Research Summary

Professor of Clinical Neurological Surgery and Orthopaedic Surgery
Director of Spinal Deformity & Spine Tumor Surgery
Co-director, Spinal Surgery and UCSF Spine Center
Director, California Deformity Institute
Director, Spinal Biomechanics Laboratory

Dr. Ames is the director of spinal deformity and spine tumor surgery and co-director of the combined high risk spine service, the Neurospinal Disorders Program, and the UCSF Spine Center. He is board certified in neurosurgery. He was named to the 2015-2019 Top Doctors lists in San Francisco Magazine, and among America’s Top Doctors for both neurosurgery and cancer from 2010 to 2019. His tumor practice focuses on en bloc tumor resection for chordoma, chondrosarcoma, giant cell tumor, soft tissue sarcoma, sacral tumors, and other primary and metastatic tumors. While at UCSF, Dr. Ames developed and published the transpedicular approach to previously unresectable cervical and cervical thoracic tumors. He serves as Spine Section Lead editor for Operative Neurosurgery.

Dr. Ames serves as the UCSF site director for the International Spinal Deformity Study Group and the AO Scoli-Risk Study. He also directs the neurosurgical spinal deformity service, which performs over 200 cases per year for correction of scoliosis, kyphosis, flat back, and chin-on-chest deformity in ankylosing spondylitis. His research work in spinal deformity has won the prestigious Hibbs award, as well as the Moe award, the Goldstein award, and Whitecloud awards from the Scoliosis Research Society. Dr Ames developed and published the first ever classification for cervical spine deformity and cervical osteotomy with the international spine study group. He is known for developing many innovative concepts to allow safer treatment planning and risk characterization for complex spine surgery such as the adult deformity frailty index, the adult deformity invasiveness index and co-founding and directing the non profit research group Global Spine Analytics which has pioneered the use of Artificial Intelligence Decision Support Tools for Adult Scoliosis and Deformity Surgery. In 2019 Dr Ames published the first Machine Learning based Adult Scoliosis Classification.

He is internationally recognized for his work in spine tumor, deformity, scoliosis and cervical kyphosis and has published over 400 peer-reviewed publications. He has been the honored international guest lecturer of the Australian Spine Society, the Argentine Spine Society, Berlin Spine Society, Brazilian Spine Society, the Japanese Orthopedic Association and the Japanese Neurosurgical Society, the Korean Spine Society, and the Asian Pacific Spine Society. He has served as chairman for over 100 national and international courses to teach advanced tumor and deformity techniques to neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons around the world and has been visiting professor at Hospital for Special Surgery, UCLA, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Research Funding

  • January 21, 2021 - January 21, 2021 - ROSE Study, Co-Investigator. Sponsor: , Sponsor Award ID:
  • January 21, 2021 - January 21, 2021 - Telomere Study, Co-Investigator. Sponsor: , Sponsor Award ID:
  • January 21, 2021 - January 21, 2021 - PON Study, Co-Investigator. Sponsor: , Sponsor Award ID:
  • January 21, 2021 - January 21, 2021 - Myers Briggs Study, Co-Investigator. Sponsor: , Sponsor Award ID:


Dartmouth College, BA, 1989
University of California, Los Angeles, MD, 1994
University of California, San Diego, 1994-1995, Surgical Internship
University of California, San Diego, 1995-2000, Resident, Neurological Surgery
Barrow Neurological Institute, Phoenix, Arizona, 2001-2002, Spine Fellow

Honors & Awards

  • 2017
    Scoliosis Research Society GOLDSTEIN Award
  • 2015 - 2017
    Top Doctors in Neurosurgery - San Francisco Magazine
  • 2015
    North American Spine Society Value Award
  • 2010 -2016
    Americaʻs Top Surgeons, Castle Connolly
  • 2010 -2016
    Americaʻs Top Doctors for Cancer, Castle Connolly
  • 2011 -2012
    US News and World Report Top 1% Neurosurgeons in Country
  • 2001
    University of California, San Diego, Chairmanʻs Prize
  • 1994
    University of California, Los Angeles, CAAlpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society
  • 1989
    Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, Cum Laude

Selected Publications

  1. Kim HJ, Yao YC, Bannwarth M, Smith JS, Klineberg EO, Mundis GM, Protopsaltis TS, Charles-Elysee J, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Passias PG, Schwab FJ, Ames CP, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group (ISSG) Cervicothoracic Versus Proximal Thoracic Lower Instrumented Vertebra Have Comparable Radiographic and Clinical Outcomes in Adult Cervical Deformity.  View on PubMed
  2. Joshi RS, Lau D, Scheer JK, Serra-Burriel M, Vila-Casademunt A, Bess S, Smith JS, Pellise F, Ames CP State-of-the-art reviews predictive modeling in adult spinal deformity: applications of advanced analytics.  View on PubMed
  3. Joshi RS, Lau D, Ames CP Artificial Intelligence for Adult Spinal Deformity: Current State and Future Directions.  View on PubMed
  4. Alas H, Passias PG, Brown AE, Pierce KE, Bortz C, Bess S, Lafage R, Lafage V, Ames CP, Burton DC, Hamilton DK, Kelly MP, Hostin R, Neuman BJ, Line BG, Shaffrey CI, Smith JS, Schwab FJ, Klineberg EO, International Spine Study Group Predictors of Serious, Preventable, and Costly Medical Complications in a Population of Adult Spinal Deformity Patients.  View on PubMed
  5. Smith JS, Kelly MP, Yanik EL, Baldus CR, Buell TJ, Lurie JD, Edwards C, Glassman SD, Lenke LG, Boachie-Adjei O, Buchowski JM, Carreon LY, Crawford CH, Errico TJ, Lewis SJ, Koski T, Parent S, Lafage V, Kim HJ, Ames CP, Bess S, Schwab FJ, Shaffrey CI, Bridwell KH Operative versus nonoperative treatment for adult symptomatic lumbar scoliosis at 5-year follow-up: durability of outcomes and impact of treatment-related serious adverse events.  View on PubMed
  6. Yao YC, Kim HJ, Bannwarth M, Smith J, Bess S, Klineberg E, Ames CP, Shaffrey CI, Burton D, Gupta M, Mundis GM, Hostin R, Schwab F, Lafage V Lowest Instrumented Vertebra Selection to S1 or Ilium Versus L4 or L5 in Adult Spinal Deformity: Factors for Consideration in 349 Patients With a Mean 46-Month Follow-Up.  View on PubMed
  7. Durand WM, Lafage R, Hamilton DK, Passias PG, Kim HJ, Protopsaltis T, Lafage V, Smith JS, Shaffrey C, Gupta M, Kelly MP, Klineberg EO, Schwab F, Gum JL, Mundis G, Eastlack R, Kebaish K, Soroceanu A, Hostin RA, Burton D, Bess S, Ames C, Hart RA, Daniels AH, International Spine Study Group (ISSG) Artificial intelligence clustering of adult spinal deformity sagittal plane morphology predicts surgical characteristics, alignment, and outcomes.  View on PubMed
  8. Passias PG, Alas H, Bess S, Line BG, Lafage V, Lafage R, Ames CP, Burton DC, Brown A, Bortz C, Pierce K, Ahmad W, Naessig S, Kelly MP, Hostin R, Kebaish KM, Than KD, Nunley P, Shaffrey CI, Klineberg EO, Smith JS, Schwab FJ, International Spine Study Group Patient-related and radiographic predictors of inferior health-related quality-of-life measures in adult patients with nonoperative spinal deformity.  View on PubMed
  9. Laverdière C, Georgiopoulos M, Ames CP, Corban J, Ahangar P, Awadhi K, Weber MH Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery and Frailty: A Systematic Review.  View on PubMed
  10. Passias PG, Alas H, Naessig S, Kim HJ, Lafage R, Ames C, Klineberg E, Pierce K, Ahmad W, Burton D, Diebo B, Bess S, Hamilton DK, Gupta M, Park P, Line B, Shaffrey CI, Smith JS, Schwab F, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group Timing of conversion to cervical malalignment and proximal junctional kyphosis following surgical correction of adult spinal deformity: a 3-year radiographic analysis.  View on PubMed
  11. Passias PG, Bortz C, Pierce KE, Kummer N, Lafage R, Diebo BG, Line BG, Lafage V, Burton DC, Klineberg EO, Kim HJ, Daniels AH, Mundis GM, Protopsaltis TS, Eastlack RK, Sciubba DM, Bess S, Schwab FJ, Shaffrey CI, Smith JS, Ames CP, International Spine Study Group (ISSG) Appropriate Risk Stratification and Accounting for Age-Adjusted Reciprocal Changes in the Thoracolumbar Spine Reduces the Incidence and Magnitude of Distal Junctional Kyphosis in Cervical Deformity Surgery.  View on PubMed
  12. Passias PG, Horn SR, Lafage V, Lafage R, Smith JS, Line BG, Protopsaltis TS, Soroceanu A, Bortz C, Segreto FA, Ahmad W, Naessig S, Pierce KE, Brown AE, Alas H, Kim HJ, Daniels AH, Klineberg EO, Burton DC, Hart RA, Schwab FJ, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP, International Spine Study Group Effect of age-adjusted alignment goals and distal inclination angle on the fate of distal junctional kyphosis in cervical deformity surgery.  View on PubMed
  13. Sardi JP, Ames CP, Coffey S, Good C, Dahl B, Kraemer P, Gum J, Devito D, Brayda-Bruno M, Lee R, Bell CP, Bess S, Smith JS Accuracy of Rod Contouring to Desired Angles With and Without a Template: Implications for Achieving Desired Spinal Alignment and Outcomes.  View on PubMed
  14. Pierce KE, Passias PG, Daniels AH, Lafage R, Ahmad W, Naessig S, Lafage V, Protopsaltis T, Eastlack R, Hart R, Burton D, Bess S, Schwab F, Shaffrey C, Smith JS, Ames C Baseline Frailty Status Influences Recovery Patterns and Outcomes Following Alignment Correction of Cervical Deformity.  View on PubMed
  15. Pierce KE, Passias PG, Brown AE, Bortz CA, Alas H, Lafage R, Lafage V, Ames C, Burton DC, Hart R, Hamilton K, Gum J, Scheer J, Daniels A, Bess S, Soroceanu A, Klineberg E, Shaffrey C, Line B, Schwab FA, Smith JS, International Spine Study Group (ISSG) Predictors of Superior Recovery Kinetics in Adult Cervical Deformity Correction: An Analysis Using a Novel Area Under the Curve Methodology.  View on PubMed
  16. Protopsaltis TS, Stekas N, Smith JS, Soroceanu A, Lafage R, Daniels AH, Kim HJ, Passias PG, Mundis GM, Klineberg EO, Hamilton DK, Gupta M, Lafage V, Hart RA, Schwab F, Burton DC, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP Surgical outcomes in rigid versus flexible cervical deformities.  View on PubMed
  17. Lafage R, Schwab F, Elysee J, Smith JS, Alshabab BS, Passias P, Klineberg E, Kim HJ, Shaffrey C, Burton D, Gupta M, Mundis GM, Ames C, Bess S, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group (ISSG) Surgical Planning for Adult Spinal Deformity: Anticipated Sagittal Alignment Corrections According to the Surgical Level.  View on PubMed
  18. Zuckerman SL, Cerpa M, Lenke LG, Shaffrey CI, Carreon LY, Cheung KMC, Kelly MP, Fehlings MG, Ames CP, Boachie-Adjei O, Dekutoski MB, Kabeaish KM, Lewis SJ, Matsuyama Y, Pellisé F, Qiu Y, Schwab FJ, Smith JS, AO Spine Knowledge Forum Deformity and SRS Scoli-RISK-1 Study Group Patient-Reported Outcomes After Complex Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery: 5-Year Results of the Scoli-Risk-1 Study.  View on PubMed
  19. Scheer JK, Lau D, Smith JS, Lee SH, Safaee MM, Fury M, Ames CP Alignment, Classification, Clinical Evaluation, and Surgical Treatment for Adult Cervical Deformity: A Complete Guide.  View on PubMed
  20. Passias PG, Brown AE, Bortz C, Pierce K, Alas H, Ahmad W, Passfall L, Kummer N, Krol O, Lafage R, Lafage V, Burton D, Hart R, Anand N, Mundis G, Neuman B, Line B, Shaffrey C, Klineberg E, Smith J, Ames C, Schwab FJ, Bess S A Risk Benefit Analysis of Increasing Surgical Invasiveness Relative to Frailty Status in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery.  View on PubMed

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