Chronicling the philanthropic arm of neurological surgery: a review of the growth and development of the Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation

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  • 1 Department of Neurological Surgery, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania;
  • 2 Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation and
  • 3 American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Rolling Meadows, Illinois;
  • 4 Department of Neurological Surgery, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey;
  • 5 Department of Neurological Surgery, Wake Forest Baptist Health, Winston-Salem, North Carolina;
  • 6 Department of Neurosurgery, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, Tennessee;
  • 7 Department of Neurosurgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts; and
  • 8 Atlanta Brain and Spine Care, Atlanta, Georgia
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The Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation (NREF), previously known as the Research Foundation of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), was established in 1980 to encourage and facilitate innovation through financial support to young neurosurgeons in the process of honing their competencies in neurosciences and neurological surgery. This article provides a historical overview of NREF, its mission, and charitable contributions and the ever-expanding avenues for neurosurgeons, neurosurgical residents and fellows, and medical students to supplement clinical training and to further neurosurgical research advances.


Data were collected from the historical archives of the AANS and NREF website. Available data included tabulated revenue, geographic and institutional records of funding, changes in funding for fellowships and awards, advertising methods, and sources of funding.


Since 1984, NREF has invested more than $23 million into the future of neurosurgery. To date, NREF has provided more than 500 fellowship opportunities which have funded neurosurgeons’ education and research efforts at all stages of training and practice.


NREF is designed to serve as the vehicle through which the neurosurgical community fosters the continued excellence in the care of patients with neurosurgical diseases.

ABBREVIATIONS AANS = American Association of Neurological Surgeons; CAST = Committee on Advanced Subspecialty Training; HYM = Honor Your Mentor; MSSRF = Medical Student Summer Research Fellowship; NREF = Neurosurgery Research & Education Foundation; YCI = Young Clinician Investigator.

Supplementary Materials

    • Supplemental Lists (PDF 445 KB)

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Contributor Notes

Correspondence Nitin Agarwal: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh, PA.

INCLUDE WHEN CITING Published online August 7, 2020; DOI: 10.3171/2020.5.JNS201474.

Disclosures Several authors of this study are members of the NREF Board of Directors. Dr. Agarwal: royalties from Thieme. Dr. Groff: royalties from DePuy Spine, Biomet Spine, NuVasive, and Spineart. Dr. Haid: consultant for NuVasive; royalties from Globus Medical, Medtronic, and NuVasive; and shareholder in Globus Medical, NuVasive, Remedy Health Media (formerly Vertical Health), and SpineWave.