Welcome New Faculty!

New Clinicians and Basic Scientists Join Columbia Neurology

July 1, 2020

Meet Dr. Rachael Benson

Epilepsy Specialist

Rachael Benson, MD, assistant professor of neurology at CUMC, in the Division of Epilepsy and Sleep. Dr. Benson attained her undergraduate degree at Washington University in St. Louis and her MD at New York Medical College. She completed her residency in Neurology and fellowship in Neurophysiology and Epilepsy at NewYork-Presbyterian Columbia University Irving Medical Center. Dr. Benson specializes in epilepsy and sleep disorders, with a special interest in pregnant women with epilepsy. She will be seeing epilepsy patients in the Neurological Institute and Tarrytown offices.

For an appointment with Dr. Benson, please call 646-426-3876.

Meet Dr. Robert Fee

Child Neurology Medicine Specialist

Robert Fee, PhD, assistant professor of neuropsychology (in Neurology) at CUMC. Dr. Fee earned his undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University, followed by an MS in Clinical/Educational Psychology from Columbia University and his PhD from City University of New York, with a specialization in Clinical Neuropsychology. He completed internship training in lifespan neuropsychology in the Department of Neurology at North Shore University Hospital, as well as psychotherapy within the Department of Psychiatry at Zucker-Hillside Hospital (Northwell Health System). His postdoctoral fellowship was completed here in the Divisions of Cognitive Neuroscience and Child Neurology, where he received advanced training in the assessment of individuals across the lifespan with various neurological disorders. Dr. Fee has extensive clinical and research experience in various pediatric conditions, including genetic disorders, neuromuscular disorders, epilepsy, metabolic disorders, as well as learning and behavioral disorders. His clinical activities will focus on the neuropsychological evaluation of children and adolescents with acute and chronic neurological conditions in both the Harkness Pavilion and West 86th Street locations.

For an appointment with Dr. Fee, please call 646-426-3876.

Meet Dr. Reena Gottesman

Aging and Dementia Specialist

Reena Gottesman, MD, assistant professor of neurology, in the Division of Aging and Dementia. Dr. Gottesman attained a BA in Music at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University and her MD at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She completed her internship at Winthrop University Hospital (now NYU-Winthrop), followed by neurology residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center. Her fellowship in Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychiatry, and Neuroepidemiology were completed here at Columbia. Dr. Gottesman has a particular interest in studying young onset dementias, primarily behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and in identifying factors that may inform prognostication. She will see patients with memory concerns and dementia at the Neurological Institute, and will also see referrals for memory concerns from the Integrated Women’s Health Center

For an appointment with Dr. Gottesman, please call 646-305-6939.

Meet Dr. Tarini Goyal

Critical Care and Hospitalist Neurology Specialist

Tarini Goyal, MD, assistant professor of neurology at CUMC, in the Division of Critical Care and Hospitalist Neurology. Following an undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and medical school at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Goyal completed neurology residency and fellowship training as a neurohospitalist at Stanford Medical Center. Dr. Goyal’s clinical expertise includes the care of acutely ill patients with neurologic disease, and those with neurologic complications of systemic disease. She works closely with residents, medical students, and multidisciplinary care teams to optimally care for complex patients at NewYork-Presbyterian’s Milstein and Allen Hospitals.

Meet Dr. Kimberly Kwei

Movement Disorder Specialist

Kimberly Kwei, MD, PhD, assistant professor of neurology, in the Division of Movement Disorders. Dr. Kwei attained her undergraduate degree from Amherst College followed by an MD/PhD in Neuroscience from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Dr. Kwei remained at Mount Sinai for her Neurology residency before joining Columbia as the Edward J. Safra Fellow in Movement Disorders(link is external). Dr. Kwei has a particular interest in atypical parkinsonisms, such as multiple system atrophy (MSA), as well as symptoms of Parkinson’s disease that have proven refractory to treatment, such as freezing of gait. One of her current projects involves characterizing the biomechanics of freezing of gait, in collaboration with the Department of Engineering, toward developing a mobile gait-monitoring device. Dr. Kwei is also involved in clinical trials recruiting MSA patients into a natural history study, and in assessing the long-term outcomes of patients who have had neurosurgical intervention for movement disorders. Dr. Kwei will see MD patients within the Neurological Institute.

For an appointment with Dr. Kwei, please call 212-305-1303.

Meet Dr. Ikjae Lee

Neuromuscular Medicine Specialist

Ikjae Lee, MD, assistant professor of neurology, in the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine. Dr. Lee attained his MD from Seoul National University College of Medicine in South Korea. After moving to the U.S., Dr. Lee completed residency in Neurology and fellowship in Neuromuscular Medicine at the University of Cincinnati. Dr. Lee joined the faculty of the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2016, where he served as a co-director of their ALS Multidisciplinary Clinic, focusing on high quality care of ALS and other neuromuscular disease patients. Dr. Lee has a particular interest in developing therapeutics and studying quality of life related treatments in patients with ALS and myasthenia gravis. As a new member of the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center, Dr. Lee will continue his efforts as a clinician-researcher and will be seeing patients in the Neurological Institute.

For an appointment with Dr. Lee, please call 646-426-3876.

Meet Dr. Peter C. Pan

Neuro-Oncology Specialist

Peter C. Pan, MD, assistant professor of neurology in the Division of Neuro-Oncology. Dr. Pan studied molecular biology and neurobiology at the University of California Berkeley, medicine at the State University of New York Downstate, and clinical neurology residency at the University of California Davis. He completed fellowship training in Neuro-Oncology here at NYP/CUIMC.  His research interests include clinical treatments in neuro-oncology and mechanisms of treatment resistance.  Dr. Pan is involved in ongoing research reviewing patterns of distant recurrence in adult gliomas, diagnostic imaging features of primary central nervous system lymphomas, and effects of upfront radiation on outcomes in atypical meningiomas.  He is also involved in ongoing collaboration with colleagues at Cornell reviewing quality metrics for clinical trials, and with colleagues from biophysics and computational chemistry at UC Davis researching hot spots in protein-protein binding free energy of the programmed death ligand 1 (PD1-PDL1) immune checkpoint, a frequently-targeted axis in oncology. He will see Neuro-Oncology patients in the Neurological Institute and Tarrytown locations.
For an appointment with Dr. Pan, please call 212-317-0579.

Meet Dr. Hemali Phatnani

Neuromuscular Medicine Specialist

Hemali Phatnani, PhD, assistant professor of neurological sciences, in the Division of Neuromuscular Medicine, the Center for Motor Neuron Biology and Disease, and the Columbia Translational Neuroscience Initiative. Dr. Phatnani received her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Duke University, and a BSc degree in Life Sciences from Bombay University. As a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Tom Maniatis at Harvard and Columbia Universities, Dr. Phatnani studied ALS disease mechanisms using stem cell-derived motor neurons and genomic profiling methods to study the complex interplay between motor neurons and astrocytes in ALS disease progression. Dr. Phatnani will join the Eleanor and Lou Gehrig ALS Center team, and will retain a joint appointment at the New York Genome Center as the Director of the Center for Genomics of Neurodegenerative Disease.  In that role, Dr. Phatnani established the NYGC ALS Consortium involving clinicians, scientists, geneticists, computational biologists and industry partners, providing a framework to apply clinical and functional genomics together with bioinformatics to study ALS.

Meet Dr. Mariko Taga

Neurological Sciences Specialist

Mariko Taga, PhD is an Instructor of Neurological Sciences (in Neurology, the Taub Institute and the Center for Translational and Computational Neuroimmunology), in the Division of Neuroimmunology. Dr. Taga received her PhD in neuroscience from the University of Southampton, UK in 2015. During her graduate studies, she examined the potential link between metabolic disorders and the chronic inflammation present in Alzheimer's disease, as a potential key contributor to dementia. She joined the Ann Romney Center for Neurologic Diseases at Brigham and Women’s Hospital to investigate the implications of genetic variants in Alzheimer's disease, specifically genes related to the innate immune system and she continued her research fellowship at the Taub Institute.

Dr. Taga’s current research focuses on the influence of peripheral inflammation on different glia cells in neurodegenerative disorders.

Meet Dr. Gao Wang

Neurological Sciences Specialist

Gao Wang, PhD joined our faculty just ahead of the pandemic, as an assistant professor of neurological sciences (in Neurology and the Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center), in the Center for Statistical Genetics, led by Dr. Suzanne Leal. Dr. Wang is a computational biologist trained at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (Beijing Institute of Genomics, 2009), Baylor College of Medicine (2014) and the University of Chicago (2020). His work spans a range of subjects at the interface of genetics, statistics, machine learning, bioinformatics, and neurological sciences. His current research focuses on the study of pathogenesis of neurological disorders, in particular Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, through integrating large-scale multi-omics as well as medical data in cohorts of diverse ancestry. Dr. Wang is most interested in research problems that motivate development and/or applications of new computational techniques. His computational methods work include approaches for rare variant linkage and association studies, multi-variate association analysis, statistical fine mapping in association studies, and disease sub-typing and onset prediction.