Our People

It takes a special person to dedicate his or her life to the care and healing of children.

At Iowa, you will be exposed to some of the best clinicians, researchers and teachers in our profession. Through formal mentoring programs as well as an open-door philosophy, we provide high-powered opportunities for you to learn career-long lessons from these dedicated professionals.

Current Residents

PGY5

Mary Jeno, portrait

Mary Jeno, MD

Pediatric Residency: University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa
Medical School: University of North Dakota, School of Medicine and Health Sciences, Grand Forks, N.D.

I grew up in Grand Forks, North Dakota, about two hours south of the Canadian border. I attended the University of North Dakota (UND), where I graduated with honors and received my BS in biology.

I knew from a young age that I wanted to become a pediatrician, but I was never sure of the specialty I would pursue. I attended UND for medical school as well, where I furthered my love for pediatrics with volunteer work and realized my passion for neurology in the classroom and clinic! I married my husband and we have since found home in Iowa.

We find that Iowa City is a welcoming and diverse community. Our interview day sealed the deal. I knew UI Stead Family Children's Hospital was nationally ranked and would push me to become the best child neurologist possible. The people I met were warm, encouraging, and willing to help me follow my passion. It was an easy decision to make!

I am planning on focusing my career on neurocritical care, with special interest in advocacy and traumatic brain injury. When I'm not in the hospital, my husband and I enjoy taking our dog and twin daughters to the Iowa City Farmers Market, Lake McBride, and for walks to the ice-cream shop Heyn's by our house. 

 

PGY4

Spoorthi Jagadish, portrait

Spoorthi Jagadish, MD, MBBS

Pediatric Residency: University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa
Medical School: MBBS, Father Muller Medical College, Mangalore, India; MD, Pediatrics, Grant Medical College and Sir J. J. Group of Hospitals, Mumbai, India

After completing my medical school training, I did my residency in pediatrics in India and worked as an Assistant Professor at Grant Medical College, Mumbai for a year. Afterwards, I completed a two-year fellowship in pediatric neurology in Mumbai, India. In late 2016, I moved to Rochester, Minnesota and worked as a research coordinator in pediatric epilepsy clinical trials at Mayo Clinic for a year and a half before I matched at University of Iowa! I found my interest in pediatric neurology towards the end of my residency training in India and absolutely love neurology and epilepsy.

I had heard such wonderful things about the Child Neurology Residency Program at University of Iowa from so many pediatricians and neurologists that I met here in the U.S. It was on the top of my list and I was very excited to match here! 

I have not had much time to explore Iowa yet, but there are some things I know for sure–the people here are warm, genuinely kind, and lovely! Also, there are many nice parks for my daughter to play at during weekends!

I love reading novels–mainly fiction, playing badminton, cooking, and watching some of my favorite shows when I find the time–Frasier, Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, etc.

 

PGY3

Karen Villarroel, MD

Karen Villarroel Gomez, MD

Pediatric Residency: University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa
Medical School: Loyola Stritch School of Medicine, Chicago

I was born in La Paz, Bolivia (about a 20 hr flight from Iowa counting layovers). When I was 8, my parents and I moved to the suburbs of Washington DC in Virginia where I learned English and developed my love for the sciences. I loved Virginia so much I decided to stay and attend Washington and Lee University where I received my BS in Chemistry and met my husband. I moved to Chicago after graduation where I attended the Loyola Stritch School of Medicine. During interview season, my husband Austin Walker and I both loved Iowa - both from a work/co-workers perspective as well as a buy a home and raise a dog perspective. It was surprisingly easy to make a rank list that would allow for couples matching after our Iowa interview, the rest is history.

From a young a age, I loved the sciences and while I thought about being a chemist, it was ultimately my passion for helping people that drew me into medicine. During medical school, I noticed that working with children made me the happiest. In neurology I found eternal interesting reading material and a way to help a diverse group of patients of various abilities and ages.

I hope to practice general neurology with a special interest in advocacy, mentorship, and global health. I would also like to work with underserved immigrant populations as I grew up undocumented and later with DACA status. I love to spend time outdoors and with my family to include my dog Baxter. My favorite hikes include the rim-to-rim Grand Canyon as well as the Kalalau trail in Kauai. I am always up for camping and hiking!

 

PGY2

Destinee Schmitz portrait

Destinee Schmitz, MD

Pediatric Residency: University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa
Medical School: University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, Iowa

I grew up in Clinton, Iowa. I attended Iowa State University for my undergraduate degree where I received my BS in Kinesiology and Health. I went to medical school at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and am so excited to be staying here for residency! I knew coming into medical school that I wanted to pursue pediatrics, I coached competitive gymnastics for multiple years prior to medical school and loved interacting with children and their families. I found my love for child neurology during my second year of medical school after having some lectures on common conditions seen by pediatric neurologists, I shadowed in clinic that year and immediately knew it was the right choice for me.

The collaborative environment at Iowa really stood out to me throughout my time here as a medical student as well as during my residency interviews. I was looking for a program where the faculty and residents all knew each other, where there was a collaborative environment, and where I would receive excellent training and see a wide range of common and rare conditions. The child neurology program at Iowa is nationally ranked, UI Stead Family Children's Hospital is also the only nationally ranked children's hospital in Iowa and serves patients from across the state as well as from many of the surrounding states so I knew I would get an excellent education here.

As of now, I am interested in a career as a general child neurologist but may decide to pursue a fellowship in the future. My current interests include headaches, movement disorders, and epilepsy. Outside of work I enjoy spending time with my husband and our two dogs. I love the outdoors and Iowa City has a lot of places to explore with trails for walking or riding bikes. I also enjoy sports and am excited to attend some football and basketball games this year. In my free time I like to bake and explore all of the restaurants in Iowa City and the surrounding areas.

 

PGY1 Residents

PGY1 Photo of Verónica Ramírez Altamirano

Verónica Ramírez Altamirano, MC

Pediatric Residency: University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa
Medical School: Tecnológico de Monterrey, Monterrey, Mexico

I’m from Mexico, I was born in Tlaxcala, Tlaxcala, and spent most of my childhood and teenage years in Veracruz, a beautiful but poor area in southern Mexico. After growing up watching my mom practice medicine and changing lots of lives I fell in love with the profession and decided to become a doctor.

I received a scholarship at one of the best medical schools in my country, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and I started this journey knowing that I wanted to get into pediatrics, as through the years I have realized that working with children was a joy for me. During my last year of medical school, I had the opportunity to come to the US and experience what Child Neurology was during a clerkship, and I just knew that it was for me, the perfect merge of Neurology, a beautiful but challenging specialty merged with my passion for pediatrics.

I was happy beyond words when I received my Match results! I still can remember at the end of my interview day, I told myself “This is it, I want to go to Iowa!”, I felt welcomed and appreciated from the first moment, and everyone from the residents to the faculty I interviewed was really honest, supportive, and truly committed to the respect and pursuit of Equity and Diversity in Medicine. As a Latina woman in Medicine, this last point was particularly important for me. And the program at the UI is nationally ranked and offers all you need to build exceptional clinical skills and a depth of knowledge while working in a collaborative and supportive environment where doctors are not only valued as professionals but as unique and valued individuals.

After finishing my training as Child Neurologist, I would like to do research and academics. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as ADHD and other areas such as Neuroimmunology and Neuropsychiatry are, for now, my main interests.

I enjoy the outdoors and can’t wait to explore Iowa!; I love running with my dog Lily, practicing yoga, playing the ukulele, and painting. I'm also interested in activities and projects that are related to animal rescue and protection.

I truly believe being different is a strength to a team when all are propelled by the same motor. A passion for learning, growth, and achieving the best healthcare results to serve children, and the University of Iowa confirms it!

 

Lauran Varan, MD

Pediatric Residency: University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital, Iowa City, Iowa
Medical School: Universitatea de Medicina si Farmacie Victor Babes, Romania

I grew up in Ghiroda, a small village from Romania. I attended medical school at the University of Medicine and Pharmacy “Victor Babes” from Timisoara, Romania. During medical school I started volunteering at one orphanage. These children have a special place in my heart. While helping these orphans, I realized that I have a passion for working with children. 

I did two years of pediatrics residency in Romania, and during the child neurology rotation I found myself amazed at how complex neurologic pathologies are.

In 2019 I got married and then I immigrated with my husband to the United States. 

During the interview season, I was very impressed by the Child Neurology Residency Program from the University of Iowa and the people I met there. I knew I wanted to grow here as a child neurologist. I was so happy to match here. 

I would like to practice general child neurology. In the future, I want to advocate for children, and also continue to work with orphans and underserved families. 

In my free time, I love to spend time with my husband and my daughter. We love to cook,  explore new places in the nature and try new restaurants. 

Recent Graduates

Michael Cole, MD

Michael Cole, MD (Illinois) completed his Child Neurology residency in June 2022. He is currently a Fellow in Neuro-Immunilogy at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in the Department of Neurolgy and a Fellow Assistant in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology.

Sujana Madathil

Sujana Madathil, MBBS (India) completed her Child Neurology residency in July 2021. She will be doing a Sleep Medicine Fellowship at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in the Department of Neurology.

Katie Lutz, portrait

Katie Lutz, MD (Iowa) completed her Child Neurology residency in June 2019. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology.

Hannah Klein, portrait

Hannah Klein, MD (Harvard), PhD (Iowa) completed both Adult and Child Neurology residencies at Iowa. After graduating from Child Neurology residency in June 2018, she went on to complete a fellowship in Pediatric Epilepsy at the University of Colorado Children’s Hospital. She is currently a Pediatric Epileptologist at Boys Town Research Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska.

Ioanna Kouri, MD (Greece) completed a Pediatrics residency in Greece. After graduating from Child Neurology residency in June 2018, she went on to complete a fellowship in Sleep Medicine at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. She is currently a Pediatric Neurologist & Sleep Medicine Specialist in a private practice in Greece.

Megan Rohlf, portrait

Megan Rohlf, MD (Iowa) completed her Child Neurology residency in June 2017. After graduation she went on to do a fellowship in Clinical Neurophysiology at the University of Iowa. She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology.

Dimah Saade, MD

Dimah Saade, MD (Beirut, Lebanon) completed her Child Neurology residency in June 2016. She went on to complete a neuromuscular fellowship at the University of Iowa. She also completed a clinical fellow at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS). She is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology.

Himali Jayakody, portrait

Himali Jayakody, MBBS (Sri Lanka) completed her Child Neurology residency in June 2014. She also completed a fellowship in Neurophysiology at the University of South Florida. She is currently an Adjunct Assistant Professor of Neurology at the Department of Neurology, University of South Florida. She also works as an attending Child Neurologist at Tampa General Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tampa, Florida.

Satsuki Matsumoto, MD (Ibaraki, Japan) completed a Pediatric residency in Okinawa, Japan. She completed her Child Neurology residency in June 2013. She is currently working as a Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics in the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics, Division of Neurology.

Residency Program Staff

Leah Zhorne portrait

Leah Zhorne, MD

Program Director, Child Neurology Residency
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Neurology

Kati Jumper

Child Neurology Residency Coordinator

Contact Us

Welcome to the Stead Family Department of Pediatrics

Alexander Bassuk, MD, PhD

Chair and Department Executive Officer

Welcome to the University of Iowa's Stead Family Children's Hospital. We are proud to showcase our extraordinary clinical care, dedication to the education of students and young physicians, and our world-class research programs.

Our comprehensive medical, surgical, and nursing services span the full spectrum of pediatric care. The consistently high rankings we receive on national and international benchmarks attest to the exceptional quality of care we provide. With more than 127,000 annual outpatient visits and more than 10,000 admissions to the 165 beds at University of Iowa's Stead Family Children's Hospital, we draw patients regionally, nationally, and internationally. Our commitment to family-centered care and our outstanding facilities have been praised for their innovative and patient-friendly design.

We are dedicated to excellence in the education of medical students, residents, and fellows, as reflected by a competency-based curriculum that is designed to provide practitioners with comprehensive knowledge and outstanding skills. The clinical and research efforts of trainees are closely mentored and nurtured. Our graduates move on to successful careers in clinical practice and academic pediatrics.

From genomics to cancer biology, from clinical trials to outcomes research, the department consistently ranks among the top National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded Pediatric Departments nationally. Our faculty and staff are engaged in cutting edge basic science and patient-oriented research in our unwavering quest to improve the health and well-being of all children.

Meet our Division and Faculty

We have a diverse faculty with wide-ranging clinical and research interests. Many are internationally known and have been in the department for many years. We also have bright young faculty who bring new interests and enthusiasm to the practice and teaching of neurology. All clinical faculty participate in resident training, clinical practice, and research. Learn more about our faculty.

Alex Bassuk, MD, PhD

Alex Bassuk, MD, PhD investigates a wide-range of diseases including epilepsy, autism, retinal disease, retinal inflammation, retinitis pigmentosa (RP), bone inflammation and traumatic brain injury. His laboratory focuses on the molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and genetic mechanisms in human diseases and in animal models. Along with a diverse cross-disciplinary team of researchers at the University of Iowa, he is pursuing a collaborative and innovative approach to use proteomics, stem cells, fruit flies, zebrafish, and mice to rapidly translate basic science findings into clinical treatments.

Aaron Boes, MD, PhD

​Aaron Boes, MD, PhD directs an interdisciplinary program in noninvasive brain stimulation. In addition to his time as a clinical child neurologist, he utilizes transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to treat medically refractory depression in adults. His laboratory focuses on neuroimaging and brain stimulation, with a special interest in how focal brain injuries have functional effects in areas of the brain that are not directly injured.  His ultimate goal is to develop novel therapeutic strategies for brain disorders through the combined use of advanced neuroimaging techniques and noninvasive brain stimulation. 

Michael Ciliberto, MD

Michael Ciliberto, MD is a fellowship trained pediatric epileptologist who is dedicated to the treatment and, where possible, cure of epilepsy for the children of Iowa and surrounding states. He is comfortable with all modalities of diagnosis and treatment of medically intractable epilepsy including dietary and surgical treatments. He is enthusiastic about our participation in experimental drug trials allowing the newest pharmaceutical agents to be brought to bear in the treatment of epilepsy in his patients.

Theresa Czech, MD

Theresa Czech, MD is a child neurologist and epileptologist with a special interest in neonatal neurology and genetics. She is currently working with the Neonatology division to establish a neonatal neurocritical care program.

Joseph Glykys, MD, PhD

Joseph Glykys, MD, PhD investigates the pathways of water and chloride accumulation in neurons that lead to seizures, especially in the neonatal period. He runs a lab that focuses on understanding how the inhibitory system works at the cellular level, with an emphasis on how the dysfunction of the inhibitory system leads to seizures, utilizing electrophysiological and two-photon imaging. The long-term goal of his research is to understand the pathways of water and chloride accumulation in neurons and to modulate them to treat seizures. 

Katie Lutz, MD

Katie Lutz MD is a general pediatric neurologist who enjoys improving lives of children and their families with a wide spectrum of neurological diseases including epilepsy, development delay, movement disorders and genetic syndromes. In addition to her general neurology clinic, she performs the lumbar punctures for nusinersen therapy for people with spinal muscular atrophy and is part of the multidisciplinary brain injury clinic improving the transition out of the hospital for children after traumatic brain injury.

Katherine Mathews, MD

Katherine Mathews, MD is a neuromuscular specialist with additional fellowship training in genetics. She runs the Iowa Neuromuscular Program and Muscular Dystrophy clinic.  She conducts clinical research directed to improving outcomes for children and adults with neuromuscular diseases.  She has served on NIH and CDC working groups to define the direction of research on neuromuscular disease in the future and has become increasingly involved in collaborative clinical research efforts, many of which are laying a groundwork for clinical trials. She is the PI a project to better understand the natural history of a group of muscular dystrophies known as dystroglycanopathies through the Wellstone Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Center, http://www.medicine.uiowa.edu/mdcrc/   and follows patients with Friedreich ataxia in a similar collaborative project. Dr. Mathews is co-PI for the Iowa MDSTARnet project, a CDC sponsored, multi-center muscular dystrophy surveillance and epidemiology project http://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/musculardystrophy/research.html. As part of her commitment to improving care for patients with rare neuromuscular diseases, she leads several industry-sponsored clinical trials at the University of Iowa (see clinicaltrials.gov).   She is excited about the progress that has been made in understanding and managing neuromuscular diseases and is looking forward to being able to offer more effective treatments in the future.

Satsuki Matsumoto, MD

Satsuki Matsumoto, MD is a general child neurologist with a special interest in brain tumors. She sees patients in the general child neurology clinic and also collaborates with neuro-oncologists, radiation oncologists, neurosurgeons, pediatric ophthalmologists, and psychologists to deliver comprehensive care to pediatric patients with brain tumors.

Megan Rohlf, MD

Megan Rohlf, MD is a general child neurologist who is fellowship trained clinical neurophysiology. In addition to her general child neurology clinic, she reads EEGs and runs the new onset seizure clinic. 

Thati Ganganna~Sreenath, MBBS, MD

Sreenath Thati Ganganna, MBBS, MD is a pediatric epileptologist with a special interest in management of patients with intractable epilepsy, including presurgical evaluation, vagus nerve stimulation (VNS) and ketogenic diet. "I feel privileged to be working at University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital which is one of the best children’s hospitals in the country. What I like the most about University of Iowa is the amazing faculty colleagues that I work with and the amazing patients and families that I get to serve in my neurology practice. At Stead Family Children’s, professionally enriching experiences are a part of everyday life for both the faculty as well as the trainees."

Leah Zhorne, MD

Leah Zhorne, MD is general child neurologist with a special clinical interest in headache disorders.  She is passionate about improving the quality of patient care in her role as co-director of the comprehensive headache clinic and in the newly developed neurocritical care follow up clinic. She also participates in clinical research, serving as the site PI for the International Pediatric Stroke Study, and as an examiner in the Juvenile Huntington Disease Natural History Study.  Leah also has a special interest in resident education.  In her role as Program Director, she continually works to adapt and update the child neurology resident experience to fit the ever-changing needs of our learners.