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UCLA Pediatric Neurology


Meet our Physicians


Raman Sankar, MD, PhD
Chief, Division of Pediatric Neurology
Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology

Raman Sankar is a graduate of the University of Bombay, India and obtained a PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Washington in Seattle. After several years as a faculty member, he decided to study Medicine and attended Tulane Medical School in New Orleans. Dr. Sankar founded the Developmental Research Laboratory in the Division of Pediatric Neurology, which is now directed by his collaborator, Dr. Andrey Mazarati. The laboratory pursues basic scientific research on topics ranging from seizure-associated brain injury, the process by which the brain may lead to the development of epilepsy, and in recent years, the mechanisms linking epilepsy with a number of neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression, ADHD, and autism. Dr. Sankar also participates in a number of clinical trials with members of the faculty, has edited several text books on epilepsy and is the author of more than 200 research articles, invited reviews, book chapters, and editorials.

Meeryo Choe, MD
Clinical Instructor of Pediatrics

Meeryo Choe grew up in the Los Angeles area, traveled east to attend Amherst College, and then returned to L.A. to attend medical school at USC. She came to UCLA in 2004 for her pediatrics residency and child neurology fellowship. After completing training, she decided to combine her personal interest in sports and professional interest in the developing brain together as a Neurotrauma/Sports Neurology Fellow with Dr. Christopher Giza. In clinic, Meeryo has been seeing patients with traumatic brain injury, with a focus on sports-related concussion. Her clinical and research interests include post-traumatic headache/migraine, gender differences in outcome after concussion, and dysautonomia. An avid equestrian competing in show jumping and former swimmer, Meeryo also coaches at a local high school giving her a unique perspective on an athlete's desire to return to his/her sport and the outside pressures they might experience.

Christopher Giza, MD
Professor of Pediatrics and Neurosurgery

Christopher Giza graduated from Dartmouth College, received his M.D. from West Virginia University and completed his internship at the University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Giza then trained in Adult and Pediatric Neurology at UCLA, after which he worked on the Yosemite Search and Rescue Team.  In 1998, he returned to UCLA and joined the Brain Injury Research Center.  His research interests include neuroplasticity, recovery from injury, sport-related concussions, post-traumatic epilepsy and brain development.  Dr. Giza leads the Pediatric TBI/Sports Concussion program at UCLA.  He served as Vice-Chair for the California State Athletic Commission, traveled to Afghanistan in 2011 as a civilian advisor to the Department of Defense and Co-Chaired the American Academy of Neurology's committee which developed an evidence-based Practice Guideline for Management of Sports Concussions in 2013. He serves on the Center for Disease Control's Pediatric mild TBI committee, the NCAA Concussion Task Force and the Major League Soccer Concussion Program Committee.  He is currently a Professor of Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

Shaun Hussain, MD, MS
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics

Shaun Hussain studied psychbiology as a UCLA undergraduate prior to attending medical school at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. After completing his medical studies and graduate training in clinical research methods, he returned to UCLA to complete residency training in Pediatrics and Neurology, as well as fellowship training in pediatric epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology. As Director of the UCLA Infantile Spasms Program, the focus of his clinical and research endeavors is infantile spasms (West Syndrome) and other severe forms of childhood epilepsy. Dr. Hussain serves on the National Infantile Spasms Consortium and is the recipient of the Epilepsy Foundation Care and Cure Fellowship Award and the Epilepsy Therapy Project Young Investigator Award.

Harley Kornblum, MD, PhD
Professor of Psychiatry, Molecular & Medical Pharmacology and Pediatrics

Harley Kornblum, MD, PhD, is currently a Professor of Psychiatry, Molecular and Medical Pharmacology and Pediatrics at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He is a Pediatric Neurologist, and is the Founding Director of the UCLA Neural Stem Cell Research Center. He is a Principal Investigator in the UCLA Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center and a member of The Brain Research Institute, The Molecular Biology Institute, The Broad Stem Cell Research Center and the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCLA. His degrees include a BA in Biology from Washington University and a PhD, and MD from UC Irvine. His research interests include the biology and use of neural stem cells, brain development, brain tumors, neural repair and autism.

Jason T. Lerner, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics

Jason Lerner graduated from Trenton State College and received his M.D. from The University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey. His training included: a residency in pediatrics at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, a residency in child neurology at Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a fellowship in pediatric epilepsy at UCLA.  He currently splits his time between clinical work, teaching, research and administrative duties. He is the Residency Program Director for Pediatric Neurology at UCLA and has trained 8 residents who are now practicing pediatric neurologists.  Dr. Lerner is also actively teaching and mentoring fellows, residents, medical students and undergraduate students. His research interests include: epilepsy surgery, ICU monitoring and post-traumatic epilepsy. Dr. Lerner has over 35 publications. He is currently an Assistant Professor of Pediatric Neurology and the Director of the Pediatric Neurophysiology Laboratory at the David Geffen School of Medicine and Mattel Children's Hospital at UCLA.

Joyce Matsumoto, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics

Joyce Matsumoto graduated from Pacific Union College in northern California, and received her MD from Loma Linda University School of Medicine, where she also completed her medical internship. She completed her Neurology residency at UCLA, then Epilepsy fellowship at UC San Francisco before returning to UCLA to work in the pediatric neurology division.  She is board certified in Neurology and Clinical Neurophysiology by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, and in Epilepsy Monitoring from the American Board of Clinical Neurophysiology. She has an active role with the UCLA Pediatric Epilepsy Program as a clinician and electroencephalographer, and serves as the Medical Director of the UCLA Ketogenic Diet program. Her research interests include continuous EEG monitoring in the critically ill children, and expanding the scope of ketogenic diet therapy to other neurologic and medical conditions.

Lekha M. Rao, MD
Assistant Clinical Professor of Pediatrics

Lekha Rao grew up in the Bay Area but left sunny California to study Neuroscience at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. After graduation, she stayed at Johns Hopkins for a year working in pediatric movement disorder research. She then went on to attend medical school at Drexel University in Philadelphia, finally returning to California for pediatric residency, child neurology, and pediatric epilepsy fellowship at UCLA.  Lekha's research interests include neonatal seizures and seizures following hypoxic-ischemic injury.  She currently sees patients both in Westwood and Santa Monica and also runs a free neurology clinic monthly at the Venice Family Clinic.

Pantea Sharifi-Hannauer, MD
Associate Physician

Pantea Sharifi-Hannauer was a former college student at UCLA and received a degree in Biology. She attended the Finch University of Health Sciences/The Chicago Medical School and also received a Master's degree in Physiology. She then returned to California for her residency training in Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology at UCLA. During her training, she specialized in seeing and managing patients with autism and neuro-developmental disorders under the mentorship of Sarah Spence, MD, PhD.  She was also an active participant in the AGRE (Autism Genetic Resource Exchange) project for several years as she travelled throughout the state visiting and evaluating families with multiple autistic children.  She continued her interest in autism and neurodevelopment in private practice while still being an active member of the UCLA faculty. Currently, she heads the Autism Epilepsy Clinic at the UCLA Santa Monica offices.  She is also the Medical Director at Pediatric Minds Medical Center/the Early Childhood Treatment Center in Torrance, California.  This is a unique program where intensive early intervention services are provided to children ages 2-6 years in a multi-disciplinary setting who have autism and other neuro-developmental disorders.  The services provided include speech therapy, behavioral therapies and neuro-psychological testing.  She is also involved in multiple research projects about autism including Autism genetics, autism and epilepsy, and autism interventions. 

W. Donald Shields, MD
Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and Neurology

Joyce Wu, MD
Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics

Joyce Y. Wu, MD is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics, in the Division of Pediatric Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. She is a pediatric neurologist and pediatric epileptologist, with a special interest in pediatric epilepsy surgery, including tuberous sclerosis complex. She directs the UCLA Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Program. Dr. Wu is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a bachelor's degree in Biochemistry. She obtained her MD from the New York University School of Medicine. She trained in pediatrics at the Boston City Hospital and in pediatric neurology at the Tufts Floating Hospital, both in Boston, MA. Upon completion of a 2-year pediatric epilepsy fellowship at UCLA, she stayed on as faculty ever since. Her research involves mapping the epileptogenic zone in children with intractable epilepsy. Initially this research focused on magnetoencephalography and its use in pediatric epilepsy surgery, including tuberous sclerosis complex, one of the more challenging subgroups of children with medically refractory epilepsy. More recently, she has undertaken high frequency oscillations research and the localizing value of this particular biomarker of the epileptogenic zone in children. Dr. Wu has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, initially with a K23 training grant from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and more recently with a R01 individual grant along with project grants from NINDS. In addition, Dr. Wu has also been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs/Department of Defense, Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, as well as Novartis Pharmaceutical Inc.-sponsored clinical trials. Dr. Wu is a member of the Professional Advisory Board of the Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance, and is a founding member of the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex Clinical Research Consortium. She is a member of an active pediatric epilepsy program at UCLA that is internationally well known for many advances in pediatric epilepsy surgery.