From the Department

Colin Hall, MB ChB
Colin Hall, MB ChB

After 48 years of service to the UNC Department of Neurology, Colin Hall, MB ChB, will fully retire on December 31, 2017.
Dr. Hall came to UNC from Scotland in 1969 as a neurology resident who was then hired as a faculty member. In addition to growing a busy clinical practice over the years, he was interim chair of the Neurology Department from 1995-2001 and from 2006-2007. In 1977, he created the neuromuscular unit and remained as its director until 1996. Read Dr. Hall’s story

Blue Cross/Blue Shield has designated UNC Neurology as a high quality and low cost care provider in the latest BCBS Specialty Tiering results for plan year 2018.

The UNC Neurology, Child Neurology, and Neurosurgery residency programs all ranked in the top 50 for reputation nationwide according to the latest Doximity Residency Navigator rankings. Learn more >


Welcome to our new clinicians!

 Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MBChB Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MD, joined the Multiple Sclerosis/Neuroimmunology Division in late October as an associate professor after serving as a consultant neurologist at the Department of Multiple Sclerosis, Clinical Center of Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia for the last 15 years. Dr. Dujmovic Basuroski received her MD, Master of Science in Medicine and Doctor of Science in Medicine degrees and completed her residency in neurology at the University of Belgrade School of Medicine in Belgrade, Serbia. She completed her postdoctoral training and research in neuroimmunology at the Innsbruck Medical University in Innsbruck, Austria.
 Anahit Mehrabyan, MD Anahit Mehrabyan, MD, a 2016 graduate of the UNC Adult Neurology Residency Program, returns to us as an assistant professor for the Neuromuscular Disorders Division. Dr. Mehrabyan recently completed a fellowship in neuromuscular medicine at Penn State in Hershey, Pennsylvania. She received her medical degree from Yerevan State Medical University after Mkhitar Heratsi, Yerevan, Armenia.
Miriam Sklerov Miriam Sklerov, MD, MS, joined the Movement Disorders Division last August as an assistant professor. Dr. Sklerov recently completed a fellowship in movement disorders from Columbia University where she also received an MSc in epidemiology and completed her residency in neurology. Dr. Sklerov received her medical degree from New York Medical College.
Nicole Odom, MD Nicole Odom, MD, was recently appointed as an adjunct assistant professor for the Epilepsy Division. Currently a staff neurologist at Pinehurst Neurology, Dr. Odem completed her neurology residency at UNC in 2013, and then finished a two-year CNP/epilepsy fellowship at Columbia University in New York. Since returning to North Carolina, she has collaborated closely with the Epilepsy Division for patient care will actively participate in the UNC Epilepsy Fellowship Program in 2018.
Phillip Isaacs, PA Phillip Isaacs, PA, started with our Sleep Medicine team in August. He received his PA and BS degrees from the City University of New York in New York, New York.
Shenita Mangum SheNita Mangum, MSW, LCSW joined the Epilepsy team as its first social worker last July. SheNita received her master’s degree at UNC Chapel Hill and her BA at NC State University.

Research and Treatments

James F. Howard, MD, was the lead investigator in the clinical trial that led to FDA approval of eculizumab as a treatment for adult patients with generalized myasthenia gravis (gMG) who are anti-acetylcholine receptor (AChR) antibody-positive. This is the first new FDA-approved treatment for patients with gMG in more than 60 years. Learn more >

In a study led by Todd Cohen, PhD, researchers may have discovered the ‘ground zero’ of Alzheimer’s disease, paving the way to better treatment. The findings were made possible through a collaboration of three UNC labs led by Rick Meeker, PhD, Xian Chen, PhD, and Cohen, as well as the NIH lab of Jau-Shyong Hong, PhD. Cell Reports, The Deacetylase HDAC6 Mediates Endogenous Neuritic Tau Pathology, August 2017. UNC Health Care News article.

Last October, UNC Neurology, in conjunction with UNC Neurosurgery, became the first center in the state of NC to implant the new, FDA-approved deep brain stimulation electrodes manufactured by St. Jude/Abbott. Drs. Daniel Roque and Eldad Hadar from Neurology and Neurosurgery, respectively, collaborated to offer this new device to a patient suffering from essential tremor. With the goal of reducing the risk for stimulation-related side effects, the device will allow the electrical current delivered by the stimulator to be directed towards desired brain structures and away from other structures.

Weili Lin, PhD, is part of a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from UNC and the University of Minnesota that launched a new study to uncover nutritional impacts on early brain development. Researchers are using state-of-the-art imaging techniques and collecting data on dietary nutrient intake, feeding practices, and gut microbiota abundance and diversity to elucidate the links between nutrition, the microbiome, and brain maturation processes in early childhood. Learn more >

Paul Carney, MD, along with other researchers, published a study in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology last October: “Stimulants Do Not Increase the Risk of Seizure-Related Hospitalizations in Children with Epilepsy.”

Dr. Carney was also part of study published in the Journal of Biophotonics last July: “Fast non-invasive functional diffuse optical tomography for brain imaging.”

In addition, Dr. Carney received three new grant contracts:

  • Preclinical imaging of adolescent cannabidiol on brain structure and functional connectivity (NIH R03 DA042971);
  • Effects of cannabidiol use on the developing brain in medically refractory childhood epilepsy (Angelman Syndrome Foundation); and
  • Preclinical investigation of Epidiolex for autism spectrum disorder brain connectivity and behavior (Investigator initiated study – GW Pharma).

Disease-a-Month published two articles by Gary W. Jay, MD, on primary headache disorders:

  • Part 1 – Migraine and Trigeminal Autonomic Cephalalgias. November 2017; Jay GW, Barkin R.
  • Part 2 – Tension-Type Headache and Medication overuse headache. December, 2017; Jay GW, Barkin R.

Honors and Appointments

In November, Kevin Robertson, PhD, was elected to the prestigious Scientific Agenda Steering Committee of the NIH, National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, AIDS Clinical Trials Group, which conducts the clinical trials for the treatment and cure of HIV and AIDS. Dr. Robertson was also elected to serve on the Neurology Scientific Committee for another two-year term.

Bradley Vaughn, MD, was appointed to the Congressional Study Review Panel for the Department of Defense.

Best Doctors named Drs. Greenwood, Hinn, Howard, Huang, Jordan, Kaufer, Powers, Tennison and Vaughn to the 2017-2018 Best Doctors in America® peer-selected list. Approximately four percent of doctors in America earn this prestigious honor.

Yen-Yu Ian Shih, PhD, was promoted to associate professor with tenure.

Daniel Kaufer, MD, is the PI of a Research Center of Excellence for Lewy Body Dementia sponsored by the Lewy Body Dementia Association, and co-director of the associated workgroup for Clinical Trial Design and Optimization.

 

Susan Wilson, DNP, RN, MSN, ANP-C, received her DNP degree in November after completing three years of coursework and a dissertation project on how to identify and treat patients with post-stroke depression.

In addition, Susan received the 2017 Healthcare Hero Award from the Triangle American Heart Association in a ceremony held during the Heart Walk festivities on October 1. This award is especially meaningful to Susan since she was nominated by a patient who acknowledged the importance of the stroke team’s work.

Dr. Winnie Lau, a fellow in Neurocritical Care, was selected to be the editor of The Pocket Guide to Neurocritical Care, 2nd Edition.

Dr. Jason Richards, a 2017 graduate of the Neurology residency program, received a Kaiser Permanente Excellence in Teaching Award at the UNC School of Medicine’s Whitehead Lecture and Awards ceremony last August. Read more >


Events

Stroke Survivor Lily Ellis at the UNC Stroke Survivors event.

The UNC Stroke Center hosted a heart-warming gathering of approximately 100 stroke survivors and caregivers on November 11 at the Carolina Inn. The event featured educational and inspirational speakers, and offered a wonderful opportunity for fellowship among stroke survivors, their caregivers and health care professionals. The UNC Stroke Center’s Advisory Board organized the event to help fulfill their mission of strengthening collaboration between patients, family members, caregivers, community leaders and the UNC Comprehensive Stroke Center team. One of the highlights of the event was a performance by the TAPtastics, a choral group whose members use the rhythm and beat of music to help with their recovery from aphasia. View the TAPtastics performance >

 

UNC team at the EMS Symposium
UNC Health Care EMS Symposium Planning Committee

The UNC Health Care Stroke Consortium and the UNC Health Care Chest Pain Center/Cardiovascular Coordinator Workgroup collaborated on the first-ever Eastern NC Heart and Brain Connection EMS Symposium on November 3. Eighty EMS providers and critical care transport nurses attended the educational symposium representing 14 agencies across the state. The diverse group of presenters provided information about advanced myocardial infarction and stroke. David Huang, MD, PhD and Rhonda Cadena, MD represented the medical center and presented “Endovascular Therapy for Acute Ischemic Stroke” and “Atypical Stroke Presentations and Neuro Assessment Tips & Tricks,” respectively. Attendees also participated in an informative cardiac dissection lab and a stroke intra-arterial clot retrieval simulation.

 

Parkinson's rehabilitation team members
Dr. Daniel Roque with Parkinson’s rehabilitation team members, physical therapists Diane Meyer (l) and Dietra Buxton (r).

October 1, 2017 marked the fifth annual Moving Day® NC Triangle, a special walk for Parkinson’s disease that unites the community and raises funds for programming within the state. Hosted by the Parkinson’s Foundation, the event was originally started in North Carolina by the UNC Movement Disorders Center’s coordinator and clinical social worker, Jessica Shurer. This year, Jessica was the logistics chair, and Drs. Daniel Roque and Miriam Sklerov, along with Parkinson’s-specialized clinicians from the UNC Center for Rehabilitation Care, were stationed at the UNC exhibitor table. The event was highly successful with over $267,000 raised and an estimated attendance of 1,500 people.


In the News

Yael Shiloh-Malawsky, MD, was quoted in an article by Thomas R. Collins that appeared in Neurology Today on December 8, “Genetic Testing Yields High Number of Epilepsy Cases in Scotland.”

In addition, a description of the case study presented by Dr. Yael Shiloh-Malawsky at the CNS Annual Meeting was published in a Neurology Today article by Jamie Talan on October 10, “The Puzzling Case of a Girl with a Tuberous Sclerosis Mutation with Seizures and No Tubers.”

Peter Jacobson, MD, FAAN discussed effective alternative treatments to opioids in a Neurology Today article by Susan Fitzgerald on August 3.

ABC Columbia News interviewed Souvik Sen, MD for the news segment: “Neurologist, Former NFL Player React to CTE Findings.”

Seeker, an online science news service, quoted Hae Won Shin, MD in a video, “Minimal Consciousness Restored in Man Who Was in a Vegetative State for 15 Years.”

Jane Fan, MD, was noted in the UNC spotlight article, “Thanks to a Carolina research project, she can walk again.”

Daniel Kaufer, MD, was mentioned in the News & Observer article, “How you can support Woody Durham, the former ‘Voice of the Tar Heels,’ in his fight against aphasia.”


Presentations and Conferences

Kevin Robertson, PhD, was awarded Distinguished Speaker at the Carribbean AIDS Society HIV Expert Summit in Barbados on August 28-31.

In addition, Dr. Robertson:

  • Co-chaired the seventh international meeting, HIV Infection of the Central Nervous System, in Pollenzo, Italy on October 12-15, and gave an invited talk on the Neurocognitive Impact of Acute HIV Infection; and
  • Co-chaired the third Multidisciplinary NeuroAIDS Research Training to Improve HIV Outcomes in Nigeria on October 30-31, and gave multiple talks and training sessions on neurocognitive assessment in HIV at Ibadan University in Nigeria.

Bradley Vaughn, MD, presented a talk on “Sleep – For the Practicing Neurologist” at the American Academy of Neurology Fall Meeting in October.

In addition, Dr. Vaughn presented a talk on “Sleep – The Benchmarks and Benefits for Patients with Epilepsy” at the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting in December.

Gary W. Jay, MD, presented seven hours of lectures during Pain Week held in Las Vegas last September. Topics included:

  • Treatment- Pre-emptive and Perioperative Pain after Spine Surgery;
  • Fibromyalgia: Up to Date!;
  • Pain Medicine: Exploring the Eight Tentacles of the Octopus from Hell; and
  • Clinical Conundrum: Occipital Neuralgia.

Nina Browner, MD, presented a talk at the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM) conference in Atlanta last October. The program was designed for speech and language pathologists who deliver care to Parkinson’s patients.

UNC Neurology Dept. Chair, Dr. William Powers, co-presented a talk with Dr. Joseph Rossi, Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab, on “PFO Closure to Reduce Stroke Risk” at the Department of Medicine Grand Rounds on November 30. Watch the video >

UNC Epilepsy Dinner at AES
UNC Neurology clinicians and alumni enjoying a dinner and reunion at the AES conference.

Several UNC Neurology clinicians traveled to Washington, DC in November for the American Epilepsy Society Annual Meeting where they shared a dinner and reunited with alumni after attending sessions. Attendees included Drs. Hae Won Shin, Bradley Vaughn, Paul Carney, Yael Shiloh-Malawsky, Angela Wabulya, Ammar Hussain, along with social worker Shenita Mangum and nurse practitioners Carolyn Zook Lewis and Shabina Sheikh.

Last October, residency coordinators Sharon Ward and Taylor Striker, MSW, LSW, attended the fourth annual Program Coordinators of Child Neurology Conference in Kansas City, Missouri, sponsored by the Child Neurology Society. Sharon and Taylor exchanged program ideas with 25 other child neurology residency coordinators from medical institutions throughout the US.

Residency Coordinators
Residency coordinators Sharon Ward and Taylor Striker at the Program Coordinators of Child Neurology Conference.

Like us on Facebook and Twitter!