Research Team

Dr. Uzma Samadani MD PhD

Uzma Samadani, MD PhD is a neurosurgeon and brain injury researcher at the University of Minnesota. She moved to Minneapolis in 2015 and was named to Minneapolis St-Paul Magazine’s “Top Doctors in Neurosurgery” lists in 2016 through 2019. In 2018 she was on the cover of the “Top Doctors” edition with the byline “The Doctor Will Save You Now.” In 2018 she also was awarded the “Courageous Women in Healthcare” award by the Women’s Health Leadership Trust. Minnesota Monthly dubbed her a “Top Doctor in Minnesota” in 2018 and 2019.

Dr. Uzma Samadani
Dr. Uzma Samadani

Dr. Samadani is an Associate Professor in the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Minnesota with a graduate faculty appointment in Neuroscience. She is also an attending neurosurgeon at Centracare and the Minneapolis Veterans Administration Medical Center and founder of the neurodiagnostic start-up Oculogica Inc, which has developed the first baseline free concussion diagnostic cleared for marketing approval by the FDA. She holds multiple patents related to brain injury, its treatment and its consequences.

She is on the Executive Committee of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons Joint Section on Neurotrauma and Critical Care and served as Scientific Program Chair for their meeting in conjunction with the National Neurotrauma Society from 2014-7. She also serves on the board and is President-Elect of ThinkFirst Foundation, the largest brain injury prevention foundation in the world. She is past Chair of the Minnesota State Traumatic Brain and Spinal Cord Injury Research Program and a Past-President of Women in Neurosurgery.

Dr. Samadani has received more than three million dollars in research grants from national and international competitive funding agencies to study diagnostics, risks, outcomes and treatments for brain injury. She has been funded by the United States Veterans Administration, National Space and Biomedical Research Institute, Abbott Diagnostic Laboratories, American College of Surgeons, American Association of Neurological Surgeons, Thrasher Research Fund, Integra, the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Foundation and several other organizations.

She is certified by the American Board of Neurological Surgeons and a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Her research on brain injury has been discussed in the New York Times, LeMonde, LeFigaro, Wired, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated, Forbes, and Minneapolis Star Tribune as well as numerous other media sources. She has been a speaker at TedMed, the North American Brain Injury Society, National Neurotrauma Society, American Association of Neurological Surgeons meeting and multiple other conferences. She has published more than 60 peer-reviewed scientific papers and an additional 30 reviews and chapters including in the Journal of Neurotrauma, JAMA Neurology, Journal of Neurosurgery and the New England Journal of Medicine.

Dr. Samadani also served as an unaffiliated neurotrauma consultant to the National Football League from 2015 to 2018.

Who is in the Lab?

Daniel Rafter MD
Daniel Rafter MD

Dr. Rafter went to University of St Thomas in St Paul for undergrad, and graduated with a double major in Chemistry and Business with a focus in Entrepreneurship in 2007. He then attended Ross University School of Medicine and graduated in 2017. Soon after, he was hired as the clinical research coordinator for TRACK-TBI in June 2017. He is currently applying to General Surgery Residency Programs with the goal of ending up in Trauma Surgery/Critical Care.

Dylan Sturtevant
Dylan Sturtevant

Dylan graduated from the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire with a Bachelor's after studying biology with a chemistry and spanish language minor. With a passion for healthcare, Dylan has worked as a research assistant, nursing assistant, and medical assistant through college, continuing to the present. He hopes to attend medical school in the near future.

Patricia McCracken PT, DPT
Patricia McCracken PT, DPT

Patricia McCracken PT, DPT received her BA from Bates College and both her Master’s in Physical Therapy and Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Baylor University. As a Colonel in the US Army Reserve, she currently serves as a lecturer for the US Army Baylor Doctoral Program in Physical Therapy. Patricia works as a clinical researcher for the Center for Veterans Research and Education at the Minneapolis Veterans Health Care System working on neuromodulation research studies and rehabilitative adaptive design products. Her main projects are the E-STAND trial and the VA SCI Demographic Study

Margaret Mahan PhD
Margaret Mahan PhD

Maggie has been with the lab for over three years and has focused her dissertation work on classifying the nature of mild traumatic brain injury using advanced MRI imaging. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Minnesota in May 2019.

Zhuliu Li
Zhuliu Li

Zhuliu is a graduate student in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota jointly mentored with Dr. Rui Kuang. His work is focused on classifying the nature of brain injury utilizing multiple objective markers including cerebrospinal fluid around the brainstem on CT, blood based biomarkers, and eye-tracking data.

Sam Naden
Sam Naden

Sam is also a graduate student in Computer Science at the University of Minnesota jointly mentored with Dr. Rui Kuang. He is working on a project to develop an algorithm that can predict the risk of developing a brain bleed based on automated analysis of cerebral atrophy and blood thinner use in the Veteran population.

Michael Koller
Michael Koller

Michael is a third year medical student at the University of Minnesota who spent a summer in our lab working on a project which compared outcomes between different types of cranioplasty material. He presented his work at American Association of Neurological Surgeons earlier this year and has a manuscript submitted.

Emily Kilen
Emily Kilen

Emily is also a third year medical student at the University of Minnesota who spent her summer with our lab developing an automated algorithm to differentiate cerebrospinal fluid present within anatomical landmarks and produce a volumetric output.

Brett Sterk
Brett Sterk

Brett is a second year medical student at the University of Minnesota who spent this past summer in our lab working on a project focused on predicting those brain injury subjects that will progress to brain death compared to those that will recover. He is currently finalizing a manuscript for submission.

Mark Gormley
Mark Gormley

Mark was born and raised in South Minneapolis. He graduated undergrad from the University of Notre Dame in 2017 and started medical school in 2018 at the University of Minnesota. His current project is looking at the capacity of US trauma centers to provide timely surgery for acute spinal cord injury patients. He is hoping this project will provide some insight about the unmet needs in today's trauma care system.

Kiera Sundeen
Kiera Sundeen

Kiera is an undergraduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is planning on majoring in Economics with two minors in Computer Science and Global Health in hopes of going to medical school. Kiera is currently working on two projects: Failed Clinical Trials and The Amyloid Hypothesis. Her role throughout the research process has been the classification of all government registered TBI and Amyloid Hypothesis Clinical Trials.

Marcela Bravo
Marcela Bravo

Marcela is a student from the Department of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology at the University of Minnesota who is completing her thesis project with our lab. Her work is focused on whether or not clinical studies focusing on treating traumatic brain injuries are publishing their results, and whether or not there characteristics differ between published and unpublished trials.

Ranveer Vasdev
Ranveer Vasdev

Ranveer completed his undergraduate training in Neurobiology and Music at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is currently a medical student at the University of Minnesota. With our lab, he has been working on a project highlighting the legal implications of delayed surgical treatment for acute spinal cord injuries.