Robert F. Spetzler, MD, is a pioneering neurosurgeon who is known throughout the world for his expertise and innovation in the field. The Barrow Center for Neuromodulation is his legacy project, a dream to find new paths for the treatment of devastating brain disorders.
Dr. Spetzler was born in Stierhoefstetten, Germany, and moved to the United States at the age of 11. He attended college and medical school in Illinois, and trained as a resident under Charles B. Wilson, MD, at the University of California at San Francisco.
By the early 1980s, John Green, MD, who had devoted 20 years of his life building Barrow Neurological Institute at St. Joseph’s Hospital into a nationally known institute, began his search for a successor.
He chose Dr. Spetzler from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, who, in 1983, assumed the J.N. Harber Chair of Neurological Surgery at Barrow. Two years later, Dr. Spetzler became Director of the Institute. Under his leadership, Barrow has grown from a regional center to an internationally recognized center of excellence, attracting healthcare professionals and patient referrals from around the world. The center is home to a sought-out and diverse residency program.
Some of Dr. Spetzler’s noted accomplishments are:
- He has been instrumental in creating a highly respected neurosurgical residency program at Barrow.
- In February of 2007, Dr. Spetzler reached a milestone no other neurosurgeon can claim – he performed his 5,000th aneurysm procedure.
- He played a dominant role in developing the “cardiac standstill” into an effective surgical technique for treating large or dangerous cerebral aneurysms.
- He has published more than 300 articles in refereed journals, 169 book chapters and 13 neurosurgical textbooks. He has made more than 850 professional presentations.
- He helped develop several tools and pieces of equipment used in neurosurgical suites around the world, including a 3-D microscope and a titanium aneurysm clip.
A former chief resident at Barrow praised Dr. Spetzler’s qualities as a surgeon: “His confidence, courage, and inner strength are the qualities that emerge in the operating room and leave those around him inspired….His mentorship inspires young neurosurgeons to follow his example, to aspire to his level of expertise, and to perpetuate a difficult and demanding craft.”
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