Northwestern University

Mon 12:00 PM

Dr. John Sarwark: The AISE Project (Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Etiology)

When: Monday, February 19, 2018
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM  

Where: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, Sky Lobby Auditorium, 10th floor, 355 E. Erie, Chicago, IL 60611 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Public - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Tommi Raij, MD, PhD   312.238.4401

Group: Shirley Ryan AbilityLab Research Seminar Series

Category: Lectures & Meetings



Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS) is a structural spine deformity affecting approximately 1.4 million individuals. It affects both males and females but the classic case is an adolescent female during puberty, with normal development until the induction of scoliosis. The AISE (Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Etiology) discussion group is asking, “Why is this deformity occurring in otherwise healthy children?” In order to answer this question we need a better understanding of the etiology of AIS, which is still unknown but believed to be multifactorial. Some believe there is a genetic link to the disease but recent studies are not showing strong evidence of a single genetic cause. We have started to focus our efforts on a more biomechanical etiology of development. With an emphasis on the Hueter-Volkmann conditions of growth retardation and acceleration, we believe a combination complex induction factors lead to the development of scoliosis. There has been significant work done with finite element models (FEM) of the spine simulating development and progression on the deformity over time. Looking forward, we hope to utilize these 3D models to form individualized treatment plans for patients, including FEM guided physical therapy. What we knew then to what we know now about scoliosis has changed significantly and we hope the more we can learn about the etiology, it will aid us in discovering less invasive, more innovative therapies for our patients.


Dr.John Sarwark, MD, received his MD from the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University (1979). He completed a residency in Orthopedic Surgery at Feinberg affiliated hospitals (1979-1984) and completed his training as a Clinical Fellow in pediatric orthopedics at the Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, Wilmington, Delaware (1985). Dr. Sarwark is now Head, Division of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and Martha Washington Chair; and Professor, Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He is active in numerous leadership activities and committees at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and NUFSM. He served two terms as Chair, Section on Orthopaedics, AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) and two terms on the National Conference Planning Group AAP, and received the American Academy of Pediatrics 2015 Distinguished Service Award. Dr. Sarwark is active in SRS, Past Board Member, POSNA, Past Board Member, AAP, Past Section Board Member, and others. Dr. Sarwark is a Reviewer for these medical journals: JBJS, JPO, Spine, SDF, CORR, Science and PLOS-One. He recently served as the Editor-In-Chief of AAOS OKOJ (on-line journal).

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