Faculty Focus - Charles Tator

Charles Tator, CM, MD, PhD, FRCSC, FACS

Dr. Tator graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto in 1961. He performed graduate studies in Neuropathology from 1961–1965 and was awarded his Masters and PhD degrees from the University of Toronto before entering the Neurosurgery Training program in 1965. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 1969 and joined the Neurosurgical Staff at Sunnybrook Medical Centre that year. Having served as Neurosurgeon-in-Chief at Sunnybrook from 1974-1984, he then moved to Toronto Western Hospital where he became Neurosurgeon-in-Chief from 1985-1988. He was appointed Chairman of the Division of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto for a 10-year term beginning 1989, during which time he fostered the growth of the Surgeon-Scientist Training Program with the aim of encouraging academic surgeons to train in science at the highest level.  It is largely through this vision that the University of Toronto Neurosurgery program is so highly regarded as one of the world's preeminent programs.  He held the Campeau Family Foundation Chair in Brain and Spinal Cord Research at the University of Toronto and Toronto Western Hospital from 2001-2007.  He is currently a Professor in the Department of Surgery at The University of Toronto. His main clinical interests are in the neurosurgery of spinal diseases and traumatic brain injury. His research laboratory focuses on the study of acute spinal injury models. He is the Project Director for the Canadian Sports Concussion Research Project at the Toronto Western Hospital.

In 1992, Dr. Tator founded ThinkFirst Canada, an organization that educates young people about safety, and served as its President until 2007. In 2012, In 2012, ThinkFirst merged with three other organizations to form Parachute Canada, and he serves on the Board of this organization. He was elected to the Order of Canada in 2000 and to the Terry Fox Hall of Fame in 2003.  In 2009, Dr. Tator was elected to the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in recognition of his transformative research in spinal cord injury, his tremendous advocacy efforts in injury prevention and his legendary dedication and commitment to his patients. He continues to receive prestigious awards and honors, highlighted below, in recognition of his distinguished career in neurosurgery, research and education.

Current Appointments

  • Professor, Division of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto, 1980-present
  • Staff Member, Institute of Medical Science, University of Toronto, 1970-present
  • Consultant in Neurosurgery, Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, 2000-present
  • Member, Order of Canada, 2000-present

Selected Past Appointments

  • Founder and Past President, Think First Canada, Penser D'Abord, 1992-2007
  • Campeau Family Foundation Chair in Brain and Spinal Cord Research, University of Toronto and Toronto Western Hospital, 2001-2007
  • Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery, University of Toronto, 1991-1999
  • Director of Research and Chairman of Research Committee, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, 1986-1989
  • Head, Division of Neurosurgery, Sunnybrook Medical Centre, 1974-1984

Selected Distinctions

  • Reeve-Irvine Gold Medal (Co-Recipient), Reeve-Irvine Research Centre, 2012
  • Gallie Surgical Lecture, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, 2012
  • Council Award, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, 2011
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, American Spinal Injury Association, 2011
  • Global Impact Award, University Health Network, 2011
  • Canadian Medical Hall of Fame, 2009
  • Penfield Lecturer, Canadian Neurosurgical Society, 2008
  • Arbor Award for Outstanding Voluntary Service to the University of Toronto, 2007
  • Award of Appreciation, Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences, 2005
  • Terry Fox Hall of Fame Award, Canadian Foundation of Physically Disabled Persons, 2003
  • Lifetime Achievement Award, Canadian Spine Society, 2003
  • Grass Prize for Research, Society of Neurological Surgeons, 2002
  • Jonas Salk Award, Ontario March of Dimes, 2001
  • Hudson Teaching Award, Division of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto, 1999
  • Appreciation Citation, Ontario Ministry of Tourism and Recreation, 1989
  • Lister Prize in Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Toronto, 1982
  • George Armstrong-Peters Prize, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 1965
  • Academy Award, American Academy of Neurological Surgery, 1963

Selected Peer-Reviewed Funding

  • Ontario China Research and Innovation Fund, 2013-2016.
    Human Neural Stem Cell Transplanted by Biomimetic Multiple-Channel Conduit for Spinal Cord Regeneration.
    PI: Tator CH.  Co-I: Shoichet M.
    $125,000
  • Christopher Reeve Foundation, 2014-15.
    North American Clinical Trials Network for the Treatment of Spinal Cord Injury.
    PIs: Tator CH and Fehlings MG.
    $90,000
  • AbbVie Research, 2013-2014.
    Testing of AbbVie Antibodies in a Clinically Relevant Model of Spinal Cord Injury.
    PI: Tator CH.
    $75,000
  • Krembil Foundation, 2011-2014.
    Spinal cord injury new emerging team regenerative medicine project.
    PIs: Fehlings MG (lead), Morshead C, Nagy A, Shoichet M, Stanisz G, Tator CH, van der Kooy D.
    $1,500,000

Selected Recent Publications

  • Tator CH. Editorial: Leading transition while maintaining tradition. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy: how serious a sports problem is it? Br J Sports Med. 2014 Jan;48(2):81-3.
  • Mothe AJ, Tator CH. Review of transplantation of neural stem/progenitor cells for spinal cord injury. Int J Dev Neurosci. 2013 Nov;31(7):701-13.
  • Tator CH. Concussions and their consequences: current diagnosis, management and prevention. CMAJ. 2013 Aug 6;185(11):975-9.
  • Hazrati LN, Tartaglia MC, Diamandis P, Davis KD, Green RE, Wennberg R, Wong JC, Ezerins L, Tator CH. Absence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired football players with multiple concussions and neurological symptomatology. Front Hum Neurosci. 2013 May 24;7:222.
  • McCrory P, Meeuwisse WH, Aubry M, Cantu B, Dvořák J, Echemendia RJ, Engebretsen L, Johnston K, Kutcher JS, Raftery M, Sills A, Benson BW, Davis GA, Ellenbogan R, Guskiewicz K, Herring SA, Iverson GL, Jordan BD, Kissick J, McCrea M, McIntosh AS, Maddocks D, Makdissi M, Purcell L, Putukian M, Schneider K, Tator CH, Turner M. Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2012. J Am Coll Surg. 2013 May;216(5):e55-71.
  • Burke MJ, Chundamala J, Tator CH. Deficiencies in concussion education in Canadian medical schools. Can J Neurol Sci. 2012 Nov;39(6):763-6.
  • Mothe AJ, Tator CH. Advances in stem cell therapy for spinal cord injury. J Clin Invest. 2012 Nov 1;122(11):3824-34.
  • Tator CH, Minassian K, Mushahwar VK. Spinal cord stimulation: therapeutic benefits and movement generation after spinal cord injury. Handb Clin Neurol. 2012;109:283-96.
  • Tator CH, Hashimoto R, Raich A, Norvell D, Fehlings MG, Harrop JS, Guest J, Aarabi B, Grossman RG. Translational potential of preclinical trials of neuroprotection through pharmacotherapy for spinal cord injury. J Neurosurg Spine. 2012 Sep;17(1 Suppl):157-229.
  • Guest J, Harrop JS, Aarabi B, Grossman RG, Fawcett JW, Fehlings MG, Tator CH. Optimization of the decision-making process for the selection of therapeutics to undergo clinical testing for spinal cord injury in the North American Clinical Trials Network. J Neurosurg Spine. 2012 Sep;17(1 Suppl):94-101.
  • Fan XY, Mothe AJ, Tator CH. Ephrin-B3 decreases the survival of adult rat spinal cord-derived neural stem/progenitor cells in vitro and after transplantation into the injured rat spinal cord. Stem Cells Dev. 2013 Feb 1;22(3):359-73.
  • Mothe AJ, Zahir T, Santaguida C, Cook D, Tator CH. Neural stem/progenitor cells from the adult human spinal cord are multipotent and self-renewing and differentiate after transplantation. PLoS One. 2011;6(11):e27079.

Selected Past Professional Activities

  • Chair, Biomedical Research Committee, Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation, 2001-2006
  • Chair, Medical Review Panel, Mission Connect of the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research, Baylor College of Medicine and University of Texas, Houston, 1997-2007
  • Vice-President, American Academy of Neurological Surgery, 1997-1998
  • Vice-President, Society of Neurological Surgeons, 1997-1998
  • Chair, Research Committee, Canadian Paraplegic Association, 1985-1989
  • Chair, Medical Advisory Committee, Acoustic Neuroma Association of Canada, 1985-1996
  • President, Canadian Congress of Neurological Sciences, 1985-1986
  • President, Canadian Neurosurgical Society, 1985-1986
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