Gunnar Andersson, orthopaedic spine surgeon, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, USA, and one of Spinal News International’s medical editors-in-chief, was awarded The Henry Farfan Award at the recent NASS meeting in recognition of his “outstanding” contributions in spine-related basic science research.
About winning the award, Andersson said: “I was deeply honoured. I knew Henry Farfan for many years. He was a giant in the spine world, who was the first to focus our attention to the importance of torsion to damages occurring in the spinal motion segment and the importance of the facet joints in controlling this. He was also the initiator and founder of the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine and I still remember him opening the first meeting in Montreal in 1974. Outside of the operating room it was rare to see him without a cigarette.”
Andersson, when he was profiled by Spinal News International a few years ago, said that his decision to specialise in orthopaedics was “completely arbitrary”. He explained: “I took a summer job in an orthopaedic department during my clinical years in medical school and learned to appreciate the speciality as providing both intellectual and technical challenges.” He also told the paper that one of his proudest moments was defending his 1974 thesis, saying “The results of the studies of biomechanical aspects of sitting are still valid and have had an influence on seat design for cars, offices, industry, and homes.”
The Henry Farfan Award was one of three recognition awards, named in honour of three founding members of NASS who made key contributions to the early success of the organisation, that were presented at this years’ conference. The other awards were The Leon Wiltse Award, which went to Kiyoshi Kaneda, orthopaedic surgeon, Bibai-shi, Hokkaido, Japan, to recognise his excellence in leadership and/or clinical research in spine care, and The David Selby award, which went to Joel Press, a past president of NASS and a professor of medicine and physical rehabilitation at Northwestern University School of Medicine, Chicago, USA, for his contribution to the art and science of spinal disorder management through his service to NASS.