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Welcome Our New Providers!

Varina Boerwinkle, MD Varina Boerwinkle, MD, joined the department on March 31 as a professorial candidate of neurology, and the chief of the Child Neurology Division. Dr. Boerwinkle received her medical degree from the University of Texas Southwestern after graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in chemical engineering. She completed her residency in pediatric neurology from Baylor College of Medicine. She is a pediatric and neonatal neurointensivist and director of the clinical resting state fMRI service. Dr. Boerwinkle’s research interests include biomarkers of covert consciousness and recovery from coma, and epileptogenesis via resting state functional MRI.
Maggie Ivancic Maggie Ivancic, MSW, LCSWA, joined UNC Neurology in December as the social worker and center coordinator for UNC Movement Disorders Center. Maggie received her MSW from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed her clinical internship with Duke Movement Disorders Center. Prior to joining the UNC Movement Disorders team Maggie worked as a hospice social worker.
Chelsea Simmons, DNP, FNP-BC Chelsea Simmons, DNP, FNP-BC, CCRN, joined us in March as the primary clinical coordinator for the UNC Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) Clinic where she cares for patients in the multidisciplinary clinic and coordinates post-clinic recommendations and plans. She received her DNP from UNC and a BS in nursing from Southeast Missouri State University.
Jessica Rider, MS, FNP-BC, started with the Movement Disorders Division in February. She received her MS in nursing from Chamberlain University where she completed the family nurse practitioner specialty track. Prior to that program, Jessica earned her BS in nursing from Ashland University.
Miriam Stokes, MSN, APRN, AGACNP-BC, CEN, joined the Neurocritical Care Division in January. Miriam received her MS in nursing from Duke University where she completed the Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner Program and a Cardiology Specialty Certificate. Earlier in her career, she received a BS in nursing from Florida Southwestern State College and a BS in health sciences with a minor in health communications from the University of South Florida.

Department News

William J. Powers, MD
William J. Powers, MD, will retire from UNC on June 30.

William J. Powers, MD, Professor of Neurology in the Division of Stroke and Vascular Neurology and former department chair (April 2007 – April 2018) will retire from UNC on June 30. Read about his many contributions to the department.

Robert Statts, who served as the chief accounting officer and budget analyst for the departments of Neurology and Urology, began serving as UNC Neurology’s interim associate chair for administration on March 17. Learn more >

New faculty development and mentoring information is now available on the website through the “Department Portal” link that can be found in the footer of the UNC Neurology website. An ONYEN is required for login.

Jorge Almodovar, MD, shares his “Lessons from the Pandemic: Time to Innovate” in the latest
Wellness Report.


Award-Recognition RibbonJane Fan, MD, was invited to be a board member for the Data and Safety Monitoring Board for the INCLUDE (The INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE) study, NHLBI, NIH.

Monica Diaz, MD, MS, and Ana Felix, MBBCH, FAAN, were elected as the 2022-2023 Vice Chairs of the American Academy of Neurology’s Global Health Section and the AB Baker Section for Neurological Education, respectively. Learn more >

Richard Murrow, MD, received the 2022 UNC Hospitals and UNC Faculty Physicians Award for Carolina Care Excellence.

Senyene Hunter, MD, PhD, was named as a UNC School of Medicine Simmons Scholar, effective July 2022. Learn more >

Winnie Lau, MD, was appointed the UNC Junior Faculty representative for the AAMC Council for Faculty and Academic Societies.

Clio Rubinos, MD, MS, was appointed as an editor for Neurocritical Care Currents.

Le'Starr Rose, Dr. Grace DeHoff, Helena French
Le’Starr Rose, Dr. Grace DeHoff, & Helena French receive Golden Knight Award.

Neuromuscular fellow, Eric Creed, DO, received the 2022 American Association of Neuromuscular & Electrodiagnostic Medicine’s Resident and Fellowship Member Award for his abstract entitled, “Chronic Zinc Supplementation after Covid-19 Vaccination Leading to Copper Myeloneuropathy.”

PGY-2 Laura de Lima Xavier, MD, was selected as one of seven recipients of the Neurologist-in-Training Clinical Ethics Elective for 2022-2023. She also was selected as an ex officio member and the sole resident participant of the AAN’s Ethics, Law, and Humanities Committee over the coming year.

Neurocritical Care Fellow, Grace DeHoff, DO, and two nurses, Le’Starr Rose and Helena French were recognized by the US Army Parachute Team, the Golden Knights, for the excellent care they provided for one of our NSICU patients.


MicroscopeJames F. Howard, Jr., MD, co-authored:

  • Role attainment in emerging adulthood: subjective evaluation by male adolescents and adults with Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophy. Journal of Neuromuscular Diseases, March 5, 2022.
  • Effect of Different Corticosteroid Dosing Regimens on Clinical Outcomes in Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA, April 19, 2022. Co-authored with Manisha Chopra, MBBS, and other researchers.
  • Classical complement pathway inhibition in a ‘human-on-a-chip’ model of autoimmune demyelinating neuropathies Advanced Therapeutics. Advanced Therapeutics, April 5, 2022. Co-authored with Manisha Chopra, MBBS, and other researchers.

Ian Shih, Esteban A. Oyarzabal, Li-Ming Hsu, Manasmita Das, Tzu-Hao Harry Chao, Sheng Song, Weiting Zhang, Hong Yuan, Sung-Ho Lee and other Triangle Park researchers co-authored, “Chemogenetic stimulation of tonic locus coeruleus activity strengthens the default mode network.” Science Advances, March 2022. UNC Health article >

Monica Diaz, MD, MS, was first author of “Prevalence of Epilepsy, Human Cysticercosis, and Porcine Cysticercosis in Western Kenya.” The American Journal of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, online March 14, 2022.

Jane Fan, MD, co-authored “Evaluation of electroencephalography biomarkers for Angelman syndrome during overnight sleep.” Autism Research. March 19, 2022.

Book cover - Tremors edited by Cluadia M. Testa & Dietrich HaubenbergerThe book, “Tremors,” co-authored by Claudia Testa, MD, PhD, is now available. The book includes a chapter with first authorship by PGY2 resident, Laura de Lima Xavier, MD. (Published by Oxford University Press.)

Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MD, co-authored, “In utero exposure to maternal anti–aquaporin-4 antibodies alters brain vasculature and neural dynamics in male mouse offspring.” Science Translational Medicine, April 2022.

Zarin Tabassum, Jui-Heng Tseng, Camryn Isemann, Xu Tian, Youjun Chen, Todd Cohen and Laura Herring (UNC Department of Pharmacology) co-authored, “Identification of a reciprocal negative feedback loop between tau-modifying proteins MARK2 kinase and CBP acetyltransferase” Journal of Biological Chemistry, April 2022

Neurological complications of systemic cancer and antineoplastic therapy with chapter written by Dr. RaufYasmeen Rauf, MD, wrote a book chapter, “Neurological complications of systemic cancer of the head and neck” that was published in “Neurological complications of systemic cancer and antineoplastic therapy,” 2nd Edition.

Matthew Field Sharrock, MD, co-authored “Bayesian deep learning outperforms clinical trial estimators of intracerebral and intraventricular hemorrhage volume.” Journal of Neuroimaging, April 2022. The paper introduces a technique that allows investigators to assess AI model uncertainty levels when using automated imaging measurements in a clinical trial, particularly when different types of injuries intersect and there are questions about which one predominates.

Clinical Trials

Jamie Capal, MD, is the PI of three recently activated clinical trials:

  • Roche Pharmaceuticals: Long-term Extension (LTE) of the Phase 1-2a clinical trial (above) of an ASO therapy for Angelman Syndrome. Learn more >
  • Ionis Pharmaceuticals / Biogen: A Phase 1-2a Study to Evaluate the Safety, Tolerability, Pharmacokinetics and Pharmacodynamics of Intrathecally Administered Anti-sense Oligonucleotide (ASO; ION582) in Patients with Angelman Syndrome (“HALOS”). Learn more >
  • Zynerba Pharmaceuticals: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Multiple-Center, Efficacy and Safety Study of ZYN002 Administered as a Transdermal Gel to Children and Adolescents with Fragile X Syndrome (“RECONNECT”). Learn more >


UNC Neurology faculty and residents gave an impressive (possibly record-breaking) number of presentations both nationally and internationally this spring including many posters and papers presented at the American Academy of Neurology Annual Conference, April 2 – 7 in Seattle, Washington. View the presentations > 

Xiaoyang Li, MD

PGY-4 Xiaoyang Li, MD

Drs. Jane Fan & Sonia Varghese

Jane Fan, MD & PGY-5 Sonia Varghese, MD


Jane Fan, MD, discusses “The lingering effects of pandemic sleep for kids” in this online National Geographic article.

James F. Howard Jr., MD, was quoted in a Healio article “FDA approves drug for adults with generalized myasthenia gravis.”


Walk MS

UNC Neurology teamed up with UNC Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation again this year for the National MS Society’s Walk MS event held in Raleigh on April 2. Our team, the “UNC Neuro Heels,” raised $1800! Thanks to everyone who contributed and/or participated.

MS Walk-a-Thon

Irena Dujmovic Basuroski, MD, supported and gave a talk at the annual MS awareness Walk-A-Thon fundraiser organized by Mary Locklear and her family in Pembroke, NC on March 26, 2022. Proceeds were donated to UNC Health Foundation.

Locklear MS Walk-a-Thon

Dr. Li Shen
Dr. Li Shen

BRIC Seminar Series

The Biomedical Research Imaging Center is excited to announce the return of their Seminar Series on May 25 at 11am EDT. Dr. Li Shen of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine will present “Brain imaging genetics for Alzheimer’s disease: integrated analysis and machine learning” via Zoom. Learn more >


This month’s Duke-UNC Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers IDEAS Forum on May 26 at 4pm will feature:

  • Melissa Harris, PhD, RN
    Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Duke University and Durham VA Healthcare System
    “Development of a Dyadic Stress Management Toolkit for Dementia Caring Dyad”
  • Ling Wu, MD, PhD
    Research Assistant Professor Biotechnology Research Institute and Technology Enterprise (BRITE Institute) North Carolina Central University
    “New Biomarkers for Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Tauopathies Diagnosis”

All trainees interested in Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) are invited to attend. Zoom link >
Contact Quirina Vallejos for more information or to join the forum listserv.