ISASS presents awards, announces Hee Kit Wong as president, during 2016 annual meeting


Over 850 spine surgeons, scientists, researchers, and exhibitors from more than 40 countries attended the International Society for the Advancement of Spine Surgery (ISASS) 16th annual meeting (April 6-8, Las Vegas, USA).

Over 530 abstracts were submitted spanning all aspects of surgical spine care– minimally invasive spine surgery; cervical spine; lumbar spine; paediatric spine; tumour, trauma, infection, and imaging; adult spinal deformity; biomechanics; value and outcomes in spine surgery; and innovative technologies.

“The ISASS annual meeting remains dedicated to the aim of advancing spine surgery from a global perspective,” says Domagoj Coric, ISASS Overall Program chair. “One of the highlights of the meeting is the opportunity to network with international surgeons and researchers as well as industry to improve spinal surgical outcomes for our patients in an evidence-based fashion.”

ISASS announced awards for best overall paper, best clinical paper, best basic science paper, best poster, and the Kostiuk Innovation Award during the annual meeting. According to a press release, this year’s awards recipients reflect the diversity of ISASS membership as a whole. The society’s members have varying and distinct backgrounds, research interests and home practices, with a shared conviction to advance the science of spine surgery and maximise patient outcomes.

This year’s winners include:

Best Overall Paper, The ISASS Leon Wiltse Award

The positive effect of continued motion of a cervical artificial disc replacement on radiographic adjacent level degeneration at long term follow-up

Presenting author: Jeffrey Spivak, New York University, White Plains, USA

Best Clinical Paper, The Charles D. Ray Award

Long term experience with reduction technique in high grade spondylolisthesis in the young

Presenting Author: Sudarshan Pramod, Apollo Hospital, Orthopaedics, Chennai, India

Best Basic Science Paper

Sagittal balance considerations in planning multilevel cervical intervention: effect of arthroplasty vs. fusion on adjacent segment motions

Presenting author: Saeed Khayatzadeh, Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital, Hines, USA

Best Poster

Disc gene therapy: development of a novel inducible system to regulate expression of the therapeutic transgene TIMP1

Presenting author: Zhihua Ouyang, Spinal Surgery Department, First Affiliated Hospital of Nanhua University. Hengyang, China

Kostuik Innovation Award

The incidence of adjacent segment disease and index level revision and outcomes of secondary surgical intervention following single level lumbar total disc replacement

Presenting author: Matthew Scott-Young, Gold Coast Spine, Southport, Queensland, Australia


During the meeting, Hee Kit Wong, professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the National University of Singapore, assumed the presidency of ISASS from outgoing president, Gunnar Andersson, emeritus of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, USA, and editor-in-chief of Spinal News International. Wong’s term will run through April 2017.

“ISASS is a growing, global organisation, with room to represent members from around the world. We must continue our efforts to advance the science and art of surgery and educate its practitioners in every country possible,” says Wong.

Wong has been a member of ISASS since 2001 and has served on the ISASS Board of Directors since 2010. He also serves as chairman of the Spine Section of the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association (APOA), board member of the Pacific Asia Society for Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (PASMISS), and board member of the Asia Pacific Cervical Spine Society (APCSS).

Wong’s hallmark, he hopes, is to give a voice and a more active role to the international community that is already listening. “While we have a strong international presence by membership,” Wong says, “our challenge is to encourage presentation and attendance at Society meetings.”

The Society’s capacity as an umbrella organisation is a top priority for Wong, too—events, publications, and policy arms are all providing infrastructure and support to regional spine societies to fulfil the Society’s mission, according to a press release.

After graduating from the University of Singapore, Wong became a fellow of the Royal Australian College of Surgeons, a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow and obtained a Master of Surgery from the National University of Singapore and a Master of Orthopaedic Surgery from the University of Liverpool (Liverpool, UK). Wong currently serves as a professor of Orthopaedic Surgery at the National University of Singapore, head of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at the National University of Singapore, chair of University Orthopaedics, Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery Cluster at the National University Health System, and head of the Division of Spinal Surgery, University Orthopaedics, Hand & Reconstructive Microsurgery Cluster at the National University Health System in Singapore.

Wong is a member of more than fifteen professional societies across the globe and serves as an editor/reviewer for ten academic journals. He is the author or co-author of more than 40 peer-reviewed research papers. As a researcher and surgeon, Wong has received numerous scholarships, research grants, and research awards including Outstanding Oral Paper Award at the 13th annual International Conference on Biomedical Engineering, Best Paper Award at the 31st annual Scientific Meeting of the Singapore Orthopaedic Association, Best Deformity Paper at the Scoliosis Research Society’s Worldwide Meeting in New Delhi in 2008, and a Poster Award from the Asia Pacific Orthopaedic Association in 2008. 


“I would like to thank outgoing ISASS president, Gunnar Andersson, for his service to the society—I am proud of what ISASS has accomplished under his leadership,” says Wong. “I am confident that he will continue lend his talent and expertise to advance the profession and the society.”

“Hee Kit Wong  will serve ISASS well,” says Andersson. “I am certain Wong will continue to build bridges within the surgical spine community to continue to grow ISASS and increase the society’s international reach.”

Outside of medicine and society business, Wong enjoys spending time with his family, listening to music, and building computers.

“It is an exciting time for ISASS; we continue to grow, remaining always adaptable, motivated and responsive to our members and the patients they treat,” says Gunnar Andersson. “The world of spine surgery is rapidly evolving and I am positive that attendees of ISASS16 left with new ideas and information that will assist them in their own research and practice.”

Spinal News International has published profiles on both Hee Kit Wong and Gunnar Andersson.

Attendees also heard from presidential guest speaker, Allen West, a twenty-year US army veteran, former congressman, political commentator and the current executive director of the National Center for Policy Analysis. West urged ISASS members to become actively involved in “repairing the spine of the country.” He discussed the impact of the Affordable Care Act in the USA, and explored health policy across the board. Surgeons, he said, must make their voices heard in policy, claiming that expertise, not expediency, must determine the care patients receive.