Alumni

Fernando G. Diaz, MD, PhD, 1973-1978

Dr. Fernando DiazAs Dr. Diaz recalls the time he spent as a resident in the Neurosurgery Department, he describes several principles he learned at the U that helped support the foundation of his distinguished career.

Mentorship
“When I came to the University of Minnesota, I had the great fortune to be mentored by three people who made my life very strong,” he said. “First, Dr. Lyle French, who was then the vice president of the University and was a phenomenal individual and role model. Second, Dr. Shelley Chou who was a brilliant teacher and taught me surgical technique and how to be curious and untiring. The person I worked with most closely, however, was Dr. James Ausman, who taught me cerebrovascular surgery. I specialized in that for the first 20 years of my career.”

The notion of mentorship was carried into his own career. “At the end of my ten years as Neurosurgery Department Chair at Wayne State University in Detroit, I had trained many younger neurosurgeons, one of whom became an endovascular neurosurgeon,” Dr. Diaz said. “I knew it was only a matter of time – the cerebrovascular surgery I was doing was a dying thing. I wanted one of my guys to become the leader, and now, he has the best group of endovascular neurosurgeons in Michigan.”

Dr. Diaz working with students in ManilaDr. Diaz (pictured here working with students in Manila) attributes his ability to evolve to Dr. Chou’s mentorship. “When I became program chairman at Wayne State and then began running the residency program, I moved more into spine surgery, which was something I learned from Dr. Chou,” he said. “He had a great deal of interest in tuberculosis of the spine, and I worked with him on spinal reconstructions for Pott’s Disease.” That condition is also known as tuberculosis spondylitis, a rare disease of the spine that is typically caused by an extraspinal infection.

Mentorship isn’t just a principle in Dr. Diaz’s professional life. “Right now, my youngest son is 16 so I’m his Uber driver,” he said, laughing. “What I enjoy most is the time I spend with him in the car, talking and bonding. I listen to what matters to him and promote areas of interest he doesn’t quite see he has.”

Aspiration
Although aspiring to great things probably came naturally to Dr. Diaz, he credits Dr. French with instilling that in him during his residency. As a result, Dr. Diaz has chaired two neurosurgery departments, not only at Wayne State University but also at Oakland University School of Medicine and William Beaumont Hospitals, both in Detroit. He built up both of their residency programs and the program at Oakland University is now fully accredited and will accept one resident a year.

Making another aspirational career move, Dr. Diaz founded the Michigan Head and Spine Institute in 1990, which he describes as a mixture of academic and private practice. “I’m restless and have to burn all the time, so I have more degrees than a thermometer,” he quipped. One of those degrees helped him put together the business infrastructure for the Institute. “We cover the southeast portion of Detroit,” he said. “We have 25 providers at several hospitals, including Beaumont.”

Little by little, Dr. Diaz has whittled his responsibilities at the Institute down to almost nothing. “I have ended up becoming a robotic spine, minimally invasive surgeon,” he said.

Excellence and compassion
Another principle that Dr. Diaz learned at the University of Minnesota was to always push for excellence. “I got my PhD with that idea in mind and transferred that philosophy to Wayne State,” he said. “I had 10 residents graduate with PhDs – it was mandatory. We will eventually require that at Oakland.”

Dr. Diaz operating in a military hospitalDr. Diaz (pictured here working in a military hospital) has excelled in a completely different part of his many lives. He spent 20 years in the U.S. Air Force Reserves and rose to the rank of Lt. Colonel. “I ended up going to the Iraq War, which gave me an opportunity to meet many fascinating people,” he said.

His experience in the Air Force broadened Dr. Diaz’s world view and was part of what inspired him to participate in multiple neurosurgical missions around the globe. “I’ve taught in all of Latin America, speak five languages, and have done surgery in Spain, France, Italy, China, Indonesia, Cyprus, and most of Latin America, including Brazil and Argentina,” he said. “I love teaching and helping people.”

Former Residents

2021

Adam KhanAdam Khan, MD
2014–2021
Jack LeschkeJack Leschke, MD
2014-2021

2020

David DarrowDavid Darrow, MD, MPH
2013–2020
Coridon QuinnCoridon Quinn, MD
2013-2020

2019

Molly Hubbard, MDMolly Hubbard, MD
2012–2019
(deceased 1-9-2020)
Joshua Lim, MDJoshua Lim, MD
2012-2019

2018

Amit Goyal, MDAmit Goyal, MD
2011–2018
Akshay Gupte, MDAkshay Gupte, MD
2011-2018

2017

Paramita Das, MDParamita Das, MD
2011–2017
Catherine Miller, MDCatherine Miller, MD
2011-2017

2016

Ciro Vasquez, MDCiro Vasquez, MD
2010–2016
Zoe Zhang, MDZoe Zhang, MD
2010–2016

2015

Daraspreet Kainth, MDDaraspreet Kainth, MD
2009–2015
Dino Terzic, MDDino Terzic, MD
2009-2015

2014

Kristin Jones, MDKristin Jones, MD
2012-2014
Farhan Siddiq, MDFarhan Siddiq, MD
2008-2014

2013

Rabia Qaiser, MDRabia Qaiser, MD
2008-2013
Haejoe Park, MDHaejoe Park, MD
2008-2013

2012

Fotis Souslian, MDFotis Souslian, MD
2007-2012
Efkan Colpan, MDEfkan Colpan, MD
2009-2012

2011

Christopher Roark, MDChristopher Roark, MD
2006-2011

2010

Greg Sher, MD, MPHGreg Sher, MD, MPH
2005-2010
Kyle Uittenbogaard, MDKyle Uittenbogaard, MD
2005-2010
Praveen Baimeedi, MDPraveen Baimeedi, MD
2006-2010

2009

Joel Ulloth, MDJoel Ulloth, MD
2004-2009

2008

Hart P. Garner, MDHart P. Garner, MD
2003-2008

2007

John Drygas, MD, MSJohn Drygas, MD, MS
2002-2007
Eun Kyung (Michelle) Won, MDEun Kyung (Michelle) Won, MD
2002-2007

2006

Adam O. Hebb, MDAdam O. Hebb, MD
2001-2006
Charles R. Watts, MD, PhDCharles R. Watts, MD, PhD
2001-2006

2005

Edward Rustamzadeh, MD, PhDEdward Rustamzadeh, MD, PhD
2000-2005

2004

Ray M. Chu, MDRay M. Chu, MD
1999-2004
Ramachandra P. Tummala, MDRamachandra P. Tummala, MD
1999-2004
Sabrina M. Walski-Easton, MDSabrina M. Walski-Easton, MD
1999-2004

2003

Patrick C. Graupman, MDPatrick C. Graupman, MD
1998-2003

2002

Lars Anker, MDLars Anker, MD
1997-2002
Khalid Sethi, MDKhalid Sethi, MD
1997-2002

2001

Darren S. Lovick, MDDarren S. Lovick, MD
1996-2001
Margaret A. Wallenfriedman, MD, PhDMargaret
Wallen-
friedman,
MD, PhD
1995-2001

2000

Walter C. Jean, MDWalter C. Jean, MD
1994-2000
Michael P. McCue, MD, ScDMichael P. McCue, MD, ScD
1994-2000
Alejandro Mendez, MDAlejandro Mendez, MD
1994-1999

1998

Walter E. Galicich, MDWalter E. Galicich, MD
1993-1998
Joel D. Seigel, MDJoel D. Seigel, MD
1993-1998
Bradley E. Weprin, MDBradley E. Weprin, MD
1993-1998

1997

Jerone D. Kennedy, MDJerone D. Kennedy, MD
1991-1997
Eric S. Nussbaum, MDEric S. Nussbaum, MD
1992-1997
Abhay Sanan, MDAbhay Sanan, MD
1992-1997

1996

Jeffrey P. Blount, MDJeffrey P. Blount, MD
1990-1996
Eric P. Flores, MDEric P. Flores, MD
1992-1996
Edison P. McDaniels, MDEdison P. McDaniels, MD
1991-1996

1995

Todd Y. Nida, MDTodd Y. Nida, MD
1989-1995

1994

John C. Mullan, MDJohn C. Mullan, MD
1988-1994
Leslie A. Sebring, MD, PhDLeslie A. Sebring, MD, PhD
1991-1994

1993

Paul J. Camarata, MDPaul J. Camarata, MD
1987-1993
Jacques J. Morcos, MDJacques J. Morcos, MD
1990-1993
Mitesh V. Shah, MDMitesh V. Shah, MD
1988-1993

1992

Young Chung, MDYoung Chung, MD
1987-1992
Dennis Y.K. Wen, MDDennis Y.K. Wen, MD
1987-1992

1991

William F. Ganz, MDWilliam F. Ganz, MD
1986-1991
Frank L. Genovese, MDFrank L. Genovese, MD
1986-1991

1990

Christine M. Cox, MDChristine M. Cox, MD
1985-1990 (deceased 2/24/2019)

1989

Anthony G. Bottini, MDAnthony G. Bottini, MD
1984-1989
 
1988
Thomas A. Bergman, MDThomas A. Bergman, MD
1983-1988
Mary E. Dunn, MDMary E. Dunn, MD
1983-1988

1987

H. Dennis Mollman, MD, PhDH. Dennis Mollman, MD, PhD
1982-1987
S. David Moss, MDS. David Moss, MD
1982-1987
Aizik L. Wolf, MDAizik L. Wolf, MD
1982-1987

1986

Edward G. Hames III, MD, PhDEdward G. Hames III, MD, PhD
1981-1986

1985

J. Bob Blacklock, MDJ. Bob Blacklock, MD
1980-1985
Gary L. Rea, MD, PhDGary L. Rea, MD, PhD
1979-1985

1983

Voravut Chanyavanich, MDVoravut Chanyavanich, MD
1978-1983
Terry W. Hood, MDTerry W. Hood, MD
1978-1983
Petr O. Ruzicka, MDPetr O. Ruzicka, MD
1978-1983

1982

John C. Godersky, MDJohn C. Godersky, MD
1977-1982
Richard P. Moser, MDRichard P. Moser, MD
1977-1982
Mahmoud G. Nagib, MDMahmoud G. Nagib, MD
1977-1982

1981

Alexa I. Canady, MDAlexa I. Canady, MD
1976-1981
Dennis L. Shubert, MD, PhDDennis L. Shubert, MD, PhD
1977-1981

1980

John R. Mawk, MDJohn R. Mawk, MD
1975-1980

1979

W. H. Druckemiller, Jr., MDW. H. Druckemiller, Jr., MD
1974-1979
Robert D. Harris, MD, PhDRobert D. Harris, MD, PhD
1974-1979

1978

Daniel B. Ahlberg, MDDaniel B. Ahlberg, MD
1971-1972; 1974-1978
Fernando G. Diaz, MD, PhDFernando G. Diaz, MD, PhD
1973-1978

1977

Robert G. Clubb, MDRobert G. Clubb, MD
1972-1977
Kenneth J. Murray, MD, PhDKenneth J. Murray, MD, PhD
1973-1979
Andrew J.K. Smith, MD, PhDAndrew J.K. Smith, MD, PhD
1972-1977

1976

Richard S. Gregory, MDRichard S. Gregory, MD
1967-1970; 1973-1977

1975

George S. Allen, MD, PhDGeorge S. Allen, MD, PhD
1970-1975
Phudhiphorn Thienprasit, MD, PhDPhudhiphorn Thienprasit, MD, PhD
1970-1975

1974

Harry O. Cole, MDHarry O. Cole, MD
1969-1974
Humberto Ortiz-Suarez, MD, PhDHumberto Ortiz-Suarez, MD, PhD
1969-1974
Gaylan L. Rockswold, MD, PhDGaylan L. Rockswold, MD, PhD
1969-1974

1973

Willis E. Brown, MDWillis E. Brown, MD
1968-1973
Norval M. Simms, MDNorval M. Simms, MD
1968-1973
Deceased 7/24/1975

1972

James I. Ausman, MD, PhDJames I. Ausman, MD, PhD
1964-1965; 1969-1972
Kil Soo Choi, MDKil Soo Choi, MD
1970-1972
Harry M. Rogers, MDHarry M. Rogers, MD
1967-1972

1971

Robert E. Maxwell, MD, PhDRobert E. Maxwell, MD, PhD
1966-1971
Deceased 7-28-22
Anavankot Mohandas, MDAnavankot Mohandas, MD
1966-1971

1970

David Danoff, MDDavid Danoff, MD
1965-1970

1969

John L. Seymour, MDJohn L. Seymour, MD
1965-1969
Donald L. Erickson, MDDonald L. Erickson, MD
1964-1969

1968

Edward L. Seljeskog, MD, PhDEdward L. Seljeskog, MD, PhD
1963-1968 (deceased 3/16/22)
John P. Wissinger, MDJohn P. Wissinger, MD
1963-1968

1967

Michael E. Carey, MDMichael E. Carey, MD
1962-1967

1965

John Cleary, MD, PhDJohn Cleary, MD, PhD
1965
Fernando G. Diaz, MD, PhDFernando Ruiz Garcia, MD
1964-1965
Donlin M. Long, MD, PhDDonlin M. Long, MD, PhD
1960-1965

1964

Warren Boop, MDWarren Boop, MD
1960-1964
August W. Geise, MDAugust W. Geise, MD
1960-1964
Deceased 1/14/1997

1963

Joseph H. Galicich, MDJoseph H. Galicich, MD
1958-1963
John Serbu, MDJohn Serbu, MD
1959-1963
Deceased 12/17/1999

1962

Erich S. Wisiol, MDErich S. Wisiol, MD
1958-1962
Deceased 11/21/2004

1961

Jim L. Story, MDJim L. Story, MD
1956-1961
Jeong Wha Chu, MDJeong Wha Chu, MD
1959-1961
Max E. Zarling, MDMax E. Zarling, MD
1957-1961

1960

Lucien R. Hodges, MDLucien R. Hodges, MD
1956-1960
Deceased 6/19/2000

1959

Richard H. Strassburger, MDRichard H. Strassburger, MD
1956-1959

1957

Bo Sung Sim, MDBo Sung Sim, MD
1955-1957
Ralph L. Suechtin, MDRalph L. Suechtin, MD
1953-1957
James E. McIntosch, MDJames E. McIntosch, MD
1953-1957

1956

Howard Chandler, MDHoward Chandler, MD
1952-1956
Purdue L. Gould, MDPurdue L. Gould, MD
1952-1956
Deceased 8/24/2011

1955

Shelley N. Chou, MD, PhDShelley N. Chou, MD, PhD
1950-1955
Deceased 7/21/2001
William S. Ogle, MDWilliam S. Ogle, MD
1954-1955

1954

David R. Johnson, MDDavid R. Johnson, MD
1948-1954
Deceased 11/4/2005

1953

Carrel M. Caudill, MDCarrel M. Caudill, MD
1949-1953
Deceased 1/1/2006
    
Gerald L. Haines, MD, PhDGerald L. Haines, MD, PhD
1949-1953
Deceased 2/11/2015

1952

Martin E. Feferman, MDMartin E. Feferman, MD
1948-1952
Deceased 5/21/2011

1951

Paul S. Blake, MDPaul S. Blake, MD
1947-1951
Deceased 5/23/1997

1950

Robert L. Merrick, MDRobert L. Merrick, MD
1949-1950
Deceased 10/16/2004
C. Kent Olson, MDC. Kent Olson, MD
1946-1950
Deceased 9/6/2000

1949

Jules D. Levin, MDJules D. Levin, MD
1942-1949
Deceased 2/16/2002

1947

Lyle A. French, MD, PhDLyle A. French, MD, PhD
1940-1947
Deceased 10/19/2004

1946

Leonard A. Titrud, MD, PhDLeonard A. Titrud, MD, PhD
1939-1946
Deceased 10/18/2004

1938

Harold Buchstein, MDHarold Buchstein, MD
1935-1938
Deceased 10/29/1987