BrainSPORT team

Sports Neurology / Pediatric Neurology

Christopher C. Giza, MD

Christopher C. Giza, MD

Director, UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program

Dr. Giza leads the Pediatric TBI/Sports Concussion program at UCLA. Eminently qualified, 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. More »

Meeryo C. Choe, MD

Meeryo C. Choe, MD

Neurologist, Specialized in Sports Concussion and TBI Associate Director, UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program

Dr. 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 a pediatrics residency and child neurology fellowship. After completing training, Dr. Choe combined her personal interest in sports with her professional interest in the developing brain by serving as a Neurotrauma/Sports Neurology Fellow at UCLA with Dr. Christopher Giza. More »

Adam J. Darby, MD

Adam J. Darby, MD

UCLA Neurology Faculty UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Fellow ‘17

Dr. Adam Darby spent the first 21 years of his life in the North of England, where he received his undergraduate education in both academics and sports, emerging with a degree in environmental sciences from Durham University. His introduction to the United States was as a soccer and later rugby coach, while he taught high school sciences and attended night classes at UCLA to complete his pre-med requisites. 

Joshua L. Kamins, MD

Joshua L. Kamins, MD

Health Sciences Assistant Clinical Professor UCLA Neurology UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Fellow ‘18

Dr. Joshua Kamins is originally from the Bay Area where he found an interest in medicine as a member of the Marin County Search and Rescue team. He then attended the University of Pennsylvania where he graduated with honors in the Biological Basis of Behavior. His undergraduate research studies led to publications on the role of the NMDA receptor in Schizophrenia.

Neuropsychology

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Robert F. Asarnow, PhD

Professor, Clinical Psychology

Dr. Asarnow’s research is studies examining the neurobehavioral sequelae of traumatic brain injuries in children and adults. These are prospective, epidemiological studies that assess language, cognition and school and adaptive functioning in children and adults who have suffered significant traumatic brain injuries. More »

Talin Babikian, PhD

Talin Babikian, PhD

Associate Director, UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program

Talin Babikian is a board certified clinical neuropsychologist and Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry within the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Babikian earned a doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis in Neuropsychology from Loma Linda University in 2005. More

Douglas Polster, PhD

Douglas Polster, PhD

Clinical Instructor, UCLA Department of Neuroscience and Human Behavior, Neuropsychology Div. UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Fellow

Doug Polster is sports neuropsychologist and Clinical Instructor in the Division of Neuropsychology within the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and received his doctoral degree in clinical psychology, with an emphasis in sports and health psychology, from Nova Southeastern University in 2015.

Sports Medicine

Joshua T. Goldman, MD

Joshua T. Goldman, MD

Associate Director, UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program

Dr. Goldman is a Health Science Assistant Clinical Professor of Family Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery. At UCLA, Dr. Goldman cares for both Family Medicine and Sports Medicine patients of all ages, while supervising medical students, residents, and Sports Medicine fellows. He is the team physician for the UCLA football, men's soccer, and women's water polo teams. More »

Treatment Team

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Natalie A. Gavi, RD

Registered Dietitian

Natalie Gavi grew up in Chicago, Illinois, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition Science from The University of Illinois at Chicago. She went on to complete her dietetic internship and Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition from Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Oregon. 

Madison B. Harris, OTD

Madison B. Harris, OTD

Occupational Therapist

Dr. Madison Harris is a board certified occupational therapist and Los Angeles native. She earned her Bachelors of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2016, her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy in 2017, and her Occupational Therapy Doctorate in 2018, all from the University of Southern California (USC). She has always had a passion for working with athletes, specifically those who are recovering from an injury or transitioning into retirement.

adi nisimov

Adi Nisimov, OTR/L

Occupational Therapy Doctoral Student

Adi is a board-certified occupational therapist and a current Occupational Therapy Doctoral Resident at the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT program. She is a Los Angeles native and is completing her doctoral studies at the University of Southern California (USC). She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2017 and her Masters of Arts in Occupational Therapy from USC in 2021.

Clinical Administration

janet kor

Janet Kor

Administrative Coordinator

Ms. Kor has worked for the Department of Pediatric Neurology since 2008. She has administratively supported the BrainSPORT program since its inception and is responsible for coordinating patient visits. Janet triages concussion patient inquiries in order to determine what neurocognitive services are needed.

susana ruiz

Susana Ruiz

Administrative Support and Clinic Coordinator

Susana has worked at UCLA since 2005 as an Administrative Assistant. She has the roll of supporting the BrainSPORT program clinic schedule and she is responsible for coordinating patient visits. Susana triages concussion patient inquiries in order to determine what neurocognitive services are needed.

Program and Clinical Research Team

Yena Kim

Yena Kim, MSW

Senior Staff Research Coordinator

Yena Kim graduated from UCLA with her bachelors in Political Science, followed by a Master of Social Welfare in 2014. She has worked with various populations from transitional aged youths to geriatrics within research prior to her joining the BrainSPORT team. Yena’s personal interest in neuroscience and research has brought her to the lab in which she hopes to expand her knowledge in brain injuries.

Philip Rosenbaum

Philip Rosenbaum

Program and Research Coordinator

Philip has been a member of the BrainSPORT Program since 2015. A proud UCLA Bruin, he earned his BS in neuroscience with a minor in philosophy. While a student at UCLA, he played Division 1 and club water polo, leading to his interests in sports related injury prevention and treatment. Philip’s passion for sports, health, neuroscience research and outreach brought him to become a part of the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT team. 

Anne Brown

Anne Brown

Clinical Research Coordinator

 

Anne Brown joined the BrainSPORT team in September 2018. Anne is an Ohio native where she earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology from Wright State University. Upon graduating, she began working at Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH) in Columbus, OH. During her 5 years at NCH she helped to execute various studies examining early life influences on child development and behavior.

Aliyah Snyder

Aliyah Snyder, PhD

Research Fellow

Dr. Aliyah Snyder is the UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellow. She specializes in brain injury and sports concussion at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. Dr. Snyder received her doctoral degree in the neuropsychology track of the clinical and health psychology program at the University of Florida. 

Basic Science Research Team

David A. Hovda, PhD

David Hovda, PhD

Vice Chair of Academic Affairs Director, UCLA Brain Injury Research Center

In 1989, Dr. Hovda was recruited by the Department of Neurosurgery to direct its scientific efforts to understand the cellular pathophysiology of brain injury. This work resulted in providing the backbone for UCLA being recognized as a "Center of Excellence" by the National Institutes of Health. He has served as Chair of study sections for the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke (NINDS).  More »

Mayumi Prins, PhD

Mayumi Prins, PhD

Associate Director, UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program Director, BIRC Outreach & Education Programs, Department of Neurosurgery

Dr. Prins’s research interests include understanding the changes in brain metabolism that occur after pediatric traumatic brain injury and how alternative fuels can be used as therapeutic options for the young brain after head injury. In addition to this main focus, she is interested in repeat mild head injuries as they apply to both children and young adult athletes.

neil harris

Neil Harris, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Neurosurgery

Dr. Neil Harris has worked within the fields of hydrocephalus, stroke and traumatic brain injury. The major theme of his current research at UCLA is understanding the potential for plasticity and function after trauma utilizing both light microscopy cell biology techniques as well as in vivo neuroimaging methodologies.

Current Tisch BrainSPORT Fellows

Neil A. Bhathela, DO

Neil A. Bhathela, DO

Dr. Neil Bhathela was born and raised in Raleigh, NC. He graduated with a BSPH in Public Health at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill with a focus in toxicology and environmental engineering. He completed his medical training at Campbell University School of Osteopathic Medicine in 2017, where he held several leadership positions in health care advocacy. He led nationwide efforts in supporting patients and families affected by Parkinson's Disease and Huntington's Disease.

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Maria P. Grant-Tejada, MD

UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Fellow ‘23; UCLA Goldberg Migraine Program Fellow ‘23

Dr. Maria Pia Grant Tejada was born and raised in Puerto Rico. She found an early interest in medicine during her teens, particularly Neurology, after she found her grandmother having a stroke. She attended the University of Puerto Rico (UPR), where she was on the Dean's List and graduated Magna Cum Laude in Biology. She attended medical school at Universidad Central Del Caribe in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. 

daniel rafie

Daniel Rafie, MD

UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Fellow ‘22

Dr. Rafie graduated with his Bachelors in International Affairs from James Madison University. He was inspired to pursue a medical degree after multiple medical services trips to Central America and Haiti in which he observed the positive effects of philanthropic medicine. He obtained his MD at the American University of the Caribbean, and completed his Neurology residency training at the Hackensack Health - JFK Neuroscience Institute in New Jersey.