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Sunday, May 12, 2024

Spinal Surgeon Tapped to Head Hoag Neurosciences

Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian has named a prestigious spinal surgeon as the new executive medical director at its Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.

Dr. Adam Kanter will lead a team of experts focused on problems like dementia, epilepsy and brain tumors; he replaces Dr. Michael Brant-Zawadzki.

“My priority is to integrate the latest research and technology with the exceptional level of compassion that defines Hoag’s care,” Kanter said.

“I’m here to help contribute to meaningful improvements in our patients’ lives, embracing innovation and AI, but not at the expense of the human touch that sets us apart.”

Augmented Reality Pioneer

Kanter was featured in the Business Journal last year—along with Dr. Burak Ozgur—for operating on one of the world’s first spine surgeries using augmented reality. The duo was also named in the publication’s annual OC50 edition, which last year focused on those leading the next generation of healthcare innovation in Orange County.

Kanter’s appointment to the Pickup Institute comes at what Hoag calls “a transformational time for neurosciences.” Last November, the hospital received a $50 million gift from longtime Newport Beach investor and philanthropist Richard Pickup to establish the Richard H. Pickup Center for Brain Health at Hoag, which aims to pioneer new, whole-family centered approaches to brain health and healthy aging. The center for brain health is one of several centers at the Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute.

Kanter said that as part of his new position, he wants to connect with Orange County’s medtech and technology companies.

“I’m spending a lot of time in the research phase, getting to know the landscape of Southern California,” Kanter said.

“I don’t see myself as saying ‘here’s my grand vision and I want everybody to get on board.’”

New Challenges

Kanter, a leading expert in lateral access surgical techniques and minimally invasive interbody fusion, was chief of spine surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

While considering a move to Southern California where he and his wife, Jodi, have family, he talked to former colleague Ozgur, who convinced him to join Hoag, which ranks among the top 50 in neurology and neurosurgery nationally, according to U.S. News & World Report.

In 2022, Kanter became chief of neurosurgery at the Hoag Neurosciences Institute.

“I want to be continued to be challenged,” Kanter said of the move to Southern California.

He pointed out that Orange County has a growing cohort of baby boomers in their 70s and 80s who need services to treat illnesses like dementia.

About 164,000 people in Orange County are estimated to be affected by dementia or mild cognitive impairment, according to the nonprofit Alzheimer’s Orange County.

“As you get into your older age, you’re more likely to develop many of these neuro cognitive conditions of decline,” Kanter said.


Hoag prides itself on “privademics” where doctors can combine private practices with clinical research.

The Pickup Institute, which was created in 2007 as the first of Hoag’s seven specialty care institutes, has 17 active trials as well as more than 20 neuroscience programs.

Kanter pointed to promising trials such as a vaccine targeting biomarkers associated with Alzheimer’s. The healthcare industry is rapidly developing an area known as “precision medicine,” he said.

“Precision medicine individualizes patients to give them the right treatment at the right time,” Kanter said. “That is the future of not only medicine, but healthcare.”
Kanter said he’s reduced his number of surgeries to about three a week, about half of his prior load.

“Hoag led a national search to identify the best candidate to continue to propel Hoag’s Pickup Family Neurosciences Institute forward and I am confident that Dr. Kanter is that person,” Hoag Chief Executive Robert Braithwaite said in a statement.

“His expertise and commitment to innovation will advance Hoag’s role as a preeminent destination for neuroscience.”

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