Dr. Brion Benninger

A 1979 Crater graduate, Brion Benninger epitomized what it was to be a high school scholar-athlete. Besides being an honor student, he was an All-Conference and All-State football player, All-Conference Basketball and State Champion Greco-Roman Wrestler and received the Outstanding three-sport senior athlete of the year award presented by Bill Walsh-Coach of the San Francisco 49ers who recruited Brion when he was the Stanford Head coach. After high school, Brion had several choices to attend universities including Princeton and other Ivy league schools, but finally decided to attend Chico State University on a full scholarship. Brion was inducted into the Crater Athletic Hall of Fame at an earlier date. Upon graduation from Chico State University with degrees in Chemistry and Exercise Physiology and a year of traveling around the world, Brion returned to England and entered medical school at Leicester University where he was influenced by the Dean, Sir Robert Kilpatrick (to be innovative), Sir Alec Jeffreys (taught Brion genetics and invented DNA fingerprinting) and Sir Peter Bell (surgical mentor who reinforced critical thinking). He then was chosen to attend Cambridge University, Addenbrookes Hospital, England for his residency training and mentored by the famous surgeon, professor and Dean, Sir Harold Ellis who taught him to challenge and integrate knowledge which molded him into a physician and lecturer at Guy’s Hospital in London. During his surgical residency training, he was selected as a clinical anatomy demonstrator at Cambridge and Guys Hospital. He then went on to do further medical training and received a post graduate degree in Sports Medicine from the University of Nottingham. While training for 2 years in sports medicine, Brion invented a novel medical machine which assessed shoulder proprioception as a tool for orthopedic surgeons to help decide whether conservative or surgical treatment is best. 

After completing his fourth college degree, Brion remained in England for nearly 20 years where he had an exciting life and career. With his training in Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, Dr. Benninger became a physician to both professional and amateur athletes and was a member of the British Olympic Team of Physicians. He rally-raced his mini-Cooper throughout Europe, was a track physician at Donnington Park Formula 1 and World Super Bikes racetrack. His medical invention machine which assessed shoulders was sought after and, as a result, in 2000 he was invited to be part of an innovative medical team tasked with building and developing a pioneering high-tech stroke rehabilitation machine at the Neurological Institute at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU). The stroke machine was successfully built and proven useful and waiting to become available for commercial use.

This precipitated a move to Portland, Oregon where he was responsible for teaching surgical residents, medical, dental, physician assistant students and undergraduate students. He focused on teaching ultrasound and surgical anatomy and led the Clinical Anatomy Research Society. His list of responsibilities continues to grow, as he also was a faculty member in the Department of Surgery, Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, the Department of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery and Department of Integrative Biosciences. He has authored several books, papers and delivered invited lectures at conferences and well-known institutions on multiple continents. 

Brion has mentored over 300 hundred medical/dental students who have presented research at regional/national and international conferences on over 400 of his research projects. He has been recognized for mentoring more medical students who have presented at regional/national/international conferences then any other medical researcher worldwide. He is a lead Editor for the world’s most sold human anatomy atlas translated in over 30 languages, Netters Atlas of Human Anatomy. He has also edited Gray’s Anatomy and Grays Photographic Dissector as well as several chapters in many notable textbooks. He is recognized as a medical innovator, international leader and expert in ultrasound education and clinically applied anatomy. He teaches surgical trainees in multiple countries.

In 2011, Dr. Benninger became the inaugural VChair of the Anatomical Sciences Department at the new medical school in Lebanon, Oregon, COMP-Northwest, Western University of Health Sciences. Brion’s innovative educational techniques and approaches earned him and the department he built the exceptional Commendation Medal for teaching medical students’ clinical anatomy. This was the first time it had been awarded in the past 30 years and hasn’t been awarded since. Dr. Benninger also received the Faculty Researcher of the Year, Outstanding Faculty Teacher of the Year and Most Innovative Faculty of the Year awards from the medical school. In 2013 he became the Executive Director of the Medical Anatomy Center (MAC) at Western University of Health Sciences. As the Executive Director of the MAC, he has worked with many medical start up and think tank companies to help develop medical technology and techniques. He integrates medical students and residents with his research projects to encourage tomorrows innovators and improve healthcare globally.

Brion has taught Medical, Dental, and Allied Healthcare professionals in Great Britain, United States, China, Korea, Philippines, New Zealand, Australia, South America and the Caribbean. He was an Honored speaker in Zakynthos, Greece, at the 500th birthday anniversary celebration of Andreus Vesalius (challenged Galen and revolutionized our understanding of the human body) Vesalius Continuum Conference Zakynthos .

He received the Innovation in Medical Education Award in China and has been an Honored Guest Speaker several times at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden where the Nobel Prize is awarded and was a US appointed delegate to the International Federation of Anatomy Associations in Beijing. He invented the triple feedback technique which enables a physician to simultaneously view tissues and structures deep to the skin using a novel ultrasound finger probe (which he was one of the inventors) with Google Glass while examining a patient. 

Dr. Benninger reflects on his productive life, “Every day I am grateful for my wife, Alison and our son, Jack, in addition to our extended families, coaches, mentors, patients, students and friends from all corners of the globe. They all have made my life fortunate and rich.”