Robert F. Spetzler, M.D., FAANS, was born in Stierhoefstetten, Germany in 1944. In 1953 his family moved to the United States. In 1967 he graduated cum laude with Bachelor of Science degree in Biology and Chemistry from Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois. He then enrolled at Northwestern University, where he obtained his MD in 1971.
Dr Spetzler trained at the University of California at San Francisco under Charles B Wilson, where he developed an interest in neurovascular surgery. Between 1977 and 1983 Dr Spetzler worked as an Assistant and later an Associated Professor at the Department of Neurosurgery at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine in Cleveland, Ohio. In 1983 he assumed the J. N. Harber Chair of Neurological Surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona of which he became the Director in 1985.
Dr Spetzler in an internationally renowned cerebrovascular and skull base surgeon. He has operated more than 6000 aneurysm cases. Among numerous contributions Dr Spetzler has pioneered hypothermia and cardiac arrest to help treat difficult to access vascular lesions. He developed a heuristic grading system for AVMs and developed numerous innovative surgical approaches for skull base surgery. He has also helped modernise and improve technical aspects of most areas of cranial neurosurgery by improving existing approaches and developing numerous neurosurgical instruments widely used around the world. Dr Spetzler has published over 400 articles in refereed journals, nearly 300 articles in non-refereed journals, and 184 book chapters. He has also written or co-edited 16 books, including four neurosurgical atlases.
Under Dr Spetzler’s leadership, the Barrow Neurological Institute has grown to an internationally recognised centre of excellence for neurosurgical care, which attracts both visiting physicians and patient referrals from around the world. The residency program and fellowships have become one of the most highly sought programs because of surgical mastery, volume and diversity of clinical experience and emphasis on developing independent research projects. Dr Spetzler has retired from his position as director of Barrow Neurological Institute in 2017, but remains active in all aspects of educational endeavours.
Dr. Spetzler is an accomplished classical pianist and sportsman and remains as active in his free time as he is in his professional career.