Meet Dr. Joseph Stern

Dr. Stern’s Story

Dr. Joseph “Jody” Stern is a board certified neurosurgeon and author. In 2015, Dr. Stern lost his sister to a nearly year-long battle with leukemia. Through this loss, his encounters with medical professionals, and his own experience as a neurosurgeon, Dr. Stern realized the need of integrating compassion and empathy into the medical field. He has since become committed to deepening and humanizing the doctor-patient relationship.

Dr. Stern is also the Co-Director of the Cone Health Brain Tumor Program, where he specializes in brain tumor surgery, stereotactic radiosurgery, spinal surgery, and functional neurosurgery (deep brain stimulation for Parkinson’s Disease and tremors).

His book, Grief Connects Us: A Neurosurgeon’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and Compassion, explores the impact of grief and loss on doctors and patients, and advocates for medical professionals to tap into their emotions when interacting with patients and their families.

Introducing dr. joseph “jody” stern

Dr. Stern explains how losing his sister and brother-in-law led him on a path towards greater empathy and compassion for his patients, their loved ones, and other medical professionals.

Education & Training


  • B.A. in History, University of Michigan. Graduated in 1984
  • Medical School, University of Michigan. Graduated in 1989 
  • Internship in General Surgery, University of Michigan. 1989-1990
  • Residency in Neurological Surgery, University of Michigan, 1990-1996 
  • Fellowship in Pediatric Scoliosis Surgery with Dr. Jean Dubousset, Hospital Saint Vincent de Paul in Paris, January-April 1996


  • Graduated from a year-long Physician Leadership Academy, a joint program between Cone Health and the Center for Creative Leadership, in 2014 
  • Graduated from the Physician Leadership Program of the Health Management Academy in 2015 
  • Graduated from the Innovative Health Care Leader Program, a multi-disciplinary program conducted by Stanford University’s Design, Business, and Medical Schools

Professional Affiliations

Organizational Memberships

Dr. Stern is a member of the following professional organizations:

  • Member of the American Association of Neurosurgeons
  • Member of the Congress of Neurosurgeons
  • Fellow of the American College of Surgeons

Cone Health Affiliations

Dr. Stern has served on a number of executive and steering committees at Cone Health, including:

  • President of the Orthopedic and Neurosurgical Spine Co-Management Program
  • Neurosciences Inpatient Care Medical Director for the Intensive Care and Inpatient Units
  • Member of the Ethics Committee
  • Member of the Surgical Services Executive Committee
  • Member of the Cone Health System Physicians Cabinet
  • Member of the Steering Committee for Physician Leadership Academy
  • Chief of Neurosciences Strategic Planning, including Clinical Reconfiguration for Neurosurgery
  • Co-Chief of the Brain Tumor Program
  • External Spine Program Review Member


Medical Mission with One World Surgery in Honduras

During the winter of 2018, Dr. Stern was part of a volunteer medical team that performed free spinal surgeries at the Holy Family Surgical Center in Honduras. This mission was sponsored by One World Surgery, a charitable organization whose mission is to provide surgical care in Honduras and other countries lacking access to these services.

Dr. Stern currently sits on the Board of Physicians Leadership Council of One World Surgery as the Physician Representative for Spinal Surgery.


Dr. Stern is the author of Grief Connects Us: A Neurosurgeon’s Lessons on Love, Loss, and Compassion, published in May of 2021. Grief Connects Us posits that compassion is the foundation for healing, and medical practitioners must incorporate this ethos for deeper, mutually supportive doctor-patient relationships.



Dr. Stern is an accomplished public speaker and has delivered numerous lectures, including a talk at TEDx in Greensboro, NC.


Dr. Stern has eight issued U.S. patents for medical devices.


Dr. Stern is also a published travel photographer with a number of permanent installations and rotating exhibitions.

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