Michael Rivkin

Michael Rivkin, MD

Associate in Neurology; Director, Intensive Neurology Care Service; Director, Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center

Associate Professor of Neurology, Harvard Medical School

  • Contact: 617-355-2758

  • Fax: 617-730-0285

"The focus of my clinical activity fixes upon children with cerebrovascular disorders and stroke and I organize and direct the first dedicated Cerebrovascular Disorders and Stroke service at Boston Children’s Hospital."

Medical Services


  • Pediatric and Neonatal Stroke and Cerebrovascular Disorders
  • Critical Care
  • Developmental and Cognitive Disorders
  • Fetal-Neonatal Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Head Trauma


  • Neurology


  • English


  • Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center
To schedule an appointment: Call 617-355-2758 or Request an Appointment
Michael Rivkin

I grew up wanting to help people in a tangible way. 

My family has a strong tradition of volunteering to help those in need through our synagogue, a value that was instilled in me from a young age.

My approach to care is based on that compassion. I try to think very hard about what I would do if a patient were my own child. As early as medical school, it was already clear to me that I wanted to treat children. The opportunity to contribute to the health and development of children was extremely appealing and interesting to me, and providing care to children and their families is satisfying and enjoyable.

I completed my residency in general pediatrics before deciding to specialize in neurology. I became fascinated by stroke and cerebrovascular disorders, and found the amount we have yet to learn about the brain inspiring. Consequently, I feel that these are exciting times to practice and to perform research in the field of child neurology and in pediatric stroke and cerebrovascular disorders, specifically.

When I started down my path to become a doctor, I had no idea I would wind up doing so much research. But I have been surprised by the fascination the research has held for me, and conducting research on brain development has become an integral part of my approach to care.

Experience and Education


Medical School

University of Virginia School of Medicine, 1984

Charlottesville, Virginia


Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, 1984-985

Cleveland, Ohio


Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital - Pediatrics, 1985-1988

Cleveland, Ohio


Pediatric Neurology-New England Medical Center, 1989-1992

Boston, Massachusetts


Boston Children's Hospital, 1992-1993

Boston, Massachusetts


  • American Board of Pediatrics

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


My research focuses on pediatric brain and cognitive development. I am passionate about documenting the clinical strides we have made in treating stroke and cerebrovascular disorders in children, as well as neurology in critical care situations.

I am deeply committed to my research efforts, an orientation reflected in my rigorous scientific training. Following my residency in pediatrics, I spent a year as a research fellow in the Molecular Biology and Genetics Lab at Tufts University School of Medicine. I later completed two additional research fellowships, first in Molecular Neuroscience at Boston Children’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School and later in Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging at Massachusetts General Hospital.

My research work and publications have focused on the use of advanced neuroimaging techniques, specifically using MRI to evaluate changes in brain development after injury. I have explored prenatal drug exposure and brain development, the effect of congenital heart disease on brain development, and the differences that occur in brain structure with stroke in childhood.

I led Boston Children's Hospital's team on a National Institutes of Health landmark study of normal brain development. As the principal investigator of our center, I scanned the brains of 450 children three times to create the first major database of normal brain development.

Early in my research career, I concentrated on developing a human fetal glial cell culture system to study the effects of growth factors upon human oligodendrocyte development.  Subsequent work led to description of the steps in oligodendrocyte development in fetal human brain tissue culture and slices.

Next, I focused on cell cycle mechanisms that govern neuronal proliferation in cerebral cortex, specifically a key regulator of the cyclin-cyclin dependent kinase complex, p27kip1. Work with a p27kip1 knockout mouse revealed that p27kip1 serves as an important determinant of the final number of neurons produced in the murine brain during prenatal development. Subsequently, we have focused on the study of pediatric patients and typically developing children using MRI neuroimaging tools.

My lab is currently working to study stroke and cerebrovascular disorders in children. We have evaluated the safety and tolerance of children for treatment with tissue plasminogen activator for acute pediatric arterial ischemic stroke. We are significantly involved in three large multicenter studies of pediatric stroke, including the International Pediatric Stroke Study, Vascular Effects of Infection in Pediatric Stroke and Thrombolysis in Pediatric Stroke.

My work has contributed to our field's understanding of the brain's development, as well as how best to improve the lives of children undergoing cerebrovascular events. These include:

Fero ME, Rivkin MJ, Tasch M, Porter P, Carow C, Firpo E, Tsai LH, Browdy V, Perlmutter R, Kaushansky K, Roberts JM. A syndrome of multi-organ hyperplasia with features of gigantism tumorigenesis and female sterility in p27kip1 deficient mice. Cell. 1996;85:733-744.

Rivkin MJ, Vajapeyam S, Mulkern RV, Wolraich D, Hall EK, Hutton C, Yoo SS, Weiler, M, Waber D.  A fMRI study of paced finger tapping in children.  Pediatric Neurology, 2003;28:89-95.

Rivkin MJ. Opening the window into brain development in children more widely with magnetic resonance imaging. Pediatrics. 2003 Jun; 111:1432-3.

Rivkin MJ, Wolraich D, Als H, Butler S, Conneman N, Mcanulty G, Vajapeyam S, Robertson R,  Mulkern R.  Prolonged T2* values in newborn versus adult brain: implications for fMRI studies in newborns. Magn Res Med, 2004;51:1287-1291.

Als H, Duffy FH, McAnulty GB, Rivkin MJ, Vajapeyam S, Mulkern RV, Warfield SK, Huppi PS, Butler SC, Conneman N, Fischer C, and Eichenwald EC. Early experience alters brain function and structure. Pediatrics 2004; 113: 846-857.

Anderson DR, Bryant J, Murray JP, Rich M, Rivkin MJ, Zillmann D. Brain imaging-an introduction to a new approach to studying media processes and effects.  Media Psychology, 2006;8: 1-6.

Rivkin MJ, Newburger J, Wypij D, Bellinger D.  White matter injury causes a consistently found pattern of persistent cognitive and motor dysfunction in long-term survivors of dTGA surgical correction.  Manuscript in preparation.

Almli CR, Rivkin MJ (corresponding author), McKinstry RC and the Brain Development Cooperative Group. The NIH MRI study of normal brain development(Objective 2):  Newborns,infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.  NeuroImage, 35;308-325: 2007.

Leppert IR, Almli CR , McKinstry RC, Mulkern RV, Pierpaoli C,  Rivkin MJ, Pike GB, & The Brain Development Cooperative Group. T2 Relaxometry of Normal Pediatric Brain Development. Jour Magn Reson Imaging, 29;258-267:2009.

Yoon U, Fonov VS, Perusse D, Evans AC; Brain Development Cooperative Group(RivkinMJ). The effect of template choice on morphometric analysis of pediatric brain data. Neuroimage, 45; 769-77:2009.

Lange N, Froimowitz MP, Bigler ED, Lainhart JE; Brain Development Cooperative Group MJ). Associations between IQ, total and regional brain volumes, and demography in a large normative sample of healthy children and adolescents. Dev Neuropsychol. 2010;35:296-317. doi:10.1080/87565641003696833.

Fonov V, Evans AC, Botteron K, Almli CR, McKinstry RC, Collins DL and the Brain Development Cooperative Group (Rivkin, MJ). Unbiased average age-appropriate atlases for pediatric studies. Neuroimage, 54; 2011: 313-327.

Bernard TJ*, Rivkin MJ*, Sholz K, de Veber G, Kirton A, Gill JC, Chan AK, et al. Emergence of the primary pediatric stroke center: impact of the Thrombolysis in Pediatric Stroke Trial. Stroke. 2014;45 ; 2018-2023.  doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.004919. (* co-first authors)

Rivkin MJ, deVeber G, Ichord RN, Kirton A, Chan AK, Hovinga CA, Gill JC, Szabo A, Hill MD, Scholz K, Amlie-Lefond C. Thrombolysis in pediatric stroke study  Stroke. 2015 Mar;46(3):880-5. doi: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.114.008210.

Fullerton HJ, Hills, Elkind MS, Dowling MM, Wintermark M, Glaser C, Tan M, Rivkin MJ, Titomanlio L, Barkovich AJ, deVeber GA.  Infection, vaccination, and childhood arterial ischemic stroke: results of the VIPS study, Neurology, In Press

Fullerton HJ, Hills, Elkind MS, Dowling MM, Wintermark M, Glaser C, Tan M, Rivkin MJ, Titomanlio L, Barkovich AJ, deVeber GA.  Infection, vaccination, and childhood arterial ischemic stroke: results of the VIPS study, Neurology, 2015;85:1459-1466. doi: http:/​/​dx.​doi.​org/​10.​1212/​WNL.​0000000000002065.

Watson CG, Asaro LA, Wypij D, Robertson RL, Newburger JW, Rivkin MJ. Altered gray matter in adolescents with d-transposition of the great arteries.  J Pediatr, 2016;169:36-63. doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.09.084.

Lehman LL, Watson CG, Kapur K, Danehy AR, Rivkin MJ. Predictors of stroke after transient ischemic attack in children. Stroke, 2016;47:88-93. doi:10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.009904

Rivkin MJ, Amlie-Lefond C, Dowling MM, Bernard TJ. Guidelines for urgent management of stroke in children. Pediatr Neurol,2016; 56:8-17.

Bernard TJ, Amlie-Lefond C, Dowling MM, Rivkin MJ. Preparing for a pediatric  stroke alert. Pediatr Neurol, 2016;56:18-24.

Amlie-Lefond C, Rivkin MJ, Friedman NR, Bernard TJ, Dowling MM, deVeber G.The way forward: challenges and opportunities in pediatric Stroke.  Pediatr Neurol, 2016;56:3-17  Doi:10.1016 /j.pediatrneurol.2015.10.021

Bellinger D, Watson C, Rivkin MJ, Robertson R, Roberts A, Stopp C, Dunbar Masterson C, Demaso D, Wypij D, Newburger J.   Neuropsychological statu  and structural brain imaging in adolescents with single ventricle who underwent the Fontan procedure. JAHA, In Press.

Professional History

I am both a pediatrician and a child neurologist, and my practice specializes in children with cerebrovascular disorders and stroke. I completed residencies in pediatrics and pediatric neurology, followed by a fellowship in neurology at Boston Children's Hospital -- broad training that allows me to treat the whole child.

I founded and direct the Stroke and Cerebrovascular Center at Boston Children's Hospital. This program, novel at its inception at Boston Children’s Hospital, brings together care for these children from clinicians in the disciplines of neurology, hematology, psychiatry, neuropsychology, neuroradiology, neurosurgery, interventional neuroradiology, occupational therapy and physical therapy. In addition, we instituted a fellowship to accompany this new program, which is designed to train pediatric neurologists to evaluate and care for children who have stroke and cerebrovascular disorders.

We are excited to have created Boston Children's Hospital's acute response team for pediatric stroke known as the "Stroke Stat" system. This important service is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to assess and treat children who present with symptoms of acute stroke at Boston Children’s Hospital. This system of evaluation is designed to assess these patients rapidly in order to determine if they can be treated with  tissue plasminogen activator or intravascular treatments that have greatest efficacy when instituted early and accurately.

I also established and direct the Neurology Intermediate Care Unit, the only one of its kind. My service provides neurological consultations to patients in affiliated intensive care units, including the NICU and the cardiology ICU. Additionally, I am an attending physician for in-patient general neurology, intensive care neurology and neurologist of the week services. I am experienced in the management of increased cranial pressure, cerebral perfusion and neuroprotection.

To schedule an appointment: Call 617-355-2758 or Request an Appointment


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

Boston Children's Hospital 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115 617-355-6000 | 800-355-7944