AO Spine Youth Club: Our future is bright!

AO Spine Youth Club

Have you ever wondered what the future of AO Spine looks like? You will get a good impression by looking at the bright faces of the 200 members of the newly founded AO Spine Youth Club (AO SYC). The AO SYC connects young spine surgeons worldwide and aims to provide educational content and ‘edutainment’ addressing specifically young surgeons’ needs and finding answers to their questions.

The AO SYC was founded in October 2023 with the support of AO Spine Europe and Southern Africa (AO SESA) Chairperson Pedro Berjano and AO SESA Community Development Officer Riccardo Cecchinato. The youth club is led by three young and enthusiastic AO spine members: Victor Martin-Gorgojo (Spain), Franziska Altorfer (Switzerland), and Gisberto Evangelisti (Italy). Since its launch, the AO SYC has reached members from over 20 countries worldwide.

Despite only meeting online, all AO SYC members share many things in common: they are young surgeons with less than ten years of experience in spine surgery, eager to connect with other passionate young spine surgeons, and to get access to AO.

Currently, the AO SYC is gathering new members and gaining visibility over social media by interviewing famous spine surgeons such as Pierre Roussouly, S. Rajaserkan, and many more. The discussions range from their early careers to their advice for young spine fellows, and fun details about their private lives. For example, did you know that Lawrence Lenke's favorite bagel is cinnamon raisin with strawberry cream cheese? Or that Charles Fisher almost became a successful soccer player? These videos have already reached close to 2000 views on social media channels, including myAO, supporting a daily growing community.

The AO SYC connects young spine surgeons from all around the world and aims to provide specific educational content addressing questions these young surgeons raise, such as: How does a future career look like as a spine surgeon? Can I balance my work with my family? Should I do a fellowship? Where should I begin if I want to write a good scientific paper? Therefore, one-hour online sessions with spine surgery experts are scheduled to cover these specific topics. Additionally, the AO SYC aims to promote activities that enhance young surgeons' learning of all the manual skills needed for their future careers, including standard approaches to applying navigation tools.

Despite its successful launch and rapidly growing number of members, the AO SYC strongly relies on the support of senior surgeons, who are willing to pass on their know-how and guide the next generation of spine surgeons. If you are interested in joining the AO SYC or sharing your expertise and experiences with the group, follow the AO SYC on social media and get involved.

• Join the AO Spine Youth Club Group on the MyAO app.
• Follow us on LinkedIn, Instagram, and YouTube.

About the founders:

Victor Martin-Gorgojo

“I am currently finishing my orthopedic surgery and traumatology residency program at the University Clinical Hospital of Valencia, Spain, and will soon be starting a clinical spine fellowship in Sydney, Australia. My primary aspiration is to fully dedicate myself to spine surgery! Although it's still early for me to commit to a specific area of sub-specialization, I am particularly drawn to the treatment of spinal deformity, with a special interest in pediatrics.

My career-defining moment came during my second year of specialization when I had the opportunity to be exposed to my first spine tumoral case, performed by Dr. Antonio Martín-Benlloch, whose commitment and energy were contagious. Afterwards, Dr. Sonia Muñoz, the head of the spine unit at my hospital, played a key role in my passion for spine surgery. She has continuously supported my further training, providing opportunities to learn from amazing surgeons in Spain and abroad, including Dr. Alejandro Peiró-García, Dr. Ángel Piñera, Dr. Immaculada Vilalta, Prof. Claudio Lamartina, and my latest mentor, Dr. Pedro Berjano. They have all been true role models to me and a constant source of motivation.”

Franziska Altorfer

“I am a resident in orthopedics at Balgrist University Hospital in Zurich, Switzerland and currently working as a research fellow in Spine Surgery at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. My ambition is to excel as a spine surgeon, offering my patients the highest quality of care. I am excited about the potential of new technologies such as artificial intelligence, augmented reality, and robotics and I am keen to investigate how these innovations can assist surgeons in their daily tasks and contribute to delivering the best possible treatment for patients.

I'm grateful to have found a real mentor, Prof. Mazda Farshad. He opened doors for me at one of the top orthopedic institutions when I transitioned from a neurosurgery residency to an orthopedic one with a focus on spine surgery. Prof. Farshad has been encouraging me to pursue career advancements I wouldn't have dared to on my own. He plays a significant role in my growth—clinically, academically, and personally—instilling in me the belief that one can achieve beyond one's wildest dreams with dedication and passion.”

Gisberto Evagelisti

“I am a spine surgeon working at Istituto Ortopedico Rizzoli in Bologna, Italy, currently doing a one-year research fellowship in spine surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery of New York City.

In 2015, I was doing a traveling fellowship at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston during my residency period. I met Dr. Joseph Schwab and assisted in a vertebrectomy for a lumbar chordoma. It was love at first sight. At the end of the traveling fellowship, he introduced me to Dr. Stefano Boriani, who was the chief of the oncologic and degenerative spine unit at the Rizzoli Institute in Bologna. I then started attending the unit and met Dr. Alessandro Gasbarrini, whom I consider my Mentor.

I love challenges and there’s nothing more challenging than a spine tumor case! I would like to keep growing as spine surgeon and give my personal contribute to new advances in spine tumors management.”

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