News


Neurosurgery Shining Stars Award Winner – Christina Lozano

January 8, 2021

We are pleased to share the news that the winner of our Neurosurgery Shining Stars Award for the month of December is Christina Lozano. Christina is a front desk receptionist who has been a member of our department since 2018. Her co-workers describe her as detail-oriented and always willing to help others. Her thoughtfulness and […]



Retirement Farewell – Esther Nañez and Joan Seyle

December 31, 2020

The Department of Neurosurgery recently wished a fond farewell to Esther Nañez and Joan Seyle, two employees who are leaving UT Health to begin their retirement after many dedicated years of service. Esther and Joan have been with the university for 28 years and 15 years, respectively. Esther worked in our department as a senior […]


Neurosurgery Shining Stars Award Winners – Jennifer Avilez and Nicole Postell

December 17, 2020

We are pleased to share the news that two of our employees tied for winner of the Neurosurgery Shining Stars Award for the month of November: Jennifer Avilez and Nicole Postell. Jennifer joined our team in 2018 as a medical assistant. Her coworkers describe her as a hard worker who is organized, knowledgeable, and kind […]


Dr. Alexander Papanastassiou smiling for his staff photo.

Dr. Papanastassiou Wins President’s Translational and Entrepreneurial Research Fund Award

September 22, 2020

The Department of Neurosurgery is excited to share the news that Alexander Papanastassiou, M.D., was recently named a winner of the President’s Translational and Entrepreneurial Research Fund 2020 Awards. Dr. Papanastassiou’s winning project, the “Rook Procedure Scheduler,” is a software platform that streamlines booking surgeries and procedures. It also manages conflicts and pre-authorization.



Dr. Alexander Papanastassiou smiling for his staff photo.

“D’s on Keys” Free Virtual Event Available to Public This Saturday

September 14, 2020

Department of Neurosurgery faculty member Alexander Papanastassiou, MD, will be performing at “D’s on Keys” this Saturday (September 20th) at 11 am. “D’s on Keys” is a fundraising event for Musical Bridges Around the World (MBAW), a local performing arts organization. This virtual broadcast of their annual show will honor the first responders and healthcare workers in our community […]



Dr. Ali Seifi smiling for his staff photo.

Ali Seifi, MD, FACP, FNCS, Invents Device to Stop Hiccups

September 11, 2020

Department of Neurosurgery faculty member Ali Seifi, MD, FACP, FNCS, has invented a device to stop hiccups. Dr. Seifi’s device forces users to exert effort to suction water. Negative pressure in the chest pulls down the diaphragm, which activates the phrenic nerve. When water comes into the mouth and swallowing occurs, the vagus nerve is […]



Dr. Lee Birnbaum smiling for his staff photo.

Lee Birnbaum, M.D., Promoted to Professor

September 2, 2020

The Department of Neurosurgery is proud to announce the promotion of Lee Birnbaum, M.D., to the position of professor. Dr. Birnbaum is a board-certified neurologist in the Departments of Neurology and Neurosurgery at UT Health. His dual training in neurology and endovascular neurosurgery provides him with a unique perspective when treating vascular disorders of the […]



Dr. Justin Robert Mascitelli smiling for his staff photo.

Dr. Mascitelli Co-authors Paper Examining Mechanical Thrombectomy during COVID-19 Pandemic

September 1, 2020

Justin Mascitelli, M.D., recently co-authored an article in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery titled “International experience of mechanical thrombectomy during the COVID-19 pandemic: insights from STAR and ENRG.” Dr. Mascitelli and his co-authors observed a low rate of COVID-19 among stroke patients undergoing mechanical thrombectomy (MT) in low-COVID burden counties. They also reported that more […]



Maria Paz smiles while posing for a photo.

Neurosurgery Shining Stars Award Winner – Maria Paz

August 13, 2020

We are pleased to announce that the winner of our very first Neurosurgery Shining Stars Award is Maria Paz. The Shining Stars Award was established to recognize the efforts of staff members who demonstrate exceptional dedication to our department. Maria has been a valued member of our team since 2016. She started with us as […]



Ashleigh Johns poses for a photo in a white labcoat

Welcome, Ashleigh Johns!

July 27, 2020

The Department of Neurosurgery is pleased to announce that Ashleigh Johns, MSN, APRN, AGACNP-BC, has joined our neurocritical care team as a nurse practitioner. Ms. Johns attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she earned a Bachelor of Science in microbiology. She earned her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Texas […]