Coronavirus (COVID-19) updates for UC San Diego Health patients and visitors. Learn More.
About Nina Riggins, MD, PhD
Nina Riggins, MD, PhD is a board-certified neurologist who specializes in headache medicine and traumatic brain injury. She is especially passionate about working on challenging cases with our neurology team to help patients return to a high-functioning and pain-free state.
Dr. Riggins has expertise with a variety of state-of-the-art treatments that can ease chronic pain by altering nerve activity, such as neuromodulation devices which were recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
As a professor of neurosciences in the UC San Diego School of Medicine, Dr. Riggins trains medical students, residents and fellows. She also conducts research into the causes and treatments for headaches. Her studies of specific therapies include Botox injections, a new class of drugs known as calcitonin gene-related peptide antagonists, and a procedure called a sphenopalatine ganglion block.
Dr. Riggins is studying the possible relationship between migraines and cochlear implants – devices used to restore a sense of sound to people with severe hearing loss. Dr. Riggins also does ongoing clinical research on post-traumatic headache.
Dr. Riggins' journey to medicine was inspired by her father, a neurologist, who taught her about wonders of the brain. From her mother, an endocrinologist, she learned about interacting networks between the brain and endocrine system. She works on discovering a cause and treats headache related to hormonal changes.
She completed a residency as well as a fellowship in neurology at Volgograd State Medical University in Russia, an internship 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.
Dr. Riggins earned her medical degree from Volgograd State Medical University and also earned a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Moscow. In addition to her board certification as a neurologist, she is certified as a headache specialist by the United Council for Neurologic Subspecialties (UCNS).
Dr. Riggins is a fellow of the American Headache Society (AHS) and the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). 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, patients living with migraine and other headache disorders can make a difference by working together, Dr. Riggins is active in events such as Miles for Migraine, which raises awareness of headache conditions, funding for research and education. She is a member of the board of Miles for Migraine.
In her spare time, Dr. Riggins enjoys tennis, exercise, and exploring nature.
Dr. Riggins is an educator, researcher and advocate for her patients and her profession.
- Volgograd State Medical University, Volgograd, Russia
- Pennsylvania State University, College of Medicine, Hershey, PA
- Texas Tech University, Amarillo, Texas
- SUNY Buffalo School of Medicine, Buffalo, NY
- UC San Francisco, School of Medicine, San Francisco, CA
Date Joined Staff
Conditions and Treatments
- Botox for Chronic Migraines
- Traumatic Brain Injury