I first became interested in the developing brain, neurological illness, and its impact on children and their families in 1990 when I volunteered as a 15 year old at summer camps for children with neuro-developmental disabilities. This was one of many experiences which inform my medical practice as I try to view each patient as a unique whole person in the context of their family and community.
Following an undergraduate degree in neuroscience, medical school and general pediatrics residency, I discovered my specific focus in pediatric multiple sclerosis, demyelinating disorders and neuro-immunology in 2004 during my residency in pediatric neurology by caring for patients with these conditions. At that time, such patients were cared for by many different providers in the Department of Neurology and were sometimes sent to adult facilities, where their care not only lacked a pediatric focus, but also lacked unity among multiple providers. I thought we could do better.
I therefore undertook a formal two-year fellowship in pediatric multiple sclerosis and neuro-immunology, becoming one of the first few physicians in the United States with this unique combination of training. In 2008, I founded and developed two novel programs within the Department of Neurology at Boston Children’s Hospital: the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders Program and the Pediatric Neuro-immunology Program. Both of our programs are dedicated to comprehensive, multi-disciplinary care of children and adolescents with these disorders, ranging from the newest immunomodulatory treatments to educational advocacy. As Director of these programs, I lead a team that includes a second MS fellowship-trained pediatric neurologist, two nurses, two nurse practitioners, neuropsychologist, psychologist, educational consultant, social worker, and specific consultants in other sub-specialties such as ophthalmology and urology. We meet weekly as a team to discuss our patients to develop comprehensive care plans that address all of their needs.
In addition to clinical care, our Programs are leaders in research in this field. In 2012, the Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis and Related Disorders Program was recognized as a member within the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Network of Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Centers through which we participate in many important research projects in pediatric MS and related disorders. We also have active research projects in opsclonus myoclonus ataxia syndrome, autoimmune encephalitis, and other areas.
Finally, I am committed to training the next generation of leaders in the field. In addition to teaching Boston Children’s Hospital pediatric neurology residents about pediatric MS and neuro-immunology, I have also mentored several residents from other pediatric hospitals who have come here to learn more about these conditions. I also serve as a mentor for pediatric neurologists pursuing post-doctoral training in pediatric MS and neuro-immunology.