UTHSCSA Faculty Profiles v1.0

Bartanusz, Viktor

School of Medicine
Neurosurgery
(210) 567-5625
bartanusz@uthscsa.edu

I have been fascinated by medicine since my childhood. My grandfather was a general surgeon before the Second World War in Europe. I used to sit hours and listen to his old stories about the pre-war medicine, most of them I knew already by heart, nevertheless I always found them as absorbing as hearing them for the first time. I suppose that my grandfather brought me to surgery. My father practiced neurology. He was less talkative, but had a wonderful library full of books about the functioning of the brain and its innumerable diseases. I am convinced that my father showed me the beauty of the nervous system. It was clear for me already at the beginning of my medical studies that I wanted to do both: surgery and neurology. So, I chose neurosurgery.
After finishing my medical studies I decided to deepen my knowledge in basic neuroscience, the reason why I started my Ph.D. post-graduate program at the Institute of Experimental Endocrinology of the Slovak Academy of Sciences. My principal project was to study the central regulations of the stress response at the level of the hypothalamus, in relation to the blood-brain barrier, circumventricular organs, and glutamatergic neurotransmission. This project resulted in important publications in the field of neuroendocrinology, which brought me to my next stage in my career, to the Department of Morphology and Neuroanatomy at the Medical Faculty in Geneva. Here, I learned high-end techniques in molecular biology and cell cultures. My hard work and the fruitful intellectual atmosphere of the laboratory produced further very interesting results, which I could publish in prestigious journals. In Geneva, I started also teaching neuroanatomy to medical students. My affection for teaching the structure of the nervous system persists since this time until today.
I was very fortunate to complete my neurosurgery training at the University Hospital in Lausanne. My Program Director, Professor Jean-Guy Villemure, taught me the strict principles of neurosurgery in the spirit of his own teachers, Rasmussen and Penfield. My further surgical training led me to the heart of modern spine surgery, to the Schulthess Klinik in Zurich. Here, I could benefit from the teaching of excellent neurosurgeons and orthopedic surgeons, some of them being the pupils of the very founders of spine surgeons Professor Fritz Magerl and Professor Jurgen Harms.
My profound interest in the academic field brought me to the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. I was the director of the Spine Program with special interest in complex spine surgery, spinal cord injury, and the neuroendocrinology of patients in the acute period after injury. My professional activity evolved in three fields: clinical spine neurosurgery, research, and teaching. My clinical practice comprised the management of most complex spine surgical cases including spine tumors, complex spine fractures, as well as painful degenerative spine disorders. My interest spine surgery brought me to Switzerland, where I was offered the possibility to build a combined neurosurgery-orthopedics interdisciplinary Spine Unit at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences of the University Hospital in Lausanne. Following the successful accomplishment of this 2-year project I was delighted to return to my home Department in San Antonio, where I continue my activity as spine specialist. My research interest evolves in two directions: clinical research and experimental work on animal and in vitro models. My laboratory scientific interest is studying the molecular and cellular mechanisms of secondary spinal cord injury. The understanding of complex pathophysiological mechanisms of secondary spinal cord damage occurring in the immediate and early period after trauma will enable the development of new therapeutic interventions in the future. I am also interested in the biomechanics of the vertebral column. During my whole career, teaching and mentoring of medical students has been an integral part of my professional activity which I would like to pursue.