In San Diego, over 100,000 individuals have scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine affecting people of all ages, from infancy through adulthood. The majority of those affected however, are adolescents.
Since 2008, the Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation (SSSF), headquartered in San Diego, has supported families impacted by spine disorders by providing access to medical research, family-friendly educational tools, and a safe online platform for patients to share their stories.
The mission of SSSF is to advance treatment and improve care in children with spinal deformities by supporting the efforts of the Harms Study Group (HSG), a research team comprised of 38 surgeon volunteers spanning across the United States and Canada. Named after Professor Juergen Harms, a world-renowned spinal deformity surgeon, the HSG has pioneered new innovations in scoliosis treatment which has improved the lives of children with spinal deformities for over twenty years. Today, their decades of hard work has laid the foundation for what is now considered one of the leading health development research organizations in the world.
At the helm of the Harms Study Group is Dr. Peter Newton, Chief of Orthopedics at Rady Children’s Hospital and President of the Setting Scoliosis Straight Foundation. Dr. Newton, a California native, made his way to San Diego to earn his undergraduate degree at UCSD in Bioengineering. After attending medical school at the University of Texas, Dr. Newton returned to UCSD to complete his orthopedic surgery training. 25 years ago he accepted a position as a Pediatric Orthopedic Spine Surgeon at what is today, Rady Children’s Hospital of San Diego. He and his wife, Cathy, have three children, Alison, Kira, and Walker, all of whom attended Francis Parker, and after graduating college returned to San Diego to pursue their careers.
Dr. Newton’s passion for research and leadership has allowed him to serve as President of the Pediatric Orthopedic Society of North America and most recently, incoming President of the Scoliosis Research Society. It is his unwavering commitment to the families he serves, and the city he calls home, which makes him a dedicated and valuable leader in our community.
With June designated as National Scoliosis Awareness month, SSSF is hosting back-to-back community events on June 1 & 2, 2018, and hopes to gain the support of San Diegans to help spread the word and donate to pediatric spinal deformity research.
On June 1, 2018, SSSF is hosting Give BACKS Hope, a scoliosis awareness and fundraising event at UCSD’s Great Hall. This event brings together San Diego’s scoliosis community to applaud courageous patient ambassadors while raising funds for pediatric spine research. This event is led by co-chairs, Alan Olsen, an SSSF board member, along with, Richard & Kristine Gelbart and Howard Greenberg, both whose daughters had their scoliosis surgery performed by Dr. Newton.
In addition, SSSF is hosting an all-day educational event at Rady Children’s Hospital on Saturday, June 2, 2018, and inviting families from all over Southern California to attend.