Dr. Nina Riggins is a neurologist who specializes in headache medicine. She is especially passionate about working on challenging cases with the UCSF neurology team to help patients return to a high-functioning and pain-free state. She has expertise with a variety of state-of-the-art treatments, including neuromodulation devices, which can ease chronic pain by altering nerve activity and were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Riggins' research investigates causes and treatments for headaches. Her studies of specific therapies include Botox injections, a new class of drugs known as calcitonin gene-related peptide receptor antagonists as well as a procedure called a sphenopalatine ganglion block. She is also studying the possible relationship between migraines and cochlear implants – devices used to restore a sense of sound to people with severe hearing loss.
Riggins' journey to medicine was inspired by her father, a neurologist who taught her about the brain as well as the joys of ping-pong. From her mother, an endocrinologist, she learned about interacting networks between the brain and endocrine system, she enjoys to discover a cause and treat headache in a setting of hormonal changes.
Riggins earned her medical degree from Volgograd State Medical University, graduating cum laude. She also earned a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Moscow. She completed a residency as well as a fellowship in neurology at Volgograd State Medical University, a residency in internal medicine at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, a residency in neurology at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology at the State University of New York at Buffalo. She then completed a fellowship in headache neurology at UCSF, where working with renowned headache expert Dr. Peter Goadsby helped to shape her philosophy of care.
Riggins is a member of the American Headache Society and American Academy of Neurology. She has participated in Neurology on the Hill, an advocacy event in Washington, DC, where she talked to members of Congress on topics important to neurologists and their patients. Believing that medical providers and migraine suffers can make a difference by working together, she is active in events such as Miles for Migraine, which raises awareness of headache conditions and funding for research.
Riggins enjoys working with medical students and residents and fellows they rotate through the UCSF Headache Center.