Rockswold Kaplan Endowed Chair for Traumatic Brain Injury Research – Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC)
Uzma Samadani, MD PhD is a neurosurgeon and brain injury researcher at Hennepin County Medical Center, the largest level one trauma center in the state of Minnesota and one of the busiest in the United States, with a catchment area extending west to the Dakotas, east to Wisconsin, south to Iowa and north to the Canadian border.
She serves as the Rockswold Kaplan Endowed Chair for Traumatic Brain Injury at Hennepin County Medical Center and as an Associate Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of Minnesota. She is also an attending neurosurgeon at the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center.
Chief of Neurosurgery – Veterans Affairs New York Harbor Health Care System (NYHHCS)
Dr. Samadani worked as an attending neurosurgeon at NYHHCS from September 2007 to July 2015. She became Chief of Neurosurgery in 2010 and was one of the most productive federally employed surgeons in the country. She is a specialist in cranial neurosurgery and has introduced several new technologies to the VA including neuromonitoring, neuronavigation, minimally invasive bedside techniques for drainage of subdural hemorrhage, motion-preserving artificial cervical disc surgery, and minimally invasive spine approaches. With these technologies, VA NYHHCS has become one of the busiest VA hospitals in the country for brain tumor surgery.
During this time she was also the Co-Director of the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Center for Veteran Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury and maintained joint appointments in New York University’s Departments of Psychiatry and Physiology & Neuroscience as an Assistant Professor.
Accomplishments and Titles
University of Pennsylvania Neurosurgery Residency
Van Wagenen fellowship with Professor Veit Rohde in Goettingen, Germany – The Van Wagenen fellowship is among the most prestigious in neurosurgery, with more than one-third of former fellows going on to become chairs of neurosurgical departments.
American Board of Neurological Surgeons Board-Certified
Fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (FAANS)
Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS)
American Association of Neurological Surgeons
Congress of Neurological Surgeons Executive Committee for Trauma and Critical Care
Executive Board of Women in Neurosurgery
Her primary research interest is in restorative neurosurgery. Her earlier published works explore the occurrence of cortical neurogenesis after hemorrhage.
In 2010 Dr. Samadani received a grant to establish whether vagus nerve stimulation could improve clinical outcomes from severe traumatic brain injured patients. While searching for outcome measures to assess recovery in these patients, she developed an algorithm to use eye tracking while watching television. She hypothesized patients with severe brain injury would be less capable of following the action on the screen as compared to patients with mild brain injury. While testing the algorithm she serendipitously noted that people with lesions causing swelling in the brain had impaired eye movements. This topic and its relevance to concussion, subconcussion and military blast injury has been a focus of her research since 2012, and led to the submission of four patents. Today, her volunteer team has expanded to over twenty members allowing the research to encompass many more conditions and projects.
Our Research Team
Dr. Tupper is a neuropsychologist in the Neuropsychology Section at HCMC. He is a Fellow of the National Academy of Neuropsychology, a charter member of the Society for Cognitive Rehabilitation, a Professor in the Department of Neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School, and a member of the HCMC/MMRF Human Subjects Research Committee. His clinical interests include head injuries and executive impairment from frontal lobe lesions, along with cross-cultural approaches to neuropsychological assessment, cognitive consequences of medical disorders, motor dysfunction and assessment, and subtle neuropsychological deficiencies in children.
Dr. Rafter went to University of St Thomas in St Paul for undergrad, and graduated with a double major in Chemistry and Business with a focus in Entrepreneurship in 2007. He then attended Ross University School of Medicine and graduated in 2017. Soon after, he was hired as the clinical research coordinator for TRACK-TBI in June 2017. He is currently applying to General Surgery Residency Programs with the goal of ending up in Trauma Surgery/Critical Care.
Margaret is a Neurosurgery Scientist in the Brain Injury Research Lab and PhD Candidate in Biomedical Informatics and Computational Biology at the University of Minnesota. As an NSF Graduate Research Fellow, her research continues to focus on brain network analysis, with an emphasis on developing analytical methods for integrating data from multimodal sources. She has obtained an MS in Computer Science from the University of Minnesota and a BA in Biology and Psychology from Metropolitan State University.
Max graduated from St. Olaf College with a Bachelor's degree in Biology and is an aspiring medical student. He hopes to continue to improve classification and monitoring of Traumatic Brain Injuries to improve clinical outcomes for patients. He plans to continue research in the medical field and further explore research possibilities.
Caleb Hoover completed his Bachelor of Science in Mathematics with a concentration in Genetics in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and his Bachelor of Science in Genetics, Cell Biology and Development in 2015 at the University of Minnesota. He is currently pursuing his Master of Science in Health Services Research at the University of Minnesota and his working on his Master’s thesis in the lab.
Joseph earned a Bachelor's degree from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2015, majoring in Mathematics and Biology. He is currently working towards a Master's in Bioinformatics at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. His interests lie in big data, genetics, and mathematical modeling.
Dylan graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a Bachelor's after studying biology with a chemistry and spanish language minor. With a passion for healthcare, Dylan has worked as a research assistant, nursing assistant, and medical assistant through college, continuing to the present. He hopes to attend medical school in the near future.
Sey graduated from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Public Health. She is interested in contributing to the elimination of preventable and treatable health disparities and making research more accessible to the general public, especially for underserved and underrepresented communities. She plans to attend medical school with hopes for a career grounded in global medicine and health equity.
Tessneem graduated from the University of Minnesota with a bachelors in Physiology and a minor in Spanish Studies. She is especially interested in neurophysiology and its clinical significance. Tessneem plans to attend graduate school and hopes to continue doing research that makes a difference.
Shivani is studying Psychology BS, with a minor in neuroscience at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. Her long term goal is to get into medical school and go into surgery. Her hobbies include being politically and socially active.
Mohit Uppal is a junior at the University of Minnesota pursing a Bachelor’s of Science in Neuroscience and a minor in Business Law. He plans on attending medical school after graduating where he will also work towards obtaining a Master’s in Business Administration. With these combined degrees, Mohit hopes to go into hospital management in a major metropolitan area. Mohit’s research interests include traumatic brain injuries in pediatrics and sports concussion prevention.
Radhika is from La Crescent, Minnesota by La Crosse, Wisconsin, and was actually born in Brooklyn. An undergraduate at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, she is a neuroscience major and Spanish and arts minor, with plans to work in public health as a traveling doctor. Radhika is also an avid runner and painter.
Christina is a student at the University of Minnesota studying Physiology and Spanish studies. She hopes to someday pursue a career in medicine, and is interested in going into some kind of pediatric specialty, but is also open to pursuing whatever comes her way. She is passionate about social justice and immigrant rights, and she hopes to serve diverse populations in her health career. In her free time, she enjoys memes, ballet, traveling, and playing with my dog.
Tabitha is a pre-medical third year student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities majoring in Biology. She is currently doing research at the Brain Injury Research Lab and the University of Minnesota Genomics Center. Her work, volunteer, and undergraduate academic background and experience thus far has broadened her understanding of and intensified her passion for both clinical and laboratory research, especially that pertaining to concussions and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In her free time, Tabitha enjoys music, singing, and writing.
Dr. Unverdi, originally from Turkey, recently graduated Cukurova University Faculty of Medicine. With interest in Neuroscience, he is a volunteer in the BIRL with hopes to apply for a Neurosurgery residency in the near future.
Sena is currently a Junior majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in English in the College of Biological Sciences at UMN. Along with being a Research Volunteer at HCMC in the Brain Injury Research Lab, she is also Research Assistant in the ENT dept of HCMC. She has plans to go to medical school, though has not decided on a specialty yet.
Sam graduated from St. Olaf College in 2016. He is interested in all types of medicine as he says he finds it all fascinating. However, his plans are to apply to medical school next year and hopefully become a rural family doctor someday. Besides medicine and research, his other interests include sports and exercise, music, cooking, and video games.
Kriti Prasad is a pre-medical student with a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology with a minor in French from Washington University in St. Louis (Class of 2017). Her interdisciplinary undergraduate education has fueled her passion for a more integrated, holistic, and socially responsible medicine. As a future physician, she hopes to transform this passion into purpose to better address the health needs of our underserved communities. She plans to apply to medical school in June 2018 for entrance in 2019.
Maria Almoite received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She hopes to obtain a PhD in Clinical Psychology to become a neuropsychologist and to do research on brain trauma and human memory.
Josh is in his final year at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, majoring in Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development. During his undergrad he had initially been involved with a cell biology lab on campus, but over time realized that I preferred clinical interaction over cell culture, which brought him to the lab. Finishing his degree in May 2018, Josh plans on taking a year off from school to do some traveling and get some real world experience before eventually applying to medical school.
Anusha is an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. She is studying psychology and neuroscience. She hopes to attend medical school after graduation. In her free time she enjoys playing tennis, volunteering and playing the violin. She also loves to travel and learn about global health.
Tim studied Physiology and Chemistry at the University of Minnesota. He is currently applying to medical schools and is interested in going to a surgical specialty. Outside of volunteering the BIRL, he works as a medical scribe for the UMN Neurosurgery Department and tutors student-athletes in science and math.
Marleen graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Marleen is now completing a graduate program. She previously work on the management of our lab, ensuring the proper functioning of all lab activities and allows for the development of new projects and research ideas.
Lindsey graduated in the spring of 2015 with an MA in clinical psychology from Columbia University. She is now pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Florida with the goal of becoming a neuropsychologist. She will also continue to focus on TBI in her research and clinical work.
Jae is an undergraduate student at New York University studying biochemistry. In our lab, he studied the effects of tau protein in traumatic brain injury patients. Paul aspires to attend medical school after graduating NYU and become a neurosurgeon.
Julia is currently finishing her undergraduate career at New York University, with a concentration in Neural Science. She hopes to attend medical school after graduation with intentions of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Aylin Adem is a pre-medical student at Hunter College majoring in Studio Art and Biology with a concentration in Neurobiology. Her future goal is to go on to medical school after she completes her bachelors degree. She works as a research associate intern in the Emergency Departments of Bellevue and Tisch Hospital.
Gritz Pierre was a volunteer in Dr. Samadani's brain research lab starting in August 2014. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Long Island University, his MBA in General Management from Plymouth State University and his M.D. from American University of Antigua.
Emily is a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University and will be receiving her Masters in Clinical Psychology this May. She hopes to attend a doctoral program to study head trauma.
Emily is currently attending NYU School of Medicine Class of 2018.
Vikalpa received her Bachelor of Science in Biology with a neuroscience concentration from Stony Brook University. She si currently attending medical school and hopes to become a neurosurgeon. She spends her free time volunteering as an EMT and learning South Indian Carnatic vocals.
Sam graduated from St. Olaf College with majors in Chemistry and Psychology as well as a concentration in Neuroscience. His research interests include reclassifying TBI based on eye tracking and serum biomarkers. He is currently attending medical school and plans to combine a career as a clinician with continued work in translational neuroscience research.
Dave graduated St. John's University (MN) in 2015 with a B.A. in Integrative Health Science. He is interested about researching the acute and chronic effects of concussion and TBI, as well as neck strengthening as a potential concussion deterrent. He will begin medical school at the University of Minnesota starting August of 2018.
Lauren is currently a junior at Bethel University majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. Outside of volunteering in the lab, she works at St. Joseph's Hospital and play hockey and lacrosse for Bethel. After her undergraduate studies, she plans on attending medical school and possibly specializing in emergency or sports medicine. In the lab, she has been involved in the Classify study, focusing on if blood biomarkers can predict a positive head CT.
Dr. Affana is an ECFMG Certified Physician with an interest in pursuing a career in Neurosurgery and Global Health. She graduated from All Saints University School of Medicine (Magna Cum Laude) in April 2016, and since then, has embraced opportunities to further develop her basic sciences and translational research skills. She completed a Global Surgery Training Program with the World Health Organization, and is currently enjoying learning the ins and outs of clinical research here in the Brain Injury Research Lab. Dr. Affana's long term goal is to pursue specialized training in Neurosurgery.
David Balser is a recent graduate of the New York University School of Medicine who is currently researching methods to improve treatment for chronic subdural hematoma. He plans to pursue a career in Neurology where he hopes to supplement a hospital-based practice with continuing clinical research in the areas of traumatic brain injury and intracerebral hemorrhage.
Abdullah graduated from Punjab Medical College and is currently working as a PostDoc research scientist in the lab. His is currently working on a project that aims to develop techniques to measure brain atrophy on CT scans acquired using clinical protocol. His other research interests include studying the effect of subdural hematoma on brain atrophy and the effect that anticoagulants might have on the development of subdural hematoma.
Erik attended Loyola University Chicago where he played Division I college soccer and graduated with his Bachelors of Science in Biology. He then pursued a Master's of Biomedical Science at Midwestern University-IL where he was able to publish his thesis about the neuronal pathways activated during the mammalian diving response in rats. He moved to MN and worked for a year and a half as a phlebotomist at HCMC. He then transitioned to a research assistant with Dr. Uzma Samadani's Brain Injury Research Lab. He is currently enrolled at the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program at Concordia University-St. Paul.
Hannah is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota studying psychology and neuroscience with an anticipated graduation date of May 2018. Upon graduation, she will prepare for an M.D./Ph.D. program to fulfill her aspirations of becoming a practicing physician and medical scientist. Her research interests include traumatic brain injuries and psychopathology.