Brian Kwon


Orthopaedic Spine Surgery

Hospital Site:
Vancouver – Blusson Spinal Cord Centre

Dr. Brian Kwon, Canada Research Chair in Spinal Cord Injury (Tier 1) and Dvorak Chair in Spine Trauma, is an internationally recognized, award-winning surgeon-scientist with the UBC Department of Orthopaedics. 

Dr. Kwon began his career in orthopaedic surgery by completing his residency at UBC in 2000 before going on to complete a PhD in neuroscience at UBC, studying spinal cord injury regeneration and repair. In 2003, he completed a year of advanced spine surgery fellowship training in Philadelphia at the Rothman Institute, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, one of the busiest spine trauma hospitals in the United States.

Now, as a Full Professor in the UBC Department of Orthopaedics and an attending spine surgeon with the Vancouver Spine Surgery Institute at Vancouver General Hospital, Dr. Kwon’s surgical practice is focused on the management of adult spine trauma, spinal cord injuries and non-traumatic conditions including spine infection, cancer, deformity and disc degeneration. Dr. Kwon is active in the training of orthopaedic and neurosurgical residents, and he is currently the Co-Director of the UBC Spine Fellowship Training Program which trains three spine surgeons from around the world each year.

In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Kwon leads an active basic science and clinical research program in spinal cord injury and spine trauma. Dr. Kwon is the Director of Research for the Vancouver Spine Research Program, which oversees all spine-related research at VGH. He is also the Associate Director of Clinical Research at the International Collaboration on Repair Discoveries (ICORD), where the Kwon Lab is located.  

Dr. Kwon has established himself as an international authority in spinal cord injury and spine trauma. He has been invited to deliver keynote speeches on spinal cord injury in Canada and the United States, and around the world in places such as Australia, Korea, India and South Africa. His research has been recognized and supported by highly competitive funding agencies around the world, including the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR), Canadian Stem Cell Network, Canadian Foundation for Innovation, Brain Canada, Craig Neilsen Foundation, Wings for Life Foundation, Paralyzed Veterans of America, the United States Department of Defense, and most recently, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) – (see: Spinal cord injury research at UBC receives $48M grant – Department of Orthopaedics).   

Dr. Kwon has authored more than 300 scientific research manuscripts in peer-reviewed journals and has written over 35 textbook chapters. This body of research has shed new insights into the early management of acute SCI, established biomarkers of injury severity, and improved modelling of traumatic SCI to better simulate the human condition in the laboratory setting. Dr. Kwon was recognized with the inaugural $50,000 Tator-Turnbull Award in 2019 for the most outstanding SCI or traumatic brain injury paper published by a Canadian investigator in the previous two years. In 2020, for his significant contributions to advancing the SCI community, Dr. Kwon was honoured by the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation with their inaugural Visionary Prize and an unrestricted cash prize of US$1million.  

Dr. Kwon is proud to be leading an internationally recognized and globally connected spinal cord injury program at UBC, and he anticipates that these ongoing efforts will improve the lives of those who suffer this catastrophic injury.

Research Interests & Publications

Research Interests:

  • biomarkers of spinal cord injury
  • neuroprotection
  • hemodynamic management


Stukas S, Cooper J, Gill J, Fallah N, Skinnider MA, Belanger L, Ritchie L, Tsang A, Dong K, Streijger F, Street J, Paquette S, Ailon T, Dea N, Charest- Morin R, Fisher CG, Bailey CS, Dhall S, Mac-Thiong JM, Wilson JR, Christie S, Dvorak MF, Wellington CL, Kwon BK. Association of CSF and Serum Neurofilament Light and Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein, Injury Severity, and Outcome in Spinal Cord Injury. Neurology. 2023 Mar 21; 100(12):e1221-e1233. PMID: 36599698.

Squair JW, Bélanger LM, Tsang A, Ritchie L, Mac-Thiong JM, Parent S, Christie, S, Bailey C, Dhall S, Street J, Ailon T, Paquette S, Dea N, Fisher CG, Dvorak MF, West CR, Kwon BK. Spinal cord perfusion pressure predicts neurologic recovery in acute spinal cord injury. Neurology. 2017 Oct 17; 89(16):1660-1667. PMID: 28916535.

Hirsch-Reinshagen V, Velenosi A, Morris SR, Dong K, Samadi-Bahrami Z, Nassimbwa S, Abdelaziz E, Kozlowski P, Moore GRW, Laule C, Kwon BK. International Spinal Cord Injury Biobank: A Biorepository and Resource for Translational Research. J Neurotrauma. 2022 Dec; 39(23-24):1708-1715. PMID: 35761793.

Kim KT, Streijger F, Manouchehri N, So K, Shortt K, Okon EB, Tigchelaar S, Cripton P, Kwon BK. Review of the UBC Porcine Model of Traumatic Spinal Cord Injury. J Korean Neurosurg Soc. 2018 Sep; 61(5):539-547. PMID: 30196652.

Skinnider MA, Rogalski J, Tigchelaar S, Manouchehri N, Prudova A, Jackson AM, Nielsen K, Jeong J, Chaudhary S, Shortt K, Gallagher-Kurtzke Y, So K, Fong A, Gupta R, Okon EB, Rizzuto MA, Dong K, Streijger F, Belanger L, Ritchie L, Tsang A, Christie S, Mac-Thiong JM, Bailey C, Ailon T, Charest-Morin R, Dea N, Wilson JR, Dhall S, Paquette S, Street J, Fisher CG, Dvorak MF, Shannon C, Borchers C, Balshaw R, Foster LJ, Kwon BK. Proteomic Portraits Reveal Evolutionarily Conserved and Divergent Responses to Spinal Cord Injury. Mol Cell Proteomics. 2021; 20:100096. PMID: 34129941.

For more information regarding Dr. Kwon’s published research, please click here.

Teaching Interests

  • spinal cord injury
  • spinal trauma
  • degenerative cervical myelopathy
  • translational research

Academic Background

  • Spine Fellowship, Rothman Institute at Thomas Jefferson University
  • PhD Neuroscience, The University of British Columbia, 2004
  • FRCSC Orthopaedic Surgery, The University of British Columbia
  • MD, Queen’s University, 1995