University of Missouri School of Medicine MU Health School of Medicine

Annual Parkinson's Patients & Caregivers Conference Draws Large Crowd

July 9, 2016

More than 350 caregivers and Parkinson’s patients attended the annual Mid-Missouri Parkinson’s Disease Patient and Caregiver Conference hosted by the MU Health Care Neurosciences Center on July 9. The conference featured a keynote presentation from Irving Asher, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the MU School of Medicine and founding director of MU Health Care’s Movement Disorders Program. Asher (pictured below center, with Raghav Govindarajan, MD, and Pradeep Sahota, MD) was also recognized with a special award for his service to MU Health Care and Parkinson’s disease patients.



Center for Translational Neuroscience Research Expands

May 20, 2016

Dr. Asgar Zaheer moved to the Department of Neurologyafter almost three decades of a very productive and successful scientific career at the University of Iowa and VA Health Care System. His is joined by his research team that includes Drs. Shankar, Iyer, Kempuraj Duraisamy, Smita Zaheer,  Ramasamy Thangavel, and Selvakumar Govindasamy.  All are accomplished researchers in the disorders of the brain.

Dr. Zaheer and his team is involved in the study of the molecular mechanisms regulating neuroinflammation in the neurodegeneration associated with Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Multiple Sclerosis, and experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model with clinical and pathological similarities to Multiple Sclerosis.Dr. Zaheer’s research group uses interdisciplinary approaches to understand the role of Glia Maturation Factor (GMF), a brain specific protein, discovered in his laboratory. Inhibition of the proinflammatory function of this protein, as a target for therapeutic intervention, is an ongoing effort in his laboratory. 

Dr. Zaheer’s studies are supported by grants from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institute of Aging, and the VA Merit Review Award.  Dr. Zaheer is a current recipient of the VA Research Career Scientist Award. In addition to his very active research career, he serves on several NIH study sections, including Clinical Neuroimmunology and Brain Tumors, Study Section (CNBT), and Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Special Emphasis Panel, Study Section (BDCN), and Alzheimer’s Association. He is already performing successfully as PI of funded federal research grants for CNS diseases and has a record of 90 scientific publications on GMF, pathogenic processes and interventions in neurodegenerative diseases. Over the years he has trained a number of resident physician, fellows, postdoctoral scholars, medical and undergraduate students.


Zaheer group




Two Neurology Staff Members Celebrate Service Anniversaries

May 19, 2016

Annamarie Wolfe, Residency Coordinator and Linda Moss, Reimbursement Specialist, are celebrating 20 years of service to the University during 2016.  

Annamarie (pictured right) began employment in January of 1996 and joined the department of Neurology in 2008. Linda (left) started work at the University in November of 1996 and joined the department of Neurology in 2002 when it separated from Psychiatry.

Please join us in celebrating their contributions and dedication.  Thank you both for everything you do! 

Linda & Annamarie 2

Medical Student Beats the Odds after Devastating Stroke

May 5, 2016

Stroke patient returns to University Hospital to thank care team for saving her life.

"For 26-year-old medical student Sydney Priest, Jan. 26 started out like any other day. She had finished morning classes at the Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine and was relaxing alone in her apartment. Hours later, Priest found herself in a neuroangiography suite at University Hospital in Columbia, Missouri, undergoing life-saving measures for a rare and devastating form of stroke." Read more... 

Neurology Now features article about ALS written by MU Neurologist

April 28, 2016

Neurology Now, an American Academy of Neurology publication, features a very popular blog post by Raghav Govindarjan, MD on research advances in ALS.  

To view the full blog post, go to:  The Neurologist Is In


AMA Wire® offers look into the life of a Neurologist

April 18, 2016

AMA Wire’s® “Shadow Me” Specialty Series featured Raghav Govindarajan, MD in an article about what it is like to be a Neurologist.  Dr. Govindarajan discusses what it would be like to shadow him for a day and what a medical student wishing to pursue neurology as a career should do and expect.  

To view the full article, go to:   What it's like to be in Neurology:  Shadowing Dr. Govindarajan


Raghav Govindarajan, MD, explains BOTOX

April 15, 2016

Raghav Govindarajan, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, was interviewed by Medpage Today during the American Academy of Neurology National Meeting in Vancouver, British Columbia in April, 2016.  He outlines practice guidelines regarding use of Botulinum Toxin (BOTOX) for practitioners.  

To view the full video, go to: Botulinum Toxin Guidelines in Context

Raghav Govindarajan, MD Earns National Education Honor

April 1, 2016

Govindarajan- golden apple awardRaghav Govindarjan, MD, assistant professor of Neurology, was awarded the National Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence by the American Medical Association at the 2016 AMSA Convention and Expostion on Friday, April 1, 2016 in Washington, D.C..     

“This is a much-deserved honor for a superb teacher and a reflection of his excellent education style and abilities,” said Pradeep Sahota, MD, chair of the MU School of Medicine Department of Neurology. “Students consistently seek out opportunities to work with Dr. Govindarajan in a clinical setting.” 

One such student is Dennis Chuang, a fourth-year medical student at MU.

 “Dr. Govindarajan helps students focus on the important points and carefully explains the thought process through his differential diagnosis in individual case scenarios,” Chuang wrote in his nomination of Govindarajan. “One can always step into his classroom with the expectation to learn abundantly while maintaining high levels of intellectual stimulation and enjoyment.”

 “To be recognized based on the input of our medical students makes this award truly special,” Govindarajan said. “We have many deserving educators at our medical school, and to receive this award is an honor.”

 Since 1996, the Golden Apple Award for Teaching Excellence has highlighted medical school professors who are committed to the advancement or improvement of medical education.


New Finding Helps Explain Why Many Alcohol Drinkers Also Are Smokers

Knowledge may help curb alcohol and nicotine addiction

October 27, 2015

Alcohol and nicotine use have long been known to go hand in hand. Previous research shows that more than 85 percent of U.S. adults who are alcohol-dependent also are nicotine-dependent. Now, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine have found that nicotine cancels out the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol. It’s a finding that sheds light on the reason alcohol and nicotine usage are so closely linked. “We know that many people who drink alcohol also use nicotine, but we don’t know why exactly that is,” said Mahesh Thakkar, PhD, associate professor and director of research in the MU School of Medicine’s Department of Neurology and lead author of the study. “We have found that nicotine weakens the sleep-inducing effects of alcohol by stimulating a response in an area of the brain known as the basal forebrain. By identifying the reactions that take place when people smoke and drink, we may be able to use this knowledge to help curb alcohol and nicotine addiction.” [Read More About Mahesh Thakkar's Research]


Paul Pepper: University Hospital Level 1 Stroke Center
& League of Women Voters, "Mental Health"

Dr. Vikas Gupta of MU's Department of Neurology speaks with Paul Pepper about stroke.

May 11, 2015


Pradeep Sahota Recognized with Lifetime Achievement Award by AINA

April 29, 2015

Faculty - sahota-pThe American Brain Foundation presented the AINA Lifetime Achievement Award to Dr. Pradeep Sahota, MD during the American Academy of Neurology’s 67th annual meeting in Washington DC in April 2015. Dr. Sahota was honored for his dedication to excellence in the field of neurology, especially his achievements in mentorship of emerging physician leaders and service to patients for the greater good. Dr. Sahota has served as a physician for nearly 30 years, including 13 spent as the chairman of the Department of Neurology at University of Missouri School of Medicine. He also serves as director of both the Sleep Disorders Center and sleep medicine fellowship program.


Stroke Care

April 2, 2015

Ashish Nanda, co-director of MU Health Care’s Missouri Stroke Program, reviews images of a brain’s blood supply. He, fellow director Niranjan Singh and their team received good news in March when MU Health Care was designated a Level I stroke center, the highest state recognition a hospital can receive. MU’s program offer patients the safest, quickest and most comprehensive care possible from the onset of stroke symptoms through recovery.

[Read More About the Missouri Stroke Program]

Ashish Nanda, Stroke care imaging


RAMS: Runnin' Against Multiple Sclerosis 5K

RAMS 2015, Isaac Francisco and Penny McQueen

February 7, 2015

Isaac Francisco, Fiscal & Accounting Specialist and Penny McQueen, Student Support Specialist II, participated in the Runnin' Against Multiple Sclerosis 5K on Saturday, February 7.  A total of 507 people participated in the race to benefit the  MS Institute of central Missouri.  

To learn how you can contribute, visit .

MU Department of Neurology Researchers

Find Alcohol Interferes with Sleep Homeostasis

 December 10, 2014

Drs. Sahota and Thakkar in laboratoryResearchers from the University of Missouri Department of Neurology have found that drinking alcohol to fall asleep interferes with sleep homeostasis, the body’s sleep-regulating mechanism.

Alcohol is known to be a powerful somnogen, or sleep inducer, and approximately 20 percent of the U.S. adult population drinks alcohol to help fall asleep. The researchers, led by Mahesh Thakkar, PhD, associate professor and director of research in the Department of Neurology, have studied alcohol’s effects on sleep for more than five years. They found that alcohol interferes with the brain’s built-in system for regulating a person’s need for sleep.

“The prevailing thought was that alcohol promotes sleep by changing a person’s circadian rhythm — the body’s built-in 24-hour clock,” Thakkar said. “However, we discovered that alcohol actually promotes sleep by affecting a person’s sleep homeostasis — the brain’s built-in mechanism that regulates your sleepiness and wakefulness.”

[Read more at the MU School of Medicine web site.]


Glowing Fish Light the Way

 November 21, 2014

Anand Chandrasekhar and Miguel Chuquilin Arista discuss exciting research into neurodegenerative diseases that is happening at MU in this SciXChange video.

Walk to End Alzheimer's Disease

MU Health Care Represented by Department of Neurology

 October 5, 2014

On October 5th, the Alzheimer’s Association held the 2014 “Walk to End Alzheimer’s” at Cosmo Park in Columbia, Missouri.  Our MU Neurology Department represented University of Missouri Health Care at the event which brought together over 800 walkers, and raised over $80,000.  Funds raised will go toward Alzheimer’s support, care, and research.  MU Health Care served as an event sponsor and MU Neurology distributed helpful books with “Brain Games” for promoting neurological health awareness.  Our department was honored to participate in this excellent event, and we look forward to participating again in the future!




Parkinson's Disease Patient & Caregivers Conference

August 23, 2014

The Parkinson’s Disease Patient and Caregivers conference was held on Saturday, August 23 in Columbia, Missouri. The conference was geared at providing information to caregivers and those who suffer from Parkinson ’s disease.  Approximately 400 people attended. 

Speakers provided education on new information about Parkinson’s, swallowing disorders, deep brain stimulation and spirituality and health. Thank you to all who participated and attended!

Parkinson's Disease Conference 2014


How to make an environment, lifestyle conducive to rest

August 18, 2013

Supposedly, the position in which one sleeps can reveal a lot about one's personality. This might or might not be true, but it's fun fodder for magazine columns and email forwards. What's less discussed is how one's sleep position can affect one's sleep quality.

"We know sleeping on the back, what we call supine position, can make snoring and sleep apnea worse. If one sleeps on side, snoring or sleep apnea will be better," said Munish Goyal, an assistant professor of clinical neurology and sleep medicine at the University of Missouri.

[Read more at the Columbia Tribune web site.]

Though common, headaches can be surprisingly complicated 

Interview with Drs. Singh and French by Caroline Dohack  

July 21, 2013

In the grand scheme of possible maladies, a little headache might not seem like much. Certainly, they’re common enough; almost half of the American population experiences some type of headache in a year, according to the National Headache Foundation.

But neurologists say there’s a bit more to the throbbing, splitting or aching feeling that permeates your skull from time to time. In many instances they’re indicative of other problems, and sometimes they beget a few new problems of their own. 

[Read more at the Columbia Tribune web site.]

Rishi Sharma Receives 2013 People's Choice Award at 3rd Annual VA Research Day

for his poster, "Sleep Disruption Following Single Episode of Binge Ethanol Drinking Involves Altered Sleep Homeostasis".

June 12, 2013

Binge-drinking rats, hospital-acquired infections and mice with PTSD: These are the subjects of the winning posters in the 3rd annual VA Research Day Poster Contest sponsored by the Missouri Foundation for Medical Research. In the first category, Young Investigator, panels of judges listened while young investigators explained their research in laymen terms, then scored each presenter.

The 2013 People's Choice Award went to Dr. Rishi Sharma for his poster, "Sleep Disruption Following Single Episode of Binge Ethanol Drinking Involves Altered Sleep Homeostasis". Dr. Sharma also works with Dr. Mahesh Thakkar at Truman VA Medical Center, and both share their appointments with MU Neurology.

 [Read More Here]


Video: Ashish Nanda Discusses Acute Stroke Intervention

June 6, 2013


School of Medicine Dean's Awards

May 1 & 2, 2013

Employees and students throughout our health system submitted a total of 95 posters, sharing their innovations and improvement initiatives. The posters were displayed at various facilities May 1 and May 2. Les Hall, MD, interim dean of the School of Medicine, presented an award for "Pre-hospital Notification and En Route Labs Draw for Acute Ischemic Stroke Reduces Door-to-Decision-Making Time" by Ashish Nanda, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology and Radiology; Niranjan Singh, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology; Gulshan Uppal, MD, resident physician; Pradeep Sahota, MD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Neurology, Divyajot Sandhu, MD, resident physician; Jami Beezley, RN, Nurse Supervisor; Jason Kern, medical student; and Michael Ruff, medical student.

 [Read More Here]


Ashish Nanda Elected to Alpha Omega Alpha

April 2, 2013

Congratulations to Ashish Nanda of the Department of Neurology on his election to Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. Other new inductees at the University of Missouri include Randall Floyd (Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Women's Health), and residents/fellows Sivakumar Ardhanari (Department of Internal Medicine) and Maya Moody (Department of Child Health).


Passion for Research

Omar Taranissi is learning what it means to be a researcher

January 18, 2013

Omar Taranissi has always been a fan of science.

During his senior year of high school, an instructor noticed Taranissi’s passion for research and suggested he become involved in the undergraduate research program at Mizzou. After contacting a few professors, Taranissi reached out to Mahesh Thakkar.

“Dr. Thakkar took me under his wing right away and, nearly a year and a half later, I am still working for him,” said Taranissi, who specializes in neurology with an emphasis on sleep and sleep disorders.

Currently, he is working with Thakkar to explore the molecular mechanisms that govern post-traumatic
stress disorder (PTSD).

 [Read More Here]

A Quantum Leap in Gene Therapy of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

New research from Dongsheng Duan in affiliation with the Department of Neurology

January 15, 2013

Usually, results from a new study help scientists inch their way toward an answer whether they are battling a health problem or are on the verge of a technological breakthrough. Once in a while, those results give them a giant leap forward.  In a preliminary study in a canine model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), University of Missouri scientists showed exactly such a leap using gene therapy to treat muscular dystrophy.  The results of the study will be published in the journal Molecular Therapy on Jan. 15, 2013. [Read More Here]


MU Sleep Disorders Center Receives Full Accreditation

December 27, 2012

The MU Sleep Disorders Center has received full accreditation for a period of 5 years -- until January of 2018. The accreditation was through the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). Criteria examined by the AASM included credentials of faculty, credentials of technology staff, and patient mix. As a result of this accreditation, patients can be assured of quality care delivered by high-caliber faculty and staff, as well as state of the art services for our community, patients, and community education.


University Hospital Honored

December 6, 2012

In October, University Hospital received national recognition from the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association for the quality of care it provides to stroke patients.

The 2012 Stroke Gold Plus Performance Achievement Award recognizes the highest distinction possible from Get With the Guidelines, a national hospital quality improvement program. University Hospital has now won the award two years in a row.


Hospital Honored for Stroke Program

November 29, 2012

This month, University Hospital was named to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Honor Roll. The hospital was honored for its ability to help stroke patients recover.

To treat them, University Hospital uses a multidisciplinary team from several different departments, including neurology, neurosurgery, physical therapy, cardiology and emergency services.

“We are very proud of being named to this prestigious list for a second time,” said Niranjan Singh, a neurologist and director of University Hospital’s stroke program. 

“It recognizes our commitment and achievement in providing a higher standard of care for our ischemic stroke patients,” he said.


MU Researchers Hone Possible Stroke Treatment

Zezong Gu, Assistant Professor of Pathology, and his team have developed a drug that could delay the onset of some strokes.

The June, 2012 story has been covered by the Associated Press and is available on the Fox Channel 2 in St. Louis web site: MU Researchers Hone Possible Stroke Treatment.


Missouri Stroke Program on Radio Friends with Paul Pepper

Niranjan Singh discusses the signs of stroke and what to do in case of a stroke. 


MU Neurologist Receives National Award for Innovation in Education

Lardizabal recognized for developing simulation training and online teaching tools

A University of Missouri neurologist is being recognized for his innovation as a teacher. David Lardizabal, MD, assistant professor of neurology at the MU School of Medicine, has been selected to receive the 2012 Clerkship Directors Innovation Award from the American Academy of Neurology (AAN).

Lardizabal is receiving the honor for his development of online teaching tools and simulation training for neurology education. He received the award on Saturday, April 21, 2012, at the AAN Annual Meeting in New Orleans.

The AAN Neurology Clerkship Directors Innovation Award is intended to acknowledge innovation and creativity in neurology clerkship directors. According to the AAN, many directors have developed unique tools and instruments to teach medical students, assess knowledge and benchmark progress.

In his letter of support for the award nomination, Pradeep Sahota, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Neurology at the MU School of Medicine, said Lardizabal’s innovative approach to teaching has “truly changed the face of neurology clerkship.”

“The new educational tools and methods he developed have led to an increased evaluation rating for our neurology clerkship and increased examination scores for neurology tests,” Sahota said. 

Also supporting Lardizabal’s nomination was fourth-year medical student Ryan Matthews. In her letter, Matthews called Lardizabal an inspiration.

“Quite simply, Dr. Lardizabal has made the intricacies of neurology a tangible and accessible science for the medical students at the University of Missouri,” Matthews said. “He has done so with thoughtful development and utilization of many tools, be they traditional or cutting-edge.”

Lardizabal has served as director of the neurology clerkship at the MU School of Medicine since 2010. He was the associate director from 2009 to 2010.


Epilepsy program receives top care designation

Thursday, April 5, 2012

The Missouri Epilepsy Program at University of Missouri Health Care has been designated a Level 4 epilepsy center by the National Association of Epilepsy Centers (NAEC). Level 4 epilepsy centers provide the highest levels of medical and surgical evaluation and treatment for patients with complex epilepsy.

Levels of epilepsy care have been developed by the NAEC as a tool for evaluating the appropriateness and quality of specialized programs. A fourth-level center must provide the more complex forms of intensive neuro-diagnostic monitoring, as well as more extensive medical, neuropsychological and psychosocial treatments. Fourth-level centers also offer complete evaluation and treatment programs for epilepsy, including intracranial electrodes for detecting the exact location of epilepsy in the brain. They also provide a broad range of options for treating epilepsy such as medical and surgical procedures.

“We’re honored that our center is being recognized for the care we provide our patients,” said David Lardizabal, MD, a neurologist and director of the Missouri Epilepsy Program. “Epilepsy is one of the most common neurological conditions, affecting approximately three million Americans. Yet many myths and misconceptions hinder understanding, diagnosis and treatment of the disease. To be recognized as a leader in epilepsy care is a great distinction.”

Epilepsy is a seizure disorder characterized by abnormal electrical activity in the brain that affects how a person feels or acts for a short period of time. Seizures are a symptom of epilepsy. The Missouri Epilepsy Program includes a multidisciplinary team comprised of neurologists, a psychiatrist, a neuropsychologist, a social worker and several diagnostic specialists. It offers patients convenience and accessibility in diagnosing and treating the disease.

“Having this interdisciplinary group of specialists working together allows us to diagnose and manage the patient holistically,” said Lardizabal. “And now, as a Level 4 center, we have achieved a ranking equal to that of the top academic medical centers in the country for our epilepsy program.”

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