At the 37th annual meeting of the North American Spine Society in Chicago, IL, witnessed by hundreds of his friends and colleagues from both MMI and the spine community at large, MMI’s founder, Dr. John A. Hipp was recognized as the recipient of the Henry Farfan Award in recognition of outstanding contributions in spine-related basic science research.
Dr. Hipp has worked for over three decades in the biomechanics field, contributing to scientific advancement in countless ways, not the least of which is the development of technology to evaluate spinal motion and stability. Dubbed Quantitative Motion Analysis, or QMA®, MMI credits this technology as a key factor for our leadership in the spine clinical trial space. Dr. Hipp’s enthusiasm and innovative mindset continues to be an inspiration to all of us.
John Hipp has been a NASS member since 2007 and has been serving on the The Spine Journal’s Peer Reviewers Committee since 2013. He received his PhD in Biomedical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, and then went on to complete a post-doctoral fellowship in the Orthopedics Biomechanics Lab at Beth Israel.
For the past 33 years, he has devoted his work to orthopedic biomechanics and the spine in particular. He directed the Spine Research Lab at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, TX for over a decade. In 2000, he founded Medical Metrics, Inc, a medical imaging core laboratory, where he remains today as the Chief Scientific Officer.
Dr. Hipp has made several contributions to science, and one of his greatest fundamental achievements has been the development of technology to evaluate spinal motion and stability. This has evolved from what was a manual process to one that now involves artificial intelligence to make this simpler, faster and more accurate. The understanding of intervertebral motion and spinal stability is of critical importance to clinical spine care. It influences treatment strategies including surgical decision-making on a daily basis. He has spent an exhaustive amount of time and effort to try to understand this, measure it, adapt it for practical use, and provide quantitative information to be used for practical clinical applications.
Medical Metrics has been contracted to provide data for many clinical research studies that have resulted in over 150 peer review publications on fusion, motion sparing and other spine technologies. This is a testament not only to the quality of their work and fidelity of their information, but also to their integrity as individuals and ease with which they collaborate. Dr. Hipp has authored 116 peer review papers on various topics in biomechanics.
While he has forgotten more about spinal biomechanics than most of us will ever hope to know, it is not his brilliance, work ethic, innovation or vision that distinguish him— it is the person he is. His main goal is to make a difference; to bring some meaningful clinical understanding to the evaluation of instability. He is extremely humble. He cares much less about the credit or acknowledgement, and much more about the outcome. He is the ultimate team player and an incredible asset as a collaborator. His lack of notoriety should not undersell his value to our field. His contributions have been substantial, and he’s not done yet.