San Diego Spine Foundation



Our Next Webinar is November 21st!

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See the Program for Our November 21 Event.

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2019 Annual Report Available

2019 Annua lReport CoverAnother year of pursuing the Foundation's research goals led to our presentations at meetings around the world. It was an eventful year. We're pleased to welcome SDSF’s newest addition to the Board of Directors: Samuel Ward, Ph.D., Vice Chair of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UCSD.

Our fundraising efforts to help establish the first Endowed Chair in Spine Surgery at UCSD have been realized, reaching the goal of two million dollars! This was a concerted effort supported by SDSF, private and corporate donors, and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UCSD.

This year's report also features new patient stories to personalize the importance of our work. You can read stories from Jennifer and Nathan to read two very different but equally compelling tales of spinal disorders and treatments.

Our mission is ongoing and the need does not decline. We invite you to download our 2019 Annual Report and ask that you consider the Foundation as a part of your annual giving plan. 

Download 2019 Annual Report Here

We Got There!

We're pleased to announce that we met the  goal of raising funds to establish the Behrooz A. Akbarnia and Nasrin Owsia Akbarnia Endowed Spine Chair in the Department of Orthopedic Surgery at UCSD.  This is the first ever endowed chair for this Department at UCSD.  Dr. Akbarnia is extremely honored to have this Endowed Chair in his name, with a focus on building bridges between UCSD and the San Diego Spine Community, as well as to promote research and education. 

SDSF was a proud contributor to this effort and along with the UCSD Dept. of Orthopedic Surgery, industry and private supporters, we got to the finish line!   

We're grateful to all who helped out. You can learn more in this year's Annual Report.


New Outreach Video

SDSF Mission Video

Watch this heart-warming video to learn more about SDSF and our Outreach activities in under-served communities.


Farewell to our Graduating Fellows Ryan J. Hoel, Ruwan P. Ratnayake and BNI In-Fold Residents Jakub Godzik (not in photo) and Corey Walker!  We wish you the very best!

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San Diego Spine Annual Visiting Professorship Goes Virtual

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In order to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved with our Annual Meeting, our leadership has elected to transform this year's meeting to a virtual format. PLEASE SAVE THE DATE for Friday, July 31, 2020 from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. for our VP webinar which will feature our 2 Visiting Professors and our graduating fellow's.  More information will be provided soon!


     PETER O. NEWTON, MD - Chief of Division, Orthopedic Surgery at Rady Children's Hospital San Diego, Rady Children's Hospital Medical Practice Foundation, Past President (2018-19) Scoliosis Research Society

     DOMINIQUE A. ROTHENFLUH, MD, PhD - Consultant Spinal Surgeon at Oxford University Hospitals, NHS Foundation Trust, Senioe Research Fellow at Nuffield Dept of Orthopaedics and Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Sciences, Univerity of Oxford, Oxford, England

Congratulations to our 2019 - 2020 Clinical Fellows

Ryan Hoel MD
Ryan J. Hoel, MD
Ruwan Ratnayake MD
Ruwan P. Ratnayake, MD
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Jakub Godzik, MD
Corey Walker.BNI.Future Fellow.SDSF Website Photo.jpeg
Corey Walker, MD

The San Diego Spine Fellowship Program would like to congratulate our graduating fellows for 2019-2020.  Our post-residency fellows, Ryan J. Hoel from University of Minnesota and Ruwan P. Ratnayake from University of California, Davis, and 2 Barrow Neurological Institute PGY-6 residents from Phoenix, AZ Jakub Godzik (Aug 1 2019 to January 15, 2020) and Corey Walker (January 16 to June 30, 2020) have concluded their training and will be beginning the next chapters of their careers.  

Congratulations gentlemen, well done!

Welcome to our New Clinical Fellows for 2020-2021

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Robert J. Ames, MD
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Daniel Reid, MD, MPH

The San Diego Spine Fellowship is ready to welcome the newest members to our SDSF Family:  2020-2021 Clinical Fellows Robert J. Ames, MD from Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, PA and Daniel Reid, MD, MPH from Brown University, Warren Alpert School of Medicine in Providence, RI.  Welcome gentlemen, we will look forward to having you join our team.

Our faculty looks forward to the tremendous exchange that will take place this coming year.  Welcome Robert and Daniel!

Congratulations to Our New 2021-2022 Clinical Fellows!

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Kody Barrett, MD
Micah Blais, MD

The San Diego Spine Fellowship would like to congratulate our newly matched Clinical Fellows for 2021-2022.  Kody Barrett, MD is an Orthopedic Surgery Resident at Harbor UCLA Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.  Micah Blais, MD has completed his Orthopedic Surgery Resident at Harvard Combined Orthopedic Residency Program, Boston, Massachusetts. They will begin their fellowship training on August 1, 2021.

SDSF Mission - Mentorship

SDSF would like to thank AOSpine for providing SDSF the link to a recent talk by our Vice President, Greg Mundis, Jr. on the topic of Mentorship as well as self-reflection for physicians, as part of the AOSpine Banff Virtual Educational Series.  We hope that you'll find Dr. Mundis' presentation insightful and relevant today, more than ever.

2019-2020 SDSF Spine Fellow Ruwan Ratnayake receives Thornburg Award

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Congratulations to Ruwan Ratnayake, MD, who just received the Thornburg Award on June 10, 2020 for his research presented at the 2020 Annual Gittes Meeting at Scripps Green Hospital in La Jolla, California.  The award is for Research in Surgery by a Fellow.

SDSF in a COVID-19 World

SDSF and the San Diego Spine Fellowship Program continue to be operational during this historic pandemic.  Thanks to the combined dedication of our faculty, fellows and staff, training continues largely via Zoom conferencing with all bi-weekly spine conferences, research meetings and Journal Club meetings being held via online conferencing.  Our Visiting Professorship Meeting for 2020 will be reassessed in the near future, based on state and local mandates.  We hope to fully engaged with our spine community as soon as we are able.  

In the meantime, SDSF hopes everyone will stay well so we can bend the curve and resume normal operations.  Best wishes to everyone!

Introducing Mai Lee, aPHR

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SDSF is pleased to welcome Mai Lee, aPHR as the newest member of our family, with her primary role as Fellowship Administrator.  Mai received her B.S. in Business Administration from San Diego State University.  She has a background in human resources and has held various HR roles in the areas of onboarding, recruiting, training, employee relations, benefits, and systems.  Mai spent the majority of her career working for a non-profit research institute and was most recently at a clinical-stage biotech company before joining the San Diego Spine Foundation.  She enjoys supporting organizations that are making meaningful impact to improving human health and quality of life.  She enjoys exploring San Diego, cooking, and spending time with family located in San Diego and Minnesota. 

2020 Winter Gala - Thank You!

The SDSF-GSO combined winter Gala, held on February 28, 2020 at the Hyatt Aventine Hotel, was a tremendous success.  We cannot thank everyone enough who contributed to our success.  All photos from our event can be viewed on our webpage at 



Our Mission

To Serve the Spine Community through Achievement of Professional Excellence and Optimization of Clinical Care  

Our Vision

To enhance professional excellence in spine care in San Diego through mentorship, education, research, advocacy, and leadership, while serving patients with spinal disorders through quality care that is thoughtful, scientific, and compassionate 

Board of Directors

Spine Fellowships

Fellowship training is critical to the advancement of spinal care. The Foundation supports the San Diego Spine Fellowship program. All participating surgeons in the program are nationally recognized specialists in both non-operative and operative spine care.

For physicians seeking information about applying for the Fellowship program, please Learn More Here.