Our Physicians

Our physicians are a select few of most respected in neurological and spinal care. Each of our clinical faculty have a wide array of clinical and research interests and have frequently published books and research articles in addition to spending significant time speaking at events all around the world. They have received numerous honors and awards and have been named “top doctors” by publications including American Health Magazine, Castle Connolly, and Woodward-White.

We are proud to provide unparalleled neurosurgical care at the highest levels of technological and surgical accomplishments. We are committed to excellence, and it is our goal to give our patients the highest possible quality of life.


Justin Sambol, MD, MBA, FACS

Dr. Sambol is the interim chair of the Department of Neurosurgery at New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. Dr. Sambol holds leadership positions at both medical schools and is Chief Medical Officer for Rutgers Health Practices. He oversees the development of a physician and advanced practice provider workforce plan for the medical schools in partnership with the Clinical Department Chairs and RWJBarnabas Health. The workforce plan encompasses existing clinical faculty recruitment commitments and informs future clinical recruitments across the combined medical group.

Dr. Sambol also is a physician leader for managed care strategy, standardization of clinical practice policies and procedures, and overall support and coordination of the clinical practices. Prior to assuming this role, he served as Senior Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs at New Jersey Medical School since 2015.


Pankaj K. Agarwalla, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery | Skull Base and Cerebrovascular Surgery

I am a complex cranial neurosurgeon specializing in skull base lesions, brain tumors, and cerebrovascular disease. I have a passion for surgical excellence, a collaborative team-based clinical approach to patient care, and cutting-edge research, both at the bench and at bedside.

As one of the co-founders of our Brain and Spine Tumor Program, I work closely with the entire multi-disciplinary program to provide the most appropriate care for each patient with attention to each individual’s case. For example, targeted therapies, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, or radiation therapy can be just as important as the surgery.

Surgeons are also the cornerstone of a brain tumor research program where we can participate in clinical trials, in active translational research, and in basic science. During my neurosurgical residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital, I worked on an immunotherapy trial for glioblastoma and performed research on the genomics of skull base tumors at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute with NIH R25 funding.

My current research focus is three-fold: 1. Establishing access and developing clinical trials for skull base tumors. 2. Functional genomics of brain tumors especially mechanisms of tumorigenesis in schwannoma and meningioma. 3. Understanding the role of adenosine and cancer, particularly for glioma.

I received my undergraduate and medical degrees from Harvard University. After residency at MGH, I completed the prestigious fellowship in skull base and cerebrovascular neurosurgery at the University of South Florida.

John L. Gillick, MD.
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery | Spine

I am an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Rutgers University-New Jersey Medical School in Newark, NJ. I specialize in treating complex disorders of the spine, but also maintains a general neurosurgery practice. I received my medical degree from New York Medical College in Valhalla, NY. I completed my neurosurgical residency at NYMC/Westchester Medical Center, during which I also completed an enfolded complex spine fellowship. Additionally, I completed a post-residency fellowship in complex spinal surgery and deformity at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. I also received specialized training in pediatric deformity at Shriners Hospital for Children-Philadelphia. I have lent his spine and neurological surgery expertise to numerous publications and book chapters, as well as several abstracts and presentations. I believe in an individualized, patient-centered, and disease-specific approach in tailoring the proper spinal care for each patient. I employ the latest in spinal navigation technologies and surgical techniques.


Ira M. Goldstein, MD
Associate Professor Director of Neurotrauma 
Minimally Invasive Spine Surgery
Dr. Ira M. Goldstein is the Director of Neurotrauma at The University Hospital and an Associate Professor of Neurological Surgery Rutgers
New Jersey Medical School.

Dr. Goldstein also leads the Spinal Cord Injury Care team and provides support for the state-of-the-art Peripheral Nerve Center and Stereotactic Radiosurgery procedures.

Through his years of neurosurgery, Dr. Goldstein has achieved a particular expertise in minimally invasive surgery of the spine, endoscopic diskectomy, the treatment of spinal tumors, kyphoplasty, nucleoplasty, arthroplasty, spinal fusion, biomechanics of the spine and stereotactic radiosurgery of the spine. Because of his knowledge in the field, he has been invited to speak at events around the country and he has received top honors from the New York Neurosurgical Society and the Montefiore Medical Center.

Dr. Goldstein graduated from University of Chicago’s Pritzker School of Medicine, underwent residency training at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and completed advanced fellowship training in spinal surgery at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.


Priyank Khandelwal, MD.
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery | Cerebrovascular & Endovascular Surgery

I am interested in and passionate about treating brain vascular disorders such as stroke, aneurysm, arteriovenous malformation, carotid, and intracranial stenosis. I graduated from N.S.C.B medical (India) with honors. I got further training in Neurology (SUNY Downstate), Vascular Neurology (University of Miami) and Endovascular Neuroradiology (Brigham and Women’s Hospital Boston, and University of Miami). I am very interested in clinical research and developing novel devices for various intracranial vascular pathologies. I am also very interested in optimizing the radial artery approach for cerebrovascular interventions and have been invited nationally and internationally to speak on the stroke as well as neuro-intervention through the radial approach.


James K. Liu, MD, Professor
Director, Center for Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery

Dr. James K. Liu is the Director of Skull Base and Pituitary Surgery. He is also Director of the Brain Tumor Center and the Cerebrovascular Bypass Program.

Dr. Liu is renowned for his treatment of complex brain tumors and skull base lesions, including pituitary tumors, acoustic neuromas, meningiomas, and chordomas. As a fellowship trained skull base and cerebrovascular neurosurgeon, Dr. Liu performs the most innovative surgical techniques, including in minimally invasive endonasal endoscopic surgery, image- guided keyhole microsurgery, and laser-assisted tumor surgery to achieve the best results for his patients. He also specializes in cerebrovascular bypass procedures for carotid occlusion, complex aneurysms and skull base tumors, as well as microvascular decompression for trigeminal neuralgia and hemifacial spasm.

As one of the most active researchers in his field, Dr. Liu has published extensively with over 85 peer-reviewed publications and 13 book chapters. He has taught many hands-on courses in skull base surgery and has lectured extensively throughout North America. Dr. Liu is the director of the Skull Base Microsurgical Simulation Laboratory, where his research work is focused on the development of innovative and novel skull base and endoscopic approaches, quantitative surgical neuroanatomy, Dextroscope surgical simulation and virtual reality, microsurgical and microvascular anastomosis skills training, skull base reconstruction, cerebral vasospasm, and pituitary tumor biology.

Dr. Liu completed his undergraduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles with Summa Cum Laude honors. He then received his MD from New York Medical College with AOA honors. After completing his residency in Neurological Surgery at the University of Utah, Dr. Liu pursued advanced fellowship training in skull base and cerebrovascular surgery, and neuro-oncology at Oregon Health & Science University. Prior to joining UMDNJ and NINJ, Dr. Liu was Assistant Professor of Neurological Surgery and Co-Director of Skull Base Surgery and the Microneurosurgcial Simulation Laboratory at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.


Amit Singla, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery | Cerebrovascular & Endovascular Surgery

Amit Singla, MD is a neurosurgeon at New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University with interests in General Neurosurgery including brain and spine tumors, trauma and degenerative conditions. He specializes in the treatment of vascular disorders of the brain and spine, including carotid stenosis, cerebral aneurysms, vascular malformations and stroke. He has special interests in acute stroke management with mechanical thrombectomy, as well as endovascular and surgical management of extracranial and intracranial vascular stenosis. Dr. Singla completed his neurosurgery residency at SUNY Upstate Medical University, Syracuse, NY. Thereafter, he completed the fellowship in Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology at University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. Then he worked as a general neurosurgeon at Covenant Medical Center, Waterloo, Iowa where his practice predominantly involved spine disorders. He has been grateful to the hospital staff for the opportunity to provide health care to the community there. To get more experience in vascular disorders of the brain and spine, he did another Vascular Neurosurgery fellowship at Swedish Medical Center, Seattle before joining as an Assistant Professor at Rutgers University.

Having a passion for both clinical and basic science research, learning and teaching apart from the primary goal of providing good clinical care to the patients he is excited to be here at Rutgers University.

He serves as a reviewer for World Neurosurgery and Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery. He has over 40 peer-reviewed publications and 10 book chapters.

Ashish Sonig, MD
Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery

Dr. Ashish Sonig, is an assistant professor of Neurosurgery at New Jersey Medical School, Rutgers University. Dr Sonig completed his Neurosurgical residency from University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY. He specializes in Skull base, Open Cerebrovascular and Endovascular neurosurgery. First under the mentorship of Dr. Nanda at LSU-HSC Shreveport for his open skull base training, and subsequently having completed a fellowship in endovascular neurosurgery with Dr Elad Levy at University at buffalo Neurosurgery. He specializes in the treatment of aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations, cavernous malformations, and arteriovenous fistulae, stroke, carotid stenosis, cerebral bypass, and other vascular disease using both open and endovascular approaches and is able to offer comprehensive care for his patients. His interests also include General Neurosurgery, spinal tumors, degenerative diseases and has extensive experience in management of intracranial tumors. Prior to coming to United States , Dr Sonig received his Neurosurgical training at National Institute of Mental health and Neurosciences, Bangalore, India and his Medical degree from Seth GS Medical College , Mumbai, India.

Dr. Sonig is also a prolific researcher, contributing over 200 peer reviewed papers, book chapters, abstracts and oral presentations. He also serves as a reviewer for several international peer-reviewed neurosurgical journals.

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