Michael Dittmar is the new AO Spine Community Development Commission chairperson-elect
"Reaching everyone, inspiring the most and leading with the best." With this in mind, Dr. H. Michael Dittmar applied for the position to lead AO Spine Community Development Commission. Following the elections conducted in July 2021, Dittmar from Mexico is the new AO Spine Community Development Commission chairperson-elect.
Currently, Dittmar is a spine surgeon at the Puerta de Hierro Medical Center in Zapopan, Mexico. He is also chief professor of the spine training program for the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara and education coordinator for spine of the Mexican Society Orthopedics and Traumatology (FEMECOT).
Talking with AO Spine, Dittmar shares his first impressions and his ideas for his term.
What were your first thoughts on the election results?
First of all, I was very surprised, considering that my contenders were notable international professionals from the spine world with outstanding careers, and particularly after the second round, where my opponent was a well-known and very respected member of our community. I realized I was ready to assume the challenge and responsibility within the AO Spine organization, facing these high-speed worldwide changes in terms of communication and interrelations.
What are your focus areas as the Chairperson? What do you want to achieve?
I will implement my slogan from the very beginning—reaching everyone, inspiring the most, and leading with the best—to achieve our goal of inspiring future generations to become interested in and passionate about spine management, as well as to influence all spine surgeons worldwide with the comprehensive vision of our organization as the largest and most globalized for our specialty.
It is challenging to make changes in our already well-organized community. I believe that regarding spine studies there is still a lot to be understood and developed, and that our community will need to engage simultaneously in innovations and adjustments to come. is Our biggest commitment is to understanding the behavior of our spine surgeon communities and how to facilitate intercommunication among peers to benefit our patients.
What does AO Spine mean to you?
From the beginning of my career in orthopedics, I was fortunate to learn from the AO Spine and I became immediately involved—both worldwide and regionally in Latin America. Having grown within this innovative and globalized organization has given me foresight and projection in my own community and furthermore, into the international community with great fulfillment indeed.
We are the finest international community of spine surgeons. Let us gather and share our knowledge and experience to educate each other, improve our performance, and reach excellence in managing spine issues.
Dr H. Michael Dittmar was born in Venezuela and is a national of three countries: Britain, Mexico, and Venezuela. He received his medical degree in the Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara. Later, he obtained postgraduate training in orthopedic surgery in the Hospital de Magdalenas de las Salinas (Mexico City, Mexico) followed by specializations in spine in the Queens Medical Hospital (Nottingham, England), Hospital Saint-Vicent-de-Paul (Paris, France), and in the Institut François Callot (Berck sur Mer, France).
In 2005 Dittmar founded Re-Espalda, an NGO that provides medical treatment and surgery to children and teenagers affected by spinal deformities. Due to the positive impact of this organization, he was elected “Citizen of the Year” in Jalisco, Mexico, in 2021.
“There are the two passions I have besides spine surgery and AO, and they come along wherever I go around the world," Dittmar says. At Lake Chapala in Jalisco, Mexico, close to his hometown and surrounded by amazing natural beauty, Dittmar enjoys sailing in a boater’s paradise and wine making. The fascinating project Dittmar and his wife started 10 years ago has turned into a great way to combine pleasure and business.
Michael Dittmar's extensive service to AO Spine includes titles such as founding member of the Mexican Council in 2006; Regional Community Development Officer in 2007 and 2019; member of the AO Spine Global Diploma Exam commission; editor of the Global Spine Journal; and contributor to several AO Spine courses, including the AO Davos Courses.