The Brian D. Silber Spine Tumor Clinic

Brian D. Silber
Brian D. Silber
In 1996, the Brian D. Silber Memorial Fund was founded to raise funds for research on spinal cord tumors, for support of a clinical center for persons with spine tumors, and for education of physicians, patients and families - through grants to major non-profit hospitals and medical research organizations. The Fund also provides support to patients and their families in dealing with the disease. The Fund is dedicated to the ultimate goal of finding a cure for spine tumors.

The Brian D. Silber Spine Tumor Clinic is dedicated to providing multidisciplinary care for patients with tumors of the spine.

Brian D. Silber's Story 

It started off as an ordinary jog. Brian Silber was running his favorite course on  an early spring day in 1993. However, the back pain that followed was anything but ordinary. A year later Brian was diagnosed with a malignant spinal cord tumor. After treatments including surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy, Brian died in 1996, when he was just 28 years old.

Brian was an outstanding young man whose intelligence and warmth touched all who knew him. He graduated with honors from Tufts University where he majored in economics. He was an accomplished athlete who played baseball, basketball, and tennis. As a young adult Brian achieved great success in his career as a sales executive, where he was viewed as a rising professional. In spite of his many gifts, Brian remained modest and humble and always reached out to help other people. Even during his illness he would awaken at five o'clock in the morning to serve breakfast to homeless families. Most importantly, Brian showed tremendous caring and kindness to all, whether they were close friends and family or casual acquaintances. Throughout his life, Brian made a difference in the lives of others.

When it became clear that he wouldn't beat his cancer, Brian remained true to character and requested that a fund be established to support research on spinal tumors and to improve the outcome for spine tumor patients. Spinal cord tumors are so rare that little direct study has been undertaken, and they are typically treated according to principles used to combat brain tumors. Brian was frustrated by this, and it was Brian's hope that monies raised would help to change this for the better. Brian's family established The Brian D. Silber Memorial Fund at Massachusetts General Hospital to make Brian's dream become a reality.

The Brian D. Silber Memorial Fund

With the 1999 opening of the Brian D. Silber Spine Tumor Clinic, it is clear that Brian's Fund is making a difference. The Fund serves a source of support for the operation of this unique patient care and research clinic. Brian's family feels that it is a tribute to Brian to sustain his memory in such a meaningful and vitally important way.

Since 1996, the $2.4 million donated to the Brian D. Silber Memorial Fund at MGH has supported the following:

  • Establishment and operation of the Brian D. Silber Spine Tumor Clinic at Mass General
  • Establishment of a named laboratory in memory of Brian D. Silber at Mass General
  • Expansion of Mass General's Pediatric Neurosurgery Service to include special expertise in the management of spinal cord tumors in children
  • Rapid expansion of specialized image-guided photon therapy for spinal tumors
  • Research on astrocytomas in the laboratory of Dr. Arnab Chakravarti, Director, Molecular and Cellular Radiation Neuro-Oncology Laboratory, Mass General
  • Research on spinal tumors in the laboratory of Dr. Scott Plotkin, Director, Neurofibromatosis Clinic, Mass General
  • Research on spinal cord astrocytoma genomics by Dr. Ganesh Shankar, Clinical Fellow in Neurosurgery, Mass General
  • Initiation of international, chemotherapy clinical trials
  • Completion of a clinical study on the long-term outcome of spinal cord tumor patients treated by radiation
  • Purchase of an AGFA Imaging Center, for viewing spinal images, and a Digitimer Cortical Stimulator, for monitoring during spinal surgery
  • Sixteen Brian D. Silber Lectureships featuring Drs. Fred Epstein, Darell Bigner, Michael C. V. Jensen, Roy Patchell, J. Gregory Cairncross, Mark Bilsky, Antonino Raco, Paul McCormick, Kenneth Aldape, Peter Gerszten, Donald McDonald, Laurence Rhines, George Jallo, and Viviane Tabar, Claudio Tatsui and Lawrence Borges
  • First Brian D. Silber Spine Oncology Symposium, April 2014
  • Publication of numerous scientific articles by members of the Spine Tumor Clinic
  • Preparation and distribution of Spine Tumor Center brochure to New England physicians

Treatments and Services

The Neurosurgery Spine Program at Massachusetts General Hospital offers surgical treatment options for the entire spectrum of complex spinal disorders, treating the most challenging cases in the world. 

The Stephen E. and Catherine Pappas Center for Neuro-Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital offers the most advanced care for patients with brain tumors and nervous system tumors.

Meet Our Team

Malginant & Benign Brain Tumors/Skull-Base and Spine

William T. Curry, MD

William T. Curry, MD

Neurosurgical Oncology

Spine Deformity/Oncology/Complex Reconstruction

John H. Shin, MD

John H. Shin, MD

Neurosurgical Spine


Ganesh Shankar, MD, PhD

Ganesh Shankar, MD, PhD

Neurosurgical Spine

Intradural Tumors, Nerve Tumors, and Degenerative Spinal Disorders

Lawrence Francis Borges, MD

Lawrence Francis Borges, MD

Neurosurgical Spine


Jean V. Coumans, MD

Jean V. Coumans, MD

Neurosurgical Spine