Winter 2023 Newsletter


Message from the Chair

Dr. Richard G. Ellenbogen, Professor and Chair, Neurological Surgery

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

It has been an amazing year, starting with a non-stop busy summer.  Our NIH R-25 Summer School program brought in college students from around the country. The steadfast commitment of faculty and residents in training URM students over the past decade plus has been nothing short of remarkable and led to over 80 being admitted into medical and graduate school. The 15th Annual Hike to the Heavens led by Louis Kim was another departmental tradition success with even some of the “no longer babies” faculty kids successfully completing the arduous Trek! The Grant Ideas keep coming and of the nearly 10 new ones, I will pick one to brag about, albeit ALL investigators deserve equal billing and are described in our newsletter.  Dr. Jeff Ojemann’s long standing brilliant idea for stroke rehabilitation with cortical stimulation received an 8-million-dollar funding line from NIH. The UW Medicine Brain Aneurysm Center at HMC opened to not only fanfare but an increase in patients who sought the nationally renowned expertise of our 4 cerebrovascular faculty.  We welcome 3 new amazingly wonderful and talented neurological surgery residents, Tina, Adriel and Pancho, to our residency. Everyone is saying this is the best class ever. Of course, we say that every year, but this year it is especially true! Lastly, we welcome creative, talented New Faculty, New Fellows (50% closer to graduation and launch) and New Babies to carry on our Mission.  Thank you for contributing to our legacy Nathan Levitt and Eoin Argo!   Have a Wonderful Holiday Season with your families and be Safe!  

With admiration for you all,


Special Announcements

Hike to the Heavens

The Department of Neurological Surgery held its 15th annual Hike to the Heavens this August, hosted by Louis and Aylin Kim. Over 40 intrepid participants hiked the challenging 13-mile loop in the Olympic National Park. As per tradition, the beautiful day outdoors concluded with a group dinner at the trailhead provided by Sergio’s Hacienda.

Neurological Surgery Summer Students Graduate

The Neurological Surgery Summer Student Program returned to in-person lab placements in 2022 and hosted 14 students from 10 different universities and 7 different states in the program. The program's primary goal is to immerse a selected group of undergraduates, in particular those from underrepresented groups, in a translational environment of basic neuroscience, neural engineering, and neurological surgery.

This year’s cohort was comprised of 10 female and 4 male students. Of these, there were 4 African American, 2 Asian, 3 Caucasian, 2 Latinx, and 3 Native American identifying students. Additionally, 6 were first-generation college attendees and 11 received some type of financial aid for their education (5 received 100% financial aid). Eight students had no previous lab experience. Through a new collaboration with the Department of Neurology, 3 Neurology labs hosted students during the summer program. This was in addition to the ongoing participation of 2 Seattle Children’s Research Institute labs, 1 Allen Institute lab, 1 Fred Hutch lab, and 3 Department of Neurological Surgery labs.

A big thank you to all participating students, mentors, and the supporting labs and departments! To learn more about this program, read more here.

Patient Care

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The Fine family on a hike.

From Brain Tumor to Peak Condition

At 29 years old and thousands of miles from home, Daniel Fine was diagnosed with a brain stem tumor. “When I saw Daniel’s brain images, I knew it was going to be a long operation,” said Dr. Manuel Ferreira. Five years later, Daniel is once again climbing mountains. Read more here.

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© Yaroslav Danylchenko/Stocksy United

Three Women Share Their Brain Aneurysm Stories

Unruptured aneurysms may not cause symptoms or pose an immediate danger, but sometimes they need monitoring or treatment. Three women who were diagnosed with an unruptured brain aneurysm and treated by Dr. Louis Kim share their stories. Read more here.

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Dr. Michael Levitt, Dr. Laligam Sekhar, and Dr. Louis Kim

UW Medicine Announces Launch of Brain Aneurysm Center

Under the direction of Dr. Louis Kim, Chief of Neurological Surgery at Harborview Medical Center, the new Brain Aneurysm Center is implementing a pilot program to improve access to UW Medicine’s internationally recognized brain aneurysm experts. This pilot program is designed to support patients’ online searches for specialists who can address their concerns and develop a treatment plan. The Brain Aneurysm Center brings together the expertise of three neurosurgeons, Dr. Kim (right), Dr. Michael Levitt (left) and Dr. Laligam Sekhar (center), and a highly skilled team of nurses, advanced practice providers, patient care coordinators, patient services specialists, and other providers. Read more here.

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After a Lifetime of Seizures, Cured

Melissa Hunter experienced freedom from seizures after surgery performed by Dr. Jeffrey Ojemann. Read more here about her journey deciding upon surgery, recovering, and how she feels today (“life is amazing”).

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Racing Toward Her Dream

At the age of 4, Ellie Musgrave knew she wanted to be a race car driver. However, when she was 16, it looked like her dreams might veer off track when she needed surgery for a large tumor at the back of her brain. Operated on by Dr. Samuel Browd, read more here about her remarkable recovery and her current racing plans.  

Resident News


Residents had 3 abstracts accepted to various AANS annual meetings in Philadelphia, PA in April 2022.

Katherine Kelly MD, PGY2: Deep Brain Stimulation to Bilateral Centromedian Thalamic Nuclei in Refractory Generalized Pediatric Epilepsy and Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome

Scott Boop MD, PGY4: A comparison of clinical outcomes for subependymal giant cell astrocytomas treated with laser interstitial thermal therapy, open surgical resection, and mTOR inhibitors

Christopher Young MD PhD, graduate: Presentation, treatment and outcome of traumatic dural venous sinus thrombosis

Residents had 4 abstracts accepted to the SNIS Annual meeting in Toronto, Canada in July 2022.

Guil Barros MD, PGY6: 1) Ban the Scan: Clinical Utility of Routine Computed Tomography of the Head Following Elective Neuroendovascular Interventions; 2) Frailty Predicts Postoperative Functional Outcomes After Microsurgical Resection Of Ruptured Brain Arteriovenous Malformations; 3) Modeling The Effect Of Hemodynamics On Endothelial RNA Expression In Cerebral Aneurysms After Endovascular Flow Diversion

Dave Bass MD PhD, PGY7: Lagrangian particle tracking for coiled aneurysms

New Residents

Adriel Barrios-Anderson, MD

Adriel Barrios-Anderson, a Panamanian-American from Houston, TX, graduated magna cum laude from Brown University with a BSc and BA in Neuroscience and Science, Society, and Technology Studies, and MD from the Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University. At Brown, he conducted research on a novel pharmaceutical treatment for neonatal cerebrovascular brain injury, psychiatric neurosurgery, including neuroablation and Deep Brain Stimulation for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and spinal neurocircuitry involved in pain signaling. As a classically-trained violinist with over 20 years of experience, he has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, concert halls in Italy and Germany, and first found his way to medicine performing for patients in ICUs and hospital bedrooms. In his spare time, he loves to listen to and make music, eat great food, exercise, and read webcomics. 

Juan Ruiz Rodríguez, MD

Juan “Pancho” Ruiz Rodríguez was born and raised in Arecibo, Puerto Rico. He majored in physics at Princeton University and completed his undergraduate thesis work in quantum field theory. He later attended the University of Puerto Rico to study medicine. During this time, he witnessed the devastation of Hurricane Maria and joined in the island’s relief efforts. His neurosurgical research interests include using advanced computational tools to enhance closed-loop neuromodulation. He is also an Eagle Scout and an avid outdoorsman who enjoys spending time outdoors with friends, family, and his dog. He is fluent in both English and Spanish.

Zirun (Tina) Zhao, MD

Zirun (Tina) Zhao was born and raised in Beijing, China. She moved to the United States to attend Duke University where she majored in neuroscience, graduating with distinction and completing an honors thesis on validation of a conditional TrkB mutant mouse model to study epileptogenesis. She completed her medical education at the Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University in New York, where her research interest developed in glioblastoma and traumatic brain injury. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, baking and decorating cakes, playing tennis, karaoke, and discovering hiking trails in the Pacific Northwest. Selected awards and honors include Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, Graduation with Distinction in Neuroscience, Duke University, and Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Society.


Faculty Awards

Richard G. Ellenbogen, MD

2023 ACGME Parker J. Palmer Courage to Teach Award

Recognizing program directors who have fostered innovation and improvement in their residency/fellowship programs and served as exemplary role models for residents and fellows. Read more here.


Ali C. Ravanpay, MD PhD
Associate Professor

Stephen C. Houston, MD
Clinical Associate Professor

New Faculty Grants and Contracts Received, 2022

Jeffrey Herron, PhD 
Automated Optimization of Adaptive DBS for Parkinson’s Disease, UCSF Weill Neurohub, $136,368

Christine Mac Donald, PhD

Endophenotypes of Persistent Post-Concussive Symptoms in Adolescents, University of California, Los Angeles/National Institutes of Health, $100,470
EValuation Of Longitudinal outcomes in mild TBI Active-Duty Military and VEterans 10-Year (EVOLVE), National Institutes of Health, $618,887

Jeffrey G. Ojemann, MD
Motor Recovery through Plasticity-Inducing Cortical Stimulation, National Institutes of Health, $8,000,000

Nancy R. Temkin, PhD
Precision Medicine Pathomechanistic Classification of Traumatic Brain Injury: The Bridge to Targeted Therapies (TRACK-TBI), University of California, San Francisco, $4180
Epileptogenesis Project (TRACK-TBI), University of Pennsylvania, $9,500
Clinical Validation of Serum Neurofilament Light as a Biomarker of Traumatic Axonal Injury, University of Pennsylvania, $16,000

Melanie Walker, MD
Super-Selective Intra-arterial Embolization of Hypervascular Head and Neck Tumors, Guerbet, $299,341

Michael Williams, MD
A Placebo-Controlled Effectiveness in INPH Shunting (PENS) Trial, Johns Hopkins University/National Institutes of Health, $103,635
Regulatory Feasibility Study of Implantation of a Telemetric ICP Sensor in Commercial Spaceflight Participants, Translational Research Institute, $145,763

Zin Khaing, PhD
Hemodynamic basis for secondary cervical grey matter tissue loss after spinal cord injury, National Institutes of Health, $391,499
Defining microvascular structure and function in the aged cervical spinal cord, National Institutes of Health, $78,154

Samuel Browd, MD, PhD
ExerciseRx-CP: In-Home Computational Mobile Health Platform for Rehabilitation and Physical Activity Promotion in Cerebral Palsy
Seattle Children’s Research Institute, $250,000

James Pan, MD (Resident) and Christoph Hofstetter, MD, PhD
Exploring Revenue Models for SpineHealthie University of Washington CoMotion, $10,000

New Team Members

New Faculty

Robert T. Buckley, MD
Clinical Assistant Professor

Dr. Buckley’s clinical interests include neurotrauma, pediatric neurosurgery, brain tumors and epilepsy. He received his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine, completed neurosurgery residency at the University of Washington.

Benjamin L. Grannan, MD
Assistant Professor

Dr. Grannon has a clinical focus on functional neurosurgery, including epilepsy and movement disorder surgery, peripheral nerve transfer procedures, and peripheral nerve and spine tumors. He received his medical degree from Harvard University, completed neurosurgery residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and a fellowship in Epilepsy, Movement Disorders, and Brain Tumor Mapping at the University of Washington.

Jacob J. Ruzevick, MD
Assistant Professor

Dr. Ruzevick treats the entire spectrum of cranial oncology, including intrinsic and skull base tumors. He received his medical degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, completed neurosurgery residency at the University of Washington, and a fellowship in skull base and minimal invasive cranial surgical oncology at the University of Southern California.

Samuel Emerson, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor

Dr. Emerson is an Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery who specializes in brain tumors of all types, including skull base tumors, gliomas and metastases. Dr. Emerson received his MD and PhD at the University of Washington, completed neurosurgery residency at the University of Washington, and subsequently completed two fellowships at Harvard’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital: one in Skull Base Neurosurgery and one in Neuro-oncology and Clinical Trials.

New Fellows

David Bonda, MD
Acting Instructor, Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellow

Stephanie H. Chen, MD
Acting Instructor, Endovascular Fellow

Imad S. Khan, MD
Acting Instructor, Spine Surgery Fellow

Patrick Kim, MD
Acting Instructor, Spine Surgery Fellow

Andrew J. Montoure, MD
Acting Instructor, Cerebrovascular & Skull Base Fellow

Welcome to Nathan Louis Levitt, the newest member of the department, who entered the world 4 days early on Dec 4, 2022 at 2:09am. Nathan weighed 8lbs, 3.8oz and was 20” long at birth. Everyone is doing well. Congratulations to Michael and Julia Levitt!

Finally, please also welcome Eoin Argo! He weighed in at 9lbs 14oz and was 20.5 inches. Congratulations to Megan Schade, Adam and daughter Nora.