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University Neurologists - Critical Care

The Section of Neurocritical Care at Rush University Medical Center, is dedicated to the treatment of patients with life-threatening neurological and neurosurgical diseases. At Rush University Medical Center, our 28-bed Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit is managed by a core group of fellowship-trained neurointensivists, who work in close collaboration with vascular and endovascular neurologists and neurosurgeons, and anesthesiologists to provide patients with high-quality clinical care. Patients' care plans are tailored to their individual needs by a multidisciplinary team comprised of physicians, nurses, therapists and social workers. Patients are managed using the latest in available technology such as hypothermia, brain tissue oxygen monitors and continuous EEG. 

An attending neurointensivist is available 24/7 to help coordinate transfer of these critically ill patients to our hospital via air or ground. Patients at Rush have the opportunity to be involved in the latest national clinical research trials.  


Torrey Birch, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center. She received her medical degree from Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia. After completing her medical internship at Hahnemann University Hospital, she completed a residency in neurology, including a year as chief resident, at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. She then completed a fellowship in neurological critical care in the Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital/Brigham and Women’s Hospital combined program. 

Her interests include subarachnoid hemorrhage, stroke, encephalitis, intracerebral hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, blood transfusions and ultrasound use in the ICU. Boland is board-certified in both neurology and neurocritical care. 

Thomas P. Bleck, MD, MCCM, FNCS, is professor of neurological sciences, neurosurgery, internal medicine and anesthesiology at Rush Medical College, and the associate chief medical officer for critical care at Rush University Medical Center. In addition, he directs the EEG laboratory. He serves on the board of the Neurocritical Care Society, of which he was the founding president. For 12 years, he served on the governing council of the Society of Critical Care Medicine. He is neuroscience editor of Critical Care Medicine, and serves on the editorial board of Neurocritical Care and Annals of Intensive Care.


His research interests include head injury, status epilepticus, infections, stroke, and neuromuscular respiratory failure. He has published over 160 papers and over 165 books and book chapters, and served more than 200 national and international visiting professorships and lectureships. Bleck is board-certified in internal medicine, with subspecialty certification in critical care medicine; neurology, with subspecialty certification in vascular neurology, and epilepsy; neurocritical care; and clinical neurophysiology. He is a Master of the American College of Critical Care Medicine, and a Fellow of the Neurocritical Care Society and of nine other professional organizations.

Rajeev Garg, MD, MS, is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center. He received his medical degree with honors from the University of Illinois at Chicago and completed his residency in neurology at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago. After completing his chief resident year, Garg stayed at Northwestern to complete a fellowship in neurocritical care. He received his Master of Science in Clinical Research from Rush University and is board-certified in Neurology, Vascular Neurology, and Neurocritical care. He has clinical and research interests in intracerebral hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, traumatic brain injury, hypothermia after cardiac arrest, and use of sedatives in the ICU. He has received numerous honors, including the James Scholars Program for Independent Study and Alpha Omega Alpha Honors Medical Society.  

He is a member of the American Academy of Neurology, the Neurocritical Care Society, and the Society of Critical Care Medicine.  He is currently principal investigator of several funded clinical research studies involving patients with acute intracerebral hemorrhage.

Sayona John, MD, section head of Critical Care Neurology and medical director of Neuroscience ICU. She is a fellowship-trained neurointensivist with an appointment as associate professor in neurology and neurosurgery. She is board-certified in neurology and neurocritical care. She completed her residency in neurology at the University of Mississippi, followed by a two-year stroke and critical care fellowship at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. Prior to moving to Rush, she worked as assistant professor in the neuro ICU at University of Texas Medical Center in Dallas.

Her practice focuses on acute brain and spinal cord vascular disease. Her specific interests are in subarachnoid hemorrhage, intracranial hemorrhage, stroke, traumatic brain injury, infections of the brain, status epilepticus and intracranial pressure management.



George Lopez MD, Ph.D, is Associate Medical Director of the Neuroscience ICU.  He is a neurointensivist with additional specialty training in Vascular Neurology.  Dr. Lopez received his Medical Degree from the University of California at San Francisco and completed his residency in Neurology at UCSF and fellowships in Neurocritical care/Stroke at the University of Virginia. He is board certified in Neurology, Neurocritical Care, and Vascular Neurology. Dr. Lopez came to Rush from University of Texas in Houston where he worked for 12 years. Prior to that, he was on faculty at Baylor College of Medicine for 8 years.

As a Neurointensivist he has specialty interest in acute brain injuries including intracranial hemorrhage, subarachnoid hemorrhage, acute ischemic stroke, acute head trauma, coma and cardiac arrest. His clinical and research interests include intracerebral hemorrhage,  subarachnoid hemorrhage, the use of hypothermia for acute brain injuries and new surgical and medical treatments for acute brain injuries.
He is a member of various professional societies including the American Academy of Neurology, the American Stroke Association, the Society of Critical Care Medicine and the Neurocritical Care Society. Additionally, he regularly presents lectures at national and international meetings on advances in neurocritical care, minimizing secondary brain injury, and new stroke treatments with an emphasis on practical clinical implementation​. 

Sebastian Pollandt, MD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Neurological Sciences at Rush University Medical Center. He received his medical degree from the Charité – Universitätsmedizin in Berlin, Germany. From 2003 to 2007, he studied cellular and subcellular mechanism of cue-conditioning in animal models of drug addiction in the neuropharmacology laboratory of Patricia Shinnick-Gallagher, PhD, at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston. After graduating from the neurology residency training program at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, he remained in Cincinnati to complete a neurocritical care fellowship with an emphasis on epilepsy.

His scholarly interests include continuous EEG, multimodal neuromonitoring, status epilepticus, antiepileptic drug therapy, and traumatic brain injury. He is board-certified in neurology, with subspecialty certification in neurocritical care and epilepsy.


Conditions treated by our specialists include the following:  

  • Subarachnoid hemorrhage
  • Intracerebral  hemorrhage
  • Ischemic strokes
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Refractory seizures
  • Infections of the central nervous system
  • Neuromuscular crisis

Accreditation and Recognition

University Neurologists -- Neurocritical Care-Chicago, IL.
1725 W. Harrison St.
Professional Building I
Suite 1106
Chicago, IL 60612
Phone: (312) 942-4500
Fax: (312) 563-3592
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