963 to 1967 and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry. Before graduating, he spent a year at the Free University of Berlin on a scholarship. In 1967, he entered medical school at Northwestern University, where he obtained his M.D. in 1971 and completed his internship in 1972.

In 1972 Dr. Spetzler moved to the University of California at San Francisco where he trained as a resident under Charles B. Wilson, Professor and Chairman, Department of Neurosurgery. It was there, under the expert tutelage of Dr. Wilson, that his interests in neurovascular surgery developed. His commitment to academic neurosurgery also was established at this time. Before finishing his residency, he had already published 15 articles in refereed journals, on 8 of which he was first author; had helped edit two books and had made almost 20 presentations at national and international meetings. During the last year of his residency, he was awarded a Trauma Fellowship from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). He also received the Annual Resident Award at the 27th Annual Meeting of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

After completing his residency in 1977, Dr. Spetzler joined the Department of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio as an Assistant Professor. In 1980 he received his first major grant from NIH, developing a baboon model of stoke that has since been particularly generative fro testing new therapeutic treatments for stoke and cerebral ischemia. In 1981, he was promoted to an Associate Professor, holding the appointment until 1983. His commitment to clinical research during these years was rewarded with about 40 articles published in refereed journals and 16 book chapters.

In 1983 Dr. Spetzler was recruited by Dr. John R. Green to assume the J.N. Harber Chair of Neurological Surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute (BNI) in Phoenix, Arizona. Two years later when Dr. Green retired, Dr. Spetzler assumed the position of Director of the Institute. Under Dr. Spetzler's leadership, the BNI has grown from primarily a regional center to an internationally recognized center of excellence that attracts both visiting health care professionals and patient referrals from around the world. The residency program has become one of the most highly sought programs because of the diversity of clinical experience and the emphasis on developing independent research projects.

Among just a few of Dr. Spetzler's contributions have been the development of theories on normal perfusion pressure breakthrough and how the size of ateriovenous malformations (AVMs) is related to their rupture; the development of a heuristic grading system for AVMs; advances in surgical treatment of complex cerebrovascular lesions based on hypothermia, barbiturates, and cardiac arrest; and the development of innovative surgical approaches for skull base surgery. In the last decade this work for has been reflected in the 100 articles published in refereed journals; the 83 book chapters either published or in press; the establishment of the official journal of the BNI, the BNI Quarterly; and several books and neurosurgical atlases.

These accomplishments underscore the reasons Dr. Spetzler has been chosen as the Honored Guest of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons-the youngest member ever to receive this coveted honor.