By Bryan E. Tsao ’96, Chair, Department of Radiology, LLUSM
“Make sure to start your day by aligning your personal and spiritual life with God’s will,” was sage advice B. Lyn Behrens ’63-aff shared with me when I began serving as chair in 2007. The department of neurology has been blessed with sound faculty, guidance from Loma Linda University Faculty Medical Group (LLUFMG) and Loma Linda University School of Medicine (LLUSM) leadership, and has graduated generations of neurology residents and students. We consider ourselves a family, serving our patients, the next generation of neurologists, and our community.
Bradley A. Cole ’92 has profoundly influenced the neuroscience curriculum and medical student rotation levels. Most recently, he developed an integrated eight-week neurology/psychiatry clerkship. We find students appreciate the overlap between the two disciplines, performing highly on the national board exam in neurology. Recent surveys of graduating medical students show that more than 90% of LLUSM students rank their neurology clerkship as “good” or “excellent,” well above the national average.
All our faculty members are specialty-trained in dementia, epilepsy, headache, movement disorders, multiple sclerosis, neurocritical care, neuromuscular disorders, and stroke/vascular neurology. In the academic realm, our integrated neurology residency has four residents per year and a successful fellowship in clinical neurophysiology. Our more recent fellowships include movement disorders and neuromuscular neurotherapeutics, and we anticipate starting a headache fellowship. We received Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education approval for a 2022 Riverside University Health System (RUHS) neurology residency, directed by Jigansa Patel, MD, focused on developing community neurologists.
Our department values educational excellence and diversity, exceeding the national average for women faculty in neurology, and we have one of the highest rates of recruiting our residents and fellows as faculty. We average over 20 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters per year, and our faculty serve on numerous national boards.
Offering patients access to therapeutic clinical trials is an integral facet of academic medicine. As such, neurology conducts some of the highest volumes of clinical trials among all LLUSM clinical departments, including industry-sponsored, extramural, and investigator-initiated trials in the fields of epilepsy, movement disorders, neuromuscular disorders, and multiple sclerosis.
In alignment with our institutional mission, Travis E. Losey ’02 and Warren Boling, MD, chair, department of neurosurgery, embarked on a collaborative trip to Malawi to develop a comprehensive epilepsy program. They had fruitful meetings with colleagues at Malamulo Adventist Hospital and Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, leading to ongoing projects to improve the care of epilepsy in Malawi.
In 2020, we had over 20,000 clinical and electrodiagnostic visits in our American Association of Neuromuscular and Electrodiagnostic Medicine accredited EMG laboratory and our faculty medical clinic alone. Our Center for Restorative Neurology (CRN), directed by Jeffrey Rosenfeld, MD, PhD, provides integrated comprehensive allied health services to patients with neurological disorders. The CRN enabled us to be recognized as an ALS certified center, a partner in myasthenia gravis care, and the recipient of grants for operational excellence. Dr. Losey developed neurology services at the new Social Action Community Health System campus where we host residency, student, and faculty-led clinics. Regionally, Ruby Koshy ’10 directs our comprehensive neurology services at RUHS.
To face the growing demand for cerebrovascular care, our stroke director, Vincent Truong, MD, led Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC) to become the Inland Empire’s only Joint Commission accredited Comprehensive Stroke Center (2016). Our Primary Stroke Center designations at RUHS and LLUMC–Murrieta form a coordinated hub-and-spoke model for regional care.
Our continued collaboration with the department of neurosurgery has expanded our Level 4 Epilepsy Center into one of the most productive and innovative programs in Southern California. Alongside this program, the LLUMC Neurodiagnostic and Intraoperative Monitoring Lab, directed by Dr. Losey and Gordon W. Peterson ’74, provides comprehensive video EEG and OR monitoring services to enhance the quality of our surgical programs.
The new LLUMC hospital will feature a 32-bed neuroscience progressive care unit along with a six-bed adult epilepsy monitoring unit to deliver seamless neurological and neurosurgical care to our neuroscience patients. These LLUMC-based and regional services have allowed us to quadruple our faculty over the past 14 years.
In the coming academic year Thomas P. Bravo ’10 will be introduced as our residency program director following the long and successful tenure of Laura Nist ’95. This year will also see a transition in the neurology chair position as I move to spend more time as one of the vice presidents in LLUFMG. I am very grateful to have served as the neurology chair and am confident we are positioned for continued success under the direction of our next chair. A special thanks to Ricardo L. Peverini ’84, H. Roger Hadley ’74, Tamara L. Thomas ’87, Daniel W. Giang ’83, and the hospital leadership for giving me this opportunity to serve and to Kathy Asher, our group manager, who has served side-by-side with me along this journey.
Dr. Tsao enjoys spending time with his family and many pets and when he can, enjoys mountain biking, golf, hockey, and snow skiing (which explains why he’s not particularly good at any one of these activities).
NEUROLOGY FACULTY SPOTLIGHTS:
Laura D. Nist ’95
After graduating from the School of Medicine in 1995, Dr. Nist completed her neurology residency at Loma Linda and a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology and neuromuscular disease at the University of Virginia. She then joined the faculty at Loma Linda University (LLU) and served as assistant program director before becoming the program director of the neurology residency in 2005. She spearheaded the growth of the residency from a three-year program with six residents to an integrated four-year program with 16 residents. The residency has been integral to the expansion of clinical care throughout the region, including the development of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at LLU Medical Center (LLUMC), establishing resident longitudinal clinics at Social Action Community Health System, the expansion of neurology services at the Loma Linda VA Hospital, and reestablishing an academic neurology service at Riverside University Health System. Eleven of Dr. Nist’s former trainees currently serve on the neurology faculty at LLU. She was inducted into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in 1999.
Dr. Nist is recognized as a skilled and compassionate clinician, focusing on the treatment of neuromuscular disease. She was the recipient of the inaugural LLUMC Medical Staff Customer Satisfaction Award in 2006, recognized as a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology in 2017, and has received the neurology resident awarded Teacher of the Year award many times. While she is stepping down as residency program director in 2021, Dr. Nist will continue to lead, serving as neurology associate chair of education and director of the clinical neurophysiology fellowship. She also provides university-wide service as a prior member of the LLU Diversity Council and is a co-author of the recently published book “Building My Village: A Woman’s Guide Through a Career in Medicine.” Dr. Nist enjoys spending time with her husband, Phil, and their children, and her hobbies include hiking with their dogs and reading.
Travis E. Losey ’02
From the time of his graduation from Loma Linda University School of Medicine in 2002, neurology residency at Loma Linda University Medical Center (LLUMC), and fellowship in epilepsy at the Barrow Neurological Institute from 2006–2008, Dr. Losey was identified as a potential faculty member and valued leader in the department of neurology. Over the years, he has proven to be an adept and collaborative expert in complex epilepsy, with highly praised educational skills as attested to by our residents, students, and fellows. His ability to problem solve, communicate clearly, and represent the interests of our department led to his 2009 appointment as the LLUMC neurodiagnostic medical director and his service on multiple academic committees. He has worked tirelessly to expand the scope and complexity of our neurodiagnostic services. His efforts have yielded over 30 EEG/IOM technicians and personnel and epilepsy monitoring unit beds in the adult and children’s hospitals.
Dr. Losey’s experience in navigating the complexities of clinical research led to his appointments as director of research within neurology and as chair of the Institutional Review Board from 2016–2021. His professional accomplishments were recognized with his induction into Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society in 2014, and he has served as vice-chair of neurology since 2016. Most recently, he was instrumental in developing our resident longitudinal clinic, new neurology student clinic, and several attending-based subspecialty clinics at the Social Action Community Health System (SACHS). In 2021, he accepted a role as assistant chief medical officer at SACHS.
Between his professional roles, Dr. Losey enjoys spending time with his wife, April Losey, and their two delightful sons, Grant and Benjamin.