Nicholas  W.  DeKorver, MD, PhD

Nicholas W. DeKorver, MD, PhD

2023-2024 Education & Wellness Chief

Where I am from: I was born and raised just outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I went to Central Michigan University for undergrad and studied biomedical science and neuroscience. During my undergraduate education, I developed a passion for basic science and worked in a neuroscience lab focused on stem cell therapies for neurodegenerative diseases. After college, I completed a research year at the National Institutes of Health studying mechanisms of stem cell mediated neuroprotection in glaucoma models. I then moved to Omaha, Nebraska for my medical degree and doctorate in neuroscience at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. My graduate work focused on investigating the roles of immune proteins in synaptic regulation and functional deficits associated with aging. I met my wife in graduate school (also a neuroscientist), and we moved to St. Louis to complete the next steps in our careers.

Where I am going: It is my career goal to be active in both clinical pediatric neurology and in basic science. My clinical and research interests are focused on epilepsy, neurogenetics, and neurodevelopment. Following residency, I will be staying at Washington University for a fellowship in pediatric epilepsy.

Why I am here: My wife and I were looking for a program close to family and with a strong basic science and clinical track record. I was fortunate to be able to come to Washington University in St. Louis for an away rotation in pediatric neurology. I really enjoyed the rotation and my interactions with faculty, fellows, and residents. The program has a strong track record of producing pediatric neurologists successful in both clinical practice and basic science.

One of the great things about St. Louis is the affordability. We purchased a house in the South Hampton area. We are able to walk to a number of restaurants (Mexican, Afghani, Greek, Nicaraguan, BBQ, Italian, Chinese, American, etc.). There are several parks nearby and it's an easy drive to the medical campus (10-15 minutes). For recreation, I enjoy fishing and you can find both small mouth and trout streams within 1-2 hours. Many state parks around also have great hiking, biking, and camping opportunities. Overall, we love living in St. Louis and our experience.

Michelle  Lee, MD

Michelle Lee, MD

2023-2024 Administrative Chief

Where I am from: I grew up in Los Angeles and attended college in northern California at Berkeley before moving across the country to New York for work and eventually, medical school in Philadelphia.

Where I am going: I am really lucky to have had amazing mentors in the field of neuromuscular and neurogenetic disorders! I am eager to pursue training in these subspecialties after residency.

Why I am here: I knew I wanted to be at a residency program that offered me a diverse training experience in many subspecialties of pediatric neurology. But one of the biggest strengths of Wash U is also its emphasis on the importance of mentorship as part of your training experience early on. I feel very fortunate to have access to so many mentors across different fields of neurology! But most of all, my co-residents are wonderfully supportive and often look after my well-being. It really helps that Forest Park is so easily accessible for us to delve into in our spare time! I will also add that getting to know the city’s best cookies, croissants and donuts was a highlight of the past year. And while I do not yet have my own dog (ongoing search), it is very easy for me to get pet therapy.

Esra  Pehlivan, MD

Esra Pehlivan, MD

Where I am from: I was born and raised in Turkey. I completed my medical school training and pediatric residency at Istanbul University in Turkey.

Where I am going: I am interested in epilepsy  and sleep but I am still exploring all the field has to offer and am open to other possibilities.

Why I am here: During my residency interview, the warm welcome and friendly environment at Dr. Mar’s house struck me. I loved the camaraderie between fellows and attendings. As someone who is far away from loved ones, a strong family environment is really important to me.

Not only does WashU have caring faculty and residents, but it also stood out in terms of clinical and academic excellence. I wanted to be in a program that best supports me to pursue my career according to my interests and provide guidance and leadership skills.

In my spare time, I enjoy running in Forest Park, playing tennis as much as I can, hiking with my co-residents and hanging out with co-residents and discovering all St. Louis has to offer.

Grace  Tabatabai, MD

Grace Tabatabai, MD

2023-2024 Administrative Chief

Where I am from: I hail from Rochester, Minnesota. I attended both college (St. Olaf in Northfield) and medical school (University of Minnesota in Minneapolis) in the northern state before moving to St. Louis for residency.

Where I am going: I have interests in education, global outreach, neuro-muscle, and sleep neurology. However, I am still exploring various specialties and am keeping an open mind.

Why I am here: I found a kind, caring, and passionate group of residents and faculty to train with here at Washington University. Coming from a close knit medical school, I was looking for a group of colleagues that felt more like a second family in a home away from home - which I inevitably found. My fellow residents have become some of my closest friends. The faculty is also very eager to support research or outreach interests we would like to pursue. The community as a whole cares about our wellbeing and educational experience.

I live in the Forest Park area with my co-resident Esra and our new cat Olive!  I enjoy running in the park, knitting many a sweater, practicing hot yoga (in non-COVID times), baking, and guitar. I recently picked up ukulele which is easier to transport for sing-alongs with patients and friends. Saint Louis has much to offer in terms of museums, gardens, bakeries, and English-themed tea houses which are a favorite of mine.

Gazelle  Zerafati-Jahromi, MD

Gazelle Zerafati-Jahromi, MD

Where I am from: I grew up in Philly, went to Yale for undergrad, and came to Wash U for med school.

Where I am going: I will be applying for epilepsy fellowship this year. Effective epilepsy management can yield such significant improvements in a child's development and quality of life with a wide array of opportunities to contribute to their care in both the inpatient and outpatient settings. Furthermore, advances in epilepsy genetics research have expanded our toolkit of evidence-based evaluations and treatments.

Why I am here: Our program has an incomparable combination of excellent training, wonderful teachers and colleagues, and high-quality lifestyle and cost of living. All of our rotations promote the residents as the leaders of the team and patient care starting in intern year. The training here fosters independence and confidence from the very beginning. Our attendings and fellows are passionate about teaching and do so in a constructive and approachable manner. The overall professional atmosphere is genuinely warm and friendly. Prioritization of a healthy work environment is extremely important to me, as it is a significant contributing factor to one's overall quality of life. Finally, the lifestyle and cost of living here in St. Louis is simply not attainable in the vast majority of the country. St. Louis is not so big as to be obnoxious and unmanageable and not so small as to be boring. We have abundant restaurant options, museums and outdoor activities. The Central West End, the neighborhood immediately surrounding the hospitals, is safe, family-friendly and easily walkable. And the rent here is literally a fraction of what other major cities tend to run and will buy you a much bigger and nicer space within walking distance of work. Overall, our program is unique because it offers both an excellent training experience and living experience, both of which are equally important.