Born in Toronto, and educated at Princeton University (1975-1977), and Queen's University Medical School (1977-1981), Dr. Rutka did an internship at McGill University (1981-1982) before entering the University of Toronto Neurosurgery Training Program in 1982. His training included a research fellowship at the Brain Tumor Research Centre, the University of California San Francisco where he obtained his PhD in Experimental Pathology (1984-1987).
Dr. Rutka assumed his appointment in the Division of Neurosurgery, the Department of Surgery, the University of Toronto in 1990. He is a Pediatric Neurosurgeon whose clinical practice has been at the Hospital for Sick Children. Dr. Rutka's primary research and clinical interests relate to the science and surgery of human brain tumors and epilepsy. He has over 500 peer reviewed publications.
In 1999, Dr. Rutka was promoted to Professor in the Department of Surgery, the University of Toronto, and was appointed to the Dan Family Chair in the Division of Neurosurgery -- a position he held until 2011. In 2009, he was the Honored Guest at the Congress of Neurological Surgeons’ Annual Meeting. In 2010 - 11, Dr Rutka served as President of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. In 2011, he became President of the World Academy of Neurological Surgery, President of the American Academy of Neurological Surgery, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. That same year, he was appointed as the RS McLaughlin Professor and Chair of the Department of Surgery at the University of Toronto. In 2013, he became the first Canadian to be appointed as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Neurosurgery, and was inducted as a Member of the Order of Ontario. In 2015, he received the Margolese National Brain Disorders Prize from the University of British Columbia, the Robert L. Noble Award from the Canadian Cancer Society, and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada. In 2017, he received an honorary degree, Doctor of Science, from his Medical School Alma Mater, Queen’s University. In 2019, he received the Cushing Medal from the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the highest honor that the AANS can bestow on a member, and only the second Canadian to receive this.
Dr. Rutka is married to Mari Rutka. Together they have three children: Daniel, Hana and Marissa.