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Executive Leadership


  • Alexander Khalessi, MD, MBA

    Alexander Khalessi, MD, MBA

    Chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery
    Professor of Neurological Surgery, Radiology and Neurosciences
    Don and Karen Cohn Chancellor's Endowed Chair in Neurosurgery

    Dr. Khalessi is a board-certified neurosurgeon specializing in cranial and endovascular surgery. He provides both open surgical and catheter-based approaches to complex neurosurgical problems, including primary and metastatic brain tumors, cavernomas, aneurysms, arteriovenous malformations (AVMs), Moyamoya disease, and carotid disease.

    Dr. Khalessi is deeply committed to the San Diego region and was selected by his physician peers as a "Top Doc" in San Diego Magazine's 2019 annual presentation of Top Doctors. Regionally, Dr. Khalessi served two terms as president of the San Diego Academy of Neurological Surgery.

    Dr. Khalessi graduated from Stanford University with departmental honors in public policy and a Master of Science degree in health services research. Dr. Khalessi earned his medical degree at The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and his Master of Business Administration from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Sloan School of Management.

  • Heather Delaney, MPH        

    Heather Delaney, MPH        

    Department Business Officer      

    Born and raised in San Diego, Heather Delaney brings over 25 years of healthcare experience, including almost 15 years at UC San Diego Health. Before joining UC San Diego Neurological Surgery, Heather served as the Division Administrator for Medical Oncology at Duke University. In her role with Duke, she worked closely with the Department of Medicine, Duke Cancer Institute, Private Diagnostic Clinic, and Duke University Health System.

  • Morgan Tupper

    Morgan Tupper

    Executive Director, Office of the Chair of Neurological Surgery

    In her role as Executive Director in the Office of the Chair of Neurological Surgery, Morgan Tupper works directly with Dr. Alexander Khalessi and manages departmental programs, projects and initiatives. She provides strategic insight and guidance for philanthropic endeavors, communications, business development, and short- and long-term operational planning. Morgan also oversees both the clinical coordinator and administrative teams.

  • Michelle Ziemba, RN, MSN        

    Michelle Ziemba, RN, MSN        

    Chief Administrative Officer for Neurological Institute, Psychiatry & Imaging

    In her role as Senior Director, Michelle Ziemba is charged with the development and operations of the Neurological Institute and the Neuro service line oversight, strategic program development, and operations for Trauma, Burn and Rehab Services. Michelle works with the Departments of Neurological Surgery and Neurosciences to improve clinical care, patient access, and clinical operations for both ambulatory and inpatient services and is responsible for Trauma and Burn Program Verification, program operations and strategy.