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Spine Surgery Fellowship (Minnesota)

Meet Our Trainees

Current fellows

Nayef Bin Dajim, M.B.B.S.

Nayef Bin Dajim, M.B.B.S.

Medical School: King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Residency: University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Navid Khezri, M.D.

Navid Khezri, M.D.

Medical School: University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada

Residency: University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada

Former fellows

Oscar Duyos, M.D. (2017-2018)

"What can I say about my Mayo Clinic experience so far as a spine fellow? It is a game changer. It offers you a unique window into how optimal patient care should be undertaken. It provides you an in-depth perspective of how orthopedic surgeons and neurosurgeons would approach a specific spine problem, whether it be in the trauma setting or at an outpatient clinic. It gives you a comprehensive operating room experience from the preoperative planning and perioperative management to surgical skills acquisition, always with a consultant guiding you every step of the way. Mayo Clinic humanizes you and reminds you every day why you got into this career to begin with.

"Mayo Clinic offers a comprehensive spine fellowship - graduated autonomy that breeds success. Thanks to the countless teaching moments I have shared during this past year, I have been able to transition smoothly into my practice. I feel comfortable with my indications as a clinician and as a spine surgeon in the OR! I would do it a hundred times over!”

  • Current location: Caribbean Spine and Research Institute, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Residency: University of Puerto Rico School of Medicine, San Juan, Puerto Rico
  • Medical school: Ponce Health Sciences University, Ponce, Puerto Rico

Bryan Lawson, M.D. (2017-2018)

"The Mayo Clinic Spine Surgery Fellowship has provided exposure to a broad range of very complex pathology. The operative caseload is very diverse and is highlighted by the experience of many dedicated mentors from varied training backgrounds. As a result, throughout the Mayo spine fellowship I have developed a diverse toolbox of reliable methods to diagnose and treat simple and complex diagnoses."

  • Current location99th Medical Group - Nellis Air Force Base, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Residency: San Antonio Military Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas
  • Medical school: Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

Jason Alder, M.D. (2016-2017)

"Not a day goes by that I am not grateful for having done my spine fellowship at Mayo Clinic. It truly is a world-class institution and the training in the Spine Surgery Fellowship is no exception. The breadth of cases, from simple primary degenerative spine cases to complex revision degenerative and deformity cases, is unmatched. The opportunity to work and learn on difficult cases that are uncommon elsewhere gives me confidence in taking care of anything I might see out in practice. The consultants truly are mentors; I send them cases and ask for their opinions routinely, and I will likely always continue to do so. Being a part of the Mayo family is also a special experience; everywhere I go, other Mayo alumni are welcoming and helpful, and I can't count how many patients have come to see me specifically because I trained at the world-famous Mayo Clinic!"

  • Current location: Community Health Network, Indianapolis/Kokomo, Indiana
  • Residency: Houston Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas
  • Medical school: University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson, Arizona

Joseph Popper, M.D. (2016-2017)

"The Mayo Clinic Spine Surgery Fellowship afforded opportunities that few fellowships can match. Complex pathology, outstanding faculty and a high level of autonomy as the year progresses are just a few of the highlights. Throughout the year, I was able to acquire the clinical and surgical skills to manage all aspects of a modern spine practice. I have gained in-depth knowledge and experience in both primary and degenerative problems of cervical and lumbar spine, adult deformity, trauma, tumor and minimally invasive techniques. I feel very proud of my training at Mayo Clinic and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a top spine fellowship."

  • Current location: Mohawk Valley Orthopedics, Amsterdam, New York
  • Residency: Henry Ford Hospital System, Detroit, Michigan
  • Medical school: University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, Washington

Ilyas Aleem, M.D. (2015-2016)

"The Spine Surgery Fellowship at Mayo Clinic truly represents what a fellowship means to me — broad exposure to the breadth of spinal pathology, surgical autonomy, unparalleled clinical and research opportunities, and lifelong mentorship in a friendly and collegial environment. From a family perspective, Rochester, Minnesota, provided us with accessibility, affordability, and a diverse range of engaging activities. In addition to confidently and safely being able to manage patients with both simple and complex spinal pathology, my experience has undoubtedly prepared me well as an educator, researcher and health advocate. Most importantly, it has connected me to a wide network of past and current surgeons that I continue to not only learn from, but also strive to emulate."

  • Current location: University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Residency: University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada
  • Medical school: McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada

Jonathan Duncan, M.D. (2014-2015)

"The Mayo Clinic Spine Surgery Fellowship was truly a world-class education. The educational and academic opportunities are unparalleled, and the mentorship is amazing. The depth and breadth of pathology prepared me for independent practice, and the faculty members are truly interested in making you a better surgeon. Best of all, I feel I have a great group of colleagues that I can call on anytime. I feel privileged to have been a spine fellow at Mayo Clinic."

  • Current location: The San Antonio Orthopaedic Group, San Antonio, Texas
  • Residency: The Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan
  • Medical school: University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas, Texas

Mohammad Zarrabian, M.D. (2014-2015)

"I often hear fellows emulate their mentors once they begin independent practice. Having completed the Mayo Clinic Spine Surgery Fellowship, I hope this is true. Every surgeon I worked with pushed the boundaries of spine surgery with evidence-based medicine, while consistently demonstrating the caring and genuine professionalism I expect of a spine surgeon. The variety of cases included complex, one of a kind pathology, as well as common procedures performed with an innovative approach; all this in world-class facilities. Complexity, integrity, and evidence-based application of technical proficiency by educators relishing the opportunity to teach: I'm fortunate to have chosen Mayo Clinic. I now feel comfortable tackling trauma, oncology, deformity and degenerative pathologies with the knowledge, skills and confidence needed of me."

  • Current location: University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Residency: Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Medical school: Queen's University, Ontario, Canada

Yazeed Gussous, M.D., M.B.B.S. (2013-2014)

"I worked with a great team of orthopedic and neurosurgery spine surgeons. During the year, you'll get exposed to the full spectrum of adult spinal diseases, and spinal approaches and techniques under a group of very thoughtful spine surgeons."

  • Current location: Private Practice, Mountain View, California
  • Residency: University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois
  • Medical school: University of Jordan, Amman, Jordan

Emily Nguyen, M.D. (2013-2014)

"The spine fellowship at Mayo Clinic afforded me an amazing educational experience that has truly prepared me for a successful career in spine surgery. From day one, I was accepted and treated as a colleague by consultants and made to feel welcome in a friendly and educational environment. After completing my fellowship and joining a long and distinguished list of accomplished spine surgeons to have trained at Mayo Clinic, I am so fortunate to have been part of an amazing institution that provided me so much in such a relatively short period of time."

  • Current location: Orthopedic & Sports Medicine Center of Oregon, Lake Oswego, Oregon
  • Residency: Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota
  • Medical school: Texas Tech University School of Medicine, Lubbock, Texas

Jad Khalil, M.D. (2012-2013)

"I found that my fellowship at Mayo Clinic had the perfect mix of variety in spinal pathology and surgical techniques, academics, in addition to working with a great group of people that I am now proud to call friends!"

  • Current location: Michigan Orthopaedic Institute, Beaumont Health System, Royal Oaks, Michigan
  • Residency: Henry Ford Hospital, Detroit, Michigan
  • Medical school: American University of Beirut, Beirut, Lebanon

Brian Vernon, M.D. (2012-2013)

"Choosing to do a spine surgery fellowship at Mayo Clinic was one of the most important decisions of my career, and I would make the same choice again. Not only are the consultants talented, top-tier educators, they are kind and patient individuals who personalized my education. From single-level anterior cervical fusion and arthroplasty to complex spinal reconstruction for degeneration, trauma or tumor, I was well-prepared to enter either private practice or academic medicine."

  • Current location: Intermountain Logan Regional Orthopedics, Logan, Utah
  • Residency: Orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska
  • Medical school: Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Melissa Erickson, M.D. (2011-2012)

"The Mayo spine fellowship was an amazing opportunity to work with a team of spine surgeons who are leaders in their field. I finished with a well-rounded exposure to complex cervical/lumbar deformity, tumor, trauma, motion preservation and minimally invasive surgery. There were ample opportunities to participate in research and multidisciplinary patient care."

  • Current location: Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
  • Residency: Duke University Orthopedic Surgery Program, Durham, North Carolina
  • Medical school: Rush University, Chicago, Illinois

Charbel Moussallem, M.D. (2011-2012)

"The Mayo Clinic Spine Surgery Fellowship was the best training opportunity in my whole life. I have discovered that after starting my practice in Beirut, Lebanon. This training gave me a lot of self-confidence where there is no more stress before or during difficult cases. This training has really made me shine between my colleagues, and there is no doubt that because of Mayo I am very successful in what I do. If I would have to choose a fellowship again, it would be the same one at Mayo."

  • Current location :Lebanese University, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Residency: Lebanese University, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Beirut, Lebanon
  • Medical school: Lebanese University, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Beirut, Lebanon

Other past Spine Surgery fellows include:



Current Location

Benjamin Bjerke, M.D.


Boulder Community Health, Boulder, Colorado

Mohammad Zarrabian, M.D.


University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Hongbo Liu, M.D.


Innovative Spine and Orthopedic Clinic, San Antonio, Texas

Anthony Roccisano, D.O.


Ortho Montana, Billings, Montana

Amgad Hanna, M.D.


University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, Madison, Wisconsin

Markus Noger, M.D.


Luks, Lucerne, Switzerland

Jason Eck, D.O.


Southeastern Spine,Chattanooga, Tennessee

Christopher Wagener, M.D.


Coordinated Health, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

Gregory Bach, M.D.


Total MD, West Palm Beach, Florida

Robert Eastlack, M.D.


Scripps Health, La Jolla, California

Venkat Sethuraman, M.D.


Spine Physicians Institute, Dallas, Texas

Steven Cyr, M.D.


SASpine, LLC, San Antonio, Texas

Matthew Walker, M.D.


CAMC Health Systems, Charleston, West Virginia

Choll Kim, M.D., Ph.D.


Spine Institute of San Diego, San Diego, California

Larry Todd Jr., D.O.


OrthoNeuro, Columbus, Ohio

David Christensen, M.D.


Intermountain Spine and Orthopaedics, Twin Falls, Idaho

Gad Velan, M.D.


Soroka Medical Center, Beer Sheva, Israel

Nizam Razack, M.D.


Spine & Brain Neurosurgery Center, Orlando, Florida

John Andreshak, M.D.


Kenai Spine, Soldotna, Alaska

Geoffrey Adey, M.D.


John Muir Health, Walnut Creek, California

Richard Rabinowitz, M.D.


Barrington Orthopedic Specialists, Schaumburg, Illinois

Michel Pare, M.D.


Hamilton Neurosurgery & Spine Center, Dalton, Georgia

Panayiotis Papagelopoulos, M.D.


Athens University Medical School, Greece