Neurological Surgery Residency Program

Hello Prospective Medical Students:

The Neurological Surgery Residency Program at Desert Regional Medical Center, is accredited by the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). Our inaugural class started July 1st 2015, and we currently have a full complement of 14 residents, the first of whom is on track to graduate in June 2021 from our seven year Residency Program. As we train our our residents under the AOA’s commitment to “leave no resident behind”, we are no longer accepting new residents. The primary goal of our Residency Program is the training of clinically and technically competent neurosurgeons dedicated to compassionate care, life-long learning, and sound judgment. We have a diverse neurosurgery faculty at the Primary Site, and at several Participating Sites. Neurosurgery faculty are reinforced by neurologists, neurointerventionalists, neurointensivists, and other specialties. We are proud to offer our trainees a well-rounded education in all aspects of Neurological Surgery.

The DRMC Neurological Surgery Residency Program offers a 7-year curriculum, as follows:

  • Basic Clinical Neurosciences: Four 4-week blocks in PGY1
  • Critical Care: Three 4-week blocks in PGY1
  • General Patient Care: Five 4-week blocks in PGY1
  • Neuropathology/Neuroradiology/Elective/Research: up to 3 months
    • Pediatric Neurosurgery: ad hoc
    • Operative Neurosurgery: at least 54-64 months


GME Office

Javed Siddiqi MD ImageJaved Siddiqi, M.D., Ph.D., FACS, FAANS, FRCSC

Founding Program Director
Desert Regional Medical Center Neurological Surgery Residency

Current Positions:

  • Head of Neurosurgery Section, Dept of Surgery, Desert Regional Medical Center, Palm Springs, CA
  • Founding President, Arrowhead Neuroscience Foundation, a non-profit 501(c ) 3 research & education foundation
  • President-Elect, California Association of Neurological Surgeons (CANS)
  • Professor & Chair of Surgery, California University of Science & Medicine, Colton, CA
  • Professor of Surgery, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA
  • Founding Editor-in-Chief, “Contemporary Reviews in Neurology & Neurosurgery”, a Pub-Med Cited Journal

Board Certification:  Neurological Surgery

Fellowship:  University of Arkansas Medical Sciences, Department of Neurosurgery, Littlerock, AR

Residency:  University of Western Ontario, Department of Neurosurgery, London, ON, Canada

Doctorate: Oxford University, Oxford, England

Medical Degree:  University of Western Ontario School of Medicine, London, ON, Canada

Neurological Surgery Residency Curriculum

The curriculum for Desert Regional Medical Center has been designed to meet AOA accreditation standards and utilize the clinical strengths of the hospital faculty to produce quality trained physicians. Rotations marked with an asterisk (*) indicate a rotation requirement of the AOA. The hospital has elected to use a monthly calendar as the basis for rotations as opposed to a 13, four-week arrangement for rotations.

Residency Curriculum

Neurosurgery Nine (9) Months
Vascular Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (RCH)
Neurosurgery Three (3) Months
Vascular & Skull Base Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (Kaiser Anaheim)
Vascular Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (RCH)
County Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (ARMC)
Neurosurgery Three (3) Months
Vascular & Skull base Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (Kaiser Anaheim)
Vascular Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (RCH)
County Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (ARMC)
Neurosurgery Nine (9) Months
Vascular & Skull base Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (Kaiser Anaheim)
Neurosurgery Three (3) Months
Vascular & Skull Base Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (Kaiser Anaheim)
Vascular Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (RCH)
County Neurosurgery Three (3) Months (ARMC)
Neurosurgery Spine Six (6) Months
Neurosurgery Cranial Six (6) Months

Vladamir Cortez, DOVladimir Cortez DO Image

Current Position:  Core Faculty, Desert Regional Medical Center

Board Certification:  Neurosurgery

Residency: Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Colton, CA

Medical Degree:  DO, Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine, Lansing, MI

Faculty Appointments:  Clinical Assistant Professor, Surgery/Neurosurgery, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA



Anthony John Gerard Alastra, MD, FAANS, FACSAnthony Alastra MD Image

Current Position: Associate Program Director & Core Faculty, Desert Regional Medical Center

Board Certification: Neurosurgery

Residency: New York University medical Center/Bellevue Hospital Center/Manhattan VA Medical Center, NY, NY

Medical Degree: Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine, Cleveland, OH

Faculty Appointments:

  • Pending: Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery, Western University Health Sciences, College of Osteopathic Medicine of the Pacific, Pomona, CA

Deependra Mahato, DODeependra Mahato DO Image

Current Position: Non-Core Faculty, Desert Regional Medical Center

Board Certification: Neurosurgery

Residency:  Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, Colton, CA

Medical Degree:  DO, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA

Faculty Appointments:

  • Assistant Professor, Western University of Health Sciences, Pomona, CA
  • Assistant Professor of Anatomy- Mt. San Antonio College, Walnut, CA

Michael Schiraldi, MD, PhDMichael Schiraldi MD Image

Current Position: Core Faculty, Desert Regional Medical Center

Fellowship: Codman Endovascular Neurosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Residency: Neurosurgery, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Medical Degree: MD, Temple University School of Medicine



Emilio Tayag, MDEmilio Tayag

Current Position: Core Faculty, Desert Regional Medical Center

Board Certification: Neurology

Residency: University of Southern California - LAC+USC Medical Center

Medical Degree: MD, University of the East, Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center


Neurosurgery Residency Program Faculty

Program Director

  • Javed Siddiqi, MD, DPhil (Oxon), FACS, FAANS

Neurosurgery Core Faculty

  • Anthony Alastra, MD, FAANS, FACS
  • Vladimir Cortez, DO
  • Michael Schiraldi, MD, PhD
  • Emilio Tayag, MD
  • Omid Hariri, DO (Kaiser Anaheim)
  • Eric Stiner, MD (Kaiser Anaheim Site Director)
  • Sooho Choi, MD (Kaiser Anaheim)
  • Dan Miulli, DO (ARMC Site Director)
  • Mark Krieger, MD (CHLA Site Director)

Neurosurgery Non-Core Faculty

  • Deependra Mahato, DO
  • Blake Berman, DO

Adjunct Teaching Faculty

  • Suneil Agarwal, MD (Emergency Medicine)
  • Jeff Baker, DO (Emergency Medicine)
  • Nicholas Batty, MD (Oncology)
  • Hetal Bhakta, MD (Cardiology)
  • Scott Brook, MD (Oncology)
  • Nora Bucher, MD (Oncology)
  • Elber Comacho, MD (Oncology)
  • Reginald Fayssoux, MD (Orthopedic Spine)
  • Glenn Fischberg, MD (Neuro Critical Care)
  • Andrew Givner, MD (Emergency Medicine)
  • Learned Gonzales, MD (Pulmonary Critical Care)
  • David Johnson, MD (General Surgery)
  • Shubha Kerkar, MD (Infectious Disease)
  • Babak Khazaeni, MD (Emergency Medicine)
  • Brahma Konda, MD (Oncology)
  • Jacqueline Le, MD (Emergency Medicine)
  • Gerald Martin, MD (Medicine)
  • Xolani Mdluli, MD (Infectious Disease)
  • Michelle Mouri, DO (Emergency Medicine)
  • Ramin Pooyan, DO (Orthopedics/Peripheral Nerve)
  • Ryan Roten, DO (Emergency Medicine)
  • Joel Stillings, DO (Emergency Medicine)
  • Micah Wittler, DO (Emergency Medicine)

Third Year Residents

Mohammad Arshad
Mohammad Arshad, DO

Hometown: Bridgeview, IL
Hobbies: cooking, ukulele, Catan, neurosurgery, reading, camping, football

Hamid Hadi
Hamid Hadi, DO

Hometown: Arvada, CO
Hobbies: Neurosurgery, reading, camping, football

Rebecca Houston

Rebecca Houston, DO

Hometown: Montclair, NJ
Hobbies: Soccer, fishing, archaeology, traveling

Photo of Louis Reier

Louis Reier, DO

Hometown: Bellingham, WA
Hobbies: Basketball, golf, tennis, mountain sports, traveling

Fourth Year Residents

image of Ajay Ramnot

Ajay Ramnot, DO

Hometown: Fort Lauderdale, FL
Hobbies: hiking and cooking

image of Eric Whitney

Eric Whitney, DO

Hometown: Houston, TX
Hobbies: Cooking, exercise and neuro modulation

Fifth Year Residents

Image of Alessandra Cathel

Alessandra Cathel, DO

Hometown: Hamilton, NJ
Hobbies: Sports, beach, reading, being active with her dog

Image of Willis Kiessling

Willis Kiessling, DO

Hometown: Anchorage, AK
Hobbies: Hiking, hunting, fishing

Sixth Year Residents

Photo of James Fowler

James Fowler, DO

Hometown: Sandwich, IL
Hobbies: Reading, piano, physics, philosophy, hiking, fishing, reading

Photo of Chao Li

Chao Li, DO

Hometown: Overland, KS
Hobbies: fishing and reading

Seventh Year Residents

Stephen Albano - Neurosurgery-sm
Stephen Albano, DO

Hometown: Mililani, HI
Hobbies: Tai Chi, reading, yoga, video games

Photo of Brian Fiani
Brian Fiani, DO

Hometown: Birmingham, MI
Hobbies: soccer, football, basketball, tennis, golf, water skiing, wakeboarding, wake surfing, kit boarding, snow skiing, hiking, working out

Alison Ho, DO

Hometown: Highland, CA
Hobbies: Street food, walking on the beach with my dog