Child Neurology Residency Training Program Current First Year Residents

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Samata Singhi

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Samantha_SinghiTraining: Albion College: BA with Honors in Economics and Management and Chemistry; London School of Economics and Political Science: M.SC in International Health Policy and Health Economics; Case Western School of Medicine: MD; University of Maryland Medical Center: Pediatrics Residency

Interests: I was introduced to the field of child neurology was in college while volunteering at a center for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities in Chandigarh, India. In a country struggling with social and economic disparities, where politics and propaganda left gaping holes, the team of child neurologists, psychologists and social workers seemed to bring new hope to these children and their families as they tended to their medical needs. Experiences such as these left an indelible impression on me and played a key role in shaping my interest in child neurology and health policy. For my master’s degree, I focused on models of healthcare finance and delivery that can help improve equity and efficiency in the United States healthcare system. During medical school, I received the Child Neurology Foundation’s research fellowship and investigated patterns of white matter injury in children with cerebral palsy using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Following this, I spent a year investigating the maturation and growth of the pediatric spinal cord using DTI supported by the Doris Duke clinical research fellowship. I find child neurology invigorating and rewarding because much remains to be discovered about the pathophysiology of disease and targeted treatment – the opportunities to learn and grow are tremendous. I hope to pursue an academic career in child neurology that allows me to pursue clinical research and health policy thereby enabling me to provide the highest standard of medical care for my patients whilst simultaneously contributing to the health of our community as a whole.

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Viviana Benitez

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Viviana_BenitezThe workings of the human mind have always intrigued me. In college, I hungered to explore the human brain from multiple perspectives: I majored in Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology. Research with mild stroke patients complimented my coursework by giving it life, attaching faces to my passion. In medical school at Mount Sinai, motivated by courses like Brain and Behavior, I expanded my study of the mind-brain by participating in research. I took part in a project that assessed attentional functions in patients with mild cognitive impairment. During my Neurology Clerkship, I was blessed with an incredible mentor, who encouraged me to cultivate my enthusiastic attitude while reasoning through complex neurological problems. At the bedside, caring for patients with neurological illnesses, I confirmed that my fascination for neurology transcended the academic realm.

Later in my training, clinical experience with the Pediatrics department helped me discover how much I love working with children. I am fascinated by the complexity of the growth and development of a child and how different a newborn exam is from that of a teenager. Dedication to children and their health brings about a joy that can’t be found anywhere else. Given a strong desire to care for pediatric patients, and my lifelong passion for neurology, it only felt natural to delve into the world of Pediatric Neurology. That Child Neurology is a growing field full of exciting clinical research opportunities attracts me greatly as it enables me to contribute to this area of interest while enhancing my role as a physician-scientist. Furthermore, I can cultivate my interest in teaching by participating in academic medicine and making it an important aspect of my future as a Pediatric Neurologist.

Currently, I am exploring my interests in Pediatric Neurology by diving into each experience fully and learning as much as I can so that this may guide me in determining a future career choice. Possible interests include General Pediatric Neurology, Neuromuscular Disorders and Neonatal Neurology. I have no doubt that Boston Children's will give me plenty of opportunity to explore these interests.

Outside of work, you may find me exploring the city of Boston, trying new restaurants and cuisines, finding new places to go out dancing with friends, enjoying a movie, exploring the outdoors including parks and gardens. Other outside interests include yoga and running.

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Anuj Jayakar

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Anuj_JayakarTraining: Georgetown University BS Class of 2007; Georgetown University School of Medicine MD Class of 2011; Miami Children's Hospital Pediatric Residency Class of 2013

Interests: I have been interested in neurology since I was a kid, when under the guidance of my dad (also a child neurologist), I would make clay models of the brain and color-code the different lobes. I was able to cultivate my interest in neurology through various lab and clinical research studies during high school, college, and medical school. It was, however a 4th year medical school away rotation here at Boston Children's that really cemented my love for pediatric neurology. The pathology we see here on a daily basis is amazing and I truly enjoy the opportunity to learn from the incredible faculty. I am very excited for the next 3 years of training!! My main interests are in epilepsy, more specifically epilepsy surgery, and neuro-oncology. I am sure the wealth of resources in the Longwood medical area will provide a great opportunity to explore those areas of interest.

Outside of the hospital I enjoy running, swimming, basketball (go Heat!!!), traveling, and food. I am a huge foodie so am definitely looking forward to exploring all that Boston offers.  Looking forward to the next 3 years and people are always welcome to come over and watch Miami Heat games!!

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Dana Harrar, MD, PhD:

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Dana_harrarTraining: Johns Hopkins University, BA in Biology; Harvard University, PhD in Neurobiology; Vanderbilt University, MD; Boston Combined Residency in Pediatrics, Boston Children’s Hospital & Boston Medical Center, Pediatrics Residency

Interests:  I first discovered my passion for neurobiology as an undergraduate working in a basic science lab aimed at understanding the molecular mechanisms of learning and memory.  I continued to pursue my interest in neuroscience as a graduate student exploring the molecular mechanisms of synapse development.  It was during graduate school that I first considered a career in child neurology.  I found myself drawn to patient care after spending time with Mustafa Sahin in his tuberous sclerosis clinic at Boston Children’s.  I entered medical school with an open mind in terms of specialty choice but found that I quickly gravitated toward neurology and that I most enjoyed caring for children and their families.

I have enjoyed spending the last two years as a pediatrics resident at Boston Children’s.  The staff and the patients and their families make this a wonderful place to work and to learn.  I am eagerly anticipating the transition to child neurology and the continued opportunity to learn from the incredible attendings, fellows, residents and patients that make this such an amazing place.  Although very much open in terms of subspecialty choice, I am currently most interested in focusing my career on inpatient care and possibly critical care neurology.   

Outside of the hospital, I enjoy spending time with my husband and our newborn son, hanging out with friends, and exploring the city and its restaurants.

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Christopher J. Yuskaitis M.D., Ph.D.

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Training: University of Virginia, BA in Cognitive Science, University of Alabama at Birmingham MSTP, MD/PhD
Pediatrics Residency: Boston Combined Residency Program (Boston Children's Hospital/Boston Medical Center)

Interests: Initially a music major in college, I discovered my interest in medicine and neuroscience while reading about music's effect on the brain. By working as an adaptive ski instructor for people with disabilities, I not only shared my love of skiing with others but also realized I wanted to continue to work with children with disabilities. My research studying and advocating for people with Fragile X syndrome ultimately drew me into child neurology.

During my pediatrics residency here, I had an amazing experience learning from top clinicians and leaders in the field. I have been fortunate to work on a project studying the underlying genetic basis of infantile spasms and the epileptic encephalopathies. Boston Children's is extremely supportive and encouraging of resident research, and that's one of the reasons I chose to come here.

Outside of the hospital, I have enjoyed getting to know Boston and all that New England offers from Red Sox and Bruins games to running along the Charles River with my wife. There is something for everyone, and I'm always looking for someone to join our indoor or outdoor soccer team.

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The future of pediatrics will be forged by thinking differently, breaking paradigms and joining together in a shared vision of tackling the toughest challenges before us.”
- Sandra L. Fenwick, President and CEO
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