Rush Epilepsy Center Team
Antoaneta J. Balabanov, MD, is board certified in neurology and clinical neurophysiology. She obtained her medical degree from the Medical Academy in Sofia, Bulgaria. She completed her neurology residency training at the Henry Ford Hospital and went on to complete a fellowship in neurophysiology at Rush University Medical.
Her areas of clinical expertise include epilepsy, developmental delay, electrocorticography, electroencephalography, evoked potential testing, Landau-Kleffner syndrome, language delay, pseudoseizures and Wada test. Her primary area of interest in research is antiepileptic drugs.
Donna C. Bergen, MD, has been a member of the Rush Epilepsy Center since 1975. A professor of neurological sciences at Rush Medical College, she also serves as assistant chair of the Department of Neurological Sciences and director of faculty development and promotion.
She was director of the EEG lab at Rush until 1989; she has written numerous medical articles. She has spent time abroad, having been a visiting professor in Athens, Greece, and an honorary clinical assistant in London, England.
She is active in the World Federation of Neurology and has written extensively on international neurology, and on public health and neurology. She works with the World Health Organization on revising the International Classification of Diseases and in documenting the global resources available for neurological training.
She has conducted many clinical therapeutic trials at the Rush Epilepsy Center, using new antiepileptic drugs, vagus nerve stimulation and deep brain stimulation.
Adriana C. Bermeo-Ovalle, MD, is a board certified neurologist. She obtained her medical degree from the National University of Colombia College of Medicine. She completed her neurology residency at Rush University Medical Center and also completed an epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology fellowship at the Cleveland Clinic.
Her areas of clinical expertise include electroencephalography (EEG), continuous EEG monitoring, epilepsy, epilepsy in women and treatment-resistant epilepsy.
Lawrence P. Bernstein, MD, is board certified in both neurology and sleep medicine. He obtained his medical degree from the University of Chicago and completed both his neurology residency training and physiology fellowship training there as well.
His areas of clinical expertise include epilepsy, sleep disorders and vagus nerve stimulation.
His primary interest in research is neuromodulation for the control of epilepsy and depression.
Thomas P. Bleck, MD, FCCM, is professor of neurology, neurosurgery, internal medicine and anesthesiology at Rush Medical College and associate chief medical officer for critical care at Rush University Medical Center.
He is board-certified in internal medicine, with subspecialty certification in critical care medicine; neurology, with subspecialty certification in neurocritical care and vascular neurology; and clinical neurophysiology.
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.
His research interests include head injury, status epilepticus, infections, stroke and neuromuscular respiratory failure.
Richard W. Byrne, MD, is a board-certified neurosurgeon who specializes in surgical treatment for epilepsy, skull base and brain tumor surgery, pituitary surgery, trigeminal neuralgia and radiosurgery.
He completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Illinois in 1987 and his medical degree at Northwestern University Medical School in 1991. Byrne graduated from the neurosurgical residency training program at Rush University Medical Center in 1997 and joined the faculty after additional training in epilepsy and brain tumor surgery.
He has been involved in a number of epilepsy and brain tumor surgery trials and has conducted basic science research in epileptogenesis and brain tumor genetics.
Byrne is an active member of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the Council of State Neurosurgical Societies, the American Association of Neurological Surgeons and the Neurosurgical Society of America. He is past president of the Rush Surgical Society, treasurer of the Chicago Neurological Society and treasurer of the Illinois State Neurosurgical Society.
Mary Denny, RN, MS
Mary Denny, RN, MS, is a nurse clinician who has been with the Rush Epilepsy Center since 2009. She received her bachelor’s degree from Rush University as well as a master’s degree with a specialization in gerontological nursing. She has extensive nursing experience and has published articles about health promotion and patient education.
Before joining the Rush Epilepsy Center, she developed and managed a community-based, wellness program for Fourth Presbyterian Church for more than a decade. Her interests include health promotion and the connection between spirituality and health. She co-leads the Wellness Support Group at the Rush Epilepsy Center.
Eve Escalante, MSW, LCSW
Eve Escalante, MSW, LCSW, is a clinical social worker. She obtained both her bachelor’s degree and Master of Social Work degree from Loyola University Chicago, where the focus of her training was on social work in health care. She has experience in case management, psychotherapy and group facilitation. She is bi-lingual in English and Spanish to better serve our patients.
She works alongside the medical team in epilepsy to provide a psychosocial perspective to the patient’s care. Her focus is on the emotional, spiritual and mental well-being of patients and their support systems. She provides assessment of psychosocial needs, planning, and referrals and resources in the community. She facilitates two support groups at the Epilepsy Center and also provides psychotherapy.
Marlis Frey, MSN, RN, CNP
Marlis Frey, MSN, RN, CNP, received her bachelor's and master's degrees in nursing from Rush University. She has been working as a certified nurse practitioner for the Rush Epilepsy Center for many years.