The Brain & Spine Center at Primary Children's Hospital is home to a multidisciplinary team of specialists, nurses, technologists, therapists and caregivers who provide world-class care, delivered with compassion and empathy for the children we treat and the families we serve.

Meet the Team


Susan L. Benedict, M.D., M.S.

Dr. Benedict is an Associate Professor in Pediatrics and Pediatric Neurology at University of Utah and sees pediatric patients with a broad range of neurological problems. Her primary clinical interests are neurodevelopment evaluation of children and the care, better understanding and treatment of cerebrovascular diseases and stroke in the young.

Robert Bollo, M.D., F.A.C.S., F.A.A.P., FAANS

Dr. Bollo is a board-certified pediatric neurosurgeon with a specific focus on pediatric epilepsy surgery and serves as the surgical director of the pediatric epilepsy program at Primary Children's Hospital. Dr. Bollo introduced laser ablation and robotic stereo EEEG techniques for epilepsy surgery to the Intermountain West, and he is committed to finding minimally invasive strategies for the surgical treatment of seizures in all children. He is highly experienced with the full range of surgical procedures for pediatric epilepsy, including intracranial monitoring, functional and seizure mapping, tumor resection, temporal and extra-temporal lobectomy, functional hemispherectomy, and awake craniotomy.

Joshua L. Bonkowsky, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Bonkowsky is an assistant professor of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Utah. His clinical studies are focused on understanding the clinical features of leukodystrophies, and on the genetics of complex human neurobehavioral traits, especially language impairments.

Douglas L. Brockmeyer, M.D., F.A.A.P.

Dr. Brockmeyer is board certified in both neurosurgery and pediatric neurosurgery and is the surgical director of the Children's Brain and Spine Center at Primary Children's Hospital. He specializes in disorders of the pediatric craniocervical junction and cervical spine, including Chiari malformations. His other clinical interests include pediatric neurovascular surgery and brain tumors. His research interests include computer modeling of the spine and genomic research into Chiari malformations.

Robert B. Burr, Ph.D.

Dr. Burr in an Associate Professor in the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics. His focus is in pre-operative planning and fMRI and he also collaborated in development of a Sports Concussion Program, with emphasis on concussion management and safe return-to-play.


Russell J. Butterfield, M.D., Ph.D.

Russell Butterfield, MD, PhD is board certified in Neurology with special qualification in child neurology and is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics at the University of Utah. Dr. Butterfield’s clinical interests include all types of neurogenetic and neuromuscular disorders with an emphasis on muscular dystrophies of childhood onset. 


Meghan S. Candee, M.D., M.Sc.

Dr. Candee is board certified in neurology with special qualification in pediatric neurology, and is board eligible in pediatrics. She is an Assistant Professor in the University of Utah Department of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Neurology, with clinics located at both the Primary Children's Hospital main and Riverton campuses. She is the director of the University of Utah Pediatric Neurology Residency Program.


Deirdre A. Caplin, Ph.D., M.S.

Deirdre Caplin, MS, PhD, is trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy, clinical pediatric hypnosis, biofeedback and relaxation, and behavioral approaches, with a specific focus on the functional aspects of pain management, anxiety, and illness management, as well as somatoform and conversion disorders. Her clinical practice is focused on the evaluation and treatment of medically ill children and adolescents.


Francis M. Filloux, M.D.

Dr. Francis Filloux is Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Utah School of Medicine and Primary Children’s Medical Center. He is a general child neurologist who sees children with all forms of neurological disease, having special interest in tic disorders, Tourette's, and neurobehavioral problems.


John B. Fulton, Ph.D., ABPP-CN

Dr. Fulton is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Dr. Fulton is currently affiliated with the Pediatric Behavioral Health Clinic at Primary Children’s Hospital and is board certified in Clinical Neuropsychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology. His clinical services primarily consist of neuropsychological evaluations of children and adolescents, as well as consultation with their families and medical providers. 


John A. Heflin, M.D.

Dr. Heflin is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon who specializes in pediatric spine deformity. He currently practices at Primary Children’s and Shriners Hospital for Children. He is actively involved in improving operative techniques and developing spinal instrumentation to improve outcomes in children with early onset scoliosis and is a member of the Children’s Spine Foundation and the Children’s Spine Study Group.

Nicholas Johnson, M.D.

Nicholas Johnson, MD, is an Assistant Professor of Neurology, Pediatrics, and Pathology at the University of Utah with a focus in inherited neuromuscular disorders. He has clinical expertise in muscle disorders and inherited neuropathies. He also has expertise in performing electrodiagnostic testing, performing and interpreting muscle biopsies.


Lynne M. Kerr, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Kerr is is part of the pediatric neurology Headache Clinic and her research and clinical interests include quality improvement and headache evaluation and treatment. She is particularly interested in working with children with chronic conditions and their families.


John R. Kestle, M.D.

Dr. Kestle specializes in craniofacial surgery, brain tumors and hydrocephalus. His clinical practice has been exclusively in pediatric neurosurgery, with a specific interest in craniofacial surgery and endoscopy. His research is centered on hydrocephalus and he founded and chairs a multi-center network for clinical trials (Hydrocephalus Clinical Research Network,

Michael B. Lloyd, M.D.

Dr. Lloyd is a general Pediatric Neurologist with special interests in cerebral palsy and pediatric Multiple Sclerosis.
Nancy Murphy

Nancy A. Murphy, M.D., F.A.A.P., FAAPMR

Nancy Murphy, MD, FAAP, FAAPMR is a Professor of Pediatrics, Chief of the Division of Pediatric Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Adjunct Faculty in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at the University of Utah School of Medicine. Throughout her career as a pediatric physiatrist, Dr. Murphy has focused her clinical and academic work on the care of children with disabilities, in the context of their families and communities.


Gary R. Nelson, M.D.

Dr. Nelson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics in the Division of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Utah. He is a general child neurologist and sees patients with any neurological concerns. He has special interest in pediatric stroke, autoimmune and parainfectious neurological disease, quality improvement, and inpatient and critical care neurology.

Betsy Ostrander, M.D.

Dr. Ostrander is currently an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at University of Utah and is in the Division of Pediatric Neurology at Primary Children’s Hospital. As the director of the Fetal and Neonatal Neurology Program, Dr. Ostrander focuses on the neurological care of infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit with seizures, strokes, brain malformations, hydrocephalus and other neurological issues. She is also Medical Director of the Spina Bifida Clinic at Primary Children's Hospital which is the regional multidisciplinary clinic for infants, children and adolescents with neural tube defects.

John Smith

John T. Smith, M.D.

Dr. Smith is a Professor in the University of Utah Department of Orthopedics and currently serves as Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Primary Children’s Hospital. His current practice is focused on the treatment of spine deformities in children and adolescents. 


Matthew T. Sweney, M.D., M.S

Dr. Sweney is a pediatric neurologist and epileptologist who focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of drug-resistant pediatric epilepsy. He is Medical Director of the Comprehensive Pediatric Epilepsy Program at Primary Children’s Hospital and is board certified in general pediatrics, neurology, epilepsy, and clinical neurophysiology. 


Cristina C. Trandafir, M.D., Ph.D.

Dr. Cristina Trandafir is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pediatric Neurology at the University of Utah and provides clinical care at Primary Children's Hospital and Primary Children's Hospital Outpatient Services at Riverton Hospital. She is board-certified in Neurology (with special qualification in Child Neurology) and board-eligible in Epilepsy and Pediatrics.
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Colin B. Van Orman, M.D.

Dr. Colin Van Orman has a background in neuro-oncology and an expertise in pediatric epilepsy and EEG. He is heavily involved in the evaluation of patients for epilepsy surgery.


Brandon A. Zielinski, Ph.D., M.D.

Dr. Zielinski’s clinical focus on acute care fills a 'neurohospitalist' role, and his specific clinical interests include pediatric neurocritical care, stroke, and neurovascular disease. He is also developing a functional MRI clinical service at Primary Children's Hospital in collaboration with the University of Utah Department of Radiology. Dr. Zielinski's research interests include both basic as well as clinical/translational science.