Where are they now? - Allan D. Levi

Dr Allan D Levi, MD, PhD, FACSAllan Levi

My neurosurgical training spanned over a decade, from July 1986 to December 1996, and included a residency at the University of Toronto, two fellowships and a PhD in the neurosciences. I had the incredible fortune to have as mentors some of the giants in the field of neurosurgery, including Dr Charles Tator - University of Toronto; Dr Volker Sonntag – Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix; and Drs Barth Green and Roberto Heros - University of Miami, as well as a world-class neuroscientist - Dr Richard Bunge - who served as my PhD advisor at the University of Miami. The University of Miami Department of Neurosurgery, including the Miami Project to Cure Paralysis, fosters an environment of sub-specialization and has permitted me to focus my efforts on the surgical treatment of diseases of the spine and spinal cord and peripheral nerves.

I am currently the Chairman of Neurosurgery at the University of Miami (UM) MILLER School of Medicine and Chief of the Neurosurgical Service at Jackson Memorial Hospital (JMH) and I have held the Robert M Buck Distinguished Chair in Neurological Surgery since 2012. We have recently increased our faculty to 22 members and provide services for all neurosurgery sub-specialties. Our faculty cover four hospitals, perform over 13,000 patient visits and 4,500 operative cases per year and UM/ JMH is one of the largest neurosurgical training programs (21 residents and 9 fellows) in the US. We have a robust research program and are currently ranked 4th in NIH funding by Blue Ridge Institute for Medical Research. The Miami Project to Cure Paralysis - the largest research division within the department - has 30 faculty members.

My PhD in the neurosciences and research during my post-doctoral fellowships examined the biology of the human Schwann cell and one of my major research focuses over the past 22 years has been translational research in this area. The findings have been published in journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience, PNAS and Experimental Neurology. This laboratory environment has been an excellent opportunity for our residents and fellows to gain research experience. The investigations performed in the lab have been funded from various sources including the MRC, NIH/ NINDS, DOD, State of Florida, foundation grants, industry and philanthropic support. Of my approximately 125 peer-reviewed publications, 30 book chapters and 2 books, about a third are in the basic sciences.

I served as the neurosurgical spine fellowship director from 1998 – 2015 and the program has grown and we now train an average of 3 - 4 spine fellows/ year. Over the past 17 years we have trained 53 external fellows (11 from Canada) and 18 infolded fellows. At a national level, I have been very involved in courses for residents, fellows and young neurosurgeons. Over the last 18 years, I have been teaching and organizing a course that prepares neurosurgeons for their oral board examinations - a requirement for board certification in neurosurgery. The Goodman Oral Board Course is a bi-annual offering of the AANS and I have served as national director for the last 9 years. I am an elected member of two of our most prestigious neurosurgical societies - the American Academy of Neurosurgery and the Senior Society of Neurological Surgeons.

I am married to Teresa Rodriguez, who is a nationally syndicated journalist with a Spanish language investigative 60 minute television show on Univision. Our 4 children (David, Jessica, Julian and Victor) range in age from 21 - 30 and all but the ‘baby’, who is training to be an aerospace engineer, are working. I love to run and bike and see my Toronto colleagues at meetings and the NY Central Park Charity softball tournament! I always feel deeply indebted to my mentors and fellow trainees from the University of Toronto for their support and teaching.

- Allan Levi