2023 National RLS Patient Symposium Speakers


Avinash Aggarwal, MD

Pittsburgh, PA

Dr. Aggarwal has been in Neurology practice for over 26 years. She completed residency in Neurology from West Virginia University and fellowships in EEG, EMG and Neuromuscular Disorders at University of Pittsburgh. She is board certified in Neurology, Clinical Neurophysiology, Electrodiagnostic Medicine and Sleep Medicine. She has special interest in treating patients with Neuromuscular and Sleep disorders, as well as treating Headache and other neurological conditions with Botox. She is Director of Restless Leg Syndrome Quality Care Center at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Jacci Bainbridge

Jacquelyn (Jacci) Bainbridge, PharmD

Englewood, CO

Bainbridge serves as a clinical pharmacy specialist at the Anschultz Outpatient Pavilion's Neurology Clinic, an extension of the Neurology Residency Teaching Program at the University of Colorado Denver. She is also a professor in the Department of Neurology at the university's School of Medicine, and teaches at the Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, where she was awarded Professor of the Year for three years in a row (2010-2012).

Bainbridge manages patients with neurologic disease states such as epilepsy, Parkinson disease, multiple sclerosis, migraine and restless legs syndrome. She is currently involved in research projects funded by the CDPHE using marijuana. In her recent past she has had projects funded by the NIH, spanning subjects such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis and neuroprotection trials in Parkinson disease.


Andy Berkowski, MD

ReLACS Health, Ann Arbor, MI

Before receiving Board Certification in Sleep Medicine and Neurology, Dr. Berkowski earned his bachelor's degree in religious studies at Stanford University. Next, he returned to his home state of Michigan to study medicine, graduating from Wayne State University School of Medicine. He completed a transitional year internship at Henry Ford Hospital and neurology residency training at the Detroit Medical Center/Wayne State University. Dr. Berkowski completed his fellowship training in sleep medicine at the Stanford University Medical Center. Dr. Berkowski is a sleep specialist at ReLACS Health, a direct specialty care clinic specializing in telemedicine care of RLS and complex sleep disorders, currently serving patients in Michigan, Ohio and Florida.Berkowski serves on the Foundation's Brain Bank Committee.

Sabina Berretta

Sabina Berretta, MD

McLean Hospital - Harvard Medical School, Belmont, MA

Sabina Berretta, MD, began her research training at University of Catania, Italy. In 1990, she joined the laboratory directed by Dr. A. M. Graybiel in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, working neural circuitry linking the motor cortex to basal ganglia. In 1997, Dr. Berretta moved to McLean Hospital - Harvard Medical School to work in the laboratory directed by Dr. F. Benes. There she developed an animal model designed to investigate GABAergic abnormalities in schizophrenia.

In 1999, Dr. Berretta became the director of the Translational Neuroscience Laboratory at McLean Hospital. Dr. Berretta and her research team at the Translational Neuroscience Lab, conduct investigations on the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders. Their studies focus on neural circuits involved in emotion processing, including the amygdala, prefrontal cortex, medial thalamus, entorhinal cortex and olfactory system. Her group has published extensively on the role of these brain regions in emotion dysregulation across several brain disorders.

In 2014, Dr. Berretta became the director of the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center (HBTRC), one of six NIH NeuroBioBank sites. Her work with the HBTRC aims to make research on nervous system disorders possible. The HBTRC does this by collecting brain donations from persons suffering from neurological, psychiatric and neurodevelopmental conditions and distributing them to investigators across the world.

Gary Bradt

Gary Bradt, PsyD

Leland, NC

Dr. Gary Bradt is the son of the late Thelma Bradt, one of the founders of the RLS Foundation. Bradt is a motivational speaker who is dedicated to helping individuals adapt through the inevitable change that comes with life, because if you don’t adapt, you will be left behind. Gary has personally experienced the challenges that change brings through the various roles that he plays in both his professional and personal life. Dr. Bradt is uniquely qualified to deliver advice, counsel, and strategies for leading change. He has delivered over 300 presentations for clients worldwide, including IBM, American Express, eBay, FedEx, Coca-Cola, Proctor & Gamble, Prudential, VISA, NASA, and hundreds more.

Dr. Bradt earned his BA in psychology from Duquesne, University, in Pittsburgh, PA. He earned his doctorate in clinical psychology from Hahnemann University and Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. He is the author of three books, including The Ring in the Rubble: Dig Through Change and Find Your Next Golden Opportunity.

Mark Buchfuhrer

Mark J. Buchfuhrer, MD, FRCP(C), FCCP

Downey Regional Medical Center; Downey, CA

Dr. Buchfuhrer is an attending staff physician at Downey Regional Medical Center, Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital and Long Beach Community Hospital in Downey, California. He started a sleep laboratory at Downey Regional Medical Center in 1983 and then became a Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicine. Dr. Buchfuhrer became interested in RLS in about 1992 and has developed a large outpatient RLS practice. He has served on the Medical Advisory Board of the RLS Foundation from 1998 to 2005. Dr. Buchfuhrer has written several publications on RLS including the patient book RLS, Coping With Your Sleepless Nights sponsored by the American Academy of Neurology (AAN), a handbook for doctors on RLS and is currently working on his third book.

Karla Dzienkowski

Karla Dzienkowski, RN, BSN

Restless Legs Syndrome Foundation, Austin, TX

In January 2014, Karla accepted the position of executive director at the RLS Foundation. Since then she has made a huge impact on the organization. Karla first learned about RLS in her dual roles as a mother and registered nurse when her daughter, then 11 1/2 years old, began to experience symptoms that doctors could not explain. Karla crossed the country looking for answers before finally finding a knowledgeable doctor, and shortly after, the RLS Foundation. Eager for answers, Karla joined the Foundation's Board of Directors in 2004 and served through 2009. As a board member, she encouraged pediatric RLS research, along with programs to increase awareness and education of RLS in the medical and school communities. Karla believes that much work has yet to be done in disseminating information about RLS to the public and the medical community, and that much more research into its cause and treatment is needed. Karla drives the mission of the Foundation with her leadership, and she is passionate about promoting research for better treatments and a cure.


Christopher J. Earley, MB, BCh, PhD, FRCPI

Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center; Baltimore, MD

Dr. Earley is a Professor of Neurology at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where he also co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Restless Legs, a certified RLS Quality Care Center. Dr. Earley is board certified in internal medicine, neurology and sleep medicine. Dr. Earley's research interests include RLS and sleep medicine, specifically the pathophysiology of RLS and revealing the value of various treatments. He is chair of the RLS Foundation’s Scientific and Medical Advisory Board and is an active member of the Foundation's Research Grant Committee.

Serge Ferre

Sergi Ferré, MD, PhD

National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Drug Abuse, Baltimore, MD

Dr. Ferré is chief of the Integrative Neurobiology Section at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, IRP, NIH. Funded by the Foundation's RLS Research Grant Program, he found alterations in cortico-striatal transmission in iron-deficient rats as a model for the screening of drugs potentially useful in the treatment of RLS. Dr. Ferré's research interests focus on the role of neurotransmitter receptor heteromers as targets for drug development in neuropsychiatric disorders, including RLS.


Shalini Paruthi, MD

St. Louis University School of Medicine; St. Louis, MO

Dr. Paruthi practices in St. Louis, MO, where she sees patients of all ages. She has a particular interest in sleep disorders of childhood –obstructive sleep apnea, insomnias, narcolepsy, and –of course –restless legs syndrome. Not only do her patients benefit from her extensive study; she is a teacher as well –as an adjunct associate professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine and is board-certified in Sleep Medicine and Internal Medicine. Dr. Paruthi’s interest and energy extend to research pursuits as well, extending our understanding of sleep and its many disruptions and diseases. She is Co-Director of the Sleep Medicine and Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis. She has contributed widely to activities of American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) chairing sleep focused conferences, participating in task forces, serving on committees, including the Education Committee and national SLEEP meeting Program Committee. Currently she is on the editorial advisory board for Sleep Review: the Journal for Sleep Specialists, and recently joined the RLS Foundation Board of Directors.