Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute Announces Class of 2021 Fellowship and Residency Program Graduates 

June 29, 2021

Hackensack Meridian JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute has announced the graduates of its prestigious Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program and sub specialty fellowship programs.

The highly ranked residency program trains physicians from around the nation who specialize in physical medicine and rehabilitation — and the fellowship programs train doctors who sub-specialize in pain medicine and brain injury medicine.

JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute’s Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Residency Program regularly receives a Five Star rating — the highest possible — from Doximity, the leading network for American physicians. The fellowship programs are among the nation’s most competitive.

The 2021 graduating fellows are:

  • Ashley Kakkanatt, M.D. (Brain Injury)
  • Aakash Thakral, M.D. (Pain Medicine)

The 2021 residency graduates are:

  • Mina Gayed, D.O.
  • Eric Liu, D.O.
  • Tomas Salazar, M.D.
  • Mina Shenouda, M.D.

Following graduation, Dr. Kakkanatt will join the JFK Johnson team in the Extended Recovery Unit at the Center for Brain Injuries. Dr. Salazar will return as a Pain Medicine Fellow.

“The residents and fellows at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute work with our dedicated faculty who are committed to training these learners in attaining the necessary skills to deliver excellent patient care.  These elite residency and fellowship programs at our institution are highly competitive,” said Sara Cuccurullo, M.D., medical director and vice president of JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute.

“We are so proud of the clinical excellence and dedication shown by these young physicians. They receive the most up-to-date training on the latest treatments and interventions, enabling us to train a new generation of physicians in these critical specialties —and to ensure the highest quality of care for our patients,” Dr. Cuccurullo said.

The residency and fellowship programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME).

The one-year Pain Medicine Fellowship program enables physicians to become board certified in the subspecialty of Pain Medicine — and expert in the pharmacological, interventional, psychological, and mechanical aspects of pain management and treatment.

The study and treatment of brain injury has advanced so far in the past decade that many in the field saw the need to create a subspecialty certification. As a result, in 2011 the American Board of Medical Specialties officially established the subspecialty of Brain Injury Medicine — creating a clear way to identify properly trained and experienced physicians in the subspecialty.

Soon thereafter, the one-year Brain Injury Medicine Fellowship offered at JFK Johnson Rehabilitation Institute became one of the first such programs to be accredited by ACGME.