Charles Fisher awarded Leon Wiltse Award at NASS

Under Charles Fisher's leadership, the AO Spine Knowledge Forum (KF) Tumor has established itself as what many consider to be the most impactful spine oncology study group worldwide.

16 October 2019

Charles Fisher
Charles Fisher has impacted the way patients are managed all over the world. He has devoted his career to addressing spinal conditions as well as being a mentor, an inspiration, and a leader to many.

The achievements of AO Spine KF Tumor include validating the first ever spine oncology-specific patient-reported outcome tool, the Spinal lnstability Neoplastic Score, and most recently the AO Surgery Reference Metastatic Tumor module. Fisher's natural excellence in leadership and passion for clinical research was also recognized by NASS this fall with the Leon Wiltse award.

Charles Fisher has been involved with the AO Spine KFs from their conception and is an advocate for evidence-based medicine in spine surgery. His focus includes surgical techniques, clinical trials, patient reported outcome questionnaires, spine registries, and adverse events. Understanding the patient and the disease, combined with his knowledge of how to do impactful research, is consequential to the success of AO Spine KF Tumor and exemplary to any health research initiative.

"As surgeons we can do one operation and help one person at a time. We can educate residents and fellows and as a result of that help many patients that these fellows and residents will treat," Fisher says. "But with high-level impactful research, we can affect the care of patients around the world. I think that really fits in with AO's mandate of improving care with a global perspective and doing it with evidence-based care."

It's about collaboration

Originally, there were just six spine surgeons around the table looking at unanswered questions regarding spine tumors. In his eight years, Fisher has grown the AO Spine KF Tumor into a global multi-disciplinary collaboration of 50 spine care specialists, bringing together neurosurgeons, orthopedic surgeons, radiation oncologists, and medical oncologists from high volume centers around the world.

"Spinal tumors can be life-threatening; however, their incidence at any individual institute can be relatively low. With this reality in hand, Charles became the nucleus that brought the spine oncology community together and kept them united to address a disease process that needed immediate attention," AO Spine Research Commission Chairperson Dino Samartzis says. "He is simply exceptional!"

Currently, Fisher and the AO Spine KF Tumor are developing an international network of spine oncology centers committed to collaborative prospective multicenter research. The aim is to prospectively investigate the prognostic variables—clinical, diagnostic, and therapeutic—in patients diagnosed with spine tumor, for both metastatic and primary tumor.

The large amounts of data being generated from the participating network centers will provide the big data needed for developing algorithms and treatment protocols for Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning. This will help surgeons and physicians make better treatment decisions. Nevertheless, Fisher is convinced the clinician's role will remain paramount. "These patients are unique, very different from most patients in our practice. They are facing major life altering issues; they are dying or palliative. AI will never be able to substitute the emotional piece from the clinician."

Watch the video, where Fisher explains why the AO Spine KF Tumor develops tools for measuring health-related quality of life and patient satisfaction, and how these tools should be used.

Read more about AO Spine Research 

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