2009 Forward under 40 Award Honoree
UW Majors: Philosophy and Medicine
Age: 38 | Austin, TX
Spine and Scoliosis Surgeon, Medical Director SpineAustin Comprehensive Spine Center
"Service is a basic part of all physicians' lives, another principle modeled at the University of Wisconsin."
Satisfaction can be fleeting for Matthew Geck. But that's not to say he has nothing to be satisfied with.
Growing up in Wisconsin, Geck attended UW-Madison and completed his undergraduate work in philosophy in 1992, and immediately started medical school, graduating in 1996. Geck then performed his orthopedic surgery residency at the UCLA Medical Center, becoming chief resident in 2000, and to add to his adult and pediatric spine training, he elected to perform two fellowships in spine surgery at Jackson Memorial Hospital and Miami Children's Hospital.
Now a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, Geck has performed more than 1,000 spine operations in practice and is often referred to some of the most complex cases of adult and pediatric spine and scoliosis surgery. But despite his accomplishments as one of the leading spine surgeons in the U.S., Geck knew he could do more.
"At every step of my undergraduate and medical education," he says, "I saw teachers and researchers transcend the classroom and the lab and bring what they had learned or discovered to another level."
These shining examples led Geck to his first pediatric spine mission to Cali, Colombia, in November 2006, working with children with spine and scoliosis problems. By his third trip to the region nearly one year later, Geck had performed 40 surgeries for area children with varying degrees of severity.
To date, Geck has made five mission trips to Cali to train doctors, service clinics, and perform more than 50 surgeries, both serving children with complex spine problems and improving education and camaraderie with the local physicians. Recently, he founded SpineHope, a nonprofit drawing on his Colombia experiences and dedicated to improving and expanding local and global outreach for those who suffer spinal deformities and need complex spine care. Geck hopes to expand SpineHope and develop additional global outreach programs, bringing aid and his expertise to help more countries and more people.
"Service is a basic part of all physicians' lives," Geck says, "another principle modeled at the University of Wisconsin. When choosing a college or university, it is essential to go to a place that provides not just myriad opportunities and values, but teaches their students to have the vision and the means to achieve their goals."