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From the Department

NC Children's Hospital
NC Children’s Hospital

U.S. News & World Report named UNC’s Children’s Hospital to its list of “America’s Best Children’s Hospitals.” Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery was honored as one of nine subspecialties that ranked in the top 50.

The UNC Comprehensive Stroke Center again received the Gold Plus Award from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines – Stroke and moved up to the highest level of target: Stroke – Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite Plus. In addition, the UNC Epilepsy Center re-certified as a National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC) level 4, providing the highest level of comprehensive care.

The UNC Medical Center now publishes patient satisfaction feedback on its Find A Doctor website. The Center gathers and publishes the star ratings and comments for all of its providers using patient responses from the Press Ganey Medical Practice survey. A clinician must receive at least 30 ratings before they are published. View departmental ratings here: Neurology / Pediatric Neurology.

New Roles

Nina Browner, MD was named as Neurology’s Vice Chair for Education. In this newly created role, Nina will supervise all of the department’s educational efforts including medical students, residents, fellows, continuing professional medical education and outreach. She will work closely with the current directors in these areas to improve quality, insure compliance, coordinate programs, foster faculty and resident development, and consult with the School of Medicine administration.

In July, the Department of Neurology re-organized its clinical trial operations. The new Neurology Clinical Trials Unit (NCTU) directed by Susan Wilson, RN, MSN, ANP-C and Associate Professor of Neurology, will improve efficiency and quality for both investigators and sponsors by ensuring support by highly trained research coordinators, providing oversight for compliance and carefully managing resources.

Welcome to our new faculty members!

Diana Cejas, MD Diana M. Cejas, MD, MPH joined the Child Neurology Division as an assistant professor in late July. She also holds an appointment with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Cejas recently completed her residency with the University of Chicago Child Neurology Residency program. She completed her pediatric residency at Tulane University, her MD at Howard University, and her MPH at George Washington University.
Michael Forbes Michael Forbes, MD recently completed his vascular neurology fellowship as well as his adult neurology residency with UNC. His journey at UNC will continue in a new role as an assistant professor for the Comprehensive Stroke Center. Michael holds an MD from Virginia Commonwealth University and an MS in music from Indiana University.
Deborah Gelinas Deborah F. Gelinas, MD joined UNC Neurology part-time in May as an associate professor specializing in ALS. Dr. Gelinas was the Director of Clinical Neuroscience Research and the Director of the MSU/MFB/SMHC/ALS Clinic at Saint Mary’s Healthcare in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also served as Associate Professor in the Department of Neuro-ophthalmology at Michigan State University. After earning her MD from New York Medical College, she completed her residency in neurology at the Letterman Army Medical Center.

Ammar Hussain, MD started in late July as an assistant professor in child neurology after completing an epilepsy fellowship and pediatric neurology residency at Virginia Commonwealth University. Dr. Hussain completed his pediatric residency at Nassau University Medical Center. He received his MBBS from King Edward Medical University in Lahore, Pakistan.
Yiting Yang Yiting Yang, MD joined the Child Neurology division in July as an assistant professor after completion of her child neurology and pediatric residencies at Mayo Clinic Jacksonville. Dr. Yang received her MD at the University of Texas School of Medicine at San Antonio.

Resident Update

Resident Dinner 2017
L to R: Drs. De Marchena, Richards and Bateman

The adult neurology resident graduation dinner was held at the Franklin Hotel on June 16. Octavio De Marchena, MD received the Faculty Teacher of the Year award. Jason Richards, MD received the Resident Teacher of the Year award along with the Dr. Jacobson award for professionalism. A fond farewell to our graduating adult and child neurology residents as they transition into the next phase of their careers.

  • Trey Bateman, MD is a neurobehavioral fellow at the University of Colorado.
  • Bruce Geryk, MD is a fellow in neurocritical care at Oregon Health & Science University.
  • Jason Richards, MD and Krystal Sully, MD are both fellows in clinical neurophysiology at Duke.



A Neurology-based research team received a School of Medicine Emerging Challenges in Biomedical Research (ECBR) one-year grant for $50,000. Rick Meeker, PhD and Todd Cohen, PhD are co-principal investigators on the ECBR pilot: Inflammation, Aging and Alzheimer’s Disease Vulnerability. Other team members include Paul Carney, MD and Tom DeMarse, PhD along with researchers from Radiology and Psychiatry.

The Division of Pediatric Neurology received a grant for $2,620 from the Carolina for the Kids Foundation to fund equipment and starter kits to support ketogenic diets for patients.

Publications and Presentations

Todd J. Cohen, PhD was senior author of the study, “Acetylation-induced TDP-43 pathology is suppressed by an HSF1-dependent chaperone program,” published in July’s Nature Communications. Researchers teamed up to reverse TDP-43 protein aggregation, a hallmark of degenerative diseases such as ALS.

UNC Lineberger researchers led by member Timothy R. Gershon, MD, PhD, report in the June issue of Cancer Research the latest in a series of attempts to shut down the energy production machinery in medulloblastoma.

James Howard Jr., MD presented three papers and one poster at the 13th International Conference on Myasthenia Gravis and Related Disorders in New York on May 16. Research topics included Eculizumab, Rituximab, Anti-MuSK myasthenia gravis, the REGAIN study, IgG and TPE. Video Interview >

Dr. Howard also presented research at the AAN meeting in Boston on April 25; the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine Forum in New Harbor, MD from June 8-10; and the third EAN Congress in Amsterdam from June 24-27.

Richard Murrow, MD presented a paper with Dr. McClure at the International Neuromodulation Society’s 13th World Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland in June entitled: “Deep brain stimulation of the ventral pallidum reduces obsessions/compulsions, anxiety and depression in severe, treatment-resistant obsessive-compulsive disorder.”

Michael Tennison, MD participated in an international, multi-center study published in July’s Lancet Neurology: “Individualized prediction model of seizure recurrence and long-term outcome after anti-epileptic drug withdrawal – an individual participant data meta-analysis.”

Daniel Kaufer, MD was co-author on a paper published in the journal Neurology entitled “Diagnosis and Management of Dementia with Lewy Bodies: 4th Consensus Report of the DLB Consortium.”

Dr. Kaufer was also a keynote speaker at the 31st Annual Alzheimer’s Disease Management and Research Symposium sponsored by Alzheimer’s Tennessee on June 23 in Knoxville. He presented lectures on Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal degeneration.

Outreach & Media


Colloquium on Interdisciplinary Care for Parkinson's
UNC’s Interdisciplinary Parkinson’s Team

Nina Browner, MD, and Jessica Shurer, MSW, LCSW, of the National Parkinson Foundation (NPF) Center of Excellence at UNC hosted their third annual “Colloquium on Interdisciplinary Care for Parkinson’s: Building Your Team, Enhancing Your Care” on June 23 in Raleigh, funded by a community grant from NPF. This one-day training on Parkinson’s specialized care utilized an interdisciplinary model tailored to rehabilitation clinicians with the goal of improving the quality of allied health care for Parkinson’s patients across the state.

Selective outpatient rehabilitation clinics from UNC Hospitals from across North Carolina were specifically invited in order to strengthen the network of care for this patient population within UNC and as well as more rural areas and over 70 clinicians attended. In addition to Dr. Browner and Ms. Shurer, the presenting faculty also included UNC’s Interdisciplinary Parkinson’s Team.

Dr. Browner and Ms. Shurer also hosted North Carolina’s first “Atypical Parkinsonism Family Education Symposium” on May 19 in Chapel Hill. This full day educational event, in partnership with CurePSP, was geared towards patients and families specifically affected by progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, and multiple system atrophy. The event included presentations on clinical trials, symptoms, treatment options, safety, and coping, as well as hands-on discussion and activities, and resource exhibitors. The goal was to provide education, resources, empowerment, and connection to people affected by the atypical Parkinsonism diagnoses.

David Huang, MD began a two-year term on July 1 as the President of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Mid-Atlantic Affiliate. Dr. Huang was also re-appointed to the NC Legislature’s Justus-Warren Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Task Force for another term.

Daniel Kaufer, MD is the Neurology Director for the recently announced Milestone Wellness Assessment program sponsored by the National Football League Players Association Trust at UNC Chapel Hill.

Dr. Kaufer also presented a lecture on maintaining your brain as part of “The Longest Day” event sponsored by the UNC Wellness Center at Meadowmont on June 21. The event included activities to educate and support families, friends and those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Gary Jay, MD, FAAPM, FACFEI published two journals on primary headache disorders for distribution to community physicians.

William Powers, MD shared ways UNC improves outcomes for stroke patients in a Baltimore Sun article.

David Huang, MD was interviewed by WCHL’s Aaron Keck for National Stroke Awareness Month. Listen here >

Save the Date! The UNC Stroke Center is raising funds for the American Heart/American Stroke Association by participating in this year’s Triangle Heart & Stroke Walk on Sunday, October 1. Please join us!

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