Chief Residentgordon

Amber Gordon is currently the Chief Resident in UAB's Department of Neurosurgery. She credits her success to her family who never set any boundaries and who "always believed in me." She grew up as a southern belle from a rural town in south Alabama. However, "don't let the lace and parasol fool you"! She has always enjoyed the challenge of taking things apart and putting them back together. This enthusiasm for figuring things out led her to Vanderbilt University where she majored in Biomedical Engineering. During her senior design project, she engineered a glove for use during deep brain stimulation electrode placement to quantify Parkinson's disease symptoms. This is where she found her passion for neurosurgery.

Amber chose the UAB Neurosurgery residency program because it offers residents the unique opportunity to become clinically and surgically sound while at the same time preparing them for an academic future. Early in her residency, Amber authored the UAB Neurosurgery Survival Guide. This handbook has evolved into a comprehensive road map for interns, residents, and nurses. It includes diagrams for surgical positioning, common post-operative orders, flow charts for treating elevated ICP, and best of all, personal advice on, "how to survive your neurosurgery residency". The Survival Guide is a coveted finding in the white coat pocket of all our residents.

MMortazavi-105x150Martin M. Mortazavi is a native of Stockholm, Sweden. Martin obtained his medical degree from Karolinska Institute School of Medicine - one of Europe's largest and most distinguished medical schools. He completed an orthopedic surgical residency at Karolinska University Hospital with one year of enfolded spine-fellowship. He also has a postgraduate degree in Sports Medicine from Sweden's Umeå University.

After completing his orthopedic residency, Martin conducted a year and a half of post-graduate research on spinal cord trauma and regeneration at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. Acknowledging his outstanding research in neuronal regeneration, Dr. Mortazavi was awarded the 2009 AANS/CNS spinal cord award.

Martin is pursuing postgraduate training in neurological surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The focus of his interests is on neuronal regeneration, vascular neurosurgery and neuroanatomy. His clinical interest is neurovascular and skull- based surgery. A featured speaker, he has given numerous presentations throughout the United States and Europe. Dr. Mortazavi has authored and co-authored more than 80 publications, editorials and book chapters.

Hypertonic saline for treating raised intracranial pressure: literature review with meta-analysis: a review
MM Mortazavi, AK Romeo, A Deep, CJ Griessenauer, MM Shoja, ...
Journal of neurosurgery 116 (1), 210-221

Pediatric Chiari malformation Type 0: a 12-year institutional experience: Clinical article
JJ Chern, AJ Gordon, MM Mortazavi, RS Tubbs, WJ Oakes
Journal of Neurosurgery: Pediatrics 8 (1), 1-5

Ligaments of the craniocervical junction: A review
RS Tubbs, JD Hallock, V Radcliff, RP Naftel, M Mortazavi, MM Shoja, ...
Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine 14 (6), 697-709

Cavum velum interpositum, cavum septum pellucidum, and cavum vergae: a review
RS Tubbs, S Krishnamurthy, K Verma, MM Shoja, M Loukas, ...
Child's Nervous System 27 (11), 1927-1930

Copolymerization of ethylene–propylene using high‐activity bi‐supported Ziegler–Natta TiCl4 catalyst
GH Zohuri, MM Mortazavi, R Jamjah, S Ahmadjo
Journal of applied polymer science 93 (6), 2597-2605

The cranial dura mater: a review of its history, embryology, and anatomy
N Adeeb, MM Mortazavi, RS Tubbs, AA Cohen-Gadol
Child's Nervous System 28 (6), 827-837

Ethylene Homo‐and Copolymerization Using a Bis‐IndZrCl2 Metallocene Catalyst: Structural Composition Distribution of the Copolymer
M Mortazavi, H Arabi, GH Zohuri, S Ahmadjo, M Nekoomanesh, ...
Macromolecular Reaction Engineering 3 (5‐6), 263-270

Anatomy and pathology of the cranial emissary veins: a review with surgical implications
MM Mortazavi, RS Tubbs, S Riech, K Verma, MM Shoja, A Zurada, ...
Neurosurgery 70 (5), 1312-1319

Study of the cervical plexus innervation of the trapezius muscle: Laboratory investigation
RS Tubbs, MM Shoja, M Loukas, J Lancaster, MM Mortazavi, EM Hattab, ...
Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine 14 (5), 626-629

Pediatric cervical spine injuries: a comprehensive review
M Mortazavi, PA Gore, S Chang, RS Tubbs, N Theodore
Child's Nervous System 27 (5), 705-717

Pediatric multilevel spine injuries: an institutional experience
MM Mortazavi, S Dogan, E Civelek, RS Tubbs, N Theodore, HL Rekate, ...

Child's Nervous System 27 (7), 1095-1100

The first posterior fossa decompression for Chiari malformation: the contributions of Cornelis Joachimus van Houweninge Graftdijk and a review of the infancy of “Chiari decompression”
MM Mortazavi, RS Tubbs, TC Hankinson, JA Pugh, AA Cohen-Gadol, ...
Child's Nervous System 27 (11), 1851-1856

Cellular and paracellular transplants for spinal cord injury: a review of the literature
MM Mortazavi, K Verma, RS Tubbs, N Theodore
Child's Nervous System 27 (2), 237-243

The microanatomy of spinal cord injury: a review
MM Mortazavi, K Verma, OA Harmon, CJ Griessenauer, N Adeeb, ...
Clinical Anatomy 28 (1), 27-36

Ossification of the suprascapular ligament: a risk factor for suprascapular nerve compression?
RS Tubbs, C Nechtman, AV D'Antoni, MM Shoja, MM Mortazavi, ...
International journal of shoulder surgery 7 (1), 19

Persistent fetal intracranial arteries: a comprehensive review of anatomical and clinical significance: A review
RS Tubbs, K Verma, S Riech, MM Mortazavi, MM Shoja, M Loukas, ...
Journal of neurosurgery 114 (4), 1127-1134

The nervus intermedius: a review of its anatomy, function, pathology, and role in neurosurgery
RS Tubbs, DT Steck, MM Mortazavi, AA Cohen-Gadol
World neurosurgery 79 (5), 763-767

The intracranial arachnoid mater
N Adeeb, A Deep, CJ Griessenauer, MM Mortazavi, K Watanabe, ...
Child's Nervous System 29 (1), 17-33

Intraoperative and anatomical descriptions of intracranial connections between the glossopharyngeal and vagus nerves: clinical implications: Laboratory investigation
RS Tubbs, MM Mortazavi, M Loukas, MM Shoja, AA Cohen-Gadol
Journal of neurosurgery 115 (1), 179-181

The arcade of Struthers: an anatomical study with potential neurosurgical significance
RS Tubbs, A Deep, MM Shoja, MM Mortazavi, M Loukas, ...
Surgical neurology international 2

TWhisenhunt-105x150Thomas Whisenhunt completed an undergraduate degree in Cell Biology from San Diego State University and a Master of Science in Molecular Biology at the University of California at San Diego. Dr. Whisenhunt received his Doctor of Medicine in conjunction with a Doctor of Philosophy in Cellular Biology at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

As a child, he loved science and - since the age of seven - knew he wanted to be a surgeon. Tom honed his focus on neurosurgery as a specialty during his first year of medical school. As an undergraduate, Tom became interested in DNA transcription and the regulatory role of gene expression in development and disease. During the course of his PhD research, he studied O-Glycosylation as a transcriptional regulator. His foremost goal is to explore the stress response pathway and methods of modifying this phenomenon so that ultimately, patients' outcomes are improved.

Dr. Whisenhunt is currently completing his neurosurgical training as a resident, and, in the course of his elective work, has returned to the laboratory. His ongoing research evaluates specific disease processes in animal models in preparation for conducting future clinical trials.

In summary, his discoveries in the lab are applicable in several different diseases in which ischemia and/or trauma affect the nervous system. Once these basic studies are completed, Dr. Whisenhunt will be prepared to initiate and carry out clinical trials that will give patients and their families hope for a better future.

Whisenhunt TR, Yang X, Bowe D, Paterson AJ, Van Tine BA, Kudlow JE. Disrupting the enzyme complex regulating O-GlcNAcylation blocks signaling and development. Glycobiology. 2006 Jun; 16(6):551-63. Epub 2006 Feb 27.

Toleman C, Paterson AJ, Whisenhunt TR, Kudlow JE. Characterization of the histone acetyltransferase (HAT) domain of a bifunctional protein with activatable O-GlcNAcase and HAT activities. J Biol Chem. 2004 Dec 17; 279(51):53665-73. Epub 2004 Oct 12.

Cobbs CS, Whisenhunt TR, Wesemann DR, Harkins LE, Van Meir EG, Samanta M. Inactivation of wild-type p53 protein function by reactive oxygen and nitrogen species in malignant glioma cells. Cancer Res. 2003 Dec 15; 63(24):8670-3.

Bermingham JR Jr, Shumas S, Whisenhunt T, Sirkowski EE, O'Connell S, Scherer SS, Rosenfeld MG. Identification of genes that are down regulated in the absence of the POU domain transcription factor pou3f1 (Oct-6, Tst-1, SCIP) in sciatic nerve. J Neurosci. 2002 Dec 1; 22(23):10217-31.

Bermingham JR Jr, Shumas S, Whisenhunt T, Rosenfeld MG, Scherer SS. Modification of representational difference analysis applied to the isolation of forskolin-regulated genes from Schwann cells. J Neurosci Res. 2001 Mar 15; 63(6):516-24.

Erkman L, Yates PA, McLaughlin T, McEvilly RJ, Whisenhunt T, O'Connell SM, Krones AI, Kirby MA, Rapaport DH, Bermingham JR, O'Leary DD, Rosenfeld MG. A POU domain transcription factor-dependent program regulates axon path finding in the vertebrate visual system. Neuron. 2000 Dec; 28(3):779-92.

Yang X, Bowe D, Sadlonova A, Whisenhunt TR, Hu Y, Rustgi A, Paterson AJ, Kulow JE. O-GlcNAcase Transferase is critical for repression of canonical Wnt signaling via Groucho/TLE. Submitted.

MFusco-105x150Matthew Robert Fusco was born in Casper, Wyoming and grew up in Roanoke, Virginia. He earned a B.A. in University of Virginia in 2003, choosing to major in psychology for optimal access to neuroscience and neuroanatomy courses. Dr. Fusco went on to obtain a Doctorate of Medicine from the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in 2007, prior to entering his neurosurgery residency-training program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Matt plans to pursue fellowship training in cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery as well as skull-based surgery following completion of his residency program. In the future, he foresees an active neurosurgery clinical practice concentrating on vascular and skull-based pathologies. Balancing his career, Matt hopes to pursue clinical research endeavors, particularly those that involve the use of health care resources. Newly married, Matt enjoys cooking Italian cuisine; reading works by his favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut; and playing-watching all sports - especially baseball and soccer.

naftel2-105x150Robert Naftel, a native of Birmingham, Alabama received his undergraduate degree from Washington and Lee University. Returning home, Dr. Naftel completed his Doctor of Medicine degree at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Focusing his surgical training on neurosurgery, he completed his residency at UAB. He continued his training at the University of Pittsburgh, completing a Pediatric Neurosurgery Fellowship.

fleming2-105x150J. Brett Fleming grew up in Delaware, Ohio - just north of Columbus. Dr. Fleming received his undergraduate degree at Denison University and subsequently attended medical school at Case Western Reserve University. While in medical school, he developed a strong interest in neurosciences and applied to the neurosurgery program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. While at UAB, Dr. Fleming developed a keen interest in cerebrovascular neurosurgery, including open and endovascular techniques. Dr. Fleming is currently practicing neurosurgery in Columbus, Ohio. He is married and has one daughter.


Benjamin J. Ditty, MD
Private Practice


Joseph H. Miller, MD
Private Practice


Amber S. Gordon, MD
Private Practice


Matthew R. Fusco, MD
Academic Practice

Martin M. Mortazavi, MD
Academic Practice

Thomas R. Whisenhunt Jr, MD, PhD
Private Practice


Robert P. Naftel, MD
Academic Practice

J. Brett P. Fleming MD
Private Practice


Mahesh B. Shenai, MD
Academic Practice

Holly A. Zywicke, MD
Private Practice

David F. Bauer, MD
Academic Practice


Blake Pearson, MD
Private Practice

Daniel Harmon, MD
Private Practice

Jason Cormier, MD
Private Practice


Derrick Cho, MD


Peter Leichty, MD


Mamerhi Okor, MD
University of Alabama at Birmingham


Kevin Ammar, MD


Jason Banks, MD

Kyle Doughty, MD


Kristen O. Riley, MD

MillerJoseph ("Jody") Miller, a native of Birmingham, Alabama, holds a B.S. from Samford University and a M.D. from the University Of Alabama Birmingham School Of Medicine. Dr. Miller is currently the Chief Resident in Neurological Surgery at UAB. His varied research interests in both adult and pediatric neurosurgical populations include epilepsy, vascular, oncology, trauma, and spine. Dr. Miller has eighteen publications, four book chapters, and has presented at over seventeen meetings.

His primary research interest is in translational and clinical research for spine and spinal cord injury. He was involved in the creation of the first porcine spinal cord injury research lab at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Additionally, he was awarded a T32 grant and has multiple publications in porcine stem cell injections for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Dr. Miller is happily married and the proud parent of four children. He and his family enjoy sailing a 1979 Catalina 22' that they rebuilt. He also enjoys rock climbing in the many canyons that stretch through Northeast Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. His other interests include mountaineering, skiing, mountain biking, salt-water

fly-fishing, hunting, playing golf, and running.

UAB Award for Clinical Excellence, 2009

Galbraith Award for Excellence in Neurosurgery Research, 2012

James "Buddy" Nobles Jr. Resident Education Award, 2012

Griffith Harsh Resident Education Award, 2013

Griffith Harsh Resident Education Award, 2014

Congress of Neurological Surgery Research Award- Boston, MA October 2014- "Preclinical
validation of Multilevel Intraspinal Stem Cell Therapy for Amyotrophic Lateral

1.  Miller JH, Chern JJ, Tubbs RS, et al. Massive pediatric neurosurgical injuries and lessons
     learned following a tornado disaster in Alabama. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2011;8(6):588-592

2.  Loukas M, Shayota BJ, Miller JH, et al. Associated disorders of Chiari Type I malformations:
     a review. Neurosurg Focus. 2011;31(3):E3.

3.  Chern JJ, Miller JH, Tubbs RS, et al. Clinical evaluation and surveillance imaging in spina 
     bifida aperta and shunt-treated hydrocephalus. J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2012;9(6):621-626

4.  Tubbs RS, Chern J, Miller JH, et al. Progressive Symptomatic Increase in Size of Choroidal Fissure
     Cysts: Case Series and a Review of the Literature. Report of 4 cases. JNS Peds.: 10(4):306-9 (2012)

5.  Federici T, Miller JH, Boulis N, et al. Surgical Technique for Spinal Cord Delivery of Therapies –     
     Demonstration of Procedure in Gottingen Minipigs. JOVE. (), e4371, DOI:10.3791/4371 (2012)

6.  Miller JH, Hadley MN, Pritchard PR. Neurosurgical injuries resulting from the 2011 Tornados:
     The UAB Experience. JNS. 2013 Jun;118(6):1356-62

7.  Lamanna JJ, Miller JH, Riley JP, Hurtig CV, Boulis NM. Cellular Therapeutics Delivery to the Spinal
     Cord: Technical Considerations for Clinical Application. Therapeutic Delivery. 2013;4(11).

8.  Leavitt R, Quach D, Lam T, Nguyen I, Lee D, Hefferan MP, Wu M, Hazel TG, Miller JH, Grin N,
     Hurtig CV, Federici T, Gutierrez J, Boulis N, Johe K. Safety profile of transplanting human neural
     stem cells into the phrenic nucleus of mini pig. Society for Neuroscience Abstract 716.04, 2013.

9.  Miller JH, Garber ST, McCormick DE, Eskandari R, Walker ML, Rizk E, Tubbs RS, Wellons JC.
     Oberlin transfer and partial radial to axillary nerve neurotization to repair an explosive traumatic 
     injury to the brachial plexus in a child: case report. Childs Nerv Syst. 2013 Nov;29(11):2105-9

10. Griessenauer CJ, Miller JH, Agee BS, Fisher WS, Cure JK, Chapman PR, Foreman PM, Fisher WAM,
      Witcher AC, Walters BC. Observer reliability of arteriovenous malformations grading scales using
      current imaging modalities. JNS. 2014 May;120(5):1179-87

11. Roque, B. Miller, J. Bone morphogenetic protein-associated complications in pediatric spinal fusion in
      the early postoperative period: an analysis of 4658 patients and review of the literature. Clinical article.    
      JNS Peds. 2014 Dec;14(6):635-43

12. Greissenauer CJ, Rizk E, Miller JH, Tubbs RS, Chern JJ. Pediatric tectal plate gliomas: clinical and
      radiological progression, MR imaging characteristics, and management of hydrocephalus. JNS Peds. 
      2014 Jan;13(1):13-20

dittyBenjamin J. Ditty, a Kentucky native, obtained a BA in Economics from Johns Hopkins University in 2005 and a degree in medicine from the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine in 2009.

Ben arrived at the University of Alabama Birmingham in 2009, the first year that the Division of Neurosurgery directed the internship of its new trainees. He completed his internship in the summer of 2010 and is currently completing his neurological surgery residency at UAB. Influenced by Drs. Mark N. Hadley and Winfield S. Fisher, III, Ben’s primary clinical interests are the treatment of spinal degenerative and traumatic disease and the open treatment of cerebrovascular pathology.

Ben is married to Ashleigh Ditty of London, KY. His extracurricular interests include golf, politics, and economic policy.