Growing Spine Foundation Board of Trustees

Behrooz A. Akbarnia, MD - President and Founder

Behrooz A. Akbarnia, MD

Dr. Behrooz Akbarnia graduated from Tehran University Medical School in 1966 and continued his Orthopaedic Surgery training in the United States. In San Diego he established his academic practice and created the GSF to support academic activities, which included the inception of the GSSG in 2008. Through the GSF he has established the International Congress on Early Onset Scoliosis (ICEOS) providing an annual scientific forum for physicians and spine care professionals since 2007, and publishing 2 editions of the Growing Spine textbook. He also helped with the development and popularization of a new magnetic device for young children. He is currently a Clinical Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at University of California; San Diego.

John Emans, MD

John Emans, MD

Dr. Emans is Director of the Division of Spine Surgery at Boston Children's Hospital and Professor of Orthopedic Surgery at Harvard medical school. Dr. Emans’ research and clinical interests focus on early onset spinal deformity and congenital scoliosis. A graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School, his orthopedic training was at the combined Harvard Orthopedic Residency. With Dr. Michael Glotzbecker.

Charles E. Johnston, MD

Dr. Charlie Johnston is Emeritus Assistant Chief of Staff, Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children, Dallas TX., where he did his fellowship in 1981-2 and been on staff since 1985.  Known as “Dr. J”, he is a member and has served on and chaired multiple committees of the Scoliosis Research Society, Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America, and the European Pediatric Orthopedic Society.  An elite reviewer for the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, he has authored chapters in all editions of Tachdjian’s Pediatric Orthopaedics , The Textbook of Spinal Surgery, and  The Growing Spine.  A graduate of Yale University, Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the University of Virginia Orthopedic residency, Dr. J joined the GSSG Executive Committee in 2008.

David L. Skaggs, MD, MMM

David L. Skaggs, MD

Dr. Skaggs is a tenured Professor at University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine, Chief of Orthopaedic Surgery at Children's Hospital Los Angeles, and holds the Children's Endowed chair of Pediatric Spinal Disorders. He received his undergraduate degree from Amherst College and completed his medical degree and residency at Columbia University. He has been on the Executive Committee of the Growing Spine Study Group since 2008 and served as the Secretary of the Growing Spine Foundation since 2009. Dr. Skaggs has a special interest in all aspects of care of growing children with spinal disorders. He has designed many spine implant systems and techniques to maximize patient safety.


Paul D. Sponseller, MD, MBA

Paul D. Sponseller, MD

Dr. Paul D. Sponseller, M.D. started treating patients in 1986 at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and is currently Division Head of Pediatric Orthopaedics. Dr. Sponseller has been a member of several medical boards and associations, including the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America; Professional Advisory Board Member of the National Marfan Foundation; and Treasurer and Vice President of the Scoliosis Research Society. He is the Deputy Editor for Pediatrics for the Journal of Bone and joint Surgery, Deputy Editor of Spine Deformity, and a reviewer for many journals. He was a member of the GSSG Executive Committee from 2008 to 2009 and on the Board of Directors of the GSF since 2009.


George H. Thompson, MD

George H. Thompson, MD - Director

Dr. Thompson is Director of Pediatric Orthopaedics at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center (UHCMC) and Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and Pediatrics at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. He completed his orthopaedic surgery residency at UCLA Medical Center in 1977 and a fellowship in pediatric orthopaedics at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario 1978. He then joined the faculty at UHCMC in 1979. He has been a member of the GSSG and GSF since their inception. He is currently Executive Editor, Journal of Pediatric Orthopaedics; President/CEO SICOT Foundation; Chairman SICOT-USA; and President International Federation of Pediatric Orthopaedic Societies.


Muharrem Yazici, MD

Dr. Muharrem Yazici is Professor of Orthopaedics at the Hacettepe University in Ankara, Turkey. His clinical practice involves pediatric orthopaedics and spine problems and his researches are focusing on the treatment of early onset pediatric spine deformities. He served as president for EPOS (2012-2013) and Board of Director (2012-2014), Chair of Growing Spine(2007) and Program Committees (2017) for SRS. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the GSSG from 2008 to 2017, and has been a member of the GSF since 2009.


Growing Spine Foundation Staff

Steven Folstein, MFA M.Ed.
Executive Director
Andrea Scholfield
Meetings Manager