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Brain Tumor Services Team

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a brain tumor, we are here to help. Our multidisciplinary team of specialists works together to provide fully integrated, comprehensive care for all types of cancerous and noncancerous brain tumors.

And at Rush, we don't just treat the tumor — we treat the whole person. We help our patients and their families cope with any psychological, emotional and logistical issues they may experience, so they can focus solely on their health.

Neuro-Oncology

Clement Pillainayagam, MD

Clement Pillainayagam, MD, neuro-oncologist, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Clement Pillainayagam, MD, is a neuro-oncologist and assistant professor of neurological sciences at Rush. He completed medical school at Michigan State University College of Human Medicine in East Lansing, his residency at The University of Texas Medical School at Houston, and his fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

He has clinical expertise in malignant brain tumors, schwannomasmeningiomasmetastatic brain cancer, neuro-oncology, spinal tumors and neurological complications of systematic cancers.

Joo Yeon Nam, MD

Joo Yeon Nam, MD, neuro-oncology, Rush University Medical Center

Joo Yeon Nam, MD, is an assistant professor of neurological sciences at Rush.

She completed medical school at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, her residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, and her fellowship at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Her clinical interests are in primary brain tumors, metastatic brain cancer, health disparities in cancer treatment and supportive/palliative care in neuro-oncology.

Julia Goldin, RN, DNP, APN

Julia Goldin, family nurse practitioner, Brain Tumor Services, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Julia Goldin, RN, DNP, APN, is a board-certified family nurse practitioner. She received her Doctorate of Nursing Practice from Rush University Medical Center's College of Nursing, and her MSN and BA from DePaul University in Chicago.

Before becoming an advanced practice Nurse, Goldin was a registered nurse in the cardiac ICU at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. Her diverse experience and training allows her to provide the most comprehensive care to patients with brain tumors, benign, primary and metastatic in nature. She is an essential member of the neuro-oncology team.

Danielle Lafond, RN, BSN

Danielle Lafond, RN, BSN, Neuro-Oncology Nurse, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Danielle Lafond, RN, BSN, completed her nursing degree at Bradley University in 2010. She is currently pursuing an Advanced Public Health Nursing Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) at Rush University.

Lafond previously worked at Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora on the Ortho/Neuro unit and in the Neuroscience Intensive Care Unit at Rush University Medical Center for three years. She then enjoyed travel nursing in California and Washington, D.C., for a year and a half, working in a variety of intensive care units before returning to RUMC to join the neuro-oncology team in 2017. Her inpatient nursing background enables her to add to the neuro-oncology team in a unique way.

Jenny Spencer, RN, BSN, OCN

Jenny Spencer, RN, BSN, OCN, Neuro-Oncology Nurse, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Jenny Spencer, RN, BSN, OCN, has been working within the field of oncology nursing for her entire nursing career.

She obtained her Associate of Science in Nursing in 2010 and her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2014. She has experienced oncology nursing while working in both inpatient and outpatient units, and as a traveling nurse.

She is certified in chemotherapy and biotherapy administration, and she received her Oncology Nurse Certification designation in 2014.

Neurological Surgery

Richard W. Byrne, MD

Richard W. Byrne, chairperson, Department of Neurological Surgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Richard W. Byrne, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in surgical treatment for epilepsyskull base surgerybrain tumor surgery and trigeminal neuralgia, as well as in radiosurgery. He is chairperson of the Department of Neurological Surgery.

Byrne has been involved in a number of epilepsy and brain tumor surgery trials and has conducted basic science research in epileptogenesis and brain tumor genetics. He has authored more than 100 manuscripts, book chapters and two textbooks on these subjects.

Byrne is an active member of many professional societies, including the following:

  • President, Rush Surgical Society
  • President, Chicago Neurological Society
  • President, Illinois State Neurosurgical Society
  • President-elect, Neurosurgical Society of America
  • Chairman, Board of Directors of the Interurban Neurosurgical Society
  • Board of Directors, Congress of Neurological Surgeons

He has been in practice for 19 years and has performed more than 2,000 brain tumor operations and epilepsy surgeries.

R. Webster Crowley, MD

R. Webster Crowley, MD, endovascular neurosurgeon, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

R. Webster Crowley, MD, is a board-certified endovascular neurosurgeon and assistant professor of neurological surgery at Rush who has expertise in the treatment of brain aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, carotid stenosis, and stenting for pseudotumor cerebri. 

Crowley is a fellowship-trained endovascular surgeon who received his medical degree from the George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington D.C. His training consists of neurological surgery residency at University of Virginia, a neurological surgery fellowship at Auckland City Hospital in Auckland, New Zealand, and an endovascular fellowship at Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona.

He is currently a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, AANS/CNS Section on Cerebrovascular Surgery, the American Heart Association, and the Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery.

Lorenzo F. Muñoz, MD

Lorenzo F. Munoz, MD, neurosurgeon, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Lorenzo F. Muñoz, MD, a board-certified neurosurgeon and associate professor of neurological surgery at Rush, received his medical degree from the Ponce School of Medicine in Puerto Rico. 

Muñoz treats intracranial pathology, with particular emphasis on complex brain and spinal cord tumors and cerebrovascular disease such as aneurysms, cavernous malformation and arteriovenous malformations. He is also experienced in the treatment of congenital conditions like Chiari I malformation and spinal dysmorphysm.

In partnership with radiation oncologist Aidnag Diaz, MD, MPH, Muñoz developed a dedicated phone number for patients or loved ones who have been diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer(312) RUSH-MET (787-4638). This number is answered by Muñoz or Diaz for a personalized consultation of treatment options to combat this disease and preserve quality of life.

Sepehr B. Sani, MD

Sepehr B. Sani, MD, neurosurgeon, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Sepehr Sani, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon and assistant professor of neurological surgery at Rush.

Sani has completed fellowships in stereotactic, functional and epilepsy neurosurgery. His areas of clinical interest include deep brain stimulationvagal nerve stimulation, microvascular decompression, epilepsy surgery, temporal lobectomy, corpus callosotomy and hemispherectomy.

In addition, Sani is interested in surgical treatments for Parkinson's diseaseessential tremordystoniaTourette syndromeobsessive compulsive disorderdepressionheadachesepilepsytrigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm and obesity.

His research interests include deep brain stimulation for the treatment of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and vegetative state.  He is also involved in neuromodulation for the treatment of morbid obesity.

Robyn Mudro Flanders, RN, MS, CS-ACNP, CNRC 

Robyn Mudro Flanders, RN, MS, CS-ACNP, CNRN, has more than 20 years of experience in neurosurgical nursing. She has worked in many areas of neurosurgical nursing, including as a staff nurse in the intensive care unit, a head nurse, a clinical nurse specialist and her current position as a nurse practitioner and clinical manager of University Neurosurgery.

She achieved her certification as an acute care nurse practitioner in 1997 from University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a certified neuroscience nurse (CNRN).

Flanders is an accomplished speaker and has presented nationally on areas related to neurosurgery and neurosurgical nursing. She is involved in clinical research projects related to evaluation and treatment of neurosurgical patients.

She works primarily with Lorenzo Muñoz, MD.

Rey Vela, RN

Rey Vela, RN, Nurse Clinician, University Neurosurgery, Rush University Medical Center

Rey Vela, RN, is a nurse clinician in University Neurosurgery. He believes strongly in Rush's commitment to provide high quality compassionate care. Vela received his Bachelor of Science in nursing in 2011 from University of Illinois-Chicago.

He started in July 2015 with University Neurosurgery and worked the previous four years in the hospital at Rush University Medical Center's neuroscience department.

Vela works primarily with Richard Byrne, MD, and Lorenzo Muñoz, MD.

Margaret Yesko, RN, MSN, APN

Margaret Yesko, RN, MSN, APN, is an accomplished nurse practitioner who has been at Rush University Medical Center for 17 years. She has extensive experience in both neurology and neurosurgery.

She completed her Bachelor of Science in nursing at Marquette University and her Master of Science of nursing with certification as an adult nurse practitioner at Rush University.

She is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners and the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses.

Yesko works primarily with Richard Byrne, MD.

Nuclear Medicine-Neuroradiology

Sharon Byrd, MD

Sharon Byrd, MD, Chairperson of Radiology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Sharon Byrd, MD, is the Robert R. McCormick Professor and Chairperson of Radiology, professor of radiology, and attending neuroradiologist within the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Rush.

Byrd has had a distinguished career in both pediatric and adult diagnostic neuroradiology. A 1971 graduate of Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, she completed her residency in diagnostic radiology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 1975, followed by a pediatric neuroradiology fellowship at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Ontario, under the direction of Derek Harwood-Nash, MD, considered the father of pediatric neuroradiology. She then completed a fellowship in adult neuroradiology at UCLA Medical Center in 1978.

She served as chief of the Section of Neuroradiology and Head and Neck Radiology at the King/Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles from 1978 to 1986. During that time, she worked on many local and hospital committees, including serving as medical director for the Charles R. Drew Postgraduate Medical School/California Area Health Educational System (AHEC). In that capacity, she oversaw the organization and implementation of programs to inform minorities about careers in the health sciences.

In 1986, Byrd joined the Department of Radiology at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and was soon appointed as head of pediatric neuroimaging and professor of radiology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. She joined the faculty and staff at Rush in 2002.

Byrd is a member of numerous local, state and national radiology, neuroradiology and pediatric neuroradiology societies. She has published 88 articles in peer review journals and 10 chapters in neuroradiology text books, and has given more than 60 presentations at national and international scientific meetings. She has also trained more than 30 fellows in approved neuroradiology programs. Her current clinical and research interests include fetal MRI of the central nervous system.

Santhosh Gaddikeri, MBBS, MD

Santhosh Gaddikeri, MBBS, MD, Neuroradiologist, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Santhosh Gaddikeri, MBBS, MD, is an assistant professor in the Section of Neuroradiology, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Rush. He completed his internship at the Karnataka Institute of Medical Sciences, Hubli, India, and residency in radiology at Sassoon General Hospital, Pune, India.

Gaddikeri has more than 12 years of experience in diagnostic radiology. His diverse radiological training includes two years of dedicated fellowship in neuroradiology, interventional radiology, body imaging and nuclear medicine at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he also worked as an acting instructor in neuroradiology.

He has authored 19 peer reviewed publications and 20 abstract presentations. He is a member of various radiological societies, including the Radiological Society of North America, American Society of Neuroradiology, American Society of Head and Neck Radiology and American Roentgen Ray Society. He is a reviewer for the European Journal of Radiology and the Indian Journal of Radiologic Imaging, and is both a reviewer and member of the editorial board for the Journal of Neuroimaging. 

Gaddikeri's special interest include advanced neuro-oncologic imaging techniques like dynamic contrast-enhanced MRI (DCE-MRI), dynamic susceptibility contrast (DSC) MR perfusion and magnetic spectroscopic imaging.

Miral D. Jhaveri, MD

Miral Jhaveri, MD, neuroradiologist, Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Miral D. Jhaveri, MD, is an associate professor, head of the Section of Neuroradiology and vice-chair in the Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Rush. 

Jhaveri received MBBS and medical degrees from Bombay University. He then completed a two-year fellowship in neuroradiology at Rush. He is board certified in diagnostic radiology and neuroradiology. He has been an editor and contributing author for a number of neuroradiology textbooks. He also has received multiple teacher of the year awards from radiology residents.

His interests include brain perfusion imaging, skull-base tumors, head and neck tumors, stroke and neurovascular imaging.

Mehmet Kocak, MD

Mehmet Kocak, MD, Neuroradiologist, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Mehmet Kocak, MD, is an associate professor in the Section of Neuroradiology, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Rush. He is the director for the Neuroradiology Fellowship Program and Advanced Imaging Fellowship Program.

Kocak received his medical degree from the University of Istanbul, Istanbul School of Medicine. He completed a nuclear medicine residency at the University of Istanbul and radiology residency at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. He also completed a two-year neuroradiology fellowship at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

He is a member of multiple national and international medical societies, and a lecturer at international meetings. He is board-certified in radiology with subspecialty certification in neuroradiology. His clinical and research interests include brain tumor imaging, functional brain imaging, metabolic imaging, and application of advanced imaging techniques to clinical practice.

Marinos Kontzialis, MD

Marianos Kontzialis, MD, Neuroradiologist, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Marinos Kontzialis, MD, is an assistant professor in the Section of Neuroradiology, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Rush.

Kontzialis is a medical graduate of the University of Athens in Greece. He completed his residency in radiology at The Ohio State University and his fellowship in neuroradiology at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

His clinical interests and expertise span all aspects of neuroradiology, including brain tumors.

Murali Nagarajan, MD

Murali Nagarajan, MD, Neuroradiologist, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Murali Nagarajan, MD, is an assistant professor in the Section of Neuroradiology, Department of Diagnostic Radiology and Nuclear Medicine at Rush. He is an expert in adult, pediatric and fetal neuroradiology and is the section chief of pediatric neuroradiology. His primary research concentrations are in brain tumors, pediatric, and head and neck imaging.

Nagarajan completed both neuroradiology and advanced neuroradiology fellowships at Rush. He is a clinical educator and mentor within the Medical Center and is active in several radiology professional organizations. He received his medical degree from Madras Medical College, a top institution in India.

Pediatric Oncology

Nupur Mittal, MD

Nupur Mittal, MD, Pediatric Oncologist, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Nupur Mittal, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Rush and at Rush University Children's Hospital. She completed medical school at Maulan Azad Medical College, her residencies at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the Medical College of Wisconsin, and her fellowship at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Mittal is board certified in pediatrics and has clinical expertise in sickle cell disease, pediatric and young adult leukemia and lymphoma, pediatric solid tumors and sarcomas, and benign hematological diseases in children. Her research interests include young adult leukemia and pediatric sarcoma.

Radiation Oncology

Aidnag Diaz, MD, MPH

Aidnag Diaz, MD, MPH, a board-certified radiation oncologist, is medical director of the Department of Radiation Oncology and Rush Radiosurgery.

Diaz received his bachelor's and master's degrees in nuclear engineering from Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Science, and his medical doctorate and his Master of Public Health from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. He completed his residency in radiation oncology at the University of California at San Francisco.

Diaz is a national and international expert on boron neutron capture therapy (BNCT), and he writes and lectures on such topics as central nervous system toxicities, treatment of primary brain tumors and head and neck cancer.

He is a member of the communications committee of the Society for Immunotherapy of Cancer, vice chairman of the Rush University institutional review board, and chair of the Cancer Committee at the Rush University Cancer Center.

Colleen Masters, RN, APN

Colleen Masters, APN, nurse practitioner, Brain Tumor Services Team, Rush University Medical Center

Colleen Masters, RN, APN, is a board-certified acute care nurse practitioner. In addition to receiving her advanced education at the Rush College of Nursing, she has a long-standing history with Rush, having served in clinical roles on the surgical step down unit, the neuroscience intensive care unit and her present role as a nurse practitioner in the Department of Radiation Oncology.

Masters works specifically with patients who have undergone treatment for brain tumors, benign, primary and metastatic in nature. She is a pivotal member of the comprehensive care team.

Molly Prendergast, RN

Molly Prendergast, RN, Brain Tumor Services Team, Rush University Medical Center

Molly Prendergast, RN, is the designated nurse for Rush Radiosurgery.

She is a certified oncology nurse and has worked in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. She is passionate about education and quality patient care.

 

Susan Scheck, RN, OCN

Susan Scheck, RN, OCN, nurse clinician, Department of Radiation Oncology, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Susan Scheck, RN, OCN, works as a nurse clinician in the Department of Radiation Oncology with Aidnag Diaz, MD, MPH. She has more than six years of nursing experience and has been dedicated oncology nurse since the beginning of her career.

Scheck has been a member of the Rush radiation oncology team for more than two years; she previously worked on the Stem Cell Transplant/Hematology-Oncology inpatient unit at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. She received her Oncology Nursing Certification in 2014.

Scheck is passionate about holistic cancer care and patient education. She is also continuing her nursing education and is currently enrolled in the Family Nurse Practitioner Doctorate Program at Rush University.

Colleen Savory

Colleen Savory, site administrator, Rush Radiosurgery, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago

Colleen Savory serves as the site administrator for Rush Radiosurgery.

Savory brings more than a decade of cancer care experience to the Brain Tumor Sercices team, having served in roles as both a licensed clinical social worker and oncology service line manager at hospitals throughout the Chicago area.

She is passionate about patient access to care, quality improvement and research.

Brain Tumor Services Team

Physicians from Rush University Medical Center in Chicago collaborate to develop timely, personal

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