Current Residents in the Neurology Residency Program
Chief Residents / PGY-4
Akhil Padarti, M.D.
Hometown: San Antonio, Texas
College: University of Texas at San Antonio
Medical School: Paul L Foster School of Medicine
Bio: As I was growing up, my parents moved across the country staying in no place longer than 2 years. We finally settled in San Antonio in high school and that is the closest place to home. I avidly watched House MD growing up and realized that I wanted to do exactly what House did in the show. I ended up going to UTSA, majoring in Chemistry and Biology. I went on to medical school in El Paso.
What do you like about Mobile: I like the weather.
What do you like about your residency: The autonomy given to the residents in the program and the training that is provided.
Hobbies: Chess, Age of Empires, Exercise, Reading Fantasy Fiction books
Fun fact: I like to consider myself an amateur sleeper, even though it is often inconvenient. My record is that I once slept for 20 hours.
Thomas Strobel, M.D.
Hometown: Rexburg, Idaho
College: Brigham Young University-Idaho
Medical School: University of Queensland, Australia
Bio: I was born in Idaho in view of the majestic Teton mountains to incredible parents who raised 9 children—five of which would become doctors. Though I grew up in a small somewhat remote town, life has blessed me with opportunities I never would have dreamed of. When I volunteered to be a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after high school, I found myself learning a new language and living in starkly foreign country (Russia) for two years with day-after-day life changing experiences. After returning home I wanted to continue helping people in the best way I could and decided to become a doctor. After majoring in human biology at my hometown university, I was ready for another adventure and decided to study medicine in Australia. It was an unlikely choice, but I somehow couldn’t pass it up. There, life again took an unexpected turn when I met my beautiful wife. Now, we have two beautiful children, and our adventure has brought us to the Alabama Gulf Coast. We couldn’t feel more blessed.
What do you like about Mobile: Mobile is a diverse and affordable city with many family-friendly areas and beautiful weather. It’s a wise financial decision for residency.
What do you like about your residency: Superior depth and breadth of pathology, great faculty and residency leadership who match high expectations with being highly responsive and supportive of the residents, high level of autonomy that quickly builds clinical confidence, supportive community that has continued to generously donate funds for the rapid expansion of the academic health system.
Fun fact: Like to cook
Sonny Tallavajhala, M.D.
Hometown: Overland Park, Kansas
College: University of Kansas
Medical School: University of Kansas School of Medicine
Bio: I’m Vinaykumar Tallavajhala, but I go by Dr. Sonny around the hospital. I was born in India and briefly lived in Jackson, MS before moving to my hometown in Kansas. I graduated from KU with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and prior to medical school, I spent 2 years working as a MCAT tutor helping over 70 students successfully enter medical school training around the country. My current interests in Neurology revolve around the intersection of Vascular Neurology and Neurocritical Care, with future interests in the education and mentorship of future Neurologists.
What do you like about Mobile: Year-round access to outdoor activities including a variety of affordable nearby golf courses, one nearby course has been listed as a “Top 50 Public Course” and “America’s Top 50 Affordable Course.” Proximity to Beach with a dog friendly public option.
What do you like about your residency: The faculty are all very approachable and enjoy teaching. The residents are a tight knit group, everyone is very friendly and willing to get together for a variety of social outings. The residency program itself is structured well to expose trainees early to Neurology rotations, and there is a great balance between education and clinical responsibilities.
Hobbies: Snowboarding, Golf, Video Games, Board Games, Anime
Fun fact: My wife and I have been playing the board game Pandemic Legacy since the beginning of residency and if we continue our current pace, we should finish by the end of PGY-3.
Second-Year Residents / PGY-3
Santiago Diaz Gonzalez, M.D.
Hometown: Medellin, Colombia
College: Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
Medical School: Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana
Bio: I lived all my life in Medellin, Colombia. I studied Medicine at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana. From the very beginning, I developed an interest in Neurology as I consider it one of the most complex and unexplored fields in Medicine. I came to the US in 2019, and I lived in Miami for two years, where I became a member of the Kaplan Medical Honor Society and did some research.
What do you like about Mobile: The people, the beach and the food.
What do you like about your residency: It’s a resident-driven program where you have a close relationship with your fellow residents and attendings. People are very welcoming, and there is an excellent work atmosphere.
Hobbies: Watching movies and playing chess.
Mohammad Jahangiri, M.D.
Hometown: Plano, Texas
College: University of Texas at Dallas
Medical School: University of Texas Medical Branch (John Sealy)
Bio: I lived most of my life in the state of Texas, first in Odessa for a brief few years during childhood, then Plano until college graduation before leaving for medical school in Galveston.
What do you like about Mobile: This town is quiet, spacious, and has close access to excellent beaches as well as larger cities such as New Orleans and Atlanta.
What do you like about your residency: Friendly co-workers and broad exposure to every field of neurology. The program is very supportive of residents.
Hobbies: Basketball, weightlifting, and (non-medical) reading.
Fun fact: I have a black belt in Taekwondo.
Favorite Quote: "Keep before your eyes the swift onset of oblivion, and the abysses of eternity before us and behind; mark how hollow are the echoes of applause, how fickle and undiscerning the judgments of professed admirers, and how puny the arena of human fame.
For the entire earth is but a point, and the place of our own habitation but a minute corner in it; and how many are therein who will praise you, and what sort of men are they?" (Meditations, Marcus Aurelius)
George Malatinszky, M.D.
Hometown: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
College: University of Oklahoma
Medical School: Boston University School of Medicine
Bio: I am originally from Hungary and moved to America when I was four, first to Michigan, then Oklahoma, which is where I spent the most time growing up. My interest in neuroscience began early, when I saw a drawing of a neuron in an encyclopedia at age five or six. I researched Drosophila neuronal remodeling in college. Between undergrad and medical school, I worked as a phlebotomist and research assistant for projects related to platelets and carotid artery stenosis. After spending some time in New England, I am excited to start the next chapter of my life in a new (to me) part of the country.
What do you like about Mobile: The crepe myrtles, live oaks, and friendly people.
What do you like about your residency: Faculty, staff, and co-residents who are knowledgeable and caring for each other and our patients.
Hobbies: Hiking, cooking, eating, vibing, horticulture, traveling, live music.
Fun fact: I kept an indoor tomato plant alive and producing through a dark Boston winter. It even grew into my apartment’s drop ceiling!
Alexandria Penwell, M.D.
Hometown: Chapin, South Carolina
College: University of South Carolina
Medical School: University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
Bio: I grew up in SC and spent a lot of time at either the lake or the beach. I majored in biology at U of SC and then went to medical school at USCSOMG. I developed an interest in neurology since it deals with some of the most impactful diseases with the greatest potential for future advancements in treatments.
What do you like about Mobile: I love being close to the beach!
What do you like about your residency: Everyone is very nice and welcoming. The other residents are all great people and I look forward to spending the next few years with them.
Hobbies: Sailing, camping, kayaking
Fun fact: I once spent a week backpacking on the Appalachian Trail in Virginia.
First-Year Residents / PGY-2
Arslan Arshad, M.D.
Hometown: Gulfport, Mississippi
College: University of South Alabama
Medical School: University of South Alabama
Bio: A graduate of the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science, I have been passionate about research at the interface of medicine and engineering since high school. Following this interest, I majored in chemical and biomolecular engineering and attended medical school at the University of South Alabama.
What do you like about Mobile: USA's beautiful campus, Southern hospitality and the nearby beaches!
What do you like about your residency: Supportive faculty, encouraging seniors and the collegial atmosphere.
Hobbies: Reading, exploring, working out, playing soccer and video games, and meditation!
Fun fact: I still haven't figured out what to name my cats.
Birk Harjus, M.D.
Bio coming soon!
Daniel Lee, M.D.
Hometown: Chesterfield, Virginia
College: University of South Carolina
Medical School: University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
Bio: I grew up in Chesterfield, Virginia outside of Richmond before moving to Columbia, South Carolina for undergraduate studies. I ended up majoring in biology with a minor in neuroscience. I conducted research at the medical school during that time investigating the underlying neurochemical pathways involved in PTSD. Following undergraduate, I attended USC Greenville for medical school where I continued my love and passion for neuroscience. It was there that I met my beautiful wife before moving to Mobile for residency.
What do you like about Mobile: Being a coastal city, Mobile has the opportunity for trips to beautiful, local beaches. Additionally, the downtown area has many opportunities for fun, which include Mardi Gras, monthly Art Walks and more.
What do you like about your residency: There are a variety of opportunities for professional, scholarly, and personal development. Faculty and residents are tight-knit and support each other to achieve their goals.
Hobbies: Ping pong, video games, reading, fishing, card games
Fun fact: I studied abroad in Japan for 6 months and stayed with a family who didn't speak English.
Alejandro Rodarte, M.D.
Hometown: Chihuahua, Mexico
College: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Medical School: Tecnologico de Monterrey
Bio: Youngest of three physicians. I was born in Mexico, where I did my medical school and followed it by moving to the US to do research. I have done work in exocytosis, electrophysiology, machine learning, transcriptomics, and cancer. I chose neurology because of the life-changing effect of neuropathologies and the vast potential to intervene with future discoveries.
What do you like about Mobile: The seafood, the coffee shops, the warm weather, the fresh air, and the close distance to the beaches.
What do you like about your residency: The residents are friendly, and the faculty are approachable and involved in the program.
Hobbies: Reading, basketball, Latin dancing, tennis and table tennis
Interns / PGY-1
Daniel F. Isaza Pierotti, M.D.
Hometown: Cali, Valle del Cauca, Colombia
College: Pontificia Universidad Javeriana de Cali Escuela de Medicina (Basic sciences).
Medical School: Universidad Del Valle Escuela de Medicina (Clinical clerkships).
Bio: I lived most of my life in my hometown, Cali. After high school spent 6 months improving my English skills in Calgary, AB. Started med school upon returning back to Colombia. After graduating med school, I spent 4 years between clinical research and clinical practice. I have also lived in Miami, Washington DC, Boston, Bogotá and Buga (Colombia). Although interested in stroke and neurointervention, I’m opened to other possibilities in Neurology.
What do you like about Mobile: it’s a calm place without big city traffic and distractions.
What do you like about your residency: it’s an academic medical center and comprehensive stroke center, research is encouraged, residents have teaching opportunities, and everyone you have contact with is very nice.
Hobbies: stargazing, outdoor activities, cooking, sports, concerts.
Fun fact: I share the same DOB with my 10-years older brother.
Career prior to residency: Obtained master’s degree in clinical service operations (MCSO) from Harvard Medical School. This is a clinical leadership training program in operations management to optimize efficiency and improve patient experience. My capstone project consisted in developing a plan for optimizing stroke care at an underserved rural hospital in Colombia.
Ashley Nguyen, M.D.
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama
College: Spring Hill College
Medical School: University of South Alabama Frederick P. Whiddon College of Medicine
Bio: My family emigrated from Vietnam and started from the ground up. I am the first female in my family to pursue higher education and the first person in the family to have a career in medicine. Thus, education is extremely important to me, and my team at work is like my second family! I have been in Mobile, Alabama, for most of my life, and I look forward to giving back to the community that has helped me come this far. I currently have an interest in neurocritical care and pain medicine.
What do you like about Mobile: Mobile is a town where you can meet and know everyone. I appreciate the Southern hospitality, the close-knit community, and the affordable lifestyle. I also enjoy having my family and friends close to me.
What do you like about your residency: One of the things I appreciate most about our program is that it makes every member feel valued and appreciated. The support that I have received from my mentors and peers is unparalleled. The program always places our education, well-being, and interests first. The staff, chairs, and directors go to great lengths to ensure our voices and concerns are heard and addressed. The attendings are eager to teach, and co-residents are easy to get along with. Every department member is unique and frequently introduces the group to new hobbies. There is never a dull moment with USA Health’s Neurology Residency Program, and the learning never stops!
Hobbies: Travel, international cuisines, shopping, kickboxing, paintballing, spending time with family/friends.
Fun fact: Due to a traumatic experience as a child, I used to fear dogs. To overcome that fear, I got a Corgi puppy. Her name is Sushi, and she is a very plump and friendly pup.
Career prior to residency: I worked several jobs during college and medical school, including as a nail technician, translator at an insurance company, lab technician, and a private tutor.
Richard Sliva, M.D.
Bio coming soon!
Abdullah Uddin Syed, M.D.
Hometown: Fontana, California
College: University of California, Riverside
Medical School: University of California, Riverside School of Medicine
Bio: I was born one of 4 boys (my mom wanted a girl) and grew up in Southern California. I got my degree in neuroscience from UC Riverside and also identity med school there. I’m known for my sense of humor and always knowing how to have a good time.
What do you like about Mobile: The coast and the Southern charm.
What do you like about your residency: Seeing a diverse range of pathologies, oftentimes farther advanced than most other institutions will see. My co-residents are amazing as well!
Hobbies: Video games, stand-up comedy, axe throwing.
Fun fact: I have 3 brothers, all with my same first name (Syed), so I go by Abdullah!