Lenke named chief of spine surgery

Lawrence G. Lenke, MD, has been appointed chief of spinal surgery in the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

He succeeds Keith H. Bridwell, MD, head of the spine service for the past 28 years.

“Larry Lenke is an outstanding surgeon, researcher and educator, and I am confident he will lead the spine division to new levels of excellence,” says Richard H. Gelberman, MD, the Fred C. Reynolds Professor and head of Orthopaedic Surgery. “Keith Bridwell has done a remarkable job building one of the world’s foremost spine surgery units, and we are very fortunate that he will remain at Washington University to continue his active clinical practice, education and research in spinal deformity. Handing over the position to Larry was, in fact, his idea.”


Bridwell is the J. Albert Key Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery and co-director and founder of the Pediatric/Adult Spinal Deformity Service. Since 1991, he has overseen the School of Medicine’s Spinal Fellowship Program, which he founded and where he mentored Lenke.

“Larry Lenke was my first fellow,” Bridwell says. “Since that time, he has been my partner, and I have watched him grow into a fantastic surgeon and leader. He will do wonderful things as chief and will continue to build the spine service’s reputation, and I will do all I can to assist him.”

Lenke, the Jerome J. Gilden Distinguished Professor of Orthopaedic Surgery, first came to the university in 1986 as a general surgery intern. He then was an orthopaedic surgery resident at Barnes-Jewish Hospital from 1987-1991 before beginning a spine fellowship with Bridwell the following year.

Lenke’s practice emphasizes complex reconstructive surgery to correct difficult-to-treat spinal deformities. He treats children and adults with various spinal deformities such as scoliosis and operates on those patients at Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals.

“I am grateful for the opportunity to take on this new challenge,” Lenke says. “I am honored to continue working with Keith Bridwell and the other outstanding surgeons who are part of a spine service that I believe is as good as any in the world.”

Lenke graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Notre Dame in 1982 where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree. In 1986, he earned a medical degree from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Lenke is a member of the North American Spine Society, a past president and fellow of the Scoliosis Research Society and a fellow in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. He is a three-time winner of the Scoliosis Research Society’s Russell A. Hibbs Award, a life member of the National Who’s Who Registry, one of the Best Doctors in America for the last 11 years and a past recipient of the Eduardo Luque Honorary Award from the Mexican Association of Spine Surgeons.

He also is an author of nearly 300 peer-reviewed scientific articles and more than 100 book chapters. He holds nine patents and is an investigator on numerous grants funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), industry sources and charitable foundations.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.