Mazda Farshad, MPH
Prof. Dr. med.

Mazda Farshad, MPH

Medical Director
Head Physician Orthopedics and Spine Surgery
Director of University Spine Center
German, English, French, Persian

Academic position

Professor and Chair of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Zurich, Switzerland


Entire Spectrum of Spine Surgery

  • Degenerative spine surgery
  • Adult deformities
  • complex children deformities
  • scoliosis
  • minimal invasive surgery
  • Surgery of the cervical spine
  • Surgery of the thoraco-lumbar spine
  • Spinal tumores, sarcoma surgery
  • kyphosis corrections
  • surgery of the osteoporotic spine
  • complex revision surgeries
  • salvage surgeries
  • patient-specific spine surgeries

Honors and awards

Selected Awards: 

  • Venel award 2017 (Swiss orthopedics clinical research award) for ‘Long-Term Restoration of Anterior Shoulder Stability: A Retrospective Analysis of Arthroscopic Bankart Repair Versus Open Latarjet Procedure. J Bone Joint Surg Am, Zimmermann SM, Scheyerer MJ, Farshad M (Co-Author), Catanzaro S, Rahm S, Gerber C, Mazda Farshad, SO 2017
  • Nomination for European Spine full paper award 2016: “Cost Effectiveness of Conservative versus Surgical Treatment Strategies for Lumbar Spinal Stenosis - A Prospective Multicenter Analysis in the Swiss Setting” Alexander Aichmair, Jakob M. Burgstaller, Ulrike Held, Francois Porchet, Alexander Schwab, Johann Steurer, Mazda Farshad, Eurospine 2016
  • Venel award 2015 (Swiss orthopedics clinical research award) for ‘Tendon response to pharmacological stimulation of the chronically retracted rotator cuff in sheep’, Karl Wieser, Mazda Farshad (equally contributing), Dominik C. Meyer, Philipp Conze, Brigitte von Rechenberg, Christian Gerber, SGOT 2015
  • Vontobel award 2015 for ‚Clinical outcome in lumbar decompression surgery for spinal canal stenosis in the aged population: a prospective Swiss multicenter cohort study’ (co-author)’. NH. Ulrich; F. Kleinstück; C. M. Woernle; A. Antoniadis; S. Winklhofer; JM Burgstaller; M. Farshad; J. Oberle; F. Porchet; K. Min
  • Champagne award 2015 (Swiss orthopedics special efforts award), SGOT 2015
  • Venel award 2014 (Swiss orthopedics clinical research award) for ‘Abduction extension cervical nerve root stress test: anatomical basis and clinical relevance’, M. Farshad and K. Min, SGOT 2014
  • Nominated for the Melvin Post Award for Excellence in Clinical Research 2014 (co-author) for ‘Long-term outcome of segmental reconstruction of the humeral head for the treatment of locked posterior dislocation of the shoulder’, C. Gerber; S. Catanzaro; M.Jundt-Ecker; M. Farshad
  • Nomination for the Neer Award 2013 (co-author) for ‘Long-term outcome of segmental reconstruction of the humeral head for the treatment of locked posterior dislocation of the shoulder’, C. Gerber; S. Catanzaro; M.Jundt‐Ecker; M.Farshad
  • 1st Marathon Award of the swissSociety of Orthopaedics:‘Does subacromial injection of a local anesthetic influence strength in healthy shoulders? – A double blinded, placebo-controlled study’, M. Farshad; M. Jundt-Ecker; R. Sutter; M. Schubert M; C. Gerber, SGOT 2012

Academic career


  • Since August 2017 Professor and Chair of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2014 – 2019 Founder and Head of Unit for Clinical and Applied Research (UCAR), Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2013 – 2017 ‘Privatdozent’ (PD, Venia legendi) in Orthopedic Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 08/2012 – 08/2013 Senior clinical associate in Orthopedic Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College, New York, USA Chief spine fellow, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, USA
  • 01/2011 – 03/2011 Clinical in-rotation, Sports Surgery (Dr. S. Rodeo), Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, USA
  • 2009 – 2012 Training as ‘Physician Scientist’ in Orthopedic Surgery (‘Fast track’, Prof. Dr. C. Gerber)
  • 2007 – 2008 Resident in General and Trauma Surgery, City Hospital Triemli, Zürich, Switzerland


  • Since August 2017 Medical Director, Surgeon in Chief, Chief of Orthopedic and Spine Surgery, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 2019: Founder and Director of University Spine Center Zürich
  • Since July 2015 Chief (Chefarzt) of Division of Spine Surgery, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 11/2014 – 06/2015 Head (Teamleiter) of Spine Surgery, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 07/2014 – 11/2014 Deputy Head of Spine Surgery, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, Switzerland
  • 03/2014 – 06/2014 Consultant, Spine and Orthopedic Surgery, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 09/2013 – 02/2014 Consultant, Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology, University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland
  • 08/2012 – 08/2013 Clinical Spine/Scoliosis fellow, Chief spine fellow, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, USA
  • 01/2012 – 08/2012 Junior Consultant, Orthopedic Surgery, Balgrist University Hospital, University of Zurich, Switzerland

Continuing professional development

  • 2021 Interdisciplinary Specialty Title Spine Surgery (SIWF)
  • 2009 – 2011 MPH, Master in public health, University of Zürich, Basel, Bern and aff. Harvard School of Public Health, with the thesis ‘Reconstruction versus conservative treatment after rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament: cost effectiveness analysis’ (Prof. T. Szucs)
  • July 2010 “Management of Health Care Organizations”, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA
  • July 2010 “Epidemiology”, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA
  • June 2010 “Health reforms”, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • May 2010 “Environmental health”, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • April 2010 “Health politics”, University of Basel, Switzerland
  • March 2010 “Research on accidents and injuries”, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • January 2010 “Health promotion”, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • December 2009 “Health data resources”, Neuchatel, Switzerland
  • November 2009 “Evidence in interventions of health”, University of Basel, Switzerland
  • November 2009 “Evidence based Public Health”, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • October 2009 “Best Practice in health promotion and prevention”, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • September 2009 “Socio-cultural transformations and Public Health”, Universityiy of Bern, Switzerland
  • September 2009 “Processes and methods for research in Public Health”, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • August 2009 “Advanced methods in Biostatistics”, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • August 2009 “Biostatistics”, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • July 2009 “From paper to computer records, ensuring data quality for analysis”, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • June 2009 “Communication in health”, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • June 2009 “Descriptive and analytical methods and concepts in Epidemiology”, University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • May 2009 “Basic concepts in Epidemiology”, University of Bern, Switzerland


  • 2012 Swiss Board Certification Exams for Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology (FHM title for Orthopedics and Orthopedic Traumatology)
  • 2007 MD, Faculty of Medicine, University of Zürich, with the doctoral Thesis `Nitrates - a possible solution to cyclosporine induced hypertension after cardiac transplantation’ (Prof. G. Noll)
  • 2001 – 2007 Medical School, University of Zürich, Switzerland, Clerkships at Duke University Hospital, North Carolina, USA and Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, USA Among top 3% in Numerus Clausus (entry exam for medical school)
  • 2005 – 2009 US medical exams: ECFMG certificate (USMLE 1,2 CK+CS, 3) (Top 1% in USMLE 1 and Top 3% in USMLE 2)

Member of the Board

  • Swiss Orthopaedics
  • IDKD

Teaching posts

  • Since 2019 Co-Founder and organisator of the world-wide first  "Medical augmented reality summer school"
  • Since 2018: Lecturer at ETH
  • Since 2017: Chair of Orthopaedics, University of Zurich
  • Since 2017 Founder and organisator of the international "Complex spine symposium"
  • Conitnously: Supervisor for master- and doctoral thesis of the Unviversity of Zürich
  • 2015 Section editor for Spine Surgery Continuing Medical Education Program, European Spine Society
  • Since 2014 Repetitive teaching to students, residents, fellows, attendings in Spine Surgery at the Balgrist University Hospital and the University of Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2013 Dedicated teaching in Spine Surgery to orthopedic residents, Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, USA
  • 2009 – 2010 Weekly teaching in orthopedic pathology to orthopedic mechanists, Balgrist University Hospital, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 2004 – 2005 Tutor for medical students at Institute for Anatomy, University of Zürich, Switzerland


  • 08/2012 – 08/2013 Spine and Scoliosis Surgery, Hospital for Special Surgery, in aff. with Westchester Medical Center, New York, USA
  • 04/2012 – 05/2013 Spinal tumors, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA
  • 01/2012 – 08/2012 Spine Surgery, University Hospital Balgrist, Dept. Orthopedics, University of Zürich, Switzerland



610’000 Euro

Horizon 2020- Functionally Accurate RObotic Surgery: FAROS Fürnstahl, Farshad, Sutter (out of 3 Mio Euro with Leuven, Sorbonne Kings College London/UK and  Spineguard)

2018 1'000 000 CHF HMZ Flagship 2018: surgeon enhancing technologies. SURGENT (M. Farshad). (HMZ is ETH, UZH and the four University Hospitals) Consortium of 8 research groups. 


1’500 000 CHF

“KFSP Pain (A. Curt)”, Clinical research focus grant, University of Zürich (sub-applicant)



499’468 CHF

Interactions of supraspinal and spinal circuits during normal and impaired upper limb movements in humans, SNF 2017, Freund, Dietz, Farshad, Weiskopf, Eipert (Co-applicant)



2’200’000 CHF

HSM (II) Funding for ‘Patientensicherheit und Ergebnisqualität durch computergestützte, patientenspezifische 3D-Planung, Simulation und Durchführung von Operationen’ by Gerber C, Farshad M and Fürnstahl P



45’000 CHF

OREF (The Orthopedic Research & Education Foundation) Fellowship grant for Spine Surgery



35’000 CHF

ResOrtho-Grant for Clinical Fellowship at Hospital for Special Surgery, New York, USA



83’333 CHF

SNF-Grant ’Improved cruciate ligament reconstruction through enhanced graft incorporation at the bone-graft interface - An experimental study in rabbits’, by Meyer DC, Farshad M, Snedeker JG and Koch PP 



62’000 CHF

Balgrist-Verein-Grant ’Do anabolic steroids prevent deterioration in retracting musculotendinous units?’ by Gerber C, Meyer DC and Farshad M 



243'000 CHF

SNF-Grant ’Continuous musculotendinous traction plus pharmacological stimulation using anabolic steroids and IGF to reverse structural muscle changes induced by tendon tear’ by Gerber C, Meyer DC and Farshad M 


  • SGOT Swiss orthopaedics - Member of the Board of Directors
  • SGOT Swiss orthopaedics, Spine Expert Group - Examiner for Swiss Orthopaedics Board
  • SGOT Swiss orthopaedics, Quality and Methodology Commission - President
  • AOSpine AO Foundation - Spine, Bronze Member
  • SRS Scoliosis Research Society - Candidate Member Committee growing spine
  • VSS Swiss Scoliosis Association - Advisor (Fachbereirat)
  • LSOS Lumbal stenosis outcome study - “Steuerungsausschuss”
  • FMH Foederatio Medicorum Helveticorum
  • Hochschul-Medizin ZH Fachausschuss
  • Member of  ETH  Rehabilitation Engineering and Science Center (RESC)
  • Alumni Hospital for Special Surgers New Yorks
  • Alumni Balgrist: Founder

Disclosure of outside professional activities and interests (Link UZH)

  • Since 2022: Balgrist foundation: president of scientific board
  • Incremed (Balgrist Start-up), Zurich, Switzerland, Functions: Shareholder, Advisor
  • Since August 2018 Swiss Orthopaedics (Professional Association for Orthopaedics), Grandvaux, Switzerland, Functions: Board, Member
  • 2017 – 2020 Ptognosyst (Balgrist Start-up), Zurich, Switzerland, Functions: Board of Directors, Shareholder, Member
  • 25 Segments (Balgrist Start-up), Scientific board

Scientific projects

Subsequent to a broad education in orthopedic surgery (FMH board certification 2012) and epidemiology (MPH 2011) and specializing on most complex spinal surgical procedures at the university hospital setting, Prof. Farshad followed the track of a physician scientist. His scientific records document that the focus of his academic activities has been and continues to be improvement of the quality surgical treatment of orthopedic and spine patients. Initial research activities included SNF-supported experimental work in a large animal model focusing on an unsolved clinical problem, namely the retraction of the musculotendinous unit after tear of the tendon. The success of these experimental research was contributions to the understanding of the hitherto not understood patho-mechanisms of degenerative retraction of musculotendinous units and documented by a serial of publications at the renowned AJSM, JBJS and JSES.  Based on these findings novel pharmaceutical and surgical interventions are now being tested to overcome the problem of chronic retraction of the musculotendinous units.

During the last 10 years, Prof. Farshad has identified administrative and methodological challenges in performing complex clinical studies as an important barrier for research activities. Therefore, he has created the unit for clinical and applied research in 2014 (UCAR), which has now developed to a clinical trial center at the Balgrist University hospital under his leadership. This infrastructure is open now to academic orthopedic researchers and has allowed him personally to perform several clinical randomized controlled trials, which have changed worldwide “established” believes. One of the prominent examples was a randomized clinical trial showing that prolonged bedrest, that has been standard of care for decades, is not necessary but rather harmful after repair incidental durotomies during spine surgery.

The current focus of the research and his main academic activity is on improvement of surgery inspired by disruptive technologies. During the last four years, Prof. Farshad has co-founded University startups introducing paradigmatic shifts in surgical planning and execution: Hitherto, orthopedic and spine surgery planning was based on anatomical landmarks. Prof. Farshad has established a paradigm-changing new approach, namely patient’s specific biomechanical simulations for planning of spinal fusion surgeries. Further, execution of the planning so far relied on surgeon’s experience. Prof. Farshad has gathered together a consortium of eight research groups from the University of Zürich, ETH, Balgrist University Hospital and University Hospital Zürich towards introduction of disruptive technologies for automatized functional surgical planning and holographic surgical navigation into clinical care. This initiative has won the HMZ (Hochschulmedizin Zürich) Flagship competition recently.

Within the shortest of times, he and his research teams have not only built a disruptive holographic navigation method for spine surgery but also set up a randomized clinical study on patients. This clinical study has been recently approved by the recently and is considered first-in-man worldwide. This attracted the attention and created the request of collaboration by the most renowned actors in this field, namely Microsoft and Prof. Navab’s group (chair of augmented reality at TUM (Technische Universität München)).

Multiple highly recognized scientific publications already document the path toward Prof. Farshad’s vision of a novel disruptive technology changing surgical care. The recently started first-in man clinical trial is worldwide considered a major step towards a surgical paradigm change and will illuminate the challenges to overcome, before broad clinical application of computer science aided surgical interventions. 

Prof. Farshad has performed the world-wide first in-man "direct" holographic navigation for pedicle screws in spine surgery on 1st of December 2020. 

Reviewer and editorial board activities

  • The Spine Journal, Reviewer
  • Nature - Scientific Reports, Reviewer
  • Lancet Oncology
  • DFG - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Reviewer
  • IPCAI - best paper award, Reviewer
  • Journal of Orthopaedic Research, Reviewer
  • European Spine Journal Assistant, Editorial Board
  • BMC Surgery, Reviewer
  • PLOS One, Reviewer
  • Journal of Spinal Cord Medicine, Reviewer
  • European Radiology, Reviewer
  • Scoliosis Journal, Reviewer
  • Journal of Health Economics, Reviewer
  • BMJ (British medical Journal)

The go-to place for back problems

Spine surgery

The spine is a key component of the human body and spine surgery is correspondingly important at Balgrist University Hospital. The experienced surgical team led by Prof. Mazda Farshad specialise in the entire spectrum of treatment for diseases and injuries of the spinal column, providing patients with optimal support.

To the department