Joseph Maroon

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Joseph Maroon

Born (1940-05-26) May 26, 1940 (age 80)
Alma materIndiana University (B.S.),
Indiana University School of Medicine (M.D.)
Known forTeam neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers
Medical Director of WWE

Joseph Maroon is an American neurosurgeon, author, and triathlon athlete. He is the professor and vice chairman of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, and is the current medical director of WWE.[1][2] He is particularly known for his work studying concussions and concussion prevention as well as his hypothesis (after the discovery of the CTE by Dr Bennet Omalu) on the development of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).


Maroon earned his B.S. degree in anatomy and physiology from Indiana University in 1961, and his M.D. from the Indiana University School of Medicine (IUSOM) in 1965. He received post-graduate education at IUSOM (1966), Georgetown University Hospital (1967), John Radcliffe Hospital (1969), IUSOM (1971) and the University of Vermont College of Medicine (1972).[3]


Neurosurgical research and innovations[edit]

Maroon has conducted extensive research into neurotrauma, brain tumors and diseases of the spine, which led to many innovative techniques for diagnosing and treating these disorders. Maroon was the first to publish on the use of ultrasound to detect venous air emboli (1968). Maroon et al. were the first to publish on the use of ultrasound to detect air in patients during neurosurgical procedures (1969) and to assess ophthalmic artery reversal of flow indicating a thrombosis of the carotid artery (1969).[4] Maroon et al. published the simplified instrumentation for performing microvascular surgery in 1973 and in 1975, they pioneered the microsurgical approach to intra-orbital tumors.[5] In 1977, they pioneered the use of CT scanning as a guidance system for performing intracranial biopsy. In the same year, Maroon published the first paper on “burning hands” syndrome related to sports related spinal cord injuries in JAMA.[6]

In 1982, Maroon et al. pioneered the radical orbital decompression procedure for severe dysthyroid exophthalmos.[7] In 1985, they were the first to compare microsurgical disc removal with chemonucleolysis,[8] and in 1986, they were the first to use a carbon dioxide laser in the management of lymphangiomas of the orbit.[9] That year, Maroon et al. were among the first to describe their surgery outcomes with microlumbar discectomy.[10] In 1987, Maroon and Onik introduced percutaneous automated discectomy as a new minimally invasive way to remove lumbar discs, and subsequently published extensively on this technique.[11][12][13] In 1990, Maroon et al. published the first microsurgical approach to far lateral disc herniations in the lumbar spine[14][15] and in 2007, they published the case of Golfer's Stroke from Vertebral Artery Dissection.[16]

Further groundbreaking publications include the use of fish oil as an anti-inflammatory and alternative to nonsteroidal drugs for discogenic pain (2006);[17] a unifying, immunoexcitotoxicity hypothesis for chronic traumatic encephalopathy (2011);[18] and the possible use of a restricted calorie ketogenic diet for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme (2013).[19]

Sports medicine, concussion and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)[edit]

Maroon is the team neurosurgeon for the Pittsburgh Steelers[20] and the medical director of WWE.[21] He is past-President of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.[22]

Together with neuropsychologist Mark Lovell, Maroon developed ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing),[23] a test to assess presence and severity of concussion symptoms. This has become the standard tool to assess sports-related concussions.[24]

Maroon is interested in the prevention and treatment of concussions, specifically in football.[25] In 2006, he joined the National Football League’s mild Traumatic Brain Injury Committee, which, in 2007, was renamed the Head, Neck and Spine Committee. He has been consulted as expert by American media on this subject.[26][27][28]

Based on his research into the predictors and scope of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE),[29] he claims there is reason to be skeptical of the reported widespread incidence of CTE. His position has mostly been met with negative comment across the media and sports press due to the NFL having as many as 4500 former players reporting symptoms of CTE.[30][31][32][33][34][35][36][37]

Maroon was asked to testify to the New York City Council on a proposed rule on sideline medical coverage for organized youth football in the city.[38] Together with Russell Blaylock, he developed an inflammation hypothesis for the biochemical mechanisms involved in the development of CTE following head trauma.[39] In the 2015 movie Concussion, which "examines how American football players suffer from major head injuries and life-long debilitating problems as a result of repeated concussions, and efforts by the National Football League to deny it",[40] Maroon was played by actor Arliss Howard.[41] In the movie, Maroon is being portrayed as an NFL-biased doctor who tries to deny any relationship between football concussions and the brain pathology which Dr. Bennet Omalu found and attributed to CTE. Since the release of the movie, several people came forward in defense of Maroon, stating that his portrayal in the movie is sensationalized and incorrect.[42][43][44]

Burnout prevention and balancing life[edit]

After his personal experience with burnout at the peak of his medical career, Maroon developed a strong interest in burnout prevention and living a more balanced life. He conducted extensive research into burnout, burnout prevention, and what constitutes a healthy, balanced and successful life, outside of a professional career. Maroon has given keynote presentations on this subject matter at national and international conferences.[45] In 2017, he published the book Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life.[46]


Maroon has published over 270 peer-reviewed scientific articles, some of which may be found in the United States National Library of Medicine's publication database; his H-index, a measure of scientific research impact, is 43.[1]


Square One: A Simple Guide to a Balanced Life[46] Maroon J, Kennedy C. (2017) ISBN 978-0-9983509-0-5

The Longevity Factor: How Resveratrol and Red Wine Activate Genes for a longer and Healthier Life[47][48] Maroon JC. (2008) ISBN 9781416565161 (made into a PBS Special)

Fish Oil: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory[49] Maroon JC, Bost J. (2006) ISBN 9781591201823

Practice Diagnosis and Management of Orbital Disease[50] Kennerdell JS, Cockerham KP, Maroon JC, Rothfus WE. (2001) ISBN 9780750672603

What You Can Do About Cancer. Maroon JC. (1969) Doubleday& Co., New York, 185 pp. (English, Italian, German and French translations).

Athletic career[edit]

Maroon has competed in 8 Ironman Triathlons (Hawaii – 1993, 2003, 2008, 2010, 2013;[51][52] Canada – 1995; New Zealand – 1997; Germany – 2000)[53] and is to this day an active triathlon athlete. Dr. Maroon was inducted into the Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame[54] in 1999, the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame in 2009 and in 2010 also to the National Fitness Hall of Fame in Chicago.[55] For 2016, in the global ranking of Ironman athletes, Maroon ranks in 4th place in his age group.


  1. ^ a b UPMC website
  2. ^ University of Pittsburgh Neurosurgery website
  3. ^ "Dr Joseph Maroon Spine and Health Information". Dr. Maroon. Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  4. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Campbell, R. L.; Dyken, M. L. (1970-04-01). "Internal carotid artery occlusion diagnosed by Doppler ultrasound". Stroke: A Journal of Cerebral Circulation. 1 (2): 122–127. doi:10.1161/01.str.1.2.122. ISSN 0039-2499. PMID 5522905.
  5. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Kennerdel, J. S. (1976-05-01). "Lateral microsurgical approach to intraorbital tumors". Journal of Neurosurgery. 44 (5): 556–561. doi:10.3171/jns.1976.44.5.0556. ISSN 0022-3085. PMID 1262914.
  6. ^ Maroon JC (1977-11-07). "'burning hands' in football spinal cord injuries". JAMA. 238 (19): 2049–2051. doi:10.1001/jama.1977.03280200061022. ISSN 0098-7484.
  7. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Kennerdell, J. S. (1982-02-01). "Radical orbital decompression for severe dysthyroid exophthalmos". Journal of Neurosurgery. 56 (2): 260–266. doi:10.3171/jns.1982.56.2.0260. ISSN 0022-3085. PMID 7054435.
  8. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Abla, A. (1985-05-01). "Microdiscectomy versus chemonucleolysis". Neurosurgery. 16 (5): 644–649. doi:10.1227/00006123-198505000-00010. ISSN 0148-396X. PMID 3889700.
  9. ^ Kennerdell, J. S.; Maroon, J. C.; Garrity, J. A.; Abla, A. A. (1986-09-15). "Surgical management of orbital lymphangioma with the carbon dioxide laser". American Journal of Ophthalmology. 102 (3): 308–314. doi:10.1016/0002-9394(86)90003-6. ISSN 0002-9394. PMID 3752195.
  10. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Abla, A. A. (1986-01-01). "Microlumbar discectomy". Clinical Neurosurgery. 33: 407–417. ISSN 0069-4827. PMID 3791810.
  11. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Onik, G. (1987-01-01). "Percutaneous automated discectomy: a new method for lumbar disc removal. Technical note". Journal of Neurosurgery. 66 (1): 143–146. doi:10.3171/jns.1987.66.1.0143. ISSN 0022-3085. PMID 3783249.
  12. ^ Onik, G.; Maroon, J.; Day, A.; Helms, C. (1988-01-01). "Automated percutaneous discectomy: preliminary experience". Acta Neurochirurgica. Supplementum. 43: 58–62. doi:10.1007/978-3-7091-8978-8_14. ISBN 978-3-7091-8980-1. PMID 3213658.
  13. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Onik, G.; Sternau, L. (1989-01-01). "Percutaneous automated discectomy. A new approach to lumbar surgery". Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research. 238 (238): 64–70. doi:10.1097/00003086-198901000-00009. ISSN 0009-921X. PMID 2910619.
  14. ^ Maroon, J. C.; Kopitnik, T. A.; Schulhof, L. A.; Abla, A.; Wilberger, J. E. (1990-03-01). "Diagnosis and microsurgical approach to far-lateral disc herniation in the lumbar spine". Journal of Neurosurgery. 72 (3): 378–382. doi:10.3171/jns.1990.72.3.0378. ISSN 0022-3085. PMID 2303871.
  15. ^ Onik, G.; Maroon, J.; Shang, Y. L. (1990-10-01). "Far-lateral disk herniation: treatment by automated percutaneous diskectomy". AJNR. American Journal of Neuroradiology. 11 (5): 865–868. ISSN 0195-6108. PMID 2120989.
  16. ^ Maroon, Joseph C.; Gardner, Paul; Abla, Adnan A.; El-Kadi, Hikmat; Bost, Jeffrey (2007-02-01). ""Golfer's stroke": golf-induced stroke from vertebral artery dissection". Surgical Neurology. 67 (2): 163–168, discussion 168. doi:10.1016/j.surneu.2006.03.045. ISSN 0090-3019. PMID 17254877.
  17. ^ Maroon, Joseph Charles; Bost, Jeffrey W. (2006-04-01). "Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) as an anti-inflammatory: an alternative to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for discogenic pain". Surgical Neurology. 65 (4): 326–331. doi:10.1016/j.surneu.2005.10.023. ISSN 0090-3019. PMID 16531187.
  18. ^ Blaylock, Russell L.; Maroon, Joseph (2011-01-01). "Immunoexcitotoxicity as a central mechanism in chronic traumatic encephalopathy-A unifying hypothesis". Surgical Neurology International. 2: 107. doi:10.4103/2152-7806.83391. ISSN 2152-7806. PMC 3157093. PMID 21886880.
  19. ^ Maroon, Joseph; Bost, Jeffrey; Amos, Austin; Zuccoli, Giulio (2013-08-01). "Restricted calorie ketogenic diet for the treatment of glioblastoma multiforme". Journal of Child Neurology. 28 (8): 1002–1008. doi:10.1177/0883073813488670. ISSN 1708-8283. PMID 23670248.
  20. ^ "Joseph C. Maroon, MD". University of Pittsburgh retrieved January 3, 2016.
  21. ^ "Joseph C. Maroon, MD | WWE Corporate". WWE Corporate. Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  22. ^ stormtrooper. "Joseph Maroon | President". Retrieved 2015-11-24.
  23. ^ "Media Resources: ImPACT Testing & Computerized Neurocognitive Assessment Tools". Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  24. ^ "About ImPACT | ImPACT Testing & Computerized Neurocognitive Assessment Tools". Retrieved 2015-12-04.
  25. ^ "Concussion game changers: 14 people from Cleveland to Pittsburgh who have advanced football-related brain issues". Retrieved 2015-11-28.
  26. ^ Frontline interview with Maroon by Jim Gilmore on April 17, 2013
  27. ^ Focus on Sports and Concussion CBS News Oct 18, 2011
  28. ^ Sports on Earth website [1] retrieved August 28, 2015
  29. ^ Maroon, Joseph C.; Winkelman, Robert; Bost, Jeffrey; Amos, Austin; Mathyssek, Christina; Miele, Vincent (2015). "Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy in Contact Sports: A Systematic Review of All Reported Pathological Cases". PLOS One. 10 (2): e0117338. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0117338. PMC 4324991. PMID 25671598.
  30. ^ Profootball talk, retrieved September 2, 2015
  31. ^ Huffington Post, retrieved September 2, 2015
  32. ^ Inquisitr, retrieved September 2, 2015
  33. ^ Washington Post, retrieved September 2, 2015
  34. ^ ESPN, retrieved September 1, 2015
  35. ^ Sports Illustrated, retrieved September 1, 2015
  36. ^ VOX, retrieved September 2, 2015
  37. ^ CBS local New York, retrieved September 2, 2015
  38. ^ New York City Council, retrieved August 30, 2015
  39. ^ Blaylock, RL; Maroon, J (2011). "Immunoexcitotoxicity as a central mechanism in chronic traumatic encephalopathy-A unifying hypothesis". Surg Neurol Int. 2: 107. doi:10.4103/2152-7806.83391. PMC 3157093. PMID 21886880.
  40. ^ International Movie Database website, retrieved September 2, 2015
  41. ^ International Movie Database website, retrieved September 2, 2015
  42. ^ "Dr. Joseph Maroon is one of the good guys". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  43. ^ Andy Sheehan. "Portrayal Of Steelers Doctor In "Concussion" Ignites Anger". Retrieved 2016-03-10.
  44. ^ John McMullen (2016-02-10). "McMullen: Concussion-lobby loses talking point after Brian Danielson's retirement". Today's Pigskin. Retrieved 2016-11-08.
  45. ^
  46. ^ a b
  47. ^ Maroon, Joseph (2008-12-30). The Longevity Factor: How Resveratrol and Red Wine Activate Genes for a Longer and Healthier Life. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 9781416565161.
  48. ^ "Dr. Joe Maroon and The Longevity Factor | (beta)". Retrieved 2015-11-20.
  49. ^ Maroon, Joseph C.; Bost, Jeffrey (2006-01-01). Fish Oil: The Natural Anti-Inflammatory. Basic Health Publications, Inc. ISBN 9781591201823.
  50. ^ "Practical Diagnosis and Management of Orbital Disease. : Optometry & Vision Science". LWW. Retrieved 2015-11-23.
  51. ^ Muscle & Body Magazine, Retrieved October 27, 2014
  52. ^ 2013 Ironman
  53. ^ The Wall Street Journal Life & Culture, Retrieved Dec 22, 2014
  54. ^ Lou Holtz Upper Ohio Valley Hall of Fame website, retrieved August 30, 2015
  55. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article Joseph Maroon Hall of Fame April 21, 2010 Retrieved October 27, 2014

External links[edit]