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School of Medicine Columbia

Faculty and Staff

Leonardo Bonilha, M.D., Ph.D.

Title: Senior Associate Dean for Research
Department: Pharmacology, Physiology, Neuroscience
School of Medicine Columbia
Leonardo Bonilha Headshot

Following the completion of a national search, Dr. Leonardo Bonilha has been selected as the new Senior Associate Dean for Research at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine Columbia (USC SOMC). Dr. Bonilha is a nationally known physician scientist who currently serves as a Professor of Neurology, Vice-Chair of Research, and Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center at Emory University School of Medicine. Dr. Bonilha will be joining a talented team of existing research leaders at the USC SOM that includes Dr. Frank Spinale, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, and Dr. Kevin Bennett, the director of the Research Center for Transforming Health.

Dr. Bonilha obtained both his Doctor of Medicine degree and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the State University of Campinas in Brazil. He worked as a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Nottingham, UK, focusing on cognitive neuroscience. He moved to South Carolina in 2005, serving as a research assistant professor of neurology at USC for the next two years. From 2007-2012, he completed his medical internship, neurology residency, and fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at the Medical University of South Carolina.

Dr. Bonilha joined the faculty at MUSC School of Medicine in 2012, where he served as the Director of the Neurology Residency Clinic, Director of the Language and Aphasia Clinic, Director of the Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, Medical Director of the Stroke Recovery Research Center, Vice Chair for Research for the Department of Neurology, and the Smart State Endowed Chair for Neuroimaging. Dr. Bonilha moved from MUSC to Emory University in 2022, where he became a Professor of Neurology, Vice-Chair of Research, and Director of the Emory Comprehensive Epilepsy Center.

Dr. Bonilha’s research focuses on language recovery for patients with aphasia as well as outcomes of epilepsy treatment. He currently serves as PI or co-PI on several NIH grants, and he serves as co-investigator on many other projects. He has authored 276 peer-reviewed articles, and several book chapters. 

As Senior Associate Dean for Research, Dr. Bonilha will work with other leaders in the School of Medicine Columbia and the University of South Carolina to continue building research excellence. He will spend one day per week caring for patients in the Prisma Health Neurology Clinic, and he will also collaborate with USC leaders to assist in the establishment of the newly funded USC Brain Health initiative. We anticipate that Dr. Bonilha will begin his work at USC SOMC and Prisma Health in September.

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