Medical Advisory Board

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The Joe Niekro Foundation™ is honored to be represented by some of the best neurologists, neurosurgeons and interventional neuroradiologists in the country. Our Medical Advisory Board provides valuable feedback, knowledge, support and direction to The Joe Niekro Foundation™ Board of Directors and is also instrumental in the growth of our Patient Advocacy Program.


Michael Chen, MD

Michael Chen, MD has an appointment as Associate Professor in Neurology, Neurosurgery and Radiology at Rush University Medical Center. He received his medical degree in his home state at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine. His training includes a neurology residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital, a cerebrovascular disease fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and an interventional neuroradiology fellowship at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons. Chen’s practice focuses on caring for patients with brain and spinal cord vascular disease, including minimally invasive endovascular treatments. He directs the Brain Aneurysm Center for Women which focuses on evaluating the relationship between estrogen and brain aneurysms as well as developing longitudinal quality of life data for women with aneurysms.

Bernice Gulek, PhD, MS, ACNP-BC

Bernice G. Gulek, is an Acute Care Nurse Practitioner at the University of Washington, Harborview Medical Center in Neuro Critical Care Unit. She received her Master’s degree as an Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner from University of Massachusetts. ARNP Gulek is completed her PhD concentrating on health-related quality of life experiences survivors of aneurysmal subarachnoid hemorrhage. She is working on to build on her research improving post discharge experiences and post discharge care of aneurysmal subarachnoid survivor and their care givers. She had involved in international Response Shift Sync Group projects through ISOQOL that focuses on patient reported outcomes (PROMs). She is currently serving as a principal investigator to research project for medical-device development utilizing machine learning, a tool for diagnosis and management various neurological conditions.

She has three decades of broad Neuroscience experience working with patients in outpatient clinic, in acute care, in critical care settings as well in abroad. Prior to University of Washington, she worked at Harvard University/Beth Israel Medical Center in Boston Department of Neurological Surgery. She was invited to speak at 9th Asian Congress of Neurological Surgeons held in 2012. She presented in national and international conferences, wrote a book chapter, published peer-reviewed research articles, prepared posters/podium presentation and lectured to doctoral Advance Practice Nurses (DNP) at the University of Washington. In addition to her clinical practice in Neuro Critical Care, she joined to the Seattle University as an Adjunct Professor in training of future workforce of Nurse Practitioners. Serving in the institutional review board (IRB) in a large Academic Medical Center. She is a member of The International Society for Quality of Life Research (ISOQOL), and Neurocritical Care Society (NCS).

Ricardo Hanel, MD

Ricardo Hanel, MD, PhD, received his medical degree from the University of Federal in Brazil, followed by a fellowship at both State University of New York and Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, AZ. Dr. Hanel is an endovascular neurosurgeon at Baptist Health in Jacksonville, FL. He is known for his skill in treating acute stroke and cerebrovascular conditions with ground-breaking endovascular therapy that can be performed from inside the blood vessel. Dr. Hanel also has a special interest in neurosurgical research. His areas of expertise are Endovascular Neurosurgery, Acute Stroke Intervention, Arteriovenous Fistulas (AVF), Skull Base Neurosurgery, Brain Aneurysms, Arteriovenous Malformations (AVMs) and Cerebrovascular Disease.
Dr. Hanel’s philosophy of care is centered on the patient, based on education, encouragement and understanding. He feels that it is important to educate his patients about their conditions and options, thus allowing them to make informed decisions. Dr. Hanel takes the time to engage his patients in their own care and firmly believe this helps them make better decisions.

Abilash Haridas, MD

Dr. Abilash Haridas is chief of pediatric neurosurgery at St. Joseph’s Children’s Hospital. He is board certified and one of few neurosurgeons in the country dual fellowship trained in pediatric and cerebrovascular neurosurgery. Dr. Haridas earned his Doctor of Medicine
from PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research in Tamil Nadu, India. He then completed a fellowship in pediatric neurosurgery at Lurie Children’s Hospital/Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois and a second fellowship in cerebrovascular and skull base surgery at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Dr. Haridas treats all aspects of pediatric neurosurgery, with special interests in Moya Moya
disease, arteriovenous malformations, stroke, and bypass surgery. His surgical expertise also includes complex skull base, epilepsy, brain tumors, hydrocephalus, spasticity, craniosynostosis, brachial plexus injury, and spine disorders. Dr. Haridas is an accomplished academic author with several peer-reviewed publications in leading Neurosurgical journals. He has also authored several book chapters in Neurosurgical textbooks, and remains committed to global neurosurgical education. He has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad, including Japan, Finland, and India. He is fluent in Malayalam, Hindi and Tamil.

Don Heck, MD

Donald Heck, MD is the Director of Neurointerventional Radiology at Novant Forsyth Medical Center in Winston Salem, NC and the co-director of the Forsyth Comprehensive Stroke Center. Dr. Heck is a graduate of Wake Forest University and Duke University Medical School in North Carolina. He trained in radiology and interventional radiology at Barnes-Jewish Hospital/Washington University in St. Louis, MO, and completed a neurointerventional radiology fellowship at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, MD. Dr. Heck serves on the Board of Directors of the Society of Neurointerventional Surgery (SNIS), and has authored numerous publications on a wide range of topics concerning stroke and aneurysm treatment, including the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, Stroke, the American Journal of Neuroradiology and others. In addition to the SNIS, Dr. Heck is a member of the Society of Interventional Radiology (SIR) and the American Stroke Association (ASA).

Mahesh Jayaraman, MD

Dr. Jayaraman is the Director of Neurointerventional Services at Rhode Island Hospital, and is an Associate Professor of Diagnostic Imaging, Neurology, and Neurosurgery at the Warren Alpert School of Medicine at Brown University.  After completing his undergraduate and medical school at Brown University, Dr. Jayaraman went on to complete his residency in Diagnostic Radiology at Brown University/Rhode Island Hospital.  During his residency, he conducted research on using CT Angiography (CTA) to diagnose aneurysms in patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage, work which eventually led to an RSNA research prize for an outstanding paper in Neuroradiology by a trainee.  After finishing fellowships in Diagnostic and Interventional Neuroradiology at Stanford University, Dr. Jayaraman returned to Brown in 2006, where he still practices today.

Peter Kan, MD

Dr. Peter Kan is the Professor and Robert L. Moody Sr. Chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Dr. Kan pursued neurosurgical training at the University of Utah where he also completed a Masters of Public Health. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada prior to starting his endovascular fellowship at the University at Buffalo. Upon the completion of his fellowship, he joined the faculty at University of South Florida and served as the director of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery. He was subsequently recruited to Baylor College of Medicine as an associate professor and the director of cerebrovascular surgery. His research interests include clinical trials for new neuroendovascular devices, intravascular imaging, neuroprotection for acute ischemic stroke, and intra-arterial cell-based therapy for malignant brain tumors.

Richard Klucznik, MD

Richard Klucznik, MD, is the Assistant Professor of Radiology and Director of Interventional Neuroradiology at The Methodist Neurological Institute in Houston, Texas. Graduating Summa Cum Laude and receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts, Dr. Klucznik went on to receive his MD from Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, MA. His surgical internship occurred at the University of Massachusetts and residency at David Grant Medical Center in Fairfield, CA. Dr. Klucznik performed fellowship in Neurology at Tufts-New England Medical in Boston and Interventional Neuroradiology at Baylor College of Medicine at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. In 1980, Dr. Klucznik received the George Howard Award for Anatomy. Dr. Klucznik has held clinical appointments at Wilford Hall USAF Medical Center, The Methodist Hospital, Weill Medical College, Texas Neurovascular Center, Methodist Brain Aneurysm Center, MD Anderson Cancer Center and St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. Dr. Klucznik currently serves as the Clinical Associate Professor of Radiology at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and Director on Interventional Therapeutic Neuroradiology at The Methodist Hospital in Houston. Dr. Klucznik also serves as the Nominating Committee Chair for The Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery. Watch video of Dr. Klucznik speaking about a new treatment for brain aneurysms, Onyx 500.

Demetrius Lopes, MD

Demetrius K. Lopes, M.D., is the Director of Stroke and Cerebrovascular Surgery at Advocate Health and Professor of Neurosurgery at Advocate Health. Previously, Dr. Lopes was also Surgical Director of Interventional Services and the Comprehensive Stroke Center at RUSH University.
Dr. Lopes received his medical degree at Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), completed surgical internship at the University of Illinois, neurology (PGY-2) at Indiana University and neurological surgery residency as well as neurovascular fellowship at the State University of New York at Buffalo.
He is a board-certified neurosurgeon, dual trained and highly skilled in the field of cerebrovascular and endovascular neurosurgery. Specifically, in the treatment of brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVM), cavernous malformations and revascularization of the brain for cerebral ischemia, stroke and the conditions leading up to stroke such as carotid and intracranial artery stenosis and moyamoya disease. He has performed well over 1000 brain aneurysm repairs in his surgical career.
Dr. Lopes, speaks fluently English, Portuguese, and Spanish.

Justin Mascitelli, MD

Justin Mascitelli, MD is a neurosurgeon who specializes in the surgical and Endovascular management of cerebrovascular disorders. He completed a fellowship in endovascular neurosurgery at Mount Sinai Health System in New York, New York and a fellowship in cerebrovascular surgery at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona. He is an assistant professor for the Department of Neurosurgery at the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio and the principle investigator of a multicenter, prospective registry of wide-neck intracranial aneurysms treated by both microsurgical and endovascular techniques. Dr. Mascitelli has substantial expertise in the surgical management of cerebrovascular disorders. He also performs clinical outcomes research studying the treatment of intracranial aneurysms and the surgical treatment of stroke caused by large vessel occlusion.

Lee Pride, MD

Lee Pride, MD is Professor of the Radiology and Neurological Departments at UT Southwestern in Dallas, TX. After medical school at the University of Alabama, Dr. Pride completed his internship at UNC Hospitals focusing on Internal Medicine. He then proceeded to do his residency in Neurology and Radiology, with fellowship in Interventional Neuroradiology. His specialty areas include NeuroInterventional Radiology, Neurology, Neurosciences and Radiology with clinical interests in Arteriovenous Fistula, AVM, Carotid Stenosis, Carotid Stenting, Cavernous Carotid Fistula, Brain Aneurysm, Cerebral Aneurysm Embolization, Spinal Vascular Malformation and Stroke.
Lee is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, American Society of Neuroradiology, Radiological Society of North America, Society of Neurointerventional Surgery and the Texas Medical Association.

Gary Spiegel, MD

Gary Spiegel, MD, is fellowship trained in surgical neuroangiography and diagnostic neuroradiology. His practice encompasses the full scope and breadth of adult and pediatric neurointerventional treatments for brain, spine, head and neck conditions, with a focus on endovascular treatments for brain aneurysms, brain and spinal arteriovenous malformations and stroke.
An associate professor of neurology, Dr. Spiegel received his medical degree at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. After completing his residency in diagnostic radiology at New York University Medical Center in New York City, he completed fellowships in neuroradiology and surgical neuroangiography at the same institution.
Upon entering professional practice, he initiated and directed neurointerventional surgery programs at Yale University’s Hospital of Saint Raphael in New Haven, Connecticut, and later at Hartford Hospital, where he co-directed the Stroke Center. Dr. Spiegel’s efforts led the Hartford Hospital Stroke Center to become the most active acute stroke care and endovascular aneurysm treatment center in New England. He has held teaching appointments at Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut, and at the University of Connecticut’s John Dempsey Hospital in Farmington, Connecticut.
Dr. Spiegel’s clinical research efforts led Hartford Hospital to be the third leading enrolling site in the MERCI trial, establishing the first mechanical treatment for acute stroke. He has authored articles published in Neurology, Spine and Stroke and coauthored the textbook, Ischemic Stroke: An Atlas of Investigation and Treatment.
Dr. Spiegel is committed to providing exceptional clinical care to his informed about patient progress, and the clinic team encourages continued communication about each referred patient.
Dr. Gary Spiegel is currently an associate professor of neurology and director of endovascular neurology at McGovern Medical School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).


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