by LIZ ONUFER | photos by Zeena Gregg Photography

Innovative & Inspiring

If you meet Scott Leary around town, you may not guess the life he leads. He spends every weekend golfing, plays in a competitive ice hockey league, and is a family man with his wife and three children. Professionally, though, Scott is recognized internationally. Through his development of minimally invasive spinal surgery techniques and innovative research, Dr. Scott Leary, a Board Certified Neurosurgeon, leads the way in neurosurgery in San Diego and far beyond.

A native of Calgary, Canada, Scott’s journey into medicine began at Washington University Medical School in St. Louis. He continued on to his residency at the Los Angeles County USC Medical Center and completed his fellowship in Complex Spine Surgery. Today, Scott practices at Scripps La Jolla, Scripps Encinitas, and the Sharp Hospitals. Most recently, he has opened a state-of-the-art medical building in San Diego that includes a one-stop medical shop of physicians’ offices, imaging center, and physical therapy. Further details can be found at


Scott’s most inspirational case is chronicled in his book, Lasting Impact: My Miraculous Recovery from Total Paralysis, co-written with John Miksa. John had suffered a spinal cord injury, rendering him completely paralyzed from the neck down. While Scott was initially doubtful that anything could help John’s severe injury, he performed the emergency surgery. “To my joy and disbelief, he made a 100% complete recovery and now lives a normal life,” Scott shared.

It is cases like John’s that inspired Scott to choose medicine. “It is very rewarding to cure a patient with a brain or spinal tumor and to help someone be pain free when they can barely walk,” he acknowledged. The science also keeps Scott engaged and interested in his work. “Surgeries are very complex and demanding; it’s impossible to get bored in this specialty.”

Continuing his research, advancing his profession, and improving his patients’ quality of life top Scott’s priorities. “My main professional goals are to continue to expand the field of neurosurgery and to focus on minimally invasive surgeries that can allow someone to have surgery and recover faster with less risk and side effects,” he stated. As for those looking to follow in his footsteps, Scott recommended, “Make sure if you choose a field in medicine that you are stimulated by what you do. My patients present new challenges that keep me stimulated and engaged every day.”


Name: Scott P. Leary, M.D.
Profession: Neurosurgeon
Community: Carmel Valley
Family: Wife – Heather Young; Children – Celeste, Caitlynne, Estella
Hobbies: Golf and competitive ice hockey
Favorite Local Spots in 92130: The Grand Del Mar, Katana Sushi, Mia Francesca