Meet Our Team
Albert M. Galaburda, MD, Director
Dr. Albert M. Galaburda has directed Cognitive Neurology since 1993. A native of Chile, he received his undergraduate and medical degrees from Boston University, and trained in Medicine under Norman Levinsky and in Neurology under Norman Geschwind, both at the Boston City Hospital (currently the Boston Medical Center). He received board certification in Internal Medicine in 1976 and in Neurology in 1977. Dr. Galaburda is the Emily Fisher-Landau Professor of Neurology (Neuroscience) at Harvard Medical School. His clinical and research expertise is in the field of cognitive neurology, with a special focus on learning and attention disorders, as they affect adults. He has had uninterrupted funding from the National Institutes of Health since 1981. He has published over 180 scientific articles and several books on these subjects, and has received many prizes and honors for his contributions to medical knowledge.
"One of the most enjoyable and rewarding aspects of being an academic neurologist is seeing, evaluating, and treating patients, where one can readily apply knowledge learned from work in the laboratory, and one can continue to get new ideas from listening to the patients. To cap it all, one can teach this new knowledge to the new generation of physicians and scientists, who will then push knowledge and quality of patient care to new levels through their own work."
Maria Agit, LMHC
Maria Agit, is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with expertise in behavioral medicine and psychodynamics. She works with individuals, couples, families, and groups, with particular interests in areas such as stress-related disorders, multi-cultural issues, life transitions and life phase adjustment, intimacy, grief and loss, learning difficulties, and personal growth.
Ms. Agit graduated with a master degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, and is a doctoral candidate, and teaching and research fellow at the American International College. She completed her training at the Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Harvard Medical School, where she specialized in the treatment of severe and persistent mental illness. Currently she is working on her doctoral dissertation, exploring the cognitive basis of the compulsion to repeat maladaptive behaviors in individuals diagnosed with PTSD. In addition, Ms. Agit is a candidate for re-specialization in clinical psychology, and she continues to train in psychodynamics, the application of hypnotherapy to stress-related disorders, and is a member of the American Psychological Association.
“I feel privileged for being able to help patients through the process of rebuilding their life narrative into a more adaptive and fulfilling one, and honored for being part of a caring and intellectually stimulating work environment.
Michael P. Alexander, MD
Dr. Michael P. Alexander has been at Cognitive Neurology since 1997. He received his undergraduate degree from Rice University and his medical degree from Stanford University. He trained in Medicine and Neurology at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont (the University of Vermont) and in Cognitive Neurology with two of the pioneers in the field - Frank Benson and Norman Geschwind - at the Boston VA Medical Center. He received board certification in Neurology in 1977 and special certification in Rehabilitation Neurology in 1992 and in Cognitive Neurology and Neuropsychiatry in 2006. Dr. Alexander is a Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. He also works with an international cognitive research team at the Rotman Research Center in Toronto, Canada. Before coming to Beth Israel Deaconess, he worked for many years in an in-patient rehabilitation program, and in that setting, was responsible for thousands of patients with stroke and brain trauma. His clinical and research expertise is in the fields of cognitive neurology and rehabilitation neurology. Over his career he has published over 140 articles on aphasia (language disorders), spatial neglect, handedness and cerebral dominance, memory disorders, traumatic brain injury, stroke rehabilitation, and in the last few years on frontal lobe disorders. He has received awards in rehabilitation research.
"The great cardiac surgeon from my home state of Texas, Michael DeBakey, once was asked about the value of experience in a physician. He replied that when physicians say that they are 'experienced', too often they mean that they have been making the same mistakes for years. The greatest pleasure of working in an academic center like BIDMC is that I am surrounded by very insightful people to whom I can turn when I am in danger of 'making the same mistake'."
Daniel Z. Press, MD
Dr. Daniel Z. Press received his undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and his medical degree from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. He trained in Neurology at the Harvard Longwood Neurology Training Program and did fellowship training in both Behavioral Neurology (1997-1999) and Movement Disorders (1999-2000). He received board certification in neurology in 1999 and is currently an Assistant Professor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. His clinical and research interests are in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and Lewy Body diseases. He has published extensively in these subjects and is currently conducting research projects funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Harvard Center for Neurodiscovery, and other foundations.
"Working with patients and families to overcome serious neurological conditions reminds me both of how far we've come in understanding the brain and how far we still have to go. I am constantly learning from patient,s and this knowledge helps shape my research questions. I constantly strive to then take those research findings back to the clinic to improve the treatment of these incredibly challenging conditions. The speed of the research both in my lab and others has created a palpable sense of excitement that in the near future we will be able to beat back conditions that were previously thought untreatable."
Tamara G. Fong, MD, PhD
Dr. Tamara G. Fong joined the staff of Cognitive Neurology in 2004. She received her medical and graduate degrees from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, and subsequently trained in Neurology, with additional training in Behavioral Neurology, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Fong received board certification in Neurology in 2003. Her clinical practice focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of patients with dementia. Her research interests include pharmacologic imaging as a potential tool for studying the underlying pathophysiology of cognitive changes in aging, and in exploring the possible connection between delirium and cognitive decline in the elderly.
"My patients and their families are my greatest source of inspiration. Working with them motivates my research efforts to better understand the causes of cognitive decline and dementia, and ultimately, to find better ways to treat and prevent these conditions."
Chun Lim, MD, PhD
Dr. Chun Lim is a staff physician in Cognitive Neurology at the BIDMC. He received a M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. He trained in neurology at the BIDMC and completed a behavioral neurology and neurorehabilitation fellowship at the BIDMC in conjunction with the memory disorders clinic at the Boston VA Medical Center. He is board certified in neurology. His clinical and research interest lie in memory disorders secondary to strokes, trauma, and anoxic brain injury as well as other etiologies of amnesia.
"I am interested in all forms of human memory, from normal memory process, disrupted memory caused by brain injury or degeneration, and memory remediation. My research involves elucidating the different forms of memory, and I hope that my discoveries will improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with memory problems."
Mark Thall, MD
Dr. Mark Thall has been the Director of Neuropsychiatry since 2000. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University and his medical degree from Tufts University. He trained in Psychiatry at New England Medical Center (currently Tufts Medical Center). He received Board certification in Psychiatry in 1983. Dr. Thall is an instructor in Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. His special interest in neuropsychiatry is the relationship between manifestations of psychiatric symptoms in neurological illness.
"I enjoy treating patients and the ability to improve their functioning and state of well being."
Evgeniy Filin, MD
Dr. Evgeniy Filin received his medical degree from the Moscow Medical Academy, Russia, and from the University of Cologne, Germany. He proceeded with psychiatry training in the United States and graduated from the Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program in 2005. As part of his residency, he completed an elective rotation in Neuropsychiatry in the Center for Cognitive Neurology and chose to stay on as full time faculty. As a team member of the team, he provides psychiatric evaluations to and psychopharmacological management for patients with a broad range of neurological and neuro-developmental conditions who also have psychiatric problems.
" I am very fortunate and thankful for the opportunity I have had to see and treat hundreds of patients from different backgrounds. My patients always remind me about the meaning of true compassion and resilience. It is a great privilege and honor to serve them with my medical and psychiatric knowledge."
Claudia Epelbaum, MD
Dr. Claudia Epelbaum is originally from Argentina. She went to medical school at the University of Buenos Aires, where she graduated first in her class in 1996. Following medical school, she completed her residency training in Family Practice at the Hospital Italiano, University of Buenos Aires, in 2001. After she moved to the US, she completed a second residency in 2006 at Harvard Medical School's Longwood Psychiatry Residency Program, where she trained at Beth Israel, Brigham & Women's and Faulker Hospitals. After graduation from the Longwood Residency Program, Dr. Epelbaum joined Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA) as an attending psychiatrist for six years, specializing in the treatment of cultural minority groups. She also performed educational duties as a supervisor and mentor for the CHA Harvard Integrated Clerkship, a program pursuant to which medical school students train with physicians in a clinical setting. Dr. Epelbaum was honored with the 2013 BIDMC Latino Achievement Award for her commitment to excellence in clinical care, and for her leadership skills as the Director of a multidisciplinary team for Latino patients in Boston and surrounding areas.
"My goal as a psychiatrist is to use my training and expertise to help my patients attain a healthier state of mind and consequently a more fulfilling and happier quality of life. I am honored to work with my patients towards creating a brighter future for them and their families."
Margaret O'Connor, PhD
Dr. Margaret O'Connor has been Director of Neuropsychology in the Division of Behavioral Neurology and Center for Cognitive Neurology since 1994. She received her undergraduate degree from Duke University, her doctorate in clinical psychology from Boston University, and her clinical internship training at Brown University Medical School. Dr. O'Connor has been board certified in the field of clinical neuropsychology since 1999, and she is a board examiner for the American Board of Clinical Neuropsychology, in which capacity she evaluates the clinical skills of psychologists from across the country. She is an active member of the Alzheimer's Medical and Scientific Advisory Committee. Dr. O'Connor is an Associate Professor of Neurology (Neuropsychology) at Harvard Medical School. Her research expertise is in the field of memory disorders and dementia. She has published over 55 scientific articles on these subjects and she has been the principal investigator on several grants, including several NARSAD awards and a recent grant from the National Parkinson's Foundation to develop an Internet based video on driving safety. Dr. O'Connor's teaching activities include a weekly neuropsychology seminar for graduate and post doctoral students and participation in hospital based and medical school courses. Over the past 20 years Dr. O'Connor has mentored over 40 pre- and post-doctoral neuropsychology trainees.
"My clinical work entails the evaluation of patients who suffer from memory disorders, dementia, Parkinson's disease, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, and developmental learning disabilities. Each evaluation has a diagnostic and therapeutic focus with the goal of enhancing the quality of life for each patient with whom I work. After 20 years of service, I continue to find clinical work emotionally and intellectually satisfying."
Nancy Madigan, PhD
Dr. Nancy Madigan is a clinical neuropsychologist who specializes in assessment of older adolescents and adults. She has been on staff at the Center for Cognitive Neurology since 2000 and is also an Instructor in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Her expertise includes cognitive and educational assessments for those with neurological and psychiatric disorders, including dementia, multiple sclerosis, traumatic brain injury, ADHD, and learning disorders. She received her Ph.D. from City University of New York, completed her clinical internship at Long Island Jewish Medical Center, and received her post-doctoral training through the Massachusetts Mental Health Center and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She has published research articles examining memory and processing speed in traumatic brain injury, as well as on hemispheric asymmetries in emotional processing. She is also actively involved in supervision of graduate students in clinical psychology.
"As a staff neuropsychologist, my work with patients provides an essential complement to other diagnostic evaluations, adding important information about a person's real life skills, abilities and cognitive challenges. Such information can be validating for the patient and also provides the individual with strategies to help them compensate for their cognitive problems (such as in memory or attention). My goal is to impart information that will enhance the individual's quality of life, via treatment recommendations and strategies that he or she can use in their every day activities."
Sara Hoffschmidt, PhD
Dr. Sara Hoffschmidt joined the Center for Cognitive Neurology in 2002. She received her undergraduate degree in psychology from Wesleyan University and master's and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Virginia. Her internship in clinical psychology and postdoctoral fellowship in neuropsychology were completed through Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Mental Health Center, and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She received additional training in psychotherapy through Georgetown University, served on the faculty at the University of Virginia, and recently completed tenure on the board of the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society. Currently she holds an appointment as Instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. Her clinical expertise in neuropsychology includes evaluation and treatment of patients with learning and attention disorders, psychiatric disorders, and diverse neurological conditions including dementia, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, brain tumor, and head injury. In addition to clinical practice, she has been extensively involved in the training of future psychologists, supervising doctoral students, interns, and postdoctoral fellows.
"The neuropsychological evaluation often constitutes a critical step towards making changes and improving quality of life at any age. By integrating knowledge of neuroscience and clinical psychology, my goal is to provide a personalized and comprehensive understanding of cognitive difficulties as well as a plan for addressing them. The interdisciplinary collaboration of committed physicians, neuropsychologists, and social workers at the Center for Cognitive Neurology affords an unusually extensive spectrum of care for patients and an outstanding intellectual environment for the individuals working with them."
Bonnie Wong, PhD
Dr. Bonnie Wong is a clinical neuropsychologist trained in the assessment of older adolescents and adults with a broad spectrum of neurologic disorders. She received her undergraduate degree from Wellesley College, and her Ph.D. in clinical psychology (neuropsychology) from Boston University. Dr. Wong completed her clinical internship in geriatric neuropsychology at the Boston V.A. Medical Center and her post-doctoral training at Massachusetts Mental Health Center/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. Dr. Wong has published scientific articles in the areas of memory disorders, cognition in healthy aging, and social cognition. Her current research focuses on the effects of normal aging in neurodevelopmental disorders and the long-term outcomes of cognitive remediation. In addition to her clinical and research interests, she is involved in supervising graduate-level pre-doctoral neuropsychology trainees within the Cognitive Neurology Center. She is an Instructor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.
"I believe that people are complex and cannot be understood along one dimension. One of the most rewarding aspects of working in the Center for Cognitive Neurology is being a part of a multi-disciplinary team that attempts to consider all relevant facets of the individuals for whom we care."
Lissa Kapust, MSW, LICSW
Ms. Lissa Kapust was one of the founding clinicians in the Behavioral Neurology Unit, now known as the Center for Cognitive Neurology. In 1978, she began as the only clinical social worker and now leads a team of 4 other Master's level social workers, a Community Resource Specialist, and 3 trainees. She helps to coordinate Behavioral Health services in the Center. She creates unique programs offered to patients and families such as the "Legacy Video Project" for patients with ALS, as well as "DriveWise", a driving safety assessment program. She coordinates the Ruderman Post-Master's Gerontology Training Fellowship, which has offered advanced training for social workers for over a decade. She has published many articles in professional journals and in the lay press. She has a faculty appointment at Harvard Medical School. Ms. Kapust graduated from Boston University and Simmons School of Social Work.
"The role of clinical social work in the Center for Cognitive Neurology is central. Our goal is to guide patients and family members as they make the lifestyle adjustments so that they can manage their illnesses, maintaining quality of life and independence. Often family caregivers are "hidden patients"; we look through the wide angle lens and include them actively in our treatment plan. I have sustained my enthusiasm in this field for 30 years. I am motivated by smart, dedicated and compassionate colleagues. I am also inspired by my patients and family members who are, without doubt, my best teachers."
Allison Troy, MSW, LICSW
Ms. Allison Troy joined the Center for cognitive Neurology in 2001 as a fellow in Gerontological Social Work with a focus on dementia and late-life adjustment issues. During the course of her fellowship, Ms. Troy facilitated a support group for elderly women with depression at an adult day health program and also implemented a music therapy group for residents in a long-term care setting. Since completing her fellowship, Ms. Troy's practice has expanded to include patients with multiple sclerosis, seizure disorders, motor neuron disease, brain injury and trauma. Prior to this, Ms. Troy worked as a counselor and case manager in a variety of settings, including a medical group practice, an inner city school, a partial hospital program and a prison system. Ms. Troy earned a Master of Social Work degree and a Master of Education degree from Boston College.
"I feel fortunate to work in an environment in which there is wonderful collaboration among the interdisciplinary team. The patients continue to inspire me and have taught me so much about living with neurological conditions."
Paula G. Llaneza, LMHC
Ms. Llaneza is a licensed mental health counselor at the Latino Mental Health Clinic of the Behavioral Neurology Unit. She received her undergraduate degree from Universidad de Buenos Aires, and her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology from Lesley University. Ms. Llaneza completed her Postgraduate Fellowship in Psychoanalysis at the Massachusetts Institute for Psychoanalysis. Ms. Llaneza provides psychotherapy to Spanish and Portuguese speaking individuals with a broad range of issues, ranging from life adaptation challenges to psychological disorders such as mood disorders, anxiety and trauma. She provides counseling in several modalities: individual (supportive and exploratory), family (advising families and patients with different neurocognitive and emotional disorders) and group (supportive, exploratory and Mind-Body Model).
"In my therapeutic work I have learned that patients are affected differently by a particular therapeutic orientation, and that the effort to match their needs with a suitable approach is a critical factor in positive therapeutic outcomes."
Alvaro Pascual-Leone, MD, PhD
Dr. Alvaro Pascual-Leone trained in Neurology at the University of Minnesota after completing an M.D. and PhD in Neurophysiology at the University of Freiburg, Germany. He is board certified in Neurology and in Clinical Neurophysiology. After post-doctoral studies at the National Institutes of Health he joined the Spanish Research Council and the Cajal Institute, and in 1997 he returned to the US to join Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School.
He has authored over 300 scientific papers and is the recipient of several international honors and awards, including the Ramon y Cajal Award in Neuroscience (Spain), the Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral Neurology from the American Academy of Neurology, the Friedrich Wilhelm Bessel Research Award from The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Germany), and the Jean Signoret Prize from the Ipsen Foundation (Paris, France). His research aims at understanding the mechanisms that control brain plasticity across the lifespan to be able to modify them for the subject's optimal behavioral outcome. Pascual-Leone combines various brain imaging and brain stimulation methodologies to establish a causal relationship and a precise chronometry between regional brain activation and behavior, and uses noninvasive brain stimulation techniques to modulate brain plasticity, suppressing some changes and enhancing others, to gain a clinical benefit and behavioral advantage for a given individual. Such non-invasive approaches can lead to clinically relevant therapeutic effects in neuropsychiatry and neurorehabilitation, and serve as proof-of-principle prior to more invasive neuromodulatory interventions.
"It is a huge honor and a daunting responsibility when a patient trusts us to try to help him by translating cutting-edge results into clinical therapies and interventions. Frankly, I cannot imagine anything more rewarding than helping a patient and his family lead a healthier, happier life."
Peg Heffernan, PhD
Dr. Peg Heffernan joined the Center for Cognitive Neurology as a Clinical Neuropsychologist in 2001. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Boston College, a Master's Degree in Psychology from Tufts University and Master's and Doctoral Degrees in Clinical Psychology from Boston University. Her internship in Clinical Psychology and two Postdoctoral Fellowships in Neuropsychology were completed through Harvard Medical School and The Cambridge Hospital. She has served on the faculty of the University of Massachusetts-Boston and as treasurer on the board of the Massachusetts Neuropsychological Society. Currently she holds an appointment as Instructor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Her clinical expertise is in both Neuropsychology and Psychology, and she conducts both Neuropsychological evaluations and Personality Testing for patients with diverse neurological and psychological conditions.
"I feel privileged to work as a Clinical Neuropsychologist at the Center for Cognitive Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. It is deeply rewarding to work with a staff that is extremely competent and caring. I enjoy being part of an interdisciplinary team of physicians, neuropsychologists, and social workers who collaborate together to provide excellent patient care and an intellectually stimulating environment for all who work here."