Sports Neurology / Pediatric Neurology
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 »
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 »
Dr. Darby was born and raised in Sunderland, England. He attended Durham University and received a Bachelor of Science honors degree in Environmental Sciences. He received his medical degree from St Georges University School of Medicine as part of the Global Scholars partnership with Northumbria University in Newcastle, England. He completed his Internal Medicine internship & Neurology residency at the University of Vermont prior to moving to California to complete UCLA fellowship training.
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.
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 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
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.
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 »
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.
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, OTR/L
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.
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 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, MSW
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 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 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, PhD
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 Hovda, PhD
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
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, PhD
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
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.
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, MD
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.