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Department News

Gwenn Garden, MD, PhD
Gwenn Garden, MD, PhD

UNC Neurology is pleased to introduce our new department chair, Gwenn Garden, MD, PhD, effective August 19. Dr. Garden comes to UNC from the University of Washington where she currently serves as Vice Chair of the Department of Neurology. Learn more about Dr. Garden >

Kevin Robertson, PhD
Kevin Robertson, PhD

The department was saddened by the loss of Kevin Robertson, PhD, Professor of Neurology and the director of the AIDS Neurological Center who passed away on June 16 from cancer. Read more about his life >

James F. Howard, Jr., MD, will enter phased retirement beginning July 1. Fortunately for us, he will remain active with his research projects and EMG/neuromuscular education. We are excited to announce that Rebecca Traub, MD, will become the new director of the EMG laboratory. She will also assume the role of interim director for the Neuromuscular Division.

Awards and Achievements

Get With The Guidelines - Stroke 2019The UNC Hospitals Comprehensive Stroke Center once again received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® Target: Stroke Honor Roll Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence. The Center also received the association’s highest recognition – the Target: StrokeSM Elite Plus award. Learn more >

 Drs. Nina Browner, James Howard, Daniel Roque, Miriam Sklerov and Rebecca Traub were recipients of the 2019 UNC Health Care and UNC Faculty Physicians Award for Carolina Care Excellence. When surveyed, more than 95% of their patients said they would definitely recommend them to family and friends. Learn more >

Our department’s celebratory dinner for our graduating residents and fellows on June 1 was filled with love and laughter. Recipients of the 2018-2019 Neurology Resident Awards are as follows:

  • Jacobson Award for compassionate patient care – Zuleyma Toledo- Nieves, MD
  • Resident Teacher Award – Katie Moore, MD
  • Child Neurology Faculty Teacher Award – Bob Greenwood, MD
  • Adult Faculty Teacher Award – Nina Browner, MD

Resident Graduation 2019

Anahit Mehrabyan, MD, is now board certified in electrodiagnostic medicine as well as neuromuscular medicine and neurology.

An article by James F. Howard, Jr., MD, titled, “Myasthenia gravis: the role of complement at the neuromuscular junction” is one of the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences’ most downloaded recent papers (1/2017 – 12/2018).


NC TracsDrs. Xiaopeng Zong (PI), William Powers (co-PI), and John Buse recently received a $34,700 grant award from the North Carolina Translational and Clinical Sciences Institute and the UNC Dept. of Neurology. The researchers will investigate a new MRI method developed by Dr. Zong to see if it can be used to study tiny brain arteries in patients with diabetes who are at high risk to develop strokes from disease of these arteries.

Jane Fan, MD, was recently funded with a R21 grant, “ICT (Idiographic Clinical Trial) for rare diseases” from NCATS/NIH. The PI is Ty Ridenour, PhD, at RTI and Dr. Fan is the UNC principle investigator.

Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MD, co-authored two papers:

  • “Kappa free light chains is a valid tool in the diagnostics of MS: A large multicenter study.” Multiple Sclererosis Journal, May 2019.
  • “Long-term disability outcomes in relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a 10-year follow-up study.” Neurological Sciences, April 2019.

William Powers, MD, co-authored two papers:

AAN Annual Meeting

AAN 2019 Annual MeetingCongratulations to all who attended, presented, and/or authored posters and abstracts accepted by the AAN for their 2019 Annual Meeting. Thank you for representing UNC and the Department at this major academic meeting that brought together over 14,000 neurology professionals this year. UNC presenters and/or authors of posters and abstracts included:

James F. Howard, Jr., MD:

Platform presentation (invited) – Emerging Science Session:

  • “Zilucoplan, a Subcutaneously Self-Administered Peptide Inhibitor of Complement Component 5 (C5), for the Treatment of Generalized Myasthenia Gravis: Results of a Phase 2 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial and Open-Label Long-Term Extension.”

Poster Presentations:

  • “Zilucoplan, a Subcutaneously Self-Administered Peptide Inhibitor of Complement Component 5 (C5), for the Treatment of Generalized Myasthenia Gravis: Results of a Phase 2 Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial and Open-Label Long-Term Extension.”
  • “Changes in concomitant immunosuppressive therapy use during a Phase 3 open-label study of eculizumab in adults with generalized myasthenia gravis: an interim analysis.”

Manisha Chopra, MD, was an author on the above posters.

Dan Kaufer, MD:

  • Course Director and Faculty:  “What Do I Do Now?  Assessing and Managing Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Neurocognitive Disorders.”
  • Faculty:  “Neurocognitive Assessment for Neurologists”
  • Poster presentation: “Progress and Participant Characterization in the Advancing Research and Treatment in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (ARTFL) Rare Disease Clinical Research Consortium.”

Bradley Vaughn, MD:

  • Course Director: “Using Sleep Medicine to Help Solve Difficult Neurologic Cases”
    • Introduction to Cases and Format
    • “Epilepsy and Daily Headache: I can’t Sleep”
    • “Never Rested: Multiple Sclerosis”

Heidi Roth, MD:

  • Course Presenter: “Women Founders of Neurology and Neuroscience – Brenda Milne”

Xiaoyan Li, MD, PhD (Resident PGY-4)
Co-authored with Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MD:

  • Poster presentation: “Vanishing ‘trident sign’ in recurrent sarcoid myelitis treated with Rituximab.”

Abbas Jowkar, MD (Neuromuscular Fellow):
Co-authored two abstracts that were presented by neurology residents from the Detroit Medical Center where he was faculty prior to coming to UNC.

  • Abstract number 1030 entitled “Anti-Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase Antibody Syndromes Occur at an Earlier Age In African Americans.”
  • Abstract number 1823 entitled “F/M Wave Area and F-Wave Duration Quantify Spinal Hyperexcitability in Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase (GAD) Antibody Positive Patients with Stiff Person Syndrome.”

Additional Presentations

Presenters at the Sleep Research Society’s international meeting, SLEEP 2019, in San Antonio from June 8-13 included:

Brad Vaughn, MD: “Sleep and Epilepsy: Pointers and Pitfalls in EEG in Identifying Seizure Types”

Ethan Yun, MD, fellow: Poster presentation on “Sleep Perception in Parkinson Patients”

Joel Erickson, MD, fellow: Poster presentation on “Sleep complaints in patients with psychogenic non-epileptic seizures.”

Nina Browner, MD, and Jessica Shurer, MSW, LCSW, were on the keynote panel at the Parkinson’s Foundation’s annual Centers of Excellence Leadership Conference in Phoenix, Arizona in April. They discussed the importance of screening for depression, anxiety and other mental health issues among Parkinson’s patients as well as recognizing and overcoming barriers to quality mental health care, including stigma. Ms. Shurer also presented on the ParkNC referral network at the same conference.

Nina Browner, MD, CLC 2019 Jessica Shurer - CLC 2019

Albert Hinn, MD, gave a talk titled “General Principles in the Interpretation of Intraoperative Evoked Potential Studies” at the NCSET meeting on May 18 in Raleigh.

Dan Kaufer, MD, presented at two Brain Health Conferences sponsored by the NC Registry for Brain Health – Asheville on May 1 and Greenville on June 28. Dr. Kaufer also presented at the Cleveland Clinic’s International Lewy Body Dementia Conference in Las Vegas on June 24.

William Powers, MD, gave a neurology grand rounds presentation titled, “Value-Based Diagnostic Work-up for Secondary Ischemic Stroke Prevention” at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical center on May 15.


Multidisc team at CurePSP Conf 2019The UNC Movement Disorders Center co-hosted the CurePSP 2019 Southeast Family Conference in Raleigh, NC, on June 6-7. Miriam Sklerov, MD, and Jessica Shurer, MSW, LCSW, were on the planning committee for the event, which had over 100 attendees. The program was an opportunity for patients and families impacted by the rare atypical Parkinsonism diagnoses of progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, and multiple system atrophy to learn about symptoms and treatment options, tap into local and national resources, and form meaningful, supportive connections.

In addition, the UNC Movement Disorders Center hosted “PD 301: An Overview of Advanced Stage Parkinson’s” in May. This recurring community program is geared towards patients and families experiencing a longer-standing disease state and provides education treatment and resource options for symptom management, safety, rehabilitation therapies, care partner support, long-term care, and palliative care.

Lace up those sneakers and get in shape for the Head For The Cure 5K Run/Walk in Southern Village, Chapel Hill on Sept. 7 to raise awareness and funds for brain cancer research. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the UNC Brain Tumor Program. Register >


Health Talk - Cluster seizuresHae Won Shin, MD, was interviewed for a UNC Health Talk article, “FDA Approves Groundbreaking Rescue Treatment for Cluster Seizures.”

Diana Cejas, MD, wrote three articles that were published online:

  • “Taking charge of my story as a cancer patient at the hospital where I work,” Catapult Magazine
  • “How disability complicated my relationship with yoga and changed how I talk to my patients,” HelloGiggles
  • “An open letter to struggling medical students,” KevinMD