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 2015-2022 Top Doctors lists in San Francisco Magazine, and among America’s Top Doctors for both neurosurgery and cancer from 2010 to 2022. 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 three times, 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 pioneering 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. In 2021 Dr Ames won the Hibbs Award for the first ever use of telomeric aging to predict risk of spine surgery.

He is internationally recognized for his work in spine tumor, deformity, scoliosis and cervical kyphosis and has published over 600 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 200 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, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, UCLA, and Massachusetts General Hospital.

Research Funding

  • June 18, 2022 - June 18, 2022 - Pain Study , Co-Investigator . Sponsor: , Sponsor Award ID:
  • June 18, 2022 - June 18, 2022 - Telomere Study , Co-Investigator . Sponsor: , Sponsor Award ID:
  • June 18, 2022 - June 18, 2022 - PON Study , Co-Investigator . Sponsor: , Sponsor Award ID:
  • June 18, 2022 - June 18, 2022 - ROSE 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. Mikula AL, Lakomkin N, Pennington Z, Pinter ZW, Nassr A, Freedman B, Sebastian AS, Abode-Iyamah K, Bydon M, Ames CP, Fogelson JL, Elder BD. Association between lower Hounsfield units and proximal junctional kyphosis and failure at the upper thoracic spine. J Neurosurg Spine. 2022 May 13; 1-9.  View on PubMed
  2. Lafage R, Smith JS, Fong AM, Sheikh Alshabab B, Protopsaltis T, Klineberg EO, Mundis G, Passias PG, Gupta M, Shaffrey CI, Kim HJ, Bess S, Schwab F, Ames CP, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group. Proximal and distal reciprocal changes following cervical deformity malalignment correction. J Neurosurg Spine. 2022 May 06; 1-8.  View on PubMed
  3. Elias E, Bess S, Line B, Lafage V, Lafage R, Klineberg E, Kim HJ, Passias PG, Nasser Z, Gum JL, Kebaish K, Eastlack R, Daniels AH, Mundis G, Hostin R, Protopsaltis TS, Soroceanu A, Hamilton DK, Kelly MP, Gupta M, Hart R, Schwab FJ, Burton D, Ames CP, Shaffrey CI, Smith JS, International Spine Study Group. Outcomes of operative treatment for adult spinal deformity: a prospective multicenter assessment with mean 4-year follow-up. J Neurosurg Spine. 2022 Apr 29; 1-10.  View on PubMed
  4. Alshabab BS, Lafage R, Smith JS, Kim HJ, Mundis G, Klineberg E, Shaffrey C, Daniels A, Ames C, Gupta M, Burton D, Hostin R, Bess S, Schwab F, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group ISSG. Evolution of Proximal Junctional Kyphosis and Proximal Junctional Failure Rates over 10-years of Enrollment in a Prospective Multicenter Adult Spinal Deformity Database. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2022 Apr 21.  View on PubMed
  5. Kim HJ, Alluri RK, Lafage R, Elysee J, Smith JS, Mundis GM, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP, Burton DC, Klineberg EO, Bess S, Schwab F, Gupta M, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group (ISSG). Upper versus Lower Lumbar Lordosis Corrections in relation to Pelvic Tilt - An Essential Element in Surgical Planning for Sagittal Plane Deformity. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2022 Apr 21.  View on PubMed
  6. McCarthy MH, Lafage R, Smith JS, Bess S, Ames CP, Klineberg EO, Kim HJ, Shaffrey CI, Burton DC, Mundis GM, Gupta MC, Schwab FJ, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group (ISSG). How Much Lumbar Lordosis does a Patient Need to Reach their Age-Adjusted Alignment Target? A Formulated Approach Predicting Successful Surgical Outcomes. Global Spine J. 2022 Apr 20; 21925682221092003.  View on PubMed
  7. Costanzo G, Misaggi B, Ricciardi L, AlEissa SI, Tamai K, Alhelal F, Alqahtani Y, Alsobayel HI, Arand M, Balsano M, Blattert TR, Brayda-Bruno M, Busari JO, Campello M, Chhabra HS, Tamburrelli FC, Côté P, Darwono B, Kandziora F, La Maida GA, Muehlbauer EJ, Mulukutla RD, Pereira P, Rajasekaran S, Rothenfluh DA, Sullivan WJ, Truumees E, Dohring EJ, Pigott T, Shetty AP, Teli MGA, Wang JC, Ames C, Anema JR, Bang A, Cheung KMC, Gross DP, Haldeman S, Minisola S, Mullerpatan R, Negrini S, Salmi LR, Spinelli MS, Vlok A, Yankey KP, Zaina F, Alturkistany A, Franke J, Liljenqvist UR, Piccirillo M, Nordin M. SPINE20 recommendations 2021: spine care for people's health and prosperity. Eur Spine J. 2022 Apr 07.  View on PubMed
  8. Safaee MM, Maloney PR, Deviren V, Ames CP. Kickstand Rod With Asymmetric Pedicle Subtraction Osteotomy for Treatment of Adult Kyphoscoliosis With Severe Coronal Imbalance. Oper Neurosurg (Hagerstown). 2022 Apr 05.  View on PubMed
  9. Bonano J, Cummins DD, Burch S, Berven SH, Deviren V, Ames CP, Tay B, Clark AJ, Theologis AA. Economic Impact of Revision Operations for Adjacent Segment Disease of the Subaxial Cervical Spine. J Am Acad Orthop Surg Glob Res Rev. 2022 04 01; 6(4).  View on PubMed
  10. Passias PG, Poorman GW, Vasquez-Montes D, Kummer N, Mundis G, Anand N, Horn SR, Segreto FA, Passfall L, Krol O, Diebo B, Burton D, Buckland A, Gerling M, Soroceanu A, Eastlack R, Kojo Hamilton D, Hart R, Schwab F, Lafage V, Shaffrey C, Sciubba D, Bess S, Ames C, Klineberg E, International Spine Study Group. Predictive Analytics for Determining Extended Operative Time in Corrective Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Int J Spine Surg. 2022 Apr; 16(2):291-299.  View on PubMed
  11. Lafage R, Smith JS, Soroceanu A, Ames C, Passias P, Shaffrey C, Mundis G, Alshabab BS, Protopsaltis T, Klineberg E, Elysee J, Kim HJ, Bess S, Schwab F, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group (ISSG). Predicting Mechanical Failure Following Cervical Deformity Surgery: A Composite Score Integrating Age-Adjusted Cervical Alignment Targets. Global Spine J. 2022 Mar 29; 21925682221086535.  View on PubMed
  12. Pellisé F, Vila-Casademunt A, Núñez-Pereira S, Haddad S, Smith JS, Kelly MP, Alanay A, Shaffrey C, Pizones J, Yilgor Ç, Obeid I, Burton D, Kleinstück F, Fekete T, Bess S, Gupta M, Loibl M, Klineberg EO, Sánchez Pérez-Grueso FJ, Serra-Burriel M, Ames CP, European Spine Study Group, International Spine Study Group. Surgeons' risk perception in ASD surgery: The value of objective risk assessment on decision making and patient counselling. Eur Spine J. 2022 May; 31(5):1174-1183.  View on PubMed
  13. Wick JB, Le HV, Lafage R, Gupta MC, Hart RA, Mundis GM, Bess S, Burton DC, Ames CP, Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Schwab FJ, Passias PG, Protopsaltis TS, Lafage V, Klineberg EO, International Spine Study Group. Assessment of Adult Spinal Deformity Complication Timing and Impact on 2-Year Outcomes Using a Comprehensive Adult Spinal Deformity Classification System. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2022 Mar 15; 47(6):445-454.  View on PubMed
  14. Passias PG, Bortz C, Pierce KE, Passfall L, Kummer NA, Krol O, Lafage R, Diebo BG, Lafage V, Ames CP, Burton DC, Gupta MC, Sciubba DM, Schoenfeld AJ, Bess S, Hostin R, Shaffrey CI, Line BG, Klineberg EO, Smith JS, Schwab FJ, International Spine Study Group. Comparing and Contrasting the Clinical Utility of Sagittal Spine Alignment Classification Frameworks: Roussouly Versus SRS-Schwab. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2022 Mar 15; 47(6):455-462.  View on PubMed
  15. Mundis GM, Walker CT, Smith JS, Buell TJ, Lafage R, Shaffrey CI, Eastlack RK, Okonkwo DO, Bess S, Lafage V, Uribe JS, Lenke LG, Ames CP, International Spine Study Group (ISSG). Kickstand rods and correction of coronal malalignment in patients with adult spinal deformity. Eur Spine J. 2022 May; 31(5):1197-1205.  View on PubMed
  16. Durand WM, DiSilvestro KJ, Kim HJ, Hamilton DK, Lafage R, Passias PG, Protopsaltis TS, Lafage V, Smith JS, Shaffrey CI, Gupta MC, Klineberg EO, Schwab FJ, Gum JL, Mundis GM, Eastlack RK, Kebaish KM, Soroceanu A, Hostin RA, Burton DC, Bess S, Ames CP, Hart RA, Daniels AH, International Spine Study Group. Low-Density Pedicle Screw Constructs Are Associated with Lower Incidence of Proximal Junctional Failure in Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2022 Mar 15; 47(6):463-469.  View on PubMed
  17. Passias PG, Segreto FA, Moattari KA, Lafage R, Smith JS, Line BG, Eastlack RK, Burton DC, Hart RA, Bess S, Shaffrey CI, Ames CP, Lafage V, International Spine Study Group. Is frailty responsive to surgical correction of adult spinal deformity? An investigation of sagittal re-alignment and frailty component drivers of postoperative frailty status. Spine Deform. 2022 Mar 09.  View on PubMed
  18. Lafage R, Virk S, Elysee J, Passias P, Ames C, Hart R, Shaffrey C, Mundis G, Protopsaltis T, Gupta M, Klineberg E, Burton D, Schwab F, Lafage V, ISSG. Radiographic Characteristics of Cervical Deformity (CD) Using a Discriminant Analysis: The Value of Extension Radiographs. Clin Spine Surg. 2022 Mar 07.  View on PubMed
  19. Tkatschenko D, Hansen S, Koch J, Ames C, Fehlings MG, Berven S, Sekhon L, Shaffrey C, Smith JS, Hart R, Kim HJ, Wang J, Ha Y, Kwan K, Hai Y, Valacco M, Falavigna A, Taboada N, Guiroy A, Emmerich J, Meyer B, Kandziora F, Thomé C, Loibl M, Peul W, Gasbarrini A, Obeid I, Gehrchen M, Trampuz A, Vajkoczy P, Onken J. Prevention of Surgical Site Infections in Spine Surgery: An International Survey of Clinical Practices Among Expert Spine Surgeons. Global Spine J. 2022 Feb 25; 21925682211068414.  View on PubMed
  20. Durand WM, Babu JM, Hamilton DK, Passias PG, Kim HJ, Protopsaltis T, Lafage V, Lafage R, 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). Adult Spinal Deformity Surgery Is Associated with Increased Productivity and Decreased Absenteeism From Work and School. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2022 Feb 15; 47(4):287-294.  View on PubMed

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