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Neurology quarterly newsletter for 2023. Look out for our next one in July 2023!


Welcome Our New Providers!


Muge Gucsavas Calikoglu, MD, MPH Muge Gucsavas Calikoglu, MD, MPH

Dr. Muge Gucsavas Calikoglu, who holds positions as Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Assistant Director of the Medical Genetics Residency Program, has been named an adjunct professor of the Division of Neurogenetics within the Department of Neurology.


Dr. Shahzad Khan

Dr. Khan obtained his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Virginia, under the mentorship of George Bloom, Ph.D. In Dr. Bloom’s lab, Dr. Khan investigated how small clumps of proteins called oligomers initiate cellular dysfunction in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. Dr. Khan went on to complete his post-doctorate work with Dr. Suzanne Pfeffer, at Stanford Medicine, where his research focused on inherited forms of Parkinson’s disease. At Stanford, Dr. Khan explored how the brain is impacted by genetic mutations in the LRRK2 kinase. His research has shown that LRRK2 mutations cause neurons and astrocytes to lose their primary cilia (sensory organelles that protrude from the plasma membrane of cells). Primary cilia loss impairs the ability of neural cells to sense and respond to signals that control neuronal survival.


Claire Books, MD Claire Books, MD

PGY 2 Resident Claire Books was appointed as Resident Co-Director of the Neurology Department Community Partnership Committee




In The News


UNC MS/Neuroimmunology Division (UNC MS/Neuroimmunology Clinic in Chapel Hill and The Bodford Family Transverse Myelitis Center in Hillsborough) was recognized as the Center for Comprehensive Care by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society on March 28, 2023. Read more: UNC MS Center Recognized as a Center for Comprehensive MS Care by the National MS Society

Dr. Irena Dujmovic Basuroski and Dr. Monica Diaz were featured in the UNC Health Talk on diet in multiple sclerosis: The Best Diet for Multiple Sclerosis

Dr. Irena Dujmovic Basuroski was featured in “The Well”

Monica Diaz, MD was interviewed for an article published on UNC Health Talk, “Questions and Answers about Multiple Sclerosis”, published February 10, 2022.

Tzu-Hao Harry Chao, PhD, a staff scientist at the Department of Neurology’s Shih lab, was interviewed by Physics World, published March 22, 2023.

The FDA has granted approval to Daybue (trofinetide), a novel medication for treating Rett Syndrome. The LAVENDER clinical trial, which was conducted by Acadia Pharmaceuticals, included the Department of Neurology at the University of North Carolina as one of its sites, and the data from this site was instrumental in securing FDA approval for the medication. Read more: Acadia Pharmaceuticals Announces U.S. FDA Approval of DAYBUE_ (trofinetide) for the Treatment of Rett Syndrome in Adult and Pediatric Patients Two Years of Age and Older

The APP center has been restructuring leadership within the hospital. Joanna Tallon, ACNP has been named the APP Supervisor for the Neuroscience ICU. Congratulations on this well-deserved promotion, Joanna!

Baby MaxineWe extend a warm welcome to baby Maxine! Our heartfelt congratulations on the new addition to the UNC Neurology Family.

Ana Felix, MD has been chosen by her colleagues to serve on the Deans’ Advisory Council. 2023 Standing Committees Election Results Announced



75th AAN Annual Meeting

The Department of Neurology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Medicine achieved great success during the 75th AAN Annual Meeting presentation sessions held in Boston from April 22-27. For more information about the presentations: The 75th AAN Annual Meeting

A Celebration at UNC Children’s

Our pediatric colleagues celebrate their patients and families for the third year in a row with a fantastic video. Watch the Video

The Critical Care Advanced Practice Provider Support Program (CCAPPS) started this past fall at UNC. It is aimed at providing education and support for new and experienced APPs within the ICU’s. The Neuroscience ICU APP group is heavily involved in this program. Wesley Parker, Miriam Stokes, and Dana Raines function as SIM lab facilitators. Jessica Werdel is coordinating the monthly APP journal club.

NSICU formed a running team

Nurses, APP’s and physicians from the NSICU formed a running team, aptly named the “Hypertonics.” Everyone successfully completed the Tobacco Road Half Marathon on March 19th.

2023 Walk MS

Together with colleagues from the UNC Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and UNC Department of Health Sciences, our UNC Neurology team supported 2023 Walk MS-an event that brought together a community of passionate people to connect and raise funds to change the world for people affected by multiple sclerosis, on March 25, 2023, in Raleigh, NC.

7th Annual MS Walk-A-Thon

UNC MS Division supported the 7th Annual MS Walk-A-Thon organized by Locklear Family in Maxton, NC. Dr. Irena Dujmovic Basuroski was a speaker at this event and received a donation for the UNC to support MS patient education.

Patient’s Birthday Wish Comes True, Helping Fellow Patients

Purple Day, which falls on March 26, aims to raise global awareness about epilepsy. However, for Harper Key, a patient at UNC Hospitals, a special awareness day was not necessary to support other pediatric patients. Harper decided to use her birthday to make a difference.

On her 11th birthday, Harper’s wish was to collect enough funds to buy 11 NillyNoggin caps for other patients, thereby making their EEGs, a test to measure brain activity, more comfortable. By watching Harper’s story, you can see how her birthday wish came true, and more. For more information: 11-year-old Donates Caps for Epilepsy Patients

Neurodiagnostic WeekNeurodiagnostic Week

From April 16-22, we expressed our heartfelt gratitude to the dedicated Neurodiagnostic technologists for their hard work. They work tirelessly in a wide range of areas to ensure exceptional patient care, all while remaining behind the scenes. END Techs, we extend our sincere appreciation for your commitment to providing outstanding quality care. It is an honor to collaborate with you.

Upcoming Events

2023 American Neurological Association Annual Meeting

The American Neurological Association’s (ANA) 148th Annual Meeting will be held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 9-12, 2023. The Annual Meeting will convene the nation’s top academic neurologists and neuroscientists.The Meeting will feature six main symposia, which highlight groundbreaking conceptual and therapeutic advances in a variety of neurologic disease states, as well as interactive lunch workshops, special interest group sessions, and the ANA’s celebrated poster sessions. Registration




Award-Recognition Ribbon

We are pleased to announce that our faculty members have been honored with the Carolina Excellence Award. The 2023 UNC Hospitals and UNC Faculty Physicians Award for Carolina Care Excellence recognizes the outstanding empathy and expertise of 202 UNC Physicians and Advanced Practice Providers. Among the recipients of this prestigious award are Dr. Atif Sheikh, Dr. Miriam Sklerov, and Dr. Richard Murrow. Congratulations to all!

Drs. Liu, Wabulya, and LaRoche were recognized as Fellows of the American Epilepsy Society

Monica Diaz, MD, MS, was elected as a member of the Global Engagement Committee of the American Neurological Association, November 2022-November 2025

Emily Fink, MD, who recently graduated from UNC School of Medicine in 2022, was selected as a recipient of the Star Research Achievement Award by the Society of Critical Care Medicine for her abstract “Implementation of 2HELPS2B Seizure Risk Score: A High-Value Approach to Seizure Detection in the ICU.” Co-authors include Fazila Aseem, Suzette LaRoche, Parin Nanavati, Casey Olm-Shipman, Clio Rubinos, Angela Wabuyla, and Jessica Werdel. Emily conducted the project as a scholar in the 2022 UNC Clinician Leader in Quality and Safety Program and was mentored by Casey Olm-Shipman. The Star Research Award is intended to recognize excellence in critical care research and high-quality original investigative research. Accompanying the award was the opportunity to present her research findings at the SCCM Critical Care Congress held in January. Her abstract was selected as one of the top 64 scoring abstracts from over 1,500 submitted abstracts.

Casey Olm-Shipman, MD, MS, was appointed co-Chair of the Quality Improvement Section of the Neurocritical Care Society.

The International Rett Syndrome Foundation (IRSF) has awarded UNC Rett Syndrome Center-of-Excellence designation. Co-directed by Drs. Yael Shiloh-Malawsky and Diana Cejas, the center will provide specialized care for individuals living with Rett syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that affects 1 in every 10,000 births. The center will be joining the IRSF Centers-of-Excellence Network, which includes 18 centers committed to providing the Rett Syndrome community access to best-in-class clinical care and supporting Rett syndrome research. Read more…

Matt Sharrock, MD received the inaugural Neurology Pilot Award to purchase an integrated Moberg system which facilitates measurement and analysis of neurophysiological data. The system will be used to gather important pilot data for extramural research grants.

Fazila Aseem, MD, Suzette LaRoche, MD, and Clio Rubinos, MD, MSCR.Fazila Aseem, MD, received the Young Investigator Award for her project on the utility of value–based ICU cEEG monitoring at the American Clinical Neurophysiology Society Annual Meeting. Her abstract: Aseem F, Werdel J, Nanavati P, Whalen J, Fink E, Liu C, Zou F, Wabulya A, Rubinos C, Olm-Shipman C, LaRoche S. Implementation of 2HELPS2B Seizure Risk Score in Intensive Care Unit.

Dr. Nina Browner and Dr. Ana Felix have been recognized as Exceptional Women in Medicine for 2023 by Castle Connolly Top Doctors. Both doctors hold positions as Associate Professors in the Department of Neurology at the School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Congratulations to Dr. Nina Browner on her remarkable achievement of serving UNC-Chapel Hill and the State of North Carolina for 15 years.

At The 75th AAN Annual Meeting held in Boston from April 22-27, Fazila Aseem, MD, MPH received the Quality Improvement (QI) Innovation award by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) for cost-effective electroencephalography monitoring in the intensive care units.

Congratulations, Tamara Strohm, MD has been accepted as a member of the Academy of Educators.


Awarded Grants


Dr. Todd Cohen has been awarded the OTC Technology Commercialization Grant. Read more: OTC Technology Commercialization Grant – Notice of Award for Dr. Todd Cohen

Monica Diaz, MD, MS is a co-PI on a new grant funded by the Alzheimer’s Association titled “Assessing Dementia and Frailty among Older Persons in rural Eastern Uganda” in collaboration with Makerere University in Uganda and Johns Hopkins. The study seeks to determine the prevalence of dementia and frailty among older Ugandans.

Li-Ming Hsu, PhD, a postdoc in Ian Shih’s lab, received a new R21 award from the National Institute of Drug Abuse to study the role of anterior cingulate cortex in nicotine addiction.

Matt Sharrock, MD, received both UNC School of Medicine Research Infrastructure Equipment Allocation funding and Department of Neurology Clinical Trials Residuals Pilot funding for a proposal to enable the NSICU to record and export continuous intracranial pressure waveform data for severe acute brain injury patients.

Ian Shih, PhD received a new R01 award from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke with collaborators at UCSB to develop and validate a new diffusion-based MRI method for measuring calcium-dependent neuronal activity.

It is with great pleasure that the UNC Department of Neurology announces the recognition of Senyene Hunter, MD, PhD, as a recipient of the CNCDP-K12 (Child Neurologist Career Development Program-K12) 2023 Awarded Scholar.


Clinical Trials and Research


Researchers from the UNC School of Medicine, led by Ian Shih, PhD, Professor and Vice Chair of Neurology and Associate Director of the Biomedical Research Imaging Center, revealed the role of the insular cortex in controlling the Default Mode Brain Network. Novel Optical and fMRI Platform Identifies Brain Regions that Control Large-scale Brain Network.

James Howard, MD, professor of neurology at the UNC School of Medicine, was the principal investigator of the RAISE clinical trial of zilucoplan, one of two drugs under regulatory review to treat myasthenia gravis. Read more: Rozanolixizumab, Zilucoplan Phase 3 Generalized Myasthenia Gravis Study Results Published in The Lancet Neurology

Yael Shiloh-Malawsky, MD, co-investigators Diana Cejas, MD, MPH, and Jane Fan, MD, and study coordinator Yulissa Gonzalez led the UNC School of Medicine site for a clinical trial of a FDA-approved Rett syndrome treatment from Acadia Pharmaceuticals. Read more: UNC Child Neurology Researchers Led UNC Trial Site for Rett Syndrome Treatment


Research Publications


Optogenetic stimulation of anterior insular cortex neurons in male rats reveals causal mechanisms underlying suppression of the default mode network by the salience network

Nature Communications, (Editor’s highlight article).   

Neuronal dynamics of the default mode network and anterior insular cortex: Intrinsic properties and modulation by salient stimuli

Science Advances[Press release] [News video].   

A consensus protocol for functional connectivity analysis in the rat brainNature Neuroscience, (Cover of the issue)

Dysfunction of the noradrenergic system drives inflammation, α-synucleinopathy, and neuronal loss in mouse colon

Frontiers in Immunology

Putative neurochemical and cell type contributions to hemodynamic activity in the rodent caudate putamen

Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow & Metabolism




UNC Neurology faculty and residents gave an impressive number of presentations both nationally and internationally this year including many poster and paper presentations.

View the 2023 presentations >