Celebrating our latest research awards and Evan Joiner, MD, PGY-6

March 22, 2023
evan joiner

Our team at Columbia Neurosurgery continues to perform innovative neurological research, and our residents are no exception. We're pleased to share that Dr. Evan Joiner, MD, PGY-6, has recently won two major awards for his research on neuromodulation for movement recovery after spinal cord injury. This work, the product of a rich collaboration with the Departments of Neurology and Orthopedics, was recently featured in a paper entitled, "Intraoperative electrical stimulation of the human dorsal spinal cord reveals a map of arm and hand muscle responses," which appeared in the Jan 2023 issue of Journal of Neurophysiology.

Recognition from Neurosurgery's Leading Experts 

At the 2023 Annual Meeting of the AANS/CNS Section on Disorders of the Spine and Peripheral Nerves, Dr. Joiner notably won The Fessler Award (in honor of Richard Fessler, MD, Ph.D., FAANS) for the best abstract on the topic of technology innovation or spinal cord injury research. Dr. Joiner also received the Kuntz Scholar Award. This year's Spine Summit, themed "Excellence Requires Change: Mastery, Vision, Purpose," received a record number of nearly 1,000 abstract submissions. Last week, Dr. Joiner presented his award-winning abstract alongside other visionary speakers at the 2023 Spine Summit at the Fontainebleau in Miami.

spine summit miami

Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr. Joiner received a BA from Yale University and MD from Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. His interest in this topic stemmed from a desire to harness the promise of technology to improve the lives of patients with spinal cord injury who, up until recently, have had limited hope for meaningful recovery. The team's most recent findings include a functional map of motor responses to dorsal epidural spinal cord stimulation that they hope will help to guide stimulation strategies for the recovery of arm and hand function. 

What Does this Project Mean for the Future of Neurosurgery?

"In the process of this work, Dr. Joiner explained, "I have become excited by the potential for neuromodulation to play an increasingly important role in spine surgery over time. For a wide range of diseases—from acute spinal cord injury to cervical spondylotic myelopathy to spinal cord tumors—I believe we may face a new treatment paradigm that combines the traditional surgical techniques of decompression and stabilization with novel forms of neuromodulation to promote optimal functional recovery."

The Columbia Difference

Dr. Joiner's success with this project illustrates the opportunities available to our residents. Within Columbia's Department of Neurological Surgery, our residents have protected research time, which allowed Dr. Joiner to dedicate himself to this project during his fifth year. The residency program also seeks to foster mentorship within the Department of Neurological Surgery and throughout the medical center. Dr. Joiner's work has been made possible thanks to strong mentoring relationships with neurosurgeon Christopher Mandigo, MD and neurologist/neuroscientist Jason Carmel, MD. Indeed, the Columbia University Irving Medical Center represents an ideal environment in which to explore unique cutting-edge collaborations with world experts in various disciplines. We are proud of this collaboration among neurosurgeons, orthopedic spine surgeons, and neuroscientists across NYP and look forward to seeing what comes next! 

Congratulations again to Dr. Evan Joiner!

To access the full article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36417309/