Due to the in-person interview restrictions this fall, UNC Neurology’s residency programs retooled their recruitment efforts to find innovative new ways to present our programs to potential applicants. These methods included virtual open houses, extensive social media efforts, website development, photo shoots, and videos for both the Adult and Child Neurology programs. Thanks to all who have contributed! Check out our videos >
Best wishes and thank you to two of our outstanding nurse practitioners who are retiring soon:
- Christine Shooter, RN, MSN, FNP-BC, will retire in December after 38 years of service at UNC, including nine years as a UNC Neurology nurse practitioner. Christine says she will always cherish her time in neurology, but is now ready to “recharge and relax.” She hopes to enjoy more hiking, photography, music, theatre and traveling during her retirement.
- In January, Nansi Greger-Holt, RN, MPH, MSN, will also be retiring after twelve years at UNC, including nine years as a nurse practitioner within the Department of Neurology. In addition to spending more time with family in Asheville, Nansi plans to do more hiking, quilting and traveling.
Timothy Gershon, MD, PhD, has been promoted to Professor of Neurology.
The AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) created the Kevin Robertson Memorial Award to honor neurologist Kevin Robertson, PhD, who died in June 2019 after a long battle with cancer. Serena Spudich, MD, professor of neurology and chief of Neurological Infections & Global Neurology at Yale University, was the first recipient of this award.
Child neurologists Senyene Hunter, MD, PhD, and Diana Cejas, MD, MPH, were this year’s recipients of the UNC Broyhill Research Award in Child Neurology. Dr. Hunter received an award of $25,000 to apply cutting-edge genomic sequencing technology to the identification of novel genetic defects in participants with infantile spasms. Dr. Cejas was awarded $12,500 to improve healthcare transition of patients with neurodevelopmental disabilities from a child-centered to an adult-oriented health care system. Learn more >
Robert Smith III, recently accepted a one-year appointment to the newly-formed UNC Staff Advisory Committee to the Chancellor. The committee was established as a means for staff to share their voices and ideas with the Chancellor.
The Center for Animal MRI (CAMRI) at the Biomedical Research Imaging Center (BRIC), led by Ian Shih, PhD, received two National Institutes of Health grants totaling $2.6 million for a new MRI instrument and to upgrade an existing MRI system.
Casey Olm-Shipman, MD, MS, was selected as a 2020-2021 American Medical Association (AMA) Health Systems Scholar, a mentored program aimed at developing Health Systems Science (HSS) leaders. She was also appointed as UNC’s Director of HSS for Graduate Medical Education. Over the next four years, UNC’s goal is to implement a widely available and accessible HSS program for residents, fellows and faculty statewide. Health Systems Science encompasses the areas of social determinants of health, health care disparities and equity in healthcare, value-based care, population health, quality improvement and safety, interprofessionalism and leadership, and health policy.
Winnie Lau, MD, was selected as a member of the Passing the Torch 2020-21 Cohort. Supported by the Josiah Macy Jr. Foundation, the Passing the Torch program strives to equip faculty with a variety of humanistic skills through experiential learning methods with the goal of helping members become better role models.
In an effort to help reduce health disparities for pediatric neurology patients, the Child Neurology team recently completed their first purchase of the Embrace2 seizure detection device for a patient in need. With funding from a Carolina For The Kids Grant, the team plans to assist five more low-income families obtain the device free of charge over the next several months. Please send referrals to Alyssa Draffin, LCSW, via Epic In Basket.
Clara Zelasky, PA-C, will receive her master’s degree in physician assistant studies in December from the University of Texas, Rio Grande Valley.
Katelyn Bricker MD, MS, was awarded the M. Richard Koenigsberger Scholarship for her abstract “Sleep in Rett Syndrome” published at the 49th Annual Child Neurology Society Virtual Meeting held on October 12 – 23, 2020. (co-author Jane Fan, MD)
Research and Publications
UNC BRIC researchers led by Weili Lin, PhD, used magnetic resonance imaging techniques to show the emergence of a functional flexible brain during early infancy.
UNC’s Hanna Trzeciakiewicz, Deepa Ajit, Jui-Heng Tseng, Youjun Chen, Aditi Ajit, Zarin Tabassum, Natallia Riddick, Michelle Itano, Sheryl Moy, Ashutosh Tripathy, and Todd Cohen along with University of Pennsylvania researchers published “An HDAC6-dependent surveillance mechanism suppresses tau-mediated neurodegeneration and cognitive decline.” Nature Communications, November.
Led by Daniel Kaufer, MD, UNC Neurology was one of the study sites included in a successful phase 2 clinical trial of neflamapimod for use in mild-to-moderate Lewy Body dementia.
James F. Howard Jr., MD, and Manisha Chopra, MBBS, along with other researchers published:
- “Epidemiological evidence for a hereditary contribution to myasthenia gravis: a retrospective cohort study of patients from North America.” BMJ Open, September.
- “Concomitant immunosuppressive therapy use in eculizumab-treated adults with generalized myasthenia gravis during the REGAIN Open-Label Extension Study.” Frontiers in Neurology, October.
Resident Drs. Sonia Varghese and Katelyn Bricker along with Drs. Yael Shiloh-Malawsky and Jane Fan published multiple abstracts at the 49th Annual Child Neurology Society Virtual Meeting held on October 12 – 23.
- Sleep in Rett Syndrome – Katelyn Bricker MD, MS, and Jane Fan, MD. Dr. Bricker was awarded the M. Richard Koenigsberger Scholarship.
- The forgotten TORCH – Katelyn Bricker MD, MS, and Yael Shiloh-Malawsky, MD
- Addis Clinic – Telemedicine in Epilepsy – Sonia Varghese, MD, MPH, MBA, and Yael Shiloh-Malawsky, MD
- Menkes Disease in 5 Siblings – Sonia Varghese, MD, MPH, MBA, and Yael Shiloh-Malawsky, MD
- Long-Term Safety and Efficacy of Cannabidiol (CBD) Treatment in Patients with Dravet Syndrome (DS) – Yael Shiloh Malawsky, MD, and other researchers
Steven Trau, MD, (first author) along with other researchers, published “Institutional Paediatric Convulsive Status Epilepticus Protocol Decreases Time to First- and Second-Line Anti-Seizure Medication Administration.” Seizure, August.
Matthew Sharrock, MD, along with other researchers, published “3D Deep Neural Network Segmentation of Intracerebral Hemorrhage: Development and Validation for Clinical Trials.” Neuroinformatics, September.
Susan Wilson, DNP, RN, MSN, ANP-C, and Neuro-ICU nurse, Michael McPeak, co-authored the Stroke Prevention Chapter in the recently published 2nd edition “Comprehensive Review for Stroke Nursing.”
Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MD, was a collaborator for the position statement paper: “Pediatric NMOSD: A Review and Position Statement on Approach to Work-Up and Diagnosis.” Frontiers in Pediatrics, June.
James F. Howard, Jr, MD, presented via webcast:
- Neurology Club, Department of Neuropsychiatry, “’Refractory’ Myasthenia Gravis: Hope for the Future.” University of Alexandria; Alexandria, Egypt – September.
- 11th Annual Myasthenia Gravis Health Care Professionals Education Virtual Conference, “The Expanding Universe of Myasthenia Gravis Therapeutics” – October.
- Neurology Grand Rounds, Oregon Health and Sciences University, “Complement Inhibition in Myasthenia Gravis; An Evolving Treatment Strategy” – October.
- MGFA New England Virtual Regional Conference, “Myasthenia Gravis: The Dawn of a Therapeutic Revolution” – October.
Presentations at Meetings
- “Safety of eculizumab in NMOSD and MG – analysis of the phase 3 studies PREVENT and REGAIN and their extensions.” MSVirtual2020, September (Co-author)
- “Generalized myasthenia gravis: complement and the neuromuscular junction.” Industry forum on “Complement activation in neurological diseases: from the central nervous system to the neuromuscular junction.” International Congress on Neuromuscular Diseases Digital Program (ICNMDigital), September (Co-author)
- “Treatment impact on specific symptom MG-ADL domains in myasthenia gravis patients: Phase 2 efgartigimod study analysis.” International Congress on Neuromuscular Diseases Digital Program (ICNMDigital), September (Co-authored with Manisha Chopra, MBBS, and others)
- “ADAPT: A phase 3 study of the FcRn antagonist, efgartigimod, in generalized myasthenia gravis.” 2020 Annual Meeting of the American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine, October (Co-authored with Manisha Chopra, MBBS, and others)
- Dr. Howard gave five presentations at the 2020 Annual Scientific Session of the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation of America in October.
Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MD, was a co-author of the paper “Artificial Intelligence on Conventional Magnetic Resonance Images for the Diagnosis of Neuromyelitis Optica Spectrum Disorders” presented at the 6th Congress of the European Academy of Neurology in July.
Dr. Z. Toledo Nieves and Dr. I. Dujmovic Basuroski presented “Onset of neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder with limbic encephalitis or coexistence of those conditions in a single patient” at the Joint ECTRIMS/ACTRIMS Virtual Meeting in September.
Virtual presentations made by Gary Jay, MD, during the PAINWeek Conference in September and PainWeekEnd in October include:
- “Three Doors, Lost Keys: Managing Sleep, Depression and Chronic Pain”
- “Speaking in Tongues: Guidelines and Paradigms Post-CDC”
- “Take Me to the River: The Agony of Cluster Headaches”
Diana Cejas, MD, MPH, was the plenary speaker at the Latino Medical Student Association’s National Conference in October. Her talk was entitled, “Impostor Syndrome and Advocacy: How Physicians of Color Can Tune Out the Naysayers and Turn Up for Patients and Their Communities.”
Jessica Shurer, MSW, LCSW, co-presented “Haha sorry, I must be getting old…Recognizing unconscious ageism in social work practice” to the National Association of Social Workers – NC Chapter in October. In addition, Ms. Shurer presented “Let’s talk: Discussing the diagnosis and navigating family dynamics” at the CurePSP National Virtual Family Conference.
UNC Health’s Stroke and Chest Pain Centers held their 4th Annual Heart and Brain Connection on November 6 for cardiac and stroke care for emergency medical personnel. Seventy-nine EMS professionals from 33 different agencies and hospitals from around the state gathered virtually to learn about the neurologic and cardiovascular effects of COVID-19, atypical STEMI, the latest ischemic stroke news, and also to participate in interactive case studies.
Jessica Shurer, MSW, LCSW, developed and coordinated a new virtual program entitled “Taking Charge of Parkinson’s” for people who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s within the past two years. Nina Browner, MD; Jacqueline Glasser, RN; and UNC rehabilitation professionals presented and answered questions for twelve participants who met weekly for six weeks in October and November.
Robert Smith III, PhD, will present at a virtual event titled, “Black. Male. Scientist. Claiming space and place in research” on Thursday, December 10 from 10am – 11:30am. This panel discussion is hosted by Gillings School of Global Public Health and is free and open to the public. Learn more >
Jamie Capal, MD, was interviewed by the autism news organization, Spectrum, for an article titled, “Autism and seizures may share roots in development.” The article was based upon Dr. Capal’s research published in Pediatrics last April: “Factors Associated with Seizure Onset in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.”
Prior to his passing, Dan Kaufer, MD, was interviewed for a UNC Health Talk article: “Your brain on smartphone – A Carolina neurologist shares how smartphones can change how we think and interact with others.”
Diana Cejas, MD, MPH, published three essays:
- An essay about being a cancer and stroke patient, and working at a hospital, “Join the Club,” was featured in the anthology, “Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century.” In addition, the University of Michigan Medical School interviewed Dr. Cejas and the editor of the book in this podcast.
- An essay about Dr. Cejas’ stroke, “Convalescence Triptych,” was published by the Los Angeles Review in October.
- An essay about growing up on a farm in NC, “Gum,” was featured in the anthology “A Measure of Belonging: Twenty-One Writers of Color on the New American South.” The book was featured on the New York Times’ New and Noteworthy List in September.
Veronique “Nikki” Currence, FNP-BC, was acknowledged for her work as a frontline worker in the Respiratory Diagnostic Center (RDC) in the October 19 edition of UNC Health’s “Advanced Practice Provider News.” Nikki started working with UNC Neurology last January after graduating from the UNC School of Nursing with her FNP degree. In April, Nikki graciously transferred to the RDC to provide assistance with the surge of COVID-19 patient testing and assessments.
“This has been a very rewarding experience for me! I’ve been able to gain experience in both pediatric and urgent care. But, most importantly, I am doing my part to combat COVID by educating and comforting patients regarding the virus. AND, it doesn’t hurt that I have the most AMAZING, DEDICATED and COMPASSIONATE co-workers there. I will miss them when I leave, but I’m also excited to continue training in Neurology,” Nikki said. UNC Neurology welcomed Nikki back in October.