Derek W. Moore, MD

Alumni Spotlight

Graphic depicting Derek Moore's headshot in the center of a spotlight with blue background


Dr. Derek Moore is a board-certified orthopaedic spine surgeon with a focus on degenerative and traumatic conditions of the cervical, thoracic, and lumbar spine. He has a special interest in chronic nerve pain and conditions of the cervical spine and sees patients at Santa Barbara Orthopedic Associates in Santa Barbara, CA.  Dr. Moore is the Founder and President of Orthobullets, one of the world's most popular educational resources on musculoskeletal disease for physicians and patients. Orthobullets is a physician-controlled organization with the mission to provide physicians tools to help them take better care of their patients.

What year did you graduate?


Talk about your experience with Orthobullets—share your journey from Carroll Conference Room to where you are today!

The birth of Orthobullets actually goes back to my medical school days at Stanford. After excelling as a biochemistry major at Berkeley—which was “problem-solving” knowledge”—I struggled to pay attention with the details of “memorization-style” knowledge in my Stanford medical school classes. Therefore, I started working in the computer labs developing ways technology could improve knowledge retention by increasing engagement with the educational material. Eventually, I built a website called MedBullets. When I got to orthopedic residency at Columbia, I realized doing well on the Orthopaedic In-Training Examination® (OITE) and board exams was critical for my career,. Taking standardized exams was never my strength, so I started building Orthobullets as a way to engage with orthopaedic content and improve my knowledge retention. I continued building Orthobullets throughout my residency and fellowship as a hobby, but when I started practice and had some free time on my hands I formalized things and decided to turn it into a real company. Since then, I have managed to build my clinical practice and run the company in parallel. Both are satisfying for very different reasons, and that is why I like doing them both.

Can you share a favorite memory from your time at NYOH/Columbia?

I have many fond memories of NYOH/Columbia. Now that I live in coastal California, I realize how lucky I was just to experience big-city living in New York City. Without NYOH, I wouldn't have had the privilege of living in NYC. One fond memory is a project I did with Dr. Christopher Ahmad. I have always liked drawing and design, and Chris asked that I make some medical illustrations for UCL Repair. I remember grinding away around the clock with him, and his satisfaction with the end product. It was a great experience. Along the same lines was a research project I did with Dr. Michael Vitale that ultimately led to being published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery. That was very satisfying as well. Without question, however, my most vivid memory was my phone call to Bill Levine when I got notification that I passed ABOS Part I. I don't know who was more relieved, him or me.


What message would you send to the current residents at NYOH/Columbia?

It is easy not to appreciate the training process and very easy to take for granted how many people are trying to help you develop your career. I know I did not appreciate it fully when I was a resident. My other message for residents is life does not get necessarily easier after training. There are always challenges in life, so you need to find ways to be happy during your residency, and if you develop that skill, you will more likely be happy throughout your career. Doing the hard work to find balance, wellness, and happiness is critical, and not something to be pushed off until “after I pass my boards.” 

Candid photo of Dr. More with his wife and three children at a casual restaurant.

Dr. Moore with wife, Dr. Katherine Kelly (anesthesiologist) and kids (from L-R) Jackson (8 yrs.), Jameson (6 yrs.), and Layla (1.5 yrs.) spending some R&R time skiing in Mammoth, CA

How do you balance spine surgery, family, and Orthobullets?

Fortunately, running Orthobullets and being an orthopedic surgeon complement each other well. It is not much different than being a Program Director or a Chairman, where you just have a large administrative component to your clinical practice. Like managing any organization, the key is building a team of people who are capable and you can trust. There is a misconception that Orthobullets was built by Derek Moore. It is just not the case. There is a core group of individuals that are responsible for the growth and success of Orthobullets.

Any final words of wisdom?

I have learned no matter how talented you are, how hard you work, how lucky you are, the world is filled with challenges and nobody can brave it alone. Having colleagues, mentors, and friends who support you is really important and can make the critical difference between success and failure.