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Laguna Hills

Farzad Massoudi, M.D., F.A.C.S.Farzad Massoudi, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Diplomat of the American Board of Neurological Surgery

Dr. Farzad Massoudi is a board certified neurosurgeon with a primary specialty in spine surgery. His areas of clinical interest include minimally invasive brain and spine surgery, complex spine surgery, brain tumors, and frameless stereotactic radiosurgery of the brain and spine. Dr. Massoudi has lectured extensively on various topics in neurosurgery and spine surgery.

Dr. Massoudi completed his undergraduate studies in Biology at the University of California, Irvine, graduating in the top 5% of his class. He earned his medical doctorate from Georgetown University School of Medicine and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society in 1990. He completed his neurosurgical residency at UCLA Medical Center. Dr. Massoudi currently holds the position of Medical Director of the Neuroscience and Spine Institute at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center in Mission Viejo, CA.

Dr. Massoudi has been practicing for over 15 years and is the President of Orange County Neurosurgical Associates in Laguna Hills, California. OCNA is dedicated to providing world-class, cutting edge neurosurgical services with the utmost of care and compassion. The practice is dedicated to treating patients as unique individuals, with special attention and respect. Dr. Massoudi is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons, and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.

Dr. Massoudi holds several patents in the area of minimally invasive spinal fusion devices and is currently overseeing the production of and market launch of his innovative spine fixation device.

In addition to serving his patients as a dedicated and caring neurosurgeon, Dr. Massoudi has tirelessly worked on the creation of the Neuroscience and Spine Institute over the past five years and takes great joy in the realization of this vision of world class medicine for the Orange County community.

In his time off, Dr. Massoudi enjoys spending time with his wife and two small children.

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Massoudi click here


Robert J. Jackson, M.D.Robert J. Jackson, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.N.S.
Diplomat American Board of Neurological Surgery

Dr. Robert Jackson was born and raised in Southern California. He attended Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California, and subsequently the University of San Diego, where he graduated magna cum laude from the honors program with a B.A. degree in chemistry and biology. While in San Diego, Dr. Jackson competitively raced bicycles at the collegiate level. He earned a medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine with honors, graduated in the top 10% of his class, and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society. In 1994 he received the Baylor College of Medicine Award of Excellence in Neurosurgery, and the Award of Excellence in Surgery.

After training a decade in Houston, Texas at Baylor College of Medicine and The University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Dr. Jackson returned home to Orange County, California to practice neurosurgery. Dr. Jackson is a board certified neurosurgeon, who specializes in minimally invasive surgery of the brain and spine, complex spine surgery including spinal tumor resection, spinal stabilization procedures, disc replacement of the cervical and lumbar spine and stereotactic radiosurgery for brain and spine tumors. From 2003-2013, he was honored to accept the appointment of Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurosurgery at the University of California Irvine. Since 2006, Dr. Jackson has served as Chief of the Division of Neurosurgery at Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center and level two trauma center, in Mission Viejo, California.

Dr. Robert Jackson has also served as clinical faculty and course director for numerous spinal surgery teaching conferences and labs including courses on vertebroplasty, kyphoplasty, lumbar spinal stenosis, cervical spine reconstruction, cervical fusion, anterior lumbar fusion, and cervical disc replacement. In addition to teaching techniques of spine surgery to neurological and orthopedic surgeons, Dr. Jackson is currently involved in clinical research. He has authored several peer-reviewed papers in the journals including Neurosurgery, Journal of Neurosurgery Spine, and Neuro-Oncology, and has presented at local and national neurosurgical and orthopedic meetings including the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), and the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), and the North American Spine Society (NASS). Away from work he enjoys trail running, mountain biking, surfing, paddleboarding, and spending time with his wife and children.

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Jackson click here


K. Anthony Kim, M.D.K. Anthony Kim, M.D., F.A.A.N.S.

Dr. Kim was born in Athens, Greece to a diplomatic family. During his childhood, he attended schools in Australia, New Zealand, Nepal, Libya, and South Korea. He is fluent in Korean. He graduated from Yale University with a B.S. intensive in Biology and a B.A. in Music.  He also underwent one year of Masters in Musical Arts at Yale University.  He earned his M.D. at the Keck-University of Southern California School of Medicine and graduated with Highest Distinction and was inducted into the Alpha Omega Alpha medical honor society in 2000.

Dr. Kim completed both a neurosurgery residency and a complex spine fellowship at the University of Southern California (USC) Department of Neurosurgery. His spine fellowship included reconstructive spine techniques in tumor, deformity, and trauma as well as travel to Australia to study the latest advancements that have not yet reached the United States. His areas of current interest include the natural history of facet degeneration and diseases of the posterior spine; posterior-only approaches to the cervico-thoracic junction and thoracic ventral lesions; penetrating traumatic brain and spinal cord injury; transpedicular and en bloc trauma and tumor spine reconstructions; the use of biologics in neuro-regeneration and repair; scoliosis and adult deformity; failed back syndrome and adjacent segment degeneration; patients with prior surgery and worsening conditions; minimally invasive spine techniques; advanced imaging modalities (e.g. MR myelography, fusion bone CT-SPECT, and tensor DWI) in the care of spine patients; posterior dynamic stabilization; and rare tumors of the cerebral nervous system. 

He has been invited to meetings to present before the Plenary Session at the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), the Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), the Western Neurological Society (WNS), the AANS-CNS section of Spine and Peripheral Nerve Disorders (“Spine section”), and the AANS-CNS section of Pediatric Neurosurgery to name a few. He has published in the main neurosurgical journals, Journal of Neurosurgery, the Spine journal, Neurosurgery, and Neurosurgical Focus among others, and reviews for Neurosurgery in the field of penetrating trauma and solitary fibrous tumors. He is a board-certified diplomate of the American Board of Neurological Surgery (ABNS) and fellow of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (FAANS).  He aims to become a nationally recognized pioneer in the advancement of Neurosurgical Spine.

First and foremost, Dr. Kim is dedicated to the care and well-being of his patients. His goal is to combine compassionate patient care with the most up-to-date evidence-based medicine, and to provide patients with teaching, insight, and knowledge of the pros and cons of recent advances in the field.

Away from work, Dr. Kim enjoys swimming and being with his wife, son, and daughter.

Dr. Kim will waive co-pays for musicians, artists, doctors, and all Disney employees "cast members."

Last revised August 5, 2014.

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Kim, click here


Sylvain Palmer, M.D., F.A.C.S.Sylvain Palmer, M.D., F.A.C.S.

Dr. Sylvain Palmer grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Cornell University and completed his Bachelor of Arts Degree at The Johns Hopkins University, in 1974, where he was in the top 10% of his class and was admitted into the Phi Beta Kappa Honors Society. He received his medical degree from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, in 1977, where he was in the top 10% his class and was admitted into the Alpha Omega Alpha honors society. He completed his surgical internship and his neurosurgical residency at the prestigious Johns Hopkins Hospital, ranked the number one hospital in the US by The US and World Report.

Dr. Palmer has been board certified since 1986. He is a member of numerous neurosurgical societies including The American Association of Neurological Surgeons, The Congress of Neurological Surgeons, The Joint Spine and Peripheral Nerve Section, The Joint Brain Trauma Section, The California Association of Neurological Surgeons, The American Medical Association, The California Medical Association, and The Orange County Medical Association. He has served as Secretary, Treasurer, and President of the Orange Country Neurosurgical Society. He has also served as Chief of Neurosurgery, Chief of Surgery, Chief of Staff, and was a board member of Mission Hospital and Regional Medical Center.

Dr. Palmer has practiced Neurosurgery in Orange County, California since 1981. He has done groundbreaking research and development, since 1996, in Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery (MIS). He has development minimally invasive techniques in MIS that are now used around the world. He has a particular interest in the MIS treatment of herniated cervical and lumbar disks and spinal stenosis with or without instrumentation. He lectures and teaches extensively in this area as well as having published numerous articles and book chapters on MIS techniques.

Dr. Palmer was an early and pivotal member of the Mission Hospital Trauma Team, since 1981, which won the 2000 Ernest B. Codman award from the National Joint Committee on Accreditation of Hospitals. He was a pioneer in the treatment of traumatic brain injury and has published numerous articles and has lectured world- wide in this area. He was a founding member of the Adam Williams Traumatic Brain Injury Initiative, which has trained over 50 hospitals in advanced brain injury treatment techniques.

Dr. Palmer and his staff’s main focus is on the patient experience from first consultation, through treatment, until final discharge. The patient is encouraged to fully understand his problem, his treatment options, and his anticipated outcomes. The patient, thereby, becomes an active participant in his health care leading to improved results and higher patient satisfaction.

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Palmer, click here


Chiedozie Nwagwu, M.D.Chiedozie Nwagwu, M.D.

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Nwagwu, click here






Alexander Taghva, M.D.Alexander Taghva, M.D.
Diplomat of the American Board of Neurological Surgery

Dr. Alexander Taghva is a board-certified, fellowship-trained neurosurgeon specializing in complex and minimally invasive spine surgery, brain surgery, and neuromodulation including spinal cord stimulation and deep brain stimulation. He has a particular interest in treatment of failed back surgery syndrome, Parkinson's disease, trigeminal neuralgia, brain and pituitary tumors, and spinal disorders including spinal stenosis.

He attended college at the University of Southern California, graduating Summa Cum Laude in Biochemistry. He completed his medical education at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine before returning to Southern California for residency training at USC. While at USC, Dr. Taghva trained in complex techniques of brain and spine surgery, including complex spine surgery as well as minimally-invasive spine surgery. In addition, he was a team doctor with the USC Trojan Football team and held a position of Clinical Instructor of Neurological Surgery at USC.

Dr. Taghva completed a prestigious fellowship in neuromodulation and functional neurosurgery at Ohio State University. During that time, Dr. Taghva, treated conditions including Parkinson's disease, essential tremor, and chronic pain via stimulation of the brain and spinal cord.

Dr. Taghva is well-published and actively engaged in research. He is currently a principal investigator on clinical trials for spinal cord stimulation. His current practice is based in Orange County. On a personal note, Dr. Taghva was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada where he was a national champion tennis player featured in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd.” He currently resides in Orange County with his wife and two daughters.

Media links:

Dr. Taghva was recently featured on PBS to discuss deep brain stimulation for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease. Click here to view.

Deep Brain Stimulation to Treat Obesity? August 20, 2012

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Taghva, please click here


Jason A. Liauw, M.D.Jason A. Liauw, M.D.

Medical School: Stanford University School of Medicine
Internship: Johns Hopkins Hospital
Residency: Johns Hopkins Hospital
Fellowship: Johns Hopkins Hospital (Complex Spine and Spinal Oncology)
Sub-Specialty: Complex Spine Surgery, Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery, Brain Tumor Surgery
Additional Focuses: Chiari Malformation, Trigeminal Neuralgia

Dr. Jason A. Liauw graduated from the Stanford University School of Medicine where he was recognized with the highest distinction awarded to those in the medical scholars program. Dr. Liauw completed his neurosurgery residency training at the Johns Hopkins Department of Neurosurgery where he was chief of service in 2014. While at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, Dr. Liauw was awarded the Frank Coulson Jr. Distinction for Clinical Excellence as well as the American Association of Neurological Surgeons & Congress of Neurological Surgeons Apfelbaum Award for Spine and Peripheral Nerve Research. Dr. Liauw additionally completed a formalized two-year fellowship at the Johns Hopkins Department of Neurosurgery in complex spine reconstructive surgery and spinal oncology under the training of Dr. Ziya Gokaslan, an international authority on complex spine surgery. His spinal scoliosis training was under complex spinal deformity specialists, Dr. Timothy Witham and Dr. Daniel Sciubba. His brain tumor specialty training was under Dr. Henry Brem, Dr. Jon Weingart, Dr. Michael Lim, Dr. Ben Carson, and Dr. Chetan Bettegowda. His training is a testament to his areas of focused specialty clinical practice which include complex and minimally invasive spine surgery and brain tumor surgery. Dr. Liauw also sees patients diagnosed with chiari malformation and trigeminal neuralgia, as he treated a high volume of patients with those conditions at the Johns Hopkins Trigeminal Neuralgia and Chiari Headache Centers.

Dr. Liauw has published over thirty peer reviewed scientific articles and book chapters, and has given a multitude of plenary talks. He is a member of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons (AANS), Congress of Neurological Surgeons (CNS), and North American Spine Society (NASS). He completed a medical device fellowship at the Food and Drug Administration in Washington DC, reviewing numerous investigational clinical trials as a medical officer. Dr. Liauw has worked as a consultant for the NASA Ames Research Center. He also conducted translational research as an associate in the Neurobiology Division of Avigen, Inc., one of the pioneering gene therapy companies in the Bay Area. Dr. Liauw is a native to Mission Viejo, California. He attended the St. Johns Episcopal School, Aliso Viejo Middle School, and Capistrano Valley High School. He has volunteered for over 13 years as a counselor for the Dream Street Foundation, an organization that hosts a camp for children with chronic or terminal illnesses.

For a complete curriculum vitae of Dr. Liauw, please click here.  


Chiedozie Nwagwu, M.D.Vikas Y. Rao, M.D.

Dr. Vikas Rao is a fellowship-trained neurosurgeon specializing in the treatment of vascular disorders of the brain.  He is a specialist in the treatment of stroke, brain bleeds, cerebral aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), carotid diseases, and the ICU care of neurological patients.  In addition to cerebro vascular disease, Dr. Rao has extensive training in the treatment of brain and spine tumors, brain and spine trauma, minimally invasive pituitary and skull base surgery, and minimally invasive and open spine surgery.  Dr. Rao also has a special interest in hair-sparing brain surgery and always tries to keep patients looking the same pre and post-op.

Dr. Rao was born in Orange County but grew up in Claremont, California.  He attended the Webb School before attending the University of California, Berkeley where he graduated with honors and double majored in Neurobiology and Psychology.  After college he spent two years traveling, volunteering in India, and working in neuroscience laboratories studying functional brain mapping using MRI technology.  He then joined the Keck School of Medicine at USC where he continued to focus on the brain and neurological diseases.

After USC, Dr. Rao spent 7 years in Houston training at the Baylor College of Medicine / MD Anderson Cancer Center Neurosurgery residency program. In addition to training in brain and spine surgery, Dr. Rao spent time training in cerebral angiography and catheter based neurosurgical interventions during residency. After finishing residency, he completed a fellowship in Endovascular, Surgical, and Critical Care Cerebrovascular Neurosurgery at the Drexel Neurosciences Institute in Philadelphia, PA.  While there, he trained in the latest treatments for stroke, brain aneurysms, and vascular malformations with pioneers in the field.

Dr. Rao lives in Irvine, CA with his wife, an ophthalmologist, and his two young sons.

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Dr. Rao, click here


Darin Johnson, PA-CDarin Johnson, PA-C

Darin Johnson grew up in California and attended Westmont College, in Santa Barbara where he graduated magna cum laude in 2001. While at Westmont he played rugby and worked as team trainer.  He then attended Loma Linda University where he received his Masters degree as a Physician Assistant. He received the Faculty Award for outstanding academic and professional achievement (2004). He began working as a surgical PA in Loma Linda for three years until he moved to Orange County and has been working with the practice since 2007. Darin now functions as PA for Dr. Jackson as well as research coordinator managing multiple ongoing research trials. He enjoys playing golf, biking and spending time with his wife and two kids, Eli and Faith.

For a complete Curriculum Vitae of Darin Johnson, click here