The research interests of Robert J. Spinner, M.D., are twofold: his clinical research relates to imaging features of benign and malignant nerve tumors, while his basic research centers on the development and evaluation of a novel nerve tube as a possible alternative for peripheral nerve graft repair.
- Establishing the formation of intraneural ganglia
- Identifying imaging features of nerve tumors
- Determining patterns of metastasis (perineural spread) of malignant nerve tumors
- Studying the properties of a novel nerve tube made of a flexible, easy-to-suture biomaterial called polycaprolactone fumarate (PCLF) that was invented at Mayo Clinic
- Investigating the influence of a multichannel structure on the support of regeneration across large nerve gaps and improving the accuracy of regeneration by separately guiding groups of regenerating axons in rat models
Significance to patient care
Dr. Spinner's clinical research is aimed at understanding mechanisms of formation and spread of benign and malignant nerve tumors, which can improve treatments and outcomes. Additionally, his work to establish the diagnosis of nerve tumors on imaging can improve treatment and eliminate the need for an open or needle biopsy.
Dr. Spinner's basic research will help determine safety and efficacy of nerve tubes (compared with the clinical gold standard, autografts) in rats in comparison with the gold standard, autografts. Dr. Spinner's team will then translate their findings to use in humans. Advantages of nerve tubes versus repair with an autograft are that there is no donor-site morbidity — pain, sensory abnormality, separate incisions, and so on — and that the nerve tubes can be produced in different sizes and dimensions.
- Chair, Department of Neurosurgery, Mayo Clinic, 2015-present
- Kline Lecturer, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, 2016
- Secretary, American Association for Hand Surgery, 2013-2016
- President, American Society for Peripheral Nerve, 2012-2013
- President, Peripheral nerve, Joint sections, American Association of Neurological Surgeons-Congress of Neurological Surgeons, 2009-2011
- President, Sunderland Society (international peripheral nerve study group), 2007-2008
- Editorial board, Neurosurgery journal; World Neurosurgery journal; Microsurgery journal; Mayo Clinic Proceedings; Clinical Anatomy journal