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International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society

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LEAP Program Class of 2021

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Nomena Finiavana Rasaholiarison, MDNomena Finiavana Rasaholiarison, MD
Faculty of Medicine, University of Fianarantsoa
Fianarantsoa, Madagascar

II am Nomena Rasaholiarison, I am from Madagascar, I was born and grew up in Antananarivo, the capital of Madagascar. I studied medicine at the University of Antananarivo, I finished my studies to become a general practitioner in 2014. Then, to become a neurologist, I studied both at the University of Antananarivo and at Claude Bernard University, Lyon 1, France. I finished in 2019. In the curriculum of Medicine in Madagascar, we have to be a general practitioner before being a specialist.

Now I live and work in Fianarantsoa, ​​another region of Madagascar. I am the head of neurology department of an university hospital. I teach Neurology at the Faculty of Medicine of Fianarantsoa.

My research focus is movement disorders and Parkinson's disease. I am one of the first neurologists to be interested in movement disorders in our country.

In my free time, I do some reading or hiking.


Marcelle Smith, Neurologist FCNeurol(SA)

Marcelle Smith, Neurologist FCNeurol(SA)
University of the Witwatersrand
Johannesburg, South Africa

I am Marcelle Smith. I live in Johannesburg South Africa but grew up in the KwaZulu Natal Midlands near the Drakensburg mountains. I qualified as a neurologist at the end of 2015 after specializing at the University of the Witwatersrand. My undergraduate studies were at the University of Stellenbosch. I am also an honorary lecturer at the University of the Witwatersrand and am currently supervising masters and honours degree research projects in Parkinson’s Disease. I am a general neurologist in private practice with a special interest in movement disorders and deep brain stimulation.My country does not offer subspecialisations in neurology so I have taken it upon myself to learn as much as I can about movement disorders. This is still a work in progress. I have recently taken over the running of a multidisciplinary DBS team. Outside of work I am an avid cyclist and enjoy photography.


Shazma Khan MBBS, FCPSShazma Khan MBBS, FCPS
Ziauddin University
Karachi, Pakistan

I was born in a small rural town of Sindh, Pakistan, and raised in Saudi Arabia where I received the first 10 years of education. I then returned to Pakistan at age 15, leaving my family behind in Saudia, to pursue my fathers’ and my own dream of becoming a doctor. I completed my degree from Liaquat University of Medical & Health Sciences, Jamshoro in 2009.

In a country like Pakistan where women are made to believe that they are born submissive, I chose to do Neurology, which was a male dominated field. I completed my Neurology training in 2017 from the Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan, which is renowned for the most refined Neurology training program. Realising the gap in the field of movement disorders(MD), I opted for a second fellowship in MD and was fortunate enough to secure MDS grant for training at the National Neuroscience Institute, Singapore. I then returned to Pakistan as the first certified MD specialist in 2019.

Neurology being my first love, my love for solo travelling to places with nature nearly matches it. Home décor and reading are my favourite leisure activities. I enjoy every cup of my coffee and breakfast with friends.


Shivam Mittal, MD

Shivam Mittal, MD
Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi, UAE

I was born and raised in India. I received my medical degree from Datta Meghe University of Medical Sciences University, India. I completed my Neurology residency at University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, USA. I did postdoctoral fellowship with focus in botulinum toxin treatment at the prestigious Yale University, USA. To pursue my interest further in the field of clinical Movement Disorders, I completed a fellowship in Movement Disorders at the renowned Mayo Clinic, Minnesota, USA. Presently I am working as the section head of the Movement disorders division at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, which is a tertiary care referral center in the country.

My professional practice includes a busy movement disorders clinic with dedicated Deep Brain Stimulation and Pump therapy clinics, and Botulinum toxin clinics with a great team of functional neurosurgeon, movement disorders nurse, gastroenterologist, psychologist, and excellent rehab team. My research interest includes novel indications of botulinum toxin such as tremor conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, Essential tremor, and others.
I enjoy playing with my two sons on the beach and do biking. My hobbies are working out in the gym, listening to music and sometimes dancing.


Gerard Saranza, MD

Gerard Saranza, MD
Chong Hua Hospital
Cebu, Philippines

Dr. Saranza earned his undergraduate and medical degree from the University of the Philippines. He completed his Adult Neurology training at the Philippine General Hospital, and further trained in Parkinson's Disease & Movement Disorders at the University of Toronto-Toronto Western Hospital under the mentorship of Prof. Anthony Lang. He is currently practicing in Cebu, Philippines as a general neurologist and as a movement disorders specialist. He is affiliated with both private and government hospitals, serving both adult and pediatric patients.

Dr. Saranza is an active member of the Movement Disorders Society of the Philippines and the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. He has a strong commitment to education and research, having published in the field of General Neurology and Movement Disorders, including first-author publications and co-authorship in respectable, peer-reviewed journals. His main research interests include therapeutics, genetics, and palliative care, particularly in Parkinson's disease, atypical parkinsonism, X-linked Dystonia-Parkinsonism (XDP, DYT3), heredodegenerative ataxia, and other movement disorders. He enjoys teaching and has delivered lectures in university, national, and international-level scientific conferences. He also serves as a peer reviewer for various local and international neurology and movement disorders journals. In his free time, he enjoys biking and traveling.


Laura Williams, MB BCh BAO, MRCPI, MD

Laura Williams, MB BCh BAO, MRCPI, MD
Westmead Hospital
Sydney, Australia

I am from Dublin, Ireland where I completed my undergraduate medical training at University College Dublin and specialist training in neurology throughout Ireland. I returned to University College Dublin as a Newman research fellow and was awarded my medical doctorate in 2019. My research focused on the genetic architecture of adult-onset idiopathic isolated focal dystonia and further explored the temporal discrimination threshold as a mediational endophenotype, with a focus on the influence of sex and age.

At the end of 2020 I moved to Sydney, Australia to take up the post of movement disorder fellow under the mentorship of Professor Victor Fung at Westmead Hospital, where I am enjoying combining my clinical work in movement disorders with involvement in research and trials in Parkinson’s disease. Dystonia remains a strong research interest.

In my spare time I enjoy hiking, reading (with a loyalty to Irish literature!) and travelling.


Valentina Leta, MDValentina Leta, MD
King’s College Hospital and King’s College London
London, United Kingdom

Valentina is a neurologist currently working as a clinical PhD fellow at the Parkinson’s Foundation Centre of Excellence, King’s College Hospital and King’s College London, London (UK). Valentina graduated in Medicine from the University of Bologna (Italy) in 2013 successfully defending the thesis entitled ‘Skin-nerve α-synuclein deposits: a biomarker for Parkinson’s disease (PD)’. She then completed her clinical training in Neurology at the University of Milan (Italy) with the thesis ‘Intrajejunal levodopa infusion combined with Catechol-O-Methyl-Transferase-inhibition: a new therapeutic strategy in advanced PD’.

Valentina is currently working on her PhD project on gastrointestinal dysfunction in PD under the mentorship of Prof K Ray-Chaudhuri and is principal and sub-investigator in clinical trials. Valentina has already acquired several markers of international esteem including being invited lecturer in the European Academy of Neurology Congress (2021) as well as being the coordinator of the International Parkinson Movement Disorder Society Non-motor-PD study group. She currently has over 30 peer-reviewed publications, numerous international abstracts and is a recognised teacher at King’s College, London.

She is interested in both motor and non-motor aspects of movement disorders, with a focus on autonomic dysfunction in PD. In her spare time, Valentina likes to listen and play music and travelling.


Diana Angelika Olszewska, MD, MRCP, PhD

Diana Angelika Olszewska, MD, MRCP, PhD
Toronto Western Hospital
Toronto, ON, Canada

After earning my MD from Warsaw Medical University, set in my hometown Warsaw (Poland), I emigrated to Ireland that became my second home. I trained in neurology with the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and completed my Ph.D. focused on clinical/molecular genetics and biomarkers of Parkinson disease at the University College Dublin (Ireland). I spent a few months at the Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville (USA), identifying mutation carriers in Irish PD for a possible/future clinical trial enrolment. Under the mentorship of Prof. Tim Lynch (Dublin), with whom I worked for four years, we established the first neurogenetic clinic (movement disorders) in Ireland.

Currently, I am a Clinical Fellow in Movement Disorders under the mentorship of Prof.Anthony Lang and Dr.Susan Fox at Toronto Western Hospital (Canada). I am fascinated by Movement Disorders and how genetics may advance therapeutics. I enjoy the unique patient-doctor “teammate” relationship and the patients’ enthusiasm for research. The LEAP Programme is a unique opportunity that will empower me to become a leading innovator/learn from the exceptional MDS leaders/contribute to the MDS goals/Committees, and provide our patients with the best clinical care/research opportunities possible.

I was involved in competitive dance/acrobatics for most of my life, and they remained my passion.


Iva Stankovic, MD

Iva Stankovic, MD
Neurology Clinic, Clinical Center of Serbia, University of Belgrade
Belgrade, Serbia

I was born in Belgrade, Serbia where I graduated from School of Medicine, University of Belgrade in 2010. I stared working as a clinical research fellow, later completed my residency training in Neurology and since 2020 work as a consultant neurologist at Neurology Clinic, Clinical Center of Serbia, University of Belgrade. I received a broad clinical experience in various movement disorders and botulinum toxin injections application. My main areas of clinical research interest are atypical parkinsonian disorders, in particular MSA, and PD. For several years I coordinated a prospective natural history study of early PD that included advanced neuroimaging analysis performed at Neuroimaging Research Unit, IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute, Milan, Italy. In 2013, 2015 and 2017 I worked as a clinical research fellow at Medical University Innsbruck, Austria. I coordinated several international projects on MSA within the MDS MSA study group. I serve as a junior coordinator of the MDS MSA criteria revision task force and as a member of the MDS UMSARS revision task force. I enjoy traveling, skiing and hiking. I found myself as an open-minded person happy to learn about other cultures and meet new friends from all over the world.


Jennifer Zitser-Koren, MDJennifer Zitser-Koren, MD
Ichilov and UCSF
San Francisco, CA, USA
Tel Aviv, Israel

I was born in the valley of Caracas, which is where I grew up. I studied medicine at the Universidad Central of Venezuela, and graduated in 2006. Shortly after, I moved to Israel, where I did my Neurology Residency. Between 2015–2017 I worked as a Senior Neurologist and Head of the Huntington’s Disease Clinics at the Tel Aviv Medical Center in Israel. There, I was also in charge of the MSA clinics. Afterward, in 2017, I moved to San Francisco to become an Atlantic Fellow at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), and since 2019 I have been an Associate Specialist at the Department of Neurology in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco in the United States.

These former types of patients have a wide spectrum of non-motor symptoms, and that is the current focus of my research, specifically, sleep disturbances (mostly but not limited to RBD) and the intersection between sleep, autonomic and cognitive disturbances.

I am also the mother of 4 and the owner of an English Bulldog. I love to travel, experience and learn new things. Finally, I always try to give a good example and assume the best in others.


Camila Aquino MD, MSc, PhD Camila Aquino MD, MSc, PhD
University of Calgary
Calgary, AB, Canada

Dr. Camila Aquino was born and raised in the city of Vitoria, Brazil. In that same city, located on the Atlantic coast of Brazil's southeast region, she went to Medical School at Escola de Medicina da Santa Casa de Misericordia in 2005. After graduation, Dr. Aquino moved to Sao Paulo, where she completed Neurology residency and received master's and Ph.D. degrees in Neurosciences at the Federal University of Sao Paulo. In 2013, Dr. Aquino moved to Canada to pursue a clinical fellowship in Movement Disorders at the University of Toronto. She also obtained a master's degree in Health Research Methods at McMaster University. Dr. Aquino currently works as an assistant professor of Neurology at the University of Calgary, where she leads the Deep Brain Stimulation Program. Her main clinical areas of interest are Parkinson's disease, Deep Brain Stimulation, and rare movement disorders.

Her research focuses on:

  1. symptomatic and neuroprotective clinical trials in Parkinson's disease
  2. indications and targets for neuromodulation
  3. evidence-based medicine in movement disorders

Outside of work, Dr. Aquino enjoys playing volleyball with her team formed by Brazilian friends. She also loves travelling and exploring new places with her husband and son.


Xiomara Garcia, MD, MSc Xiomara Garcia, MD, MSc
Hospital La Samaritana
Bogota, Colombia

I was born and raised in Bogota Colombia in a family made up of my parents, a younger brother and a younger sister. I attended Colegio el Rosario, a catholic school where I soon developed a great interest in biological sciences. From a very young age studying medicine became a dream, so I focused my efforts on getting into the National University of Colombia, the most important public university in my country. This opportunity opened a path that captivated me: neurology. Few years later I became a neurologist, and within this field abnormal movements aroused all my interest. Cleveland Clinic opened its doors to me, and I graduated as a movement disorders fellow at this institution. I returned to Colombia where I have worked as a professor, researcher and attendant. I recently finished a master's degree in public health and epidemiology, acquiring tools that will allow me to achieve greater growth in the field of abnormal movement in Colombia.

Spend time with my pets, four dogs and a kitten rescued from the streets, is one of my favorite moments. I also love reading about history, especially Diana Uribe’s work.


Karlo Lizárraga MD, MSc Karlo Lizárraga MD, MSc
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY, USA

Dr. Lizárraga was born and raised in Arequipa, Peru, where he completed medical school. In his path to become a neurologist with expertise in clinical neurophysiology and movement disorders, he trained at the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Miami in the USA, as well as at the University of Toronto in Canada. Dr. Lizárraga is assistant professor at the department of neurology and the center for health + technology at the University of Rochester in Rochester, New York, USA. He is also invited professor of the department of neurosciences at the Universidad Nacional de San Agustin in Arequipa, Peru. In Rochester, Dr. Lizárraga is chief of the division of movement disorders, founding director of the motor physiology and neuromodulation program and founding director of the Neurology Peru-Rochester exchange Program (NeuroPro). His career goals are to optimize the understanding, diagnosis and treatment of movement disorders with the use of neurophysiological techniques, and to develop sustainable international collaborations that promote global equity in neurological education, research and patient care. His personal interests are basketball, food, chess, playing the guitar and traveling with his family.


Abhimanyu Mahajan MD, MHS Abhimanyu Mahajan MD, MHS
Rush University Medical Center
Chicago, IL, USA

Dr. Abhimanyu Mahajan was born in Pathankot, India. After medical college in Mumbai, he obtained a Masters in Epidemiology (concentration: aging) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and a certificate in gerontology from the Johns Hopkins Center of Aging and Health. During this time, he also worked as a graduate research assistant in movement disorders. He completed his Neurology residency at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit, and Movement disorders fellowship at the University of Cincinnati where he was the 2019 Dystonia Medical Research Foundation (DMRF) clinical fellow.

His primary research interests lie in the pathophysiology and clinical manifestations of dystonia. Broader areas of interest lie in aging and the use of epidemiology and imaging. He is also interested in graduate medical education. His research has been recognized with the 2018 AAN Young Investigators award, the 2018 PSG junior investigator award and the 2020 AAN Alliance Award: Founders. He serves on the AAN Graduate Education Subcommittee, the AAN Movement disorders Quality measures workgroup and the MDS Dystonia Study Group. 

Currently, he is an Assistant Professor at the Rush Parkinson’s disease and movement disorders program in Chicago, IL. Outside of work, he enjoys travel, photography and food.


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