Elina DeFranceschi, PA-C
Elina DeFranceschi has been certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants since 2014. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience at Lafayette College and her Master of Science degree in Physician Assistant from Jefferson College of Health Sciences.
Elina joined UC San Diego Health in September 2018 with several years of prior neurosurgery experience. She currently works as a neurotrauma physician assistant providing nocturnist coverage for the neurosurgery service. She performs neurosurgery consultations for emergency and trauma patients, perioperative inpatient care, and assists in emergency operations and procedures.
She is a member of the San Diego Society of Physician Assistants.
Eric Do, RN
Eric Do, BSN, RN started his nursing career with a new graduate program at Emory University Hospital. After his initial years of critical care experience, he pursued his nursing career in California. Since then, he has trained and worked in various cases of pre- and post-op care and OR procedures. Eric joins the Neurological Surgery team as the program's first Triage Nurse, a position that was created due to a highly successful quality improvement pilot.
Homira Feely, DNP
Homira Feely is a native of Iran and has been licensed as an Acute Care Practitioner since 2009. She obtained a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP) from the University of San Diego in 2018.
She has been a neurosurgery nurse practitioner at UC San Diego since 2010. Her principal focus is brain tumors and she works on the Acoustic Neuroma Team with Drs. Schwartz and Friedman. She also works on brain tumor patients with Drs. U and Beaumont. She works closely with the neuro-oncology team.
Homira is a member of the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners.
Gage Lambert, MS, PA-C
Gage Lambert, MS, PA-C is a board-certified PA with extensive experience in Neurosurgery. He was born in San Diego, California.
Gage obtained his undergraduate degree from USF with a bachelors in Biology/Neuroscience, and Master of Sciences from Western University of Health Sciences.
Gage joined UC San Diego as a clinical research associate for the Division of Neuro-Oncology in 2012, with emphasis in primary gliomas. His current role as neurosurgical PA includes diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic neurosurgical conditions and 1st assist in surgery.
His clinical interests include management of traumatic brain injuries and primary brain tumors. Mr. Lambert is a member of AANS, AAPA, CAPA, and SDPAS.
Tran Luong, MS
Tran Luong is a board certified PA since 2016. She was born and raised in San Diego, California. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Biological Sciences from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and her Master of Medical Science degree in Physician Assistant from Marshall B. Ketchum University.
For the last four years Tran was a PA in Trauma Surgery at a level 1 trauma center with UCSF Fresno. Being the only trauma center in the Central Valley she received extensive experience alongside fellow trauma PAs and UCSF surgery residents. She also mentored PA students and assisted with the PA residency program during the past four years. In 2020 Tran received the "Golden Scalpel-mid level of the year award". She actively participates in mentoring PA students and with her alumni association.
Paul McNally, NP
Paul McNally was born in Dallas, TX and studied psychology at Boston University. While working in inpatient psychiatric care in Dallas he developed an appreciation of the ways that non-physician providers could play a vital role in the management of chronic health conditions.
Paul moved to San Diego to attend University of San Diego's Nurse Practitioner program. While earning his Master in Nursing, he worked as an inpatient RN at Scripps La Jolla on the Ortho/Neuro/Trauma unit. In doing that work, he was introduced to the world of neurosurgery.
After finishing his Masters of Science in Nursing and completing national board certification as a Nurse Practitioner in 2009, he began working in neurosurgery in San Diego.
Joining UC San Diego's Department of Neurological Surgery in 2015, he now works with Drs. Jeswani, Nguyen, and Pham specializing in neurotrauma, brain-spinal tumors, and spinal reconstructive surgery.
Keri O'Connor, MSN, FNP-C
Keri O'Connor graduated with honors in 2012 from California State University, Channel Islands with a bachelor's degree in nursing and a minor in psychology. Upon graduation, she obtained her registered nurse and public health nurse licensure.
Keri worked as a registered nurse in surgical services, including medical/surgical floor, post anesthesia care unit (PACU), and pre-operative unit for nearly five years.
Keri went on to attend the University of Cincinnati, where she graduated in 2016 with honors and a master's degree in nursing, specializing as a family nurse practitioner by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP).
Keri is a member of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), California Association of Nurse Practitioners (CANP), Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing, and San Diego Neurosciences Society.
Maureen Parsons, RN, MSN, FNP-C
Maureen Parsons started her career in healthcare as a critical care nurse in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego, specializing in trauma, neurosurgery, transplant, cardiothoracic, and pulmonary medicine. From 2007-2011, she worked in the Thornton Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego, specializing in medical, surgical, oncology, neurosurgery and cardiothoracic surgery.
In 2011, Maureen participated in the opening of the Sulpizio Cardiovascular Center and was one of the founding intensive care nurses, providing team care to advanced cardiovascular and thoracic surgery and medicine patients, including heart and lung transplants and pulmonary endarterectomy patients from around the world.
In June 2017, she joined the Neurosurgery team where she currently works closely with Drs. Taylor and Osorio, specializing in neurosurgical evaluation and treatment of spinal disorders. She has been integral to our translational research efforts as we develop a spine outcomes program.
Maureen is a certified Family Nurse Practitioner by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) as well as a member of the AANP, California Association of Nurse Practitioners and Sigma Theta Tau Honor Society of Nursing.
Jessica Savic, MBA, PA-C
Jessica joins us after four years with a private practice neurology group in North County, where she worked in both outpatient and inpatient settings. She completed her MBA and medical training at the University of Oklahoma. Prior to returning to school to become a PA, Jessica worked for a decade as a Business Analyst in the banking and energy sectors. She is also a member of American Association of Physician Assistants (AAPA) and California Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA).
Jessica will be based primarily in the North County, supporting the practices of Drs. Blaskiewicz, Pham, and Tung.
Samantha Wheeler, MPAS PA-C
Senior Physician Assistant
A native of Boston, Massachusetts, Samantha Wheeler is certified by the National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants and has been a licensed Physician Assistant since 2012.
Samantha currently works as a Senior Physician Assistant with the Department of Neurosurgery at UC San Diego. She has worked closely with our Chair, Dr. Alexander Khalessi, in Neurovascular and Endovascular Neurosurgery and is attributed for their high patient satisfaction scores. She has transitioned to the inpatient setting where she has launched the inpatient neurosurgery ACP service to improve quality of care, readmission rates, and resident education. She currently supports all neurosurgery faculty.
She is a member of the Surgical Quality board and partners with Drs. Barba and Khalessi in the departmental quality improvement project. She has helped to develop the third Comprehensive Stroke Center nationally, with locations at Jacobs Medical Center and Hillcrest. She precepts medical students, residents and fellows in clinic, and provides shadowing for undergraduate and high school students who are interested in the physician assistant career.