Current Residents


PGY-4 Neurology Residents


Roberto Gomez, MD. Chief Resident

Hometown: Newark, NJ

Medical School: St. George's University School of Medicine, Grenada

Research Interests: Stroke

Hobbies & Interests: I really love cooking, and especially love baking as well as traveling and trying the cuisines of other cultures. I also try to unwind by watching and playing all sports particularly hockey and basketball

Hello, my name is Roberto Gomez, I am a PGY-IV Neurology Resident at New Jersey Medical School. I was born and raised in "Brick City" itself Newark, New Jersey. I stayed in New Jersey and attended Kean University for college where I majored in Geology. I initially worked as an environmental consultant before switching fields and pursing medicine. I took a big jump to the Island of Spice for medical school and attended St. George's University in Grenada. Before medical school, also practiced and taught martial arts, specifically taekwondo, for over 10 years. I also love cooking, baking, traveling all around the world, and playing with my 3 year old... dog.

I chose neurology because to me it feels like solving a complex puzzle. You need to follow the images, and make sure all of the pieces fit to create a bigger picture and, in the end, it can be so satisfying. I wanted to come back to where my story began, to lean and help the community that I grew up in and NJMS. I know that the program will help me succeed in my future endeavors. My fellow residents and faculty will help me grow as a neurologist and will help me pursue my interests in neurovascular disease and the prevention of stroke in under-served communities.



Pratibha Surathi, MD. Chief Resident

Home Town: Chennai, India

Medical School: PSG Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Coimbatore, India

Research Interests: Movement Disorders

Hobbies & Interests: hiking, yoga, cooking

Neurology is a passion that keeps me on my toes and makes me ask questions every day. It intrigues me the same way to this day as it did, 10 years back, when I started wondering about the brain and its complexity. It keeps me humble as I have realized that there is never going to be a time when I will know everything about the brain. I am here on an exchange visitor program for residency from India. At Rutgers Health NJMS Newark, I am expoed to patients from diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, with varied pathological presentations. So apart from honing my clinical skills, this helps me understand the social aspect of medicine. I see myself growing to be a better physician and an empathetic human being. And one of the most important aspects about this program is the supportive environment of our faculty and fellow residents, which makes it easy to go through the four years of residency.



Osama Abu-hadid  

Nora Montealegre, MD

Hometown:  Montclair, NJ

Medical School: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark NJ

Research Interests: Stroke

Hobbies & Interests: Salsa dancing, travelling, outdoor activities


Osama Abu-hadid  

Venkatraman Thulasi, MD

Hometown: Dayton, NJ

Medical School: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark NJ

Research Interests: Neurophysiology, epilepsy, transcranial magnetic stimulation

Hobbies & Interests: Football, basketball, hiking

I was born in Chennai, India and moved to the US when I was 8. I did my undergraduate studies and medical school at Rutgers-NJMS. I chose to do stay at Rutgers-NJMS for my neurology residency because I had a great experience in the program as a medical student on clerkship - due to the interest in teaching displayed by residents and attendings. My interest in the field of neurology include epilepsy and neurostimulation. Outside of work, I enjoy playing sports and hiking.



Osama Abu-hadid  

Toluwalase Tofade, MD

Hometown:  Osun State, Nigeria

Medical School: University of Lagos, Nigeria

Research Interests:  Neuroimmunology

Hobbies & Interests: Listening to music, cooking, watching movies and interior design

My name is Toluwalase Tofade, a PGY- 3 resident in the adult neurology residency program at Rutgers NJMS. I was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. My interest in the neurosciences started during my early teenage years after reading about hemispherectomies and its use for intractable seizures as detailed in Ben Carson's books. Throughout medical school, courses in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and neurology not only consolidated my knowledge of the nervous system but also amplified my interest in this exciting and dynamic field.

I chose to do my residency at Rutgers NJMS because of the diverse and under-served population the affiliated hospitals serves. It has been a joy to hone my skills as a neurologist here due to the collegial atmosphere provided by my fellow residents and faculty. I hope to pursue a fellowship in MS & Neuroimmunology in the near future.



PGY-3 Neurology Residents


Keyvan Heshmati, MD


Medical School: Shiraz University of Medical Sciences

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: Playing tennis, ping-pong, skiing, swimming, traveling, playing guitar and watching movie


Osama Abu-hadid  

Sanjila Islam, MD

Hometown: Ventnor City, NJ

Medical School: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: Running (Rock'n'Roll half-marathon, San Francisco, March 2017), reading nonfiction, traveling, photography

I was raised in a South Jersey beach town, but trotted through cities around the world from Dhaka to Mumbai. This cultural melting pot (I speak three languages at home!) and the enriching perspective it offered laid the foundation for much of my academic endeavors. I studied cell biology/neuroscience and political science at Rutgers-New Brunswick, prior to earning a master's in healthcare management from Yale University. Recognizing that systemic factors influence the outcome of healthcare, much as knowledge of the disease process, shaped my outlook early on as an aspiring-physician. The rigor of academic training with ability to engage patients through the process of healing is what drew me to medicine. While a Rutgers NJMS medical student, I launched Ars Literarium, a narrative medicine journal for arts and creative writing (It is now running its fifth edition!). I chose Neurology not only for its intriguing complex pathophysiology, but also acknowledging that the impact of neurological disease is unlike any other – often closely tied with self-identity and the qualities that make each person unique.

I chose my home institution for further training for the dedication and mentorship of the faculty, balance of academic and clinical exposure to a wide range of cases – all while serving an underprivileged community in Newark-- are what I valued in a residency program. The proximity to NYC, a city I consider to be as diverse and cosmopolitan as my own upbringing, has also been invaluable. In my free time, I can be found exploring NYC, running or sifting through history documentaries or articles. Recently I have taken up playing piano and exploring the outdoors (while eagerly waiting to travel internationally again… Calcutta and Istanbul are on my bucket-list!).


Osama Abu-hadid  

Jorge Rodriguez Lee, MD


Medical School: Universidad Nacional de Piura Facultad de Medicina Humana

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: Avid basketball player. Awarded in high school. Book reader, especially interested in scientific divulgation books.Technology.Played trumpet in the high school orchestra.

Osama Abu-hadid  

Shaul Shaulov, MD

Hometown: Baku, Azerbaijan

Medical School: St. George's University School of Medicine

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests:

I love spending time with my doggo and being in nature. I've been exploring NYC for most my life and still get excited when I encounter a cool new restaurant, show or experience. I chose Rutgers mostly for the friendly and welcoming residents and faculty because I feel that the people you surround yourself with will make the greatest impact in your education (aside from your own inquisitiveness).



Azam Tolla, DO


Medical School: West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine, Lewisburg, WV

Research Interests: vascular neurology, immunoneurology, neurocritical care

Hobbies & Interests: 



PGY-2 Neurology Residents


Gabriel Arismendi, MD

Hometown: North Bergen, NJ

Medical School: Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, Newark NJ

Research Interests: Neuroimmunology and neuromuscular disorders

Hobbies & Interests: Competitive powerlifting and olympic lifting.

I'm a Resident Physician in the Adult Neurology Residency Program at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I am an awarded American Academy of Neurology Diverse Medical Student Scholar with published and ongoing work investigating the role of activated microglia in chronic neuroinflammation leading to neurocognitive impairment. Additionally, I am working to develop a predictive model of neurologic morbidity in virus-related illnesses.

I am on a physician scientist track, and providing appropriate patient care and educating budding physicians remains influential to me. I share my enthusiasm for Neurology and medicine at large with my mentees and students through career advisement and curbside teachings.

I am an alumnus of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. Equally alongside my commitment to the Neurosciences are the relationships maintained with my family and friends. I appreciate the time I have to find the next scenic trail route, delicious tacos al pastor, or a great laugh!


Andrew Beckwith, MD

Hometown: Florence, Alabama

Medical School: Georgetown University School of Medicine, MD

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests:Science fiction and fantasy novels, thriller and horror movies, physics and astronomy, ancient history, jazz and electronic dance
music, salsa dancing, distance running, weight lifting, and martial arts

My name is Andrew Beckwith, and I am a PGY-2 in the Adult Neurology Program at Rutgers NJMS. Originally from Florence, Alabama, I attended Yale University as an undergraduate, where I obtained a BS in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. While there, I had the opportunity to participate in research investigating neuroplasticity and behavior in animal models which stimulated a lifelong interest in understanding the role of axonal regeneration in recovery from acute and chronic neurologic injury. Initially, I had thought to pursue a PhD to further develop my professional interest; however, while volunteering at Yale/New Haven Hospital I realized that I had a deep appreciation for clinical medicine and its capacity to directly enhance the quality of life of the people it sought to benefit. I carried this passion for clinical neurology and community service into my years at Georgetown University School of Medicine, where I was an active member of the Neurology and Neurosurgery interest groups, a regular volunteer at our student run free clinic (Hoya Clinic) as well as the site Coordinator for a phase II trial investigating novel delivery modalities for fast acting anti-epileptic abortive medications.

The Rutgers Health NJMS Neurology Residency is the ideal choice for me because of its strong commitment to service and because of its tradition of fostering the development of its resident physicians pursuing both academic and non-academic careers. Neurology is a rapidly expanding field that has seen great strides in recent years, particularly in the fields of neuroimmunology, epilepsy, and cognitive neurology, and I have received great support from faculty and my co-residents towards starting my own projects during my short time here. Outside of medicine, I am an avid weightlifter and runner. I also appreciate a good Sci-Fi/fantasy novel and have an eclectic musical taste ranging from Bebop Jazz to 90s R&B to Deep House.


Matthias Dunse, MD

Hometown: Burgstadt, Saxony Germany

Medical School: Martin-Luther- University Halle-Wittenberg Hale, Germany

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: playing with my 3-year-old son, swimming, triathlon, sports marketing

My name is Matthias Dunse and I am a PGY-2 neurology resident at Rutgers Health NJMS. I was born and raised in Chemnitz a small city in Germany. I did my medical school at Martin-Luther-University Halle-Wittenberg, and was involved in clinical research on the dry eye syndrome. As a medical student, I was intrigued by the challenge and the possibilities to clinically localize neurologic lesions with a skilled examination and a focused history taking – and I know very few neurologists that do not describe some similar fascination. I subsequently chose a 4-month clerkship in Neurology during the final year of medical school to gain the technical skills needed to perform a skilled examination and learn more about the field.

A career in Neurology promises to be very rewarding. I find it very gratifying to successfully treat a stroke with systemic thrombolysis or interventional thrombectomy and to have patients returning to their life sometimes without hem even realizing how close they got to a devastating functional impairment or fatality. My experience in the Rutgers Health NJMS neurology residency has been nothing but exceptional for me with a very supportive culture preparing me for clinical neurology with a strong emphasis on a variety of research topics.

During medical school, and while working in Germany I remained a competitive triathlete in the German Bundesliga and doing Ironman races. Athletics still play a role in my life and I luckily can have a vivid discussion with my wife (an NCAA D1 volleyball head coach) about concussion precautions on the kitchen table.


Benjamin Puccio, MD

Hometown: Old Tappan, New Jersey

Medical School: Jagiellonian University Medical College, Poland

Research Interests: Movement disorders, neuro-oncology, and MRI neuroimagining

Hobbies & Interests:

Music - percussionist, formerly played in community orchestra

Soccer - central midfielder, played at high-level on club teams and high school team ranked top 20 nationwide
Outdoors - snowboarding and hiking

My name is Benjamin Puccio and I am a PGY2 neurology resident at Rutgers NJMS. I grew up in Old Tappan, NJ and studied Biomedical Physics at Northeastern University. I became interested in neuroscience during a six-month internship at NeuroElectronics Research Flanders in Leuven, Belgium. I was introduced to computational neuroscience at the neuronal level, and became fascinated by how our brains our wired. After undergrad, I worked for one year in in the Computational NeuroImaging Laboratory at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, focusing on the preprocessing of anatomical and functional MRI data. I attended medical school in Kraków, Poland at Jagiellonian University Medical College. In Poland, I was able to reconnect with family and gain clinical experience in a foreign medical system. I continued to follow my interest in neurology, as president of the Student Interest Group in Neurology.

I decided to pursue a residency in neurology in order to become a physician that manages a variety of pathologies in a complex system. The field is especially appealing since there so much space for exploration, and so many different paths to take from within. My current interests are movement disorders, neuro-oncology, and MRI neuroimaging. I chose Rutgers NJMS for the location and impression upon meeting residents and faculty at the interview. I thoroughly enjoy working with the diverse population of Newark and surrounding area, as well as treating veterans at the East Orange VA. My hobbies outside residency include music, snowboarding, and traveling.




Pablo Ravenna, MD

Hometown: Buenos Aires, Argentina

Medical School: Universidad Abierta Interamericana Facultad de Medicina y
Ciencias de la Salud, Argentina

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests:

Travel, learning new languages, guitar-music composition, cooking, tennis.

My name is Pablo Ravenna and I´m one of the PGY-2 Neurology Residents at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. I was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I earned a medical degree at the Universidad Abierta Interamericana. After medical school, I completed a residency in ophthalmology at San Isidro Central Hospital. After completing training, I moved to the United States to work in the field of medical research with an emphasis in Neuro-ophthalmology. I worked with the Neurology team at the Johns Hopkins Multiple Sclerosis Center as research coordinator where I was able to participate in a variety of clinical trials related to cognition and development of novel drugs. After my research experience I became fascinated about multiple sclerosis and other demyelinating disorders. My areas of interest are neuro-ophthalmology, vascular neurology and neuro-immunology.

I am passionate about teaching, which is why I am very happy to have the opportunity to train at RUH. Here, I will acquire the tools I need to become a successful neurologist while improving my teaching skills.

During my free time I enjoy traveling, learning new languages and meeting people from different cultures. I´m also a guitar player, graduated from the Buenos Aires School of Music.



PGY-1 Neurology Residents, Internal Medicine Interns



Ahmad Saeed Abdelhamid Derbala Ali, MD


Medical School: Alexandria University Faculty of Medicine, Egypt

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: 

Soccer: I used to play it professionally before medical school, Now I play it as often as possible. I am a big fan of Real Madrid
since childhood.
Gymnasium: I do cardio exercises, weight lifting and running on regular basis. This keeps me fit and refreshed.
Cooking: family and friends always trust my own recipes.
I love social gatherings with family and friends.




Nicholas Bellacicco, MD

Hometown: Stamford, CT

Medical School: Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Erie, PA

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: 

1. Writing poetry: I have one book published and continue to publish poems in journals.

2. Skimboarding: I started skimboarding
when I was younger and I enjoy the opportunity to grow in this sport.

3. Blogging: My blog has 173 articles.

4. Running, Weight
Training: I completed what is known as "the hardest half-marathon in the state of Texas" during my senior year at Baylor University.

5.Medical Humanities: I have spoken at three conferences about the importance of Medical Humanities in medical





Maria Anderina Hernandez, MD

Hometown: Caracas, Venezuela; Chicago, IL; Doral, FL

Medical School: Universidad Central de Venezuela Escuela de Medicina Luis
Razetti, Venezuela

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: My hobbies include multiple types of crafting activities such as quilting, embroidery, collage, and calligraphy. In my spare
time, I enjoy watercolor painting, visiting art museums, and exploring design markets. I am an avid reader (historical
novels and fiction) and love movies (I review them online).








Olga Mashinetc, MD/PhD

Hometown: Yekaterinburg, Russia

Medical School: Ural State Medical University, Russian Federation

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: I have been skiing since the age of 5 and have carried this passion throughout my life. Given my leadership skills, I am also the chairwoman of a small
international Mom's Club in Edison/Metuchen, actively for the past 6 years. Within this group we support and empower each other, helping one another
to overcome difficult situations and hurdles in our lives.




Roopa Sharma, MD

Hometown: Chamba, Himachal Pradesh, India

Medical School: Maulana Azad Medical College, India

Research Interests:

Hobbies & Interests: watching movies, gardening, and travel