Samuel Hassenbusch, MD

Samuel J. Hassenbusch, III, MD, PhD
February 6, 1954 – February 25, 2008 

Samuel “Sam” Hassenbusch, III, MD, PhD was born in St. Joseph, MO.   Sam had aspirations to be a neurosurgeon at a young age. Upon graduating high school at the age of 17 to pursue medical school, he married Rhonda Warner. They then relocated to Baltimore, Maryland, where Sam earned his Bachelor s degree, M.D., and Ph.D. all from Johns Hopkins University and Medical School. After completion of his Ph.D., Sam accepted a position as the head of the Department of Neurosurgery, Section of Neuro-Pharmacologic Oncology and Pain Management, at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Then in 1993 he and his family, including Rhonda and 3 children, relocated to Houston, Texas, to practice neurosurgery at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center until his untimely departing. 

In 1998, he became an Associate Professor with Tenure and in 2001 he was a Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery in the Division of Surgery.   Beginning in 2005, he was also the Medical Director of the Physicians Referral Service at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.  And in 2006  he was also an Associate Professor in the Department of Neurosurgery, Division of Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine.
It is difficult to capture the essence and energy of Sam on paper.  He was at once a scholar, friend, trusted colleague, loving husband and father, wonderful spirited adventurer, patient advocate, philanthropist, evangelist, auto mechanic/enthusiast, gifted surgeon, leader, and – sadly- cancer patient. 
He served in so many leadership roles and earned so many, many awards during his too brief 54 years of life, an all encompassing listing of them would go on for pages.  
Some selected roles/offices include: 

  • President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, Past president of the Texas Pain Society,
  • President of the Texas Association of Neurological Surgeons
  • President of the North American Neurological Surgery Society

His awards were numerous including the Distinguished Service Award from the American Neuromodulation Society, the World Institute of Pain, the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies to name a few.  

In May of 2005 Sam was diagnosed with glioblastoma in the right frontal lobe.  After surgery to remove the tumor, Sam embarked on a novel research protocol that he helped design.  During this time, Sam realized that as a brain surgeon turned brain cancer patient, he was in a unique position to inspire others and he chose to share his story of cancer combined with his knowledge as a doctor. Sam was very public with his diagnosis and experiences as a cancer patient appearing in print and media regularly as an outspoken advocate for patient issues and funding for medical research. 

TANS presents and annual award and lecture in Dr. Hassenbusch’s name every year at the annual conference.