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SCI-LOS ANGELES

Tony L. Strickland, MS, PhD Chairman & CEO
Aaron McMurtray, MD, PhD  Sports and General Neurologist
Katherine Kruser, Psy.D Clinical Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellow
Colonel Ashley Benjamin, MD Consulting Psychiatrist
Paul Longobardi, MA, PhD Staff Clinical Psychologist
Haig Pilavjian Psychological Assistant
Keyiana Brown Medical Office Coordinator & Executive Assistant to the CEO


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Tony L. Strickland, MS, PhD
Chairman & CEO

Dr. Strickland is a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist with considerable experience in the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of concussion and related disorders.

He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology (Behavioral Medicine) at the University of Georgia. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship and research practicum in psychopharmacology at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center; and a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the Semel Neuropsychiatric Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

He is a fellow of the National Academy of Neuropsychology, the American Psychological Association Division 50 (Addictions), and the American College of Professional Neuropsychology.

Dr. Strickland is a Diplomate of the American Board of Professional Neuropsychology. He is a member of the pop Warner Medical Advisory Board, and he consults on Concussion Management Programs for hundreds of club, high school, collegiate, and professional organizations. Dr. Strickland’s research seeks to better characterize traumatic brain injury, dementia, and related neurobehavioral disorders across the life span.

Dr. Strickland utilizes multi-project investigations that employ brain imaging, neuropsychological, and other neurobehavioral assessments to pursue two overarching research themes:

• the understanding of potential differential expression of neurobehavioral disorders among underserved populations across the life span.

• the identification of effective assessment and diagnosis, and potentially promising treatment interventions to be explored in future clinical service and research.

An underlying focus of his work is the development of a research program consisting of experienced and committed professionals conducting innovative clinical neuroscience investigations that attract scientists from regional, national, and international communities.

He has been the principal investigator of a number of National Institute of Health supported research investigations, and has managed a large number of other projects primarily related to clinical neuroscience. He is the author of numerous research articles and has presented nationally and internationally.

 


McMurtray

Aaron McMurtray, MD, PhD
Sports and General Neurologist

Dr. McMurtray is a board-certified neurologist with a sub-specialty in Behavioral Neurology.

Dr. McMurtray earned his medical degree in 2000 at Vanderbilt University.  His neurology residency training at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center was followed by a Behavioral Neurology fellowship at UCLA/West LA VA Medical Center.

After completing fellowship training, Dr. McMurtray joined the faculty at the University of Hawaii as an assistant professor where he taught medical students, worked on several federally funded population based epidemiologic studies, conducted brain imaging research funded by the American Academy of Neurology, was awarded an American Academy of Neurology Clinical Research Training Fellowship, and completed a Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences.  In 2009, Dr. McMurtray was recruited to join the Ventura County Medical Center where he set up and directed the multispecialty Traumatic Brain Injury clinic and also served on the board of the Ventura County Brain Injury Center.

In 2012, Dr. McMurtray rejoined Harbor-UCLA Medical Center as director of the Behavioral Neurology clinic and the Neuro-HIV clinic, where he instructs Neurology residents and conducts clinical research studies.  In 2013, Dr. McMurtray along with several of his colleagues founded Neurosearch-Torrance, which is part of a multi-site clinical trials company based in Los Angeles and Ventura Counties.  Neurosearch-Torrance plays a crucial role in providing access to clinical research for people living in the South Bay area of Los Angeles who otherwise would not have the opportunity to participate in clinical trials and research studies.

Dr. McMurtray’s primary areas of expertise include: traumatic brain injury, neuro-infectious diseases, and behavioral neurology. He is a member of the American Neurological Association, and the American Academy of Neurology’s Behavioral Neurology and Neuro-infectious Diseases Sections, an investigator at the Los Angeles BioMedical Research Institute, and an assistant clinical professor in the David Geffen School of Medicine’s Neurology Department.  He directs an active clinical research program at the Los Angeles BioMedical Research Institute and his publications include recent studies on memory problems and headache as complications of traumatic brain injury.


Katherine Kruser, Psy.D
Clinical Neuropsychology Postdoctoral Fellow 

Dr. Katherine (“Kat”) Kruser earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at Alliant International University, Sacramento and her bachelor’s degree in neurobiology, physiology and behavior at University of California, Davis. She completed her internship in neuropsychology at San Mateo Medical Center in California. Her clinical training has focused on treatment and assessment of mild traumatic brain injuries, chronic pain, and anxiety. She has received specialized training from field experts in cognitive behavioral therapy, and has evaluated and treated injured workers seeking compensation since 2012. She recognizes the devastating effects cognitive deficits can have on daily life, and holds keen interest in the effects of emotional stress and pain on cognition. She hopes increased public awareness combined with evolving medical advancements in evaluation of sports concussions will bring relief and improved treatments to players and their families.

Dr. Kruser is also passionate about political advocacy and has lobbied both at the US Capitol as well as Sacramento on behalf of California psychologists and our patients on topics ranging from neuropsychologists’ scope of practice within the Workers’ Compensation system, mandated reporting law, patient access to mental health care, and training and education requirements for licensure of psychologists. She is currently serving as the Chair of the California Psychological Association of Graduate Students where she manages student programming and mentorship across the state. Dr. Kruser brings her skills of collaboration, leadership, and clinical experience to best meet the needs of SCI’s patients.


Benjamin

Colonel Ashley Benjamin, MD
Consulting Psychiatrist

Dr. Benjamin is a board certified psychiatrist currently working for Ventura County Behavioral health where he specializes in consulting with primary care providers.  Dr. Benjamin graduated valedictorian from the University of Kansas’ highly esteemed William Allen White School of Journalism and went on achieve to a MA in exercise science from The Ohio State University.  Dr. Benjamin obtained his medical degree from the University of Kansas and completed his residency at Wright State University.   Dr. Benjamin has worked in numerous settings as an adult psychiatrist, but connects most deeply with his 8 years of active and 13 years of reserve Air Force military service where he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  While serving in this capacity, as well as serving as medical director for a VA Iraq/Afghanistan return program, Dr. Benjamin began seeing the not so apparent connection between various degrees of traumatic brain injuries and concomitant mental health symptoms.  In addition to his 30 plus publications in various areas of mental and non-mental health topics, Dr. Benjamin is the lead co-author of the book, The Student Athlete’s College Recruitment Guide, which addresses how high school athletes can find the best ethical, academic, and athletic fit at the college level.


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Paul Longobardi, MA, PhD
Staff Clinical Psychologist 

Dr. Longobardi is a licensed psychologist with decades of experience in the assessment and treatment of concussion and a wide range of related disorders.

He is an Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  He earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He completed his internship at the Silas B. Hays Army Hospital at Ford Ord, California.  He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuropsychology at the Behavioral Neuroscience Research Center, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, and a postdoctoral respecialization program in geropsychology at the University of Southern California (USC). 

While serving overseas as a military psychologist, Dr. Longobardi treated personnel with stress related disorders and also served as an organizational effectiveness consultant, assisting officers to improve unit cohesion, effectiveness, and productivity.  After leaving the military, he worked as a consultant to private sector companies on team and leader development while coaching executives on improving their leadership/managerial skills.  He then worked as a psychologist with the County of Los Angeles for over 33 years where he served as Chief Psychologist in the Department of Health Services, establishing a psychology training program and implementing a neuropsychology service.  He is a sought after speaker recognized in his field, speaking to psychology professional groups and private businesses. He was affiliated with the Memory Disorders Clinic, Charles Drew University’s satellite clinic of UCLA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center as well as with the Behavioral Neuroscience Research Center, a multiproject research group.  Dr. Longobardi conducted studies on the topic of aging financially supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). His research has been published in scientific publications on the topics of neuropsychological functioning in older adults.  He also has published papers on the topics of psychotherapy and organization development. 

Dr. Longobardi brings a wide range of expertise accumulated over decades of experience and training to serve the needs of the SCI population.


Haig Pilavjian
Psychological Assistant

Haig Pilavjian is a board certified psychological assistant and a psychometrist at the Sports Concussion Institute in Los Angeles. He earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of California, San Diego and his master’s degree in psychology at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology. Haig accrued years of clinical research experience as a research associate at the San Diego Veterans Affairs Military Sexual Trauma Clinic. He worked with a diverse group of patients and researchers with a focus on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and interpersonal traumas. The subjects of his research included treatment predictors and outcomes, effects of religiosity, psychophysiological markers of trauma and co-morbid diagnoses.Beyond his professional work performing neuropsychological assessments for SCI, Haig also volunteers for the Suicide Prevention Center’s crisis line where he assists individuals who are having or are affected by thoughts of suicide. Haig incorporates his wide range of experiences with his contemporary education to serve the needs of the SCI community.


Keyiana Brown
Medical Office Coordinator & Executive Assistant to the CEO

Keyiana Brown is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. She is a graduate of University of Memphis, where she attained her degree in Healthcare Administration. Prior to joining SCI, Keyiana worked in the ER as a Patient Access Lead at St. Francis Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to St. Francis Hospital, she worked with CBRE as a Lease Administration Specialist, where she managed 10 healthcare accounts, tracking payables and receivables to ensure clients maintained their lease requirements.

Personally, Keyiana is a loving mother to her daughter Mikaela, caring Wife to her husband, Michael, and cheerful friend. In her free time, Keyiana enjoys volunteering, reading, and traveling! She looks forward to taking some trips to explore new countries in the near future!