Yama Akbari promoted to Associate Professor

Dr. Yama Akbari of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic was promoted to associate professor of neurology and neurological surgery.  As a critical care neurologist and neuroscientist, Akbari specializes in neuro-critical care, caring for patients in the UCI Health Neuro-Intensive Care Unit (Neuro-ICU).

On campus, Akbari and his laboratory team study consciousness, coma and cardiac arrest and resuscitation.  The goal of this research is to improve our understanding of consciousness and coma due to various types of acute brain injury, as well as improving resuscitation maneuvers for the treatment of cardiac arrest – all efforts to protect the brain.

Akbari has made significant contributions as a UCI clinician-scientist, having established the first cardiac arrest and resuscitation laboratory on campus.  “As the only cardiac arrest laboratory in the western U.S., we consult with others across the country,” stated Akbari, “We have a unique opportunity to mimic what happens in a hospital setting and study how everything in the body is connected.”

Akbari’s laboratory mimics an ICU to optimize translational potential, thus incorporating multimodal monitoring with neurophysiology, cardiac and pulmonary physiology and signal processing of brain connectivity.  In collaboration with other researchers at UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic, he has broadened his multimodal platform to include advanced optical imaging of cerebral blood flow and brain metabolism during cardiac arrest and resuscitation.

Research collaborator Dr. Bernard Choi, associate director of UCI Beckman Laser Institute & Medical Clinic and professor of biomedical engineering and surgery, explains that Akbari is keenly interested in the integration of noninvasive optical technologies to monitor blood flow and oxygen utilization in the brain.  This information helps in identifying patients who are at high risk for major neurological events, such as ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke.

“Dr. Akbari provides a critically important clinical perspective on the role that new medical devices can play in saving the lives of patients who suffer from cardiac arrest and other cerebrovascular maladies,” stated Choi, “He is an outstanding clinical-scientist who is committed to improving the long-term outcomes of patients in the neuro-ICU.”

Along with caring for critically ill patients and conducting laboratory research, Akbari teaches undergraduate, graduate and medical students, as well as residents and clinical fellows.

“I enjoy my interactions with Dr. Akbari – he is passionate about his work and extremely knowledgeable on both the clinical and engineering aspects of his research endeavors,” said Choi, “He approaches his research with creativity and enthusiasm, and he is always willing to educate and support the trainees who work with him.”

“There are both scientific and emotional aspects of being both a researcher and physician,” said Akbari, “I take caring for my patients very seriously and I feel honored to be able to impact their lives.”

Akbari earned a B.S. in psychobiology from UCLA, followed by a combined M.D. and Ph.D. at UCI.  His Ph.D. studies focused on molecular neuroscience in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior.  He completed a neurology residency at UCLA, followed by a 2-year neurocritical care fellowship at Johns Hopkins University.  In 2012, Akbari returned to UCI as a tenure-track physician and scientist.

Click here to learn more about the Akbari Lab.