Arka N. Mallela, MD

  • Chief Resident

Arka N. Mallela, MD, joined the University of Pittsburgh Department of Neurological Surgery residency program in July 2018 after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, earning his MD and MS in translational research. He received his undergraduate degrees from the Vagelos Scholars Program at the University of Pennsylvania, completing a BA in biophysics, biochemistry, and philosophy and an MS in biological chemistry.

He is currently in the enfolded fellowship program in epilepsy and functional neurosurgery under Jorge Gonzalez-Martinez, MD, PhD, and has a strong interest in neuro-oncology as well.

Dr. Mallela’s research lies at the intersection of neurophysiology, neuroimaging, network theory and deep learning. He is currently interested in utilizing these tools to study a variety of neurological diseases, including expressive language, fetal brain folding, epilepsy, and brain tumors. For his work, Dr. Mallela has received the 2023 CNS Stryker Tumor Award and was selected for the 2022 AES Fellows program. He was previously selected for the Burroughs Wellcome Foundation Physician Scientist Incubator Program. He is currently funded via the NIH NRSA F32 grant to study the role of the supplementary motor area and associated areas in the generation of complex speech and motor movements using intracranial electrophysiology.

In his free time, Dr. Mallela enjoys hiking, movie making, and spending time with his family, wife, and friends.

Specialized Areas of Interest

Epilepsy surgery; neuro-oncology.

Professional Organization Membership

American Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Epilepsy Society
Association for Clinical and Translational Sciences
Congress of Neurological Surgeons
Society for the Neurobiology of Language

Education & Training

  • BS, Biophysics, Biochemistry, Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • MS, Biological Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, 2013
  • MS, Translational Research, University of Pennsylvania, 2018
  • MD, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, 2018

Honors & Awards

  • Stryker CNS Tumor Award, AANS, 2023
  • American Epilepsy Society Fellow, 2022
  • F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein Postdoctoral Individual National Research Service Award, 2022
  • Highest ABNS Score Award, UPMC Department of Neurosurgery, 2021
  • Physician Scientist Incubator Program, Burroughs Wellcome Foundation, 2021
  • Walter L. Copeland Grant, Copeland Foundation, 2020
  • American Brain Tumor Association Young Investigator Award, 2017
  • ITMAT Prize for Clinical/Translational Research, University of Pennsylvania, 2015

Selected Publications

Bin Alamer O, Palmisciano P, Mallela AN, Labib MA, Gardner PA, Couldwell WT,  Lunsford LD, Abou-Al-Shaar H. Stereotactic Radiosurgery in the Management of Petroclival Meningiomas: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Treatment Outcomes of Primary and Adjuvant Radiosurgery. J Neuro-oncology [in press], 2021. 

Mallela AN, Hect JL, Abou-Al-Shaar H, Akwayena E, Abel TJ. Stereotactic laser interstitial thermal therapy corpus callosotomy for the treatment of pediatric drug-resistant epilepsy. Epilepsia Open [in press], 2021. 

Mallela AN, Abou-Al-Shaar H, Nayar GM, Luy DD, Jorge A González-Martínez. Stereotactic Electroencephalography Implantation Through Nonautologous Cranioplasty. Operative Neurosurgery 21(4):258-264, 2021. 

Shalom DE, Trevisan MA, Mallela A, Nuñez M, Goldschmidt E. Brain folding shapes the branching pattern of the middle cerebral artery. PLOS ONE 16(1):e0245167, 2021. 

Mallela AN, Deng H, Brisbin AK, Bush A, Goldschmidt EG. Sylvian fissure development is linked to differential genetic expression in the pre-folded brain. Sci Rep 10(1):14489, 2020. 

Mallela AN, Deng H, Bush A, Goldschmidt EG. Different principles govern different scales of brain folding. Cerebral Cortex 30(9):4938-4948, 2020. 

Mallela AN, Agarwal P, Goel N, Durgin J, Jayaram M, O’Rourke DO, Brem S, Abdullah KG. An additive score optimized by a genetic learning algorithm predicts readmission risk after glioblastoma resection. J Clin Neurosci 80:1-5, 2020.

Lou W, Peck KK, Petrovich-Brennan NM, Mallela A, Holodny AI. Left-Lateralization of Resting State Functional Connectivity Between the pre-SMA and Primary Language Areas. NeuroReport 28(10):545-550, 2017.  

Mallela AN, Peck KK, Petrovich-Brennan NM, Zhang Z, Lou W, Holodny AI. Altered resting state functional connectivity in the hand motor network of glioma patients. Brain Connectivity 6(8):587-595, 2016. 

Dr. Mallela’s publications can be reviewed through the National Library of Medicine’s publication database.

Research Activities

Mechanisms of Expressive Language and Naming in the Human Brain
Under the mentorship of Jorge Gonzalez-Martinez, MD, PhD, in the UPMC Department of Neurological Surgery and Brad Mahon, PhD, of the Carnegie Mellon Department of Psychology, Dr. Mallela is studying the mechanisms of expressive language and naming using intracranial electrophysiology. His primary focus is the role of the supplementary motor area (SMA) in the generation of language, complex speech, and motor functions. Patients with injury to the SMA and associated areas develop a profound deficit in contralateral motor function and expressive language (if in the dominant hemisphere). Intriguingly, most patients improve to their baseline in 6-8 weeks. Dysfunction in the SMA has also been linked to speech and language disorders including stuttering and apraxia of speech. Using stereo EEG, Dr. Mallela is investigating 1) how the SMA contributes to the production of fluent expressive speech and 2) how the brain compensates for SMA injury. These results can not only increase understanding of fluent speech in the human brain but can also serve as a model of recovery from other brain injuries. Dr. Mallela is also helping lead other efforts in the Gonzalez-Martinez and Mahon labs studying the role of the hippocampus and temporal lobe structures in auditory and picture naming. 

Fetal Brain Folding
Working closely with Ezequiel Goldschmidt, MD, PhD, Dr. Mallela has studied the fetal development of the insula and Sylvian fissure. His most recent work identifies a unique form of radial migration that creates the insula and shapes the global configuration of the cerebrum. His previous efforts have demonstrated that the Sylvian fissure is also formed via specific genetic patterning. These findings not only help elucidate the mechanisms of fetal brain development but also explain important adult anatomy, including why no middle cerebral artery branches cross the Sylvian fissure (facilitating the fissure split).