David Coulter

David Coulter, MD

Senior Associate in Neurology

Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

  • Contact: 617-355-2751

  • Fax: 617-730-0285

I believe that every person is valuable and deserves respect, regardless of their ability or disability, and regardless of the severity of their disability.

Medical Services


  • Developmental Disabilities
  • Neurology


  • Neurology


  • English


  • Cerebral Palsy Program
To schedule an appointment: Call 617-355-2751 or Request an Appointment
David Coulter

Why I entered medicine 

I became interested in neurology when I was in high school and wanted to learn how the brain works. I entered medicine in order to take care of patients with brain problems, choosing neurology over psychiatry because it seemed like a better fit for me.

Personal Interests: nature, poetry, music

Experience and Education


Medical School

Yale University, 1973

New Haven, CA


Duke University, 1974

Durham, NC


Duke University, 1974

Durham, NC


University of Michigan, 1978

Ann Arbor, MI


University of Michigan, 1978

Ann Arbor, MI


Harvard Medical School, 1999

Boston, MA


  • Pediatrics, Child Neurology

  • American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology

Professional History

My Professional and academic activities are concentrated on the issues related to neurodevelopmental disabilities (NDD), particularly epilepsy, cerebral palsy, intellectual disability (what used to be called mental retardation) and autism. In June 2004 I became the President of the American Association on Mental Retardation (AAMR). While I was President, I began the process that led to changing the name of the organization to the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) in 2008. I was also a co-author on the official document that changed the name from mental retardation to intellectual disability. I have had a long-standing interest in ethics and spirituality related to neurodevelopmental disabilities. I have written many articles on the treatment of epilepsy ion children with other neurodevelopmental disabilities, and this continues to be a large part of my clinical practice. I have been the neurologist at a school for autism for the past 12 years, where I also treat many children who had seizures. At BCH I am part of the team caring for children with cerebral palsy and continue to participate in continuing education activities on that topic.


Publications powered by Harvard Catalyst Profiles
  1. Duffy FH, Shankardass A, McAnulty GB, Eksioglu YZ, Coulter D, Rotenberg A, Als H. Corticosteroid therapy in regressive autism: a retrospective study of effects on the Frequency Modulated Auditory Evoked Response (FMAER), language, and behavior. BMC Neurol. 2014; 14:70.
  2. Guilhoto LM, Loddenkemper T, Gooty VD, Rotenberg A, Takeoka M, Duffy FH, Coulter D, Urion D, Bourgeois BF, Kothare SV. Experience with lacosamide in a series of children with drug-resistant focal epilepsy. Pediatr Neurol. 2011 Jun; 44(6):414-9.
  3. Kluk MJ, An Y, James P, Coulter D, Harris D, Wu BL, Shen Y. Avoiding pitfalls in molecular genetic testing: case studies of high-resolution array comparative genomic hybridization testing in the definitive diagnosis of Mowat-Wilson syndrome. J Mol Diagn. 2011 May; 13(3):363-7.
  4. Olson HE, Loddenkemper T, Vendrame M, Poduri A, Takeoka M, Bergin AM, Libenson MH, Duffy FH, Rotenberg A, Coulter D, Bourgeois BF, Kothare SV. Rufinamide for the treatment of epileptic spasms. Epilepsy Behav. 2011 Feb; 20(2):344-8.
  5. Shogren KA, Bradley VJ, Gomez SC, Yeager MH, Schalock RL, Borthwick-Duffy WS, Buntinx WH, Coulter DL, Craig EP, Lachapelle Y, Luckasson RA, Reeve A, Snell ME, Spreat S, Tassé MJ, Thompson JR, Verdugo MA, Wehmeyer ML. Public policy and the enhancement of desired outcomes for persons with intellectual disability. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2009 Aug; 47(4):307-19.
  6. Snell ME, Luckasson R, Borthwick-Duffy WS, Bradley V, Buntinx WH, Coulter DL, Craig EP, Gomez SC, Lachapelle Y, Reeve A, Schalock RL, Shogren KA, Spreat S, Tassé MJ, Thompson JR, Verdugo MA, Wehmeyer ML, Yeager MH. Characteristics and needs of people with intellectual disability who have higher IQs. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2009 Jun; 47(3):220-33.
  7. Thompson JR, Bradley VJ, Buntinx WH, Schalock RL, Shogren KA, Snell ME, Wehmeyer ML, Borthwick-Duffy S, Coulter DL, Craig EP, Gomez SC, Lachapelle Y, Luckasson RA, Reeve A, Spreat S, Tassé MJ, Verdugo MA, Yeager MH. Conceptualizing supports and the support needs of people with intellectual disability. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2009 Apr; 47(2):135-46.
  8. Wehmeyer ML, Buntinx WH, Lachapelle Y, Luckasson RA, Schalock RL, Verdugo MA, Borthwick-Duffy S, Bradley V, Craig EM, Coulter DL, Gomez SC, Reeve A, Shogren KA, Snell ME, Spreat S, Tassé MJ, Thompson JR, Yeager MH. The intellectual disability construct and its relation to human functioning. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2008 Aug; 46(4):311-8.
  9. Anselm IA, Coulter DL, Darras BT. Cardiac manifestations in a child with a novel mutation in creatine transporter gene SLC6A8. Neurology. 2008 Apr 29; 70(18):1642-4.
  10. Schalock RL, Luckasson RA, Shogren KA, Borthwick-Duffy S, Bradley V, Buntinx WH, Coulter DL, Craig EM, Gomez SC, Lachapelle Y, Reeve A, Snell ME, Spreat S, Tassé MJ, Thompson JR, Verdugo MA, Wehmeyer ML, Yeager MH. The renaming of mental retardation: understanding the change to the term intellectual disability. Intellect Dev Disabil. 2007 Apr; 45(2):116-24.
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  12. Baris H, Bejjani BA, Tan WH, Coulter DL, Martin JA, Storm AL, Burton BK, Saitta SC, Gajecka M, Ballif BC, Irons MB, Shaffer LG, Kimonis VE. Identification of a novel polymorphism--the duplication of the NPHP1 (nephronophthisis 1) gene. Am J Med Genet A. 2006 Sep 1; 140A(17):1876-9.
  13. Coulter DL. Presidential address 2005: peace-making is the answer: spiritual valorization and the future of our field. Ment Retard. 2006 Feb; 44(1):64-70.
  14. De Vivo DC, Bohan TP, Coulter DL, Dreifuss FE, Greenwood RS, Nordli DR, Shields WD, Stafstrom CE, Tein I. L-carnitine supplementation in childhood epilepsy: current perspectives. Epilepsia. 1998 Nov; 39(11):1216-25.
  15. Coulter DL. Effectiveness and cost of generic versus brand-name valproic acid. Ment Retard. 1997 Dec; 35(6):472-5.
  16. Coulter DL. Prevention as a form of support: implications for the new definition. Ment Retard. 1996 Apr; 34(2):108-16.
  17. Chase C, Vibbert M, Pelton SI, Coulter DL, Cabral H. Early neurodevelopmental growth in children with vertically transmitted human immunodeficiency virus infection. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 1995 Aug; 149(8):850-5.
  18. Schalock RL, Stark JA, Snell ME, Coulter DL, Polloway EA, Luckasson R, Reiss S, Spitalnik DM. The changing conception of mental retardation: implications for the field. Ment Retard. 1994 Jun; 32(3):181-93.
  19. Venkatesh S, Coulter DL, Kemper TD. Neuroaxonal dystrophy at birth with hypertonicity and basal ganglia mineralization. J Child Neurol. 1994 Jan; 9(1):74-6.
  20. Coulter DL. Epilepsy and mental retardation: an overview. Am J Ment Retard. 1993; 98 Suppl:1-11.
  21. Coulter DL. An ecology of prevention for the future. Ment Retard. 1992 Dec; 30(6):363-9.
  22. Coulter DL. The failure of prevention. Ment Retard. 1991 Oct; 29(5):iii-iv.
  23. Coulter DL. Withdrawal of barbiturate anticonvulsant drugs: prospective controlled study. Am J Ment Retard. 1988 Nov; 93(3):320-7.
  24. Coulter DL. Beyond Baby Doe: does infant transplantation justify euthanasia? J Assoc Pers Sev Handicaps. 1988; 13(2):71-5.
  25. Coulter DL. Continuous infantile spasms as a form of status epilepticus. J Child Neurol. 1986 Jul; 1(3):215-7.
  26. Coulter DL, Koester BS. Information needs of parents of children with epilepsy. J Dev Behav Pediatr. 1985 Dec; 6(6):334-8.
  27. Young RS, Coulter DL, Allen RJ. Capsular stroke as a cause of hemiplegia in infancy. Neurology. 1983 Aug; 33(8):1044-6.
  28. Casta A, Talabi A, Coulter DL, Sapire DW. Capsular stroke in congenital complete heart block. Eur J Pediatr. 1982 Sep; 139(1):71-2.
  29. Coulter DL, Allen RJ. Benign neonatal sleep myoclonus. Arch Neurol. 1982 Mar; 39(3):191-2.
  30. Coulter D. Hyperammonemia and asterixis with valproic acid. Neurology. 1981 Dec; 31(12):1580.
To schedule an appointment: Call 617-355-2751 or Request an Appointment


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