Isabela Peña Pino, MD

Resident PGY1, Department of Neurosurgery

Isabela Peña Pino

Contact Info

MD, Universidad de Ciencias Medicas Andrés Vesalio Guzmán (UCIMED) Escuela de Medicina, San José, Costa Rica

BMedSci, Basic Sciences, Universidad de Ciencias Medicas Andres Vesalio Guzman, San José, Costa Rica


A native of Honduras, Dr. Peña Pino earned both her undergraduate (B.Med.Sci in basic sciences) and her MD from the Universidad de Ciencias Medicas Andrés Vesalio Guzmán (UCIMED) Escuela de Medicina, in San José, Costa Rica. She is a member of the Kaplan Honor Society and won Costa Rica’s Award for Highest National Score on the International Foundations of Medicine examination in 2018. Dr. Peña Pino graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2019 and won academic performance scholarships throughout her undergraduate and medical education.

A committed volunteer, Dr. Peña Pino was part of the Protected Area Volunteer Association in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. In addition to helping ensure sea turtle hatchlings’ safe arrival to the sea, the work involved protecting the turtles from poachers, collecting and maintaining data for research purposes, and planning awareness events.

After arriving in the United States, Dr. Peña Pino completed several sub-internships performing services such as presenting patients during morning rounds, assisting during surgeries, seeing patient in clinic, attending conferences and covering overnight call at:

  • Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, mentored by Craig Lillehei, MD
  • Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, mentored by Jean-Valery Coumans, MD
  • Hennepin Healthcare, Minneapolis, MN, mentored by Thomas Bergman, MD.

In her free time, Dr. Peña Pino enjoys being outdoors, practicing yoga, or reading a book. She is also a fan of independent films and looks for film festivals wherever she goes.

Awards & Recognition

  • Graduated Summa Cum Laude, class of 2019
  • Award for Highest National Score in International Foundations of Medicine (IFOM) examination, 2018
  • Full Scholarship for Academic Performance, Intern year, 2018
  • Full Scholarship for Academic Performance, International rotation, 2018
  • Yearly Scholarship for Academic Performance, 2012-2017.


  • Spanish


Research Summary/Interests

As a post-doctoral research associate, Dr. Peña Pino spent a year helping with the University of Minnesota E-STAND trial (seeing if epidural spinal cord stimulation can restore volitional movement, autonomic stability, and sphincter control in chronic spinal cord injury). During that time, she worked with members of the Neurosurgery and Biomedical Engineering departments and was involved in clinical patient care, developing stimulation optimization models, and helping with papers destined for medical journals. Dr. Peña Pino also assisted in the Translational Neuromodulation lab (for non-invasive neuromodulation and cortical and deep brain stimulation for cognitive function/addiction/pain), working with members of the Neurosurgery and Psychiatry departments and helping with protocol write-ups and publications.


Peer Reviewed Journal Articles/Abstracts

  1. Molly E. Hubbard, David Freeman, Isabela Peña, Ramachandra P. Tummala.Neurosurgeons Performing Tracheostomies — Maintaining Proficiency in the Modern Era. Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery. 2020, May; 192. DOI: 10.1016/j.clineuro.2020.105681.
  2. Isabela Peña-Pino, Caleb Hoover, Shivani Venkatesh, Aliya Ahmadi, Dylan Sturtevant, Nicholas Thetford Patrick, David Freeman, Ann M Parr, Uzma Samadani, David Balser, Andrei Krassioukov, Aaron A Phillips, Theoden I Netoff, David Patrick Darrow. Long-term spinal cord stimulation after chronic complete spinal cord injury enables volitional movement in the absence of stimulation. Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. 2020, June. DOI: 10.3389/fnsys.2020.00035

Poster Presentation

  1. Peña Pino, I, Zhao, Z, Zurn, C, Grado, L, Samadani, U, Parr A, Lamperski, A, Netoff T.I, & Darrow, D. (2019). Epidural spinal cord stimulation (eSCS) optimization for restoration of function in spinal cord injury. Poster presented during: Institute for Engineering in Medicine Annual Conference; Minneapolis, MN.