Stanford Spine Outcomes Lab Team

John Ratliff, MD, FACS
Vice Chair, Operations and Development
Co-Director, Division of Spine and Peripheral Nerve Surgery Department of Neurosurgery Stanford University Medical Center

Doctor John Ratliff is a Professor of Neurosurgery, Vice Chair, Operations and Business Development, and Co-Director, Division of Spine and Peripheral Nerve Surgery at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, California. He is a graduate of Tulane University School of Medicine and a board certified neurosurgeon experienced in treating patients with a broad range of neurological disorders. He is skilled in complex spinal surgery, in spinal reconstruction techniques and in artificial disc replacement surgery. With a special interest and subspecialty expertise in peripheral nerve disorders, Doctor Ratliff is also well versed in the neurosurgical evaluation and treatment of nerve compression syndromes and peripheral nerve trauma, including complex reconstructive peripheral nerve surgery.

Doctor Ratliff serves on the AANS/CNS Coding and Reimbursement Committee, is AANS RUC Advisor, is a Delegate to the AMA House of Delegates (representing the AANS), serves on the AANS Public Relations and AANS Neurosurgeon Committees, is co-chairman of the AANS/CNS Quality Improvement Workgroup, and represented the AANS/CNS as a member of the National Quality Forum National Priorities Partnership Overuse Work Group and the NQF’s Bone and Joint Technical Advisory Panel. He has also worked extensively with the Health Care Incentives Improvement Institute (HCI3) in developing bundling strategies for spine care.

He most recently has served as a member of the Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality Hospital Acquired Infection Measure Development Panel. He serves as a California Delegate to the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies, and was Chairman of the Local Host Committee and member of the Annual Meeting Committee for the 2010 AANS Annual Meeting, held in Philadelphia. Doctor Ratliff is a previous recipient of the American College of Surgeons/American Association of Neurological Surgeons Health Policy Scholarship, and served as a Health Policy Scholar for 2009-2010. Doctor Ratliff’s research focuses upon outcomes assessment in spine surgery procedures and defining value of care in spine surgery interventions.


Atman Desai, MD, MA
Director of Neurosurgical Spinal Oncology
Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Stanford University Medical Center

Dr Desai is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery and Director of Neurosurgical Spinal Oncology at Stanford University Medical Center in Stanford, California. Atman Desai, MD, MA, is Director of Neurosurgical Spinal Oncology and Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. Desai received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Cambridge, where he graduated with honors and was ranked first in his class. He completed his residency in Neurological Surgery at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, followed by a one year AO fellowship in Spinal Oncology and Complex Spinal Reconstruction at Johns Hopkins University. His clinical practice focuses on surgical treatments of the full range of spinal disorders, including resection of tumors invading the spine, correction of spinal deformities, motion-preserving spinal surgery, and robotic and minimally invasive spinal surgery.

Dr. Desai’s research focuses on accurately measuring and improving outcomes in spinal surgery. He is the Principal Investigator or Co-Investigator of multiple clinical trials including the innovative use of accelerometers to improve recovery after surgery, and novel therapeutic implants for spinal cord injury. His laboratory also studies disparities in the accessibility to care for patients with neurosurgical and spinal disorders, and how these can be improved. Dr. Desai has written or co-authored over 50 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, book chapters, and books pertaining to neurosurgery, and serves as a reviewer for several medical journals. In addition to his clinical and research work, Dr. Desai is a dedicated teacher and serves as a Stanford School of Medicine Scholars Program Mentor, as well as teaching faculty for multiple national AANS neurosurgical courses.  He is active in national neurosurgical leadership and serves on the AANS membership committee.


Anand Veeravagu, MD
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery

Dr. Anand Veeravagu recently served as White House Fellow/Special Assistant to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Prior to his time in Washington, Anand was Chief Neurosurgery Resident at the Palo Alto Veterans Affairs Hospital caring for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries. Anand is focused on advancing minimally invasive diagnostic and surgical techniques for diseases of the central nervous system. In 2006, Anand developed a novel radiotherapeutic to treat Glioblastoma Multiforme, a malignant brain tumor. Anand's current research employs national databases to evaluate trends in health resource utilization to provide guidelines for policy reform. He has published over 50 peer-reviewed scientific manuscripts and has written for the Huffington Post. In 2011 Anand staffed the CURE Neurosurgical Hospital in Uganda and organized medical relief missions for the Tsunami of 2004. Anand has received over 30 awards for his leadership, research and promotion of healthcare access to underserved populations. In 2012 Anand received the Gold Foundation's Humanism and Excellence in Teaching Award for his commitment to mentorship. Anand has been accepted to the Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA program, received his M.D. from Stanford University and graduated with honors from Johns Hopkins University with a B.S in Biomedical Engineering and minor in Multicultural and Regional Studies.


Summer Han, PhD
Assistant Professor (Research) of Neurosurgery

Dr. Han's research focuses on understanding the genetic and environmental etiology of complex disease and developing and evaluating efficient screening strategies based on etiological understanding. The areas of her research include statistical genetics, molecular epidemiology, cancer screening, health policy modeling, and risk prediction modeling. She has developed various statistical methods to analyze high-dimensional data to identify genetic and environmental risk factors and their interactions for complex disease.


Lu Tian, ScD
Associate Professor of Biomedical Data Science

Lu Tian is an Associate Professor of the Department of Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University. He received his Sc.D. in Biostatistics from Harvard University. Dr. Tian  has rich experience in conducting statistical methodological research, planning large epidemiological studies, running data management for randomized clinical trials and conducting applied data analysis. His current research interest is in developing statistical methods in personalized medicine, causal inference, survival analysis and high throughput data analysis.


Richard Olshen
Professor of Biomedical Data Science, Emeritus

Olshen's research is in statistics and their applications to medicine and biology. Many efforts have concerned tree-structured algorithms for classification, regression, survival analysis, and clustering. Those for classification have been used with success in computer-aided diagnosis and prognosis, while those for clustering have been applied to lossy data compression in digital radiography. Modeling and sample reuse methods have been developed for longitudinal data, concerning gait analysis; renal physiology; cholesterol; nephrophysiology; and recently, molecular genetics.


Paola Suarez
Data Analyst

Paola Suarez had previously worked for over 6 years at the Department of Veterans Affairs for the Surgical Services Unit, and at Stanford University for the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Department, analyzing health care data in the Veteran population to learn about particular diseases and disease outcomes with the aim of improving quality of care. She is very interested in the use of predictive models which include a broad array of risks, including outcomes, procedures, compliance, and safety to build algorithms that can help predict an individual’s health and thus influence inflection points in the health trajectory that may result in a more positive health outcome. She has an MPH in Epidemiology from UMDNJ-SPH, and dual B.S. degrees in Biotechnology and Biochemistry from Rutgers University.

Arjun Pendharkar, MD  

Arjun graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo with a degree in Microbiology where he studied Celiac Disease—cloning a novel strain of prophylactic Lactobacillus bacteria to cleave immunogenic gliadin peptides in the small intestine. Prior to attending medical school at Georgetown University, Arjun spent a year in the Department of Neurosurgery at Stanford in the labs of Dr. Raphael Guzman and Gary Steinberg studying intravascular neural stem cell therapy for stroke—specifically elucidating the difference between intra-arterial and intravenous injection. Arjun’s clinical interests include evidence based outcomes research — using national and multi-institutional databases to study cost, outcomes and practice variations in neurosurgery.


Allen Ho, MD

Allen was born and raised in Irvine, California. He completed his undergraduate training at University of California, San Diego as part of the combined-degree Medical Scholars Program with a major in Economics. He then left California to attend Harvard Medical School where he earned his MD in 2014. His has a passion for spine surgery and in treating diseases of the spine. His research interests include quality of life and outcomes research within spine with a specific emphasis on utilizing new and patient-oriented technologies to improve outcomes following spinal surgery. He leads the Accelerometers in Spine Surgery clinical trial with Dr. Desai that utilizes commercially-available, wearable fitness activity trackers to track mobility in patients undergoing spine surgery.  


David Purger, MD, PhD

David Purger is a PGY-1 neurosurgery resident at Stanford University. He graduated from Stanford's Medical Scientist Training Program with his MD in 2017. He earned his PhD in Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine in 2016 with a focus on myelin plasticity in the central nervous system. In the Spine Outcomes Lab, David leverages his interests in neurosurgery, informatics and statistical programming, and socioeconomic factors research to answer pressing clinical questions in neurosurgery using large national databases. As an undergraduate at MIT, David studied neuroscience and linguistics. His other research interests include neuron-glial interactions, the structure and function of the neural stem cell niche, and functional and restorative neurosurgery.


Tej Azad

Tej Azad is a Stanford MD/MS student interested in leveraging population-level data to identify and characterize drivers of variation in neurosurgical practice and outcomes. Tej graduated with honors from Washington University in St. Louis and pursued an MS in biomedical informatics during medical school. His work has been supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the American Brain Tumor Association.