Homegrown Doc

If there was someone in Rockford with big shoes to fill, it would be Dr. Ian Behr. Yet, the 39-year-old native has no trouble following in the footsteps of his accomplished family members.

In fact, the endocrine surgeon at OSF HealthCare Saint Anthony Medical Center is scheduled to speak this June at the World Congress on Thyroid Cancer in London.

The World Congress is the largest international gathering of thyroid cancer professionals, and it provides a chance to share “new surgical techniques, new medical treatments – all of the new things out there being discussed among world leaders in the surgical and medical field,” Behr says.

He was nominated to speak in part because of the research he conducted during his endocrine surgery fellowship in 2021 at Harvard Medical School under the tutelage of Dr. Gregory Randolph, who “wrote the textbook on thyroid surgery,” Behr says.

“One of the biggest things I’ll be talking about is advanced training in thyroid cancer and how much of an advantage it is,” says Behr, noting that his presentation will include procedures he uses at home. “What I did at Harvard and the treatment I did there, I’m bringing to Rockford.”

Behr founded the radiofrequency ablation program at Saint Anthony Medical Center, which provides a nonsurgical way to treat nodules (lumps) and cancer. He also performs parathyroid autofluorescence procedures to remove overactive parathyroid glands, which are four pea-sized glands behind the thyroid.

“You need surgery to remove one of those overactive glands, and finding a little pea-sized gland in the neck isn’t always the easiest,” he says. “New infrared autofluorescence makes those glands light up like a light bulb.”

Behr grew up in Rockford, where his great-great grandfather, Joseph Behr, founded Joseph Behr & Sons, a metal recycling company run by family for three generations.

His great-uncle, Sam Behr, was the first orthopedic surgeon in Rockford and practiced for more than 50 years, served in World War II and helped fight a polio outbreak in Rockford.

Behr’s father, Jeffrey Behr, followed his uncle and helped found one of the largest orthopedic groups in northern Illinois: Rockford Orthopedic Associates, now known as OrthoIllinois.

To top it off, Behr’s mother, Diana, is a nurse.

A family man to the core, Behr enjoys spending time with loved ones, including his 4-year-old daughter who likes to fish, catch frogs and ski. He has no doubts about working in Rockford.

“I’m very close to my family,” Behr says. “I was offered to take over the endocrine program at Michigan State where I trained. But ultimately, family is one of the most important things to me, so that’s why I ended up here.”