Dr. Joseph Watson founded Cerebrum MD with a vision to combine cutting-edge neurosurgical innovations with a practice dedicated to personalized patient care. Cerebrum MD is committed to helping patients understand and navigate their treatment options.  From initial consultation and second opinions to surgery and post-operative care every patient receives respectful, informed attention.


Dr. Joseph Watson Top Neurosurgeon

Dr. Joseph Watson

Dr. Watson’s interest in the brain began as a biology major at Stanford University where he completed his undergraduate degree, and at research labs at the University of California, San Francisco, where he was exposed to the concept of brain protection and preventing brain cell death.  His interest further developed while earning his medical degree at the University of California, San Diego.  After completing an internship and neurosurgical residency at the Medical College of Virginia in Richmond (now VCU), he deferred regular practice to train with a world expert in pituitary surgery, Ed Oldfield, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  Throughout his career he has specialized in pituitary tumors, meningiomas, brain tumors, and spinal surgery.   His practice also includes cerebrovascular disease (especially AVM’s), trigeminal neuralgia, hemifacial spasm, Chiari malformation, spinal AVM’s, spinal tumors and disorders, “brain bypass” surgery, von Hippel-Lindau disease, and minimally invasive spinal surgery.
Dr. Watson currently performs surgeries out of the hospitals of Fairfax, Reston, and George Washington University in order to be free to choose the site that best fits the individual patient’s needs.  At Cerebrum MD, he will see you out of our convenient location in Tyson’s before and after surgery.
Dr. Watson has always been involved in research since he was in his early 20’s.  What fuels this is the desire to understand disease processes, such as what makes a tumor, and use this knowledge for future treatments.  Currently at Cerebrum MD with tumor surgery, we have positioned our practice to provide patients the opportunity to participate in research on pituitary and brain tumors.  Most surgeons remove tumors and make no meaningful use of excess tissue remove.  We believe that partnering with our GW University and with research labs at George Mason University, we can answer fundamental questions about the origin and potential new treatments for tumors by studying the excess tumor cells. 
Elizabeth Kanianthra PA-C Cerebrum MD

Elizabeth Kanianthra PA-C

Physician Assistant

Elizabeth Kanianthra performed her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech.  She attended the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences where she studied to become a Physician Assistant.  Elizabeth has 20 plus years of experience as a Physician Assistant.  For the past seven years, Elizabeth has specialized in neurosurgery.  She was Chief PA at Fairfax Hospital for four years where she developed and managed a team of neurosurgery PAs and covered nine neurosurgeons. As a neurosurgical physician assistant, she has cared for patients with a variety of neurosurgical diseases and injuries.  She specializes in pre-operative, operative, and post-operative care.  She is highly efficient at managing complex patients in a thoughtful and compassionate manner.  Elizabeth enjoys providing care and education to patients, guiding the patient through their care and achieving a better quality of life.

During her free time, Elizabeth enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters. She is dedicated to her family and living a healthy lifestyle.
Claudia Bakir Cerebrum MD

Claudia Bakir

Office Manager

Patients often say Cerebrum MD makes them feel at home, and that is because of Claudia; she runs the office with a nurturing attitude that serves to make patients comfortable.  Although she is a native of Northern Virginia, she is also fluent in Spanish.  She is our problem solver in the office and will get things done.  When calling for a visit, she will take care of you.

When not in the office, Claudia is running around with her three boys, coaching basketball, or cooking up culinary delights.  Somehow she finds time to volunteer at two of our local Catholic Schools.  She has the kind heart that the rest of us at Cerebrum MD aspire to emulate.

Our Practice At A Glance