Benjamin Ditty, MD
Benjamin 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.
Joseph Miller, MD
Joseph ("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.
Daxa Patel, MD
Daxa M. Patel's hometown is Marietta, Georgia. She received an Artium Baccalaureatus degree and graduated magna cum laude with double majors in Biology and Economics and a minor in classics from Northwestern University. She then graduated with an Doctor of Medicine. degree and graduated cum laude from Emory University. Currently, she is pursuing her neurological surgery residency at the University of Alabama in Birmingham.
Dr. Patel has won many awards during in her medical career, including induction into the honorary medical society, Alpha Omega Alpha. Her research interests include pediatric neurosurgery and neuro-oncology. Specifically, she is researching the impact of serial CSF sampling in ventriculostomies and the risk of subsequent infections in patients at Children's Hospital of Alabama. Additionally, Dr. Patel has conducted a variety of reviews and reports ranging from intracranial metastatic neuroblastoma treated with radiosurgery to a brainstem arteriovenous malformation eradicated with gamma-knife therapy. Her future goals include investigating the treatment of arteriovenous malformations, the surgical treatment of epilepsy, and neurological infectious diseases in children. During her spare time, Dr. Patel likes long-distance running, bikram yoga, painting, and spending time with family.
Joshua Menendez, MD
Joshua Menendez graduated from Vanderbilt University in 2005 with a degree in Economics. A native of Birmingham, he returned home to attend the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. He matched in Neurosurgery at UAB and began training in June 2010. Menendez is interested in pursuing a career in academic medicine with an emphasis on functional neurosurgery and epilepsy surgery. His research interests include patient satisfaction with surgical care as well as emerging technologies for operative management of neurosurgical disease.
Dr. Menendez and his wife Ginger, a Birmingham native and currently a resident in the pediatrics program at UAB, have a son, D.Y.
Kimberly Kicielinski, MD
Kimberly Kicielinski, a native of Pittsburgh, received a BS in Chemistry and a BS in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon. While an undergraduate, she participated in varsity cross-country and track events. She conducted research in chondrocyte regeneration and the clinical pharmacology of chemotherapeutics at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute under Dr. Merrill Egorin. Dr. Kicielinski earned multiple publications and presentations for her work on a novel pharmacotherapy for renal cell carcinoma as well as a new chemotherapeutic regimen for glioblastoma. She obtained her medical degree from Penn State University in 2010. Kimberly was drawn to UAB neurosurgery for the well-rounded training opportunity: "I was overwhelmed by my visit to Birmingham. It was clear the program was busy, and I would see everything. Residents left with excellent operative skills, and the budding research focus meant that I would leave well-positioned for any career in academic neurosurgery." Kimberly's neurosurgical interests currently focus on cranial work. Outside of the hospital, Kimberly's favorite Birmingham attractions include the Sidewalk Film Festival, The Yoga Circle in Five Points, the Pepper Place Saturday Market, and her front porch.
Andrew Romeo, MD
Andrew Romeo’s hometown is Birmingham, AL. He earned a B.S. in Biochemistry from Rhodes College and then completed medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His research interests are in functional neurosurgery.
Paul Foreman, MD
Paul Foreman is a native of Edmond, OK. He received an undergraduate degree in biology from Oklahoma State University and went on to receive his doctorate of medicine from The Oklahoma Health Science Center. Upon completion of medical school he was presented the Lewis J. Moorman award, which is given to the top-ranking student in each class. Dr Foreman's interest in neurosurgery was confirmed after viewing his first craniotomy, and he displays a passion and commitment to the field. He has multiple papers submitted for publication, and is currently working with neurosurgical staff developing new projects. Dr Foreman's current interests revolve around vascular and pediatric neurosurgical pathology; however, he remains open to all fields at this early stage in training.
Ross Dawkins, MD
Ross Dawkins is a native of Memphis, TN. He received a Bachelor of Arts degree in biochemistry and a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from Rhodes College in Memphis. While there, he rowed with the crew team and continued his study of the bassoon. He then obtained his Doctorate of Medicine from The University of Tennessee Health Science Center. His involvement in neurosurgery with the UT residency program and Semmes Murphey in Memphis solidified the desire to make a career in neurosurgery his lifelong endeavor. He is currently a third year resident in Neurological Surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. His current interests include spine surgery and neurosurgical trauma. In his spare time, he enjoys running, cooking barbecue and following Nascar racing.
Esther C. Dupepe, MD
Esther Dupepe is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She received three degrees from Tulane University including her Bachelor’s of Arts in political science and a Masters of Science in Public Health prior to beginning medical school. As a junior at Tulane University School of Medicine, Dr. Dupepe was elected into Alpha Omega Alpha honor society. During medical school, Dr. Dupepe was involved in many research projects establishing Danio rerio as a novel animal model for the study of stress and anxiety under the mentorship of Allan Kalueff, PhD, PhD. Dr. Dupepe’s interest in neurosurgery began early in her medical education. At this stage of her training, she remains interested in all areas within the field.
John Amburgy, MD
John Amburgy grew up in the Tampa Bay area and developed a strong interest in the neurosciences at an early age. After having a family member become one of the first people in the Tampa Bay area to undergo stereotactic radiosurgery for metastatic brain tumors, he realized his desire to helping others in similar positions. He left Florida to attend Princeton University where he played football and majored in Politics, all while completing his pre-medical requirements. After college John would return to the South, but this time to the Atlanta, GA area where he worked for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals for several years before attending the Medical College of Georgia. John's research interests currently consist of traumatic brain injuries (including those from playing sports), neurological tumors, Gamma Knife, and functional neurosurgery but he is keeping his mind open to the entire field.
Samuel G. McClugage III, MD
Samuel “Trey” McClugage was born in New Orleans, LA and raised in the French Quarter. He left New Orleans to attend the University of Virginia, graduating in 2008, and earning a B.A. with Highest Distinction in Neuroscience. His interest in neurosurgery began at UVA, with his research in laminin nanofiber mesh substrates as conduits for peripheral nerve repair, under the direction of Dr. Roy Ogle. Dr. McClugage expanded his interests in the neurosciences during his tenure at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, where he worked in the lab of Dr. Corinne Griguer throughout medical school. His primary research focus was mechanisms of mitochondrial chemoresistance to Temodar in glioblastoma multiforme.
Dr. McClugage was happy to continue his training at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, joining the neurosurgery program in 2012. His current interests include pediatric neurosurgery and cerebrovascular/skull base surgery, but he remains open to many fields at this stage of his career.
Christopher D. Shank, MD
Dr. Christopher D. Shank is the son of Drs. Charles and Rebecca Shank (neurosurgery and neurology, respectively). He was raised in Fort Worth, TX, attending Trinity Valley School. After graduating from TVS in 2006, he attended Texas Christian University, graduating summa cum laude in 3 years with a degree in Political Science and Biology. He pursued his medical education at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. While at UT Houston he completed a four-year Pediatric Neurosurgery preceptorship, which included significant operative and research endeavors. He was inducted in Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honors Society in 2012. Following his graduation in 2013, he moved to Birmingham, AL to pursue neurosurgical training under the leadership of Drs. James Markert and Mark Hadley. He is scheduled to complete his training in 2020.
Dr. Shank's research and career interests include neurotrauma and pediatric neurosurgery. He enjoys running, tennis, and promoting his wildly popular and critically acclaimed album Worth the Ride.
Matthew C. Davis, MD
Matt Davis grew up in Bend, Oregon. He attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH where he obtained a BA degree with High Honors and dual majors in Neuroscience and Biology, while competing in Cross Country and Track and Field. His electrophysiology research focused on the effects of anabolic androgenic steroids on GnRH-releasing neurons in a mouse model, and he worked extensively after college to build a new nonprofit, MEDLIFE, organizing medical and surgical brigades to Ecuador and Peru. He received the Dean's full tuition merit scholarship to attend the University of Michigan Medical School. He completed multiple research projects, with particular emphasis on predictors of post-neurosurgical complications and cost-effectiveness of short-term neurosurgical brigades. He remains interested in all fields of neurosurgery, and is actively working to develop new research projects. Matt is happily married to Anna Davis of Pensacola, FL. Outside interests include running, skiing, kayaking, fly fishing, and spending time with his wife.
Matthew S. Erwood, MD
Philip G. Schmalz, MD
Philip Schmalz is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. He completed his undergraduate studies at Washington and Lee University and the College of Charleston, where he served as a skipper on their nationally renowned sailing team. After graduation, Dr. Schmalz was hired by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Broad Institute in Cambridge, MA in the Technology Development division working to scale up new genomic sequencing platforms and processes. He returned to New Orleans to complete his medical studies at Tulane University, but was promptly lured back to the lab as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Research Scholar at the National Institutes of Health. While at HHMI-NIH under the guidance of Dr. John K. Park, he worked to develop new immunotherapeutics for the treatment of malignant gliomas as well as novel techniques in murine glioma models. His neurosurgical interests include cerebrovascular and skull base surgery, neuro-oncology, specifically the immunology and immunotherapy of malignant brain tumors, as well as functional neurosurgery.
Elizabeth (EB) Kuhn, MD
Dr. EB Kuhn is a native North Carolinian. She completed her undergraduate studies at Duke University where she earned her Bachelors of Science with Distinction in Biology, graduating summa cum laude in 2010. She attended Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina where she graduated in 2014 at the top of her class. Under the mentorship of Dr. Alex Powers, the late Dr. Tom Ellis, and Dr. Charles Branch, EB bolstered her interest in neurosurgery and became involved in various research endeavors. EB began her neurological surgery residency training at UAB in June 2014. Though she remains broadly interested in neurosurgery, her particular interests include complex spine and deformity surgery. A list of her research publications can be found here.
Jacob Lepard, MD
Jacob Lepard is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. He graduated magna cum laude with his Bachelors of Science in Biochemistry with a minor in Philosophy from Lee University in 2010. During his time at Lee he was extensively involved in activities at his local church and played for the nationally ranked Lee Rugby Football Club, serving as captain his senior year. After receiving his undergraduate degree he immediately moved to Memphis and began his medical education at the University of Tennessee College of Medicine where he graduated in 2014. He is now living in Birmingham, Alabama pursuing further education in Neurological Surgery at the University of Alabama. His current research interests include medical economics, medical malpractice litigation, and clinical outcomes research. Jacob's career interests include Skull Base Neurosurgery and Pediatric Neurosurgery with a primary interest in Neuro-oncology. Jacob's non-medical interests include spending time outdoors, hiking, trail running, and kayaking.
Lauren Rotman, MD
Dr. Lauren Elana Rotman was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. She received her Bachelors of Science from Cornell University in 2008, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the Honors Research Program in Biological Sciences. Lauren completed her MD in 2014 at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine where she achieved Honors in Research and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. Lauren’s research interests are broad. As a medical student she worked under the guidance of Dr. Andrew Sloan (Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine) studying survival in glioblastoma patients and was selected as an American Brain Tumor Association Medical Student Summer Fellow allowing her to work alongside Dr. Mark Souweidane (Weill Cornell Medical College) investigating multi-drug targeted therapy to treat diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma. Lauren is just beginning her journey at UAB and she is excited to have the opportunity to learn from the program’s excellent faculty and her incredibly talented co-residents. While Lauren enjoys all areas of neurosurgery, her particular interests include pediatrics and oncology. Outside of the hospital Lauren enjoys music of all kinds, hiking and spending time with friends and family.
Galal A. Elsayed, MD
Galal Ashraf Elsayed, from New Jersey and Florida, holds a B.S. in Micro/Molecular Biology and an M.D. from the University of Central Florida College of Medicine. During his tenure at UCF College of Medicine, he had the great honor of being elected to Alpha Omega Alpha Zeta Chapter. He is the co-founder of the Habitat for Humanity chapter at UCF, and has helped build 27 homes including his first ones in Birmingham, Alabama along with 5 other states. Dr. Elsayed has varied research interests with publications in RNA, the Journal of Biochemistry, Military Medicine and his research is cited in Cell.
Dr. Elsayed has professional experience in real estate transactions, farming, competitive powerlifting and whitewater rafting as a commercial guide on the Arkansas River. He has traversed some of the most treacherous whitewater in the United States including the headwaters of the Colorado River, Gore Canyon. Dr. Elsayed has winter hiked 100 miles of the Appalachian Trail during the worst ice storm in Georgia’s history since 1938.
His current interests include biostatistics, programming, and evidence-based medicine in neurology, neurosurgery, and critical care medicine. He enjoys reading about domestic policy, international relations, geopolitics, military technology, and history.
Gustavo Chagoya, MD
Dr. Gustavo (Gus) Chagoya is a native of the city of Monclova, Mexico. He attended Rice University in Houston, Texas, where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Cell Biology and was inducted to the Phi Lambda Upsilon Honorary Chemical Society for his academic excellence in the biochemical sciences. Upon completion of his undergraduate studies, he received a Dean’s full tuition merit scholarship to attend the Duke University School of Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. As a medical student, Dr. Chagoya completed multiple research projects in the fields of spine, neuro-oncology, and functional neurosurgery. He also achieved Honors for his research focused on small molecule targeted therapies against glioblastoma under the guidance of Dr. Madan Kwatra. He began his residency in Neurosurgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in June of 2015. His neurosurgical interests include neuro-oncology, cerebrovascular, and skull base surgery.
Nidal Omar MD
Nidal Omar is a native of Mobile, AL. He attended the University of South Alabama in Mobile for his
undergraduate education, graduating summacumlaude with a BS in Biomedical Sciences and a BA in Psychology in 2011. He then moved to Birmingham, AL to attend medical school at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine, where he was inducted into the Gold HumanismHonor Society and the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society and graduated with an MD degree in 2015.
Nidal is currently pursuing his residency training in neurosurgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. At this early stage of training his interests remain broad, but Nidal has particular clinical interests in neurosurgical oncology and skull base surgery, as well as research interests in functional and epilepsy surgery. His extracurricular interests include hiking, kayaking, photography, and spending quality time with family and friends.