Dr. Charles H. Tator graduated from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto in 1961, and trained there in research and neuropathology for which he received MA and PHD degrees, in 1963 and 1965, respectively. He then completed the Neurosurgery resident training program at the University of Toronto. In 1989, he became Chair of Neurosurgery, at the University of Toronto and Chief of Neurosurgery at the Toronto Western Hospital, and University Health Network. He has trained a large number of neurosurgical residents in the hospital, and many surgeon-scientists in his laboratory. In 1992, he founded ThinkFirst Canada, a national brain and spinal cord injury foundation aimed at reducing the incidence of catastrophic brain and spinal cord injuries. He was President of ThinkFirst from 1992-2007. He has published 321 papers in peer review journals and 85 book chapters, mostly in the field of brain and spinal cord injury. He developed the first acute spinal cord injury (SCI) unit in Canada in 1974 at Sunnybrook Medical Centre. He has performed research and written papers on the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of acute SCI. He has examined the role of spinal cord surgery and decompression in both clinical and experimental studies, and identified posttraumatic ischemia and other mechanisms of secondary injury in the pathophysiology of SCI. His acute cord clip compression model was one of the first clinically relevant SCI model in rodents. Currently, he is focused on the use of stem cells for regeneration of the spinal cord after trauma, ischemic or demyelinating disease. He initiated and has held two research chairs at the University of Toronto, the Dan Family Chair in Neurosurgery and the Campeau Family-Charles Tator Chair in Brain and Spinal Cord Research. He is a member of the Order of Canada, and an inductee into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. At present, he is a Senior Scientist in the Toronto Western Research Institute and a Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Toronto. He is the Director of the Canadian Paraplegic Association Spinal Cord Injury Research Laboratory in the Krembil Neuroscience Centre at the Toronto Western Hospital. In 2010, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award, of the Canadian Neurosurgical Society and the Ken Langford Lifetime Award, of the Canadian Paraplegic Association. In 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Spinal Injury Association for contributions to the field of research and patient management in spinal cord injury. In 2012, Dr. Tator received the USA Hockey Excellence in Safety Award for his work in preventing brain and spinal cord injuries in hockey.
He has published many articles on injury prevention with a focus on prevention of brain injuries and spinal cord injuries. In 2008, the University of Toronto Press published his edited book “Catastrophic Injuries in Sports and Recreation, Causes and Prevention-a Canadian Study.” In 2009, he reported in the Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences that spinal cord injuries in hockey have declined as a result of injury prevention programs. He is Chair of ThinkFirst’s Concussion Education and Awareness Committee with members from across Canada. This committee has conducted numerous public presentations on concussion including the “Concussion Road Shows” held in 14 cities across the country from 2005-2011. ThinkFirst is one of the leading agencies for the promotion of safety for Canada’s children and youth and has developed and disseminated targeted injury prevention programs for schools and sports and recreation. Many of its concussion resources are downloadable from thinkfirst.ca In 2009, he developed the Canadian Sports Concussion Project at the Krembil Neuroscience Centre, Toronto Western Hospital to conduct studies on brain degeneration related to repeated concussions in brains willed to the Centre by concussed athletes and their families.