Department of Neurology | Our History

The history of the Department of Neurology at Boston Children’s is really the history of child neurology as an independent field. We were founded in 1929 by Dr. Bronson Crothers as “Ward 9,” the first dedicated space for child neurology at a U.S. children’s hospital.

Dr. Crothers went on to make landmark contributions to our knowledge about cerebral palsy, and our current neurologists and neuroscience researchers continue in his proud tradition.

Dr. William Lennox, seated right, with colleagues in the Seizure Unit, 1950s.

In 1944, Dr. William Lennox led the way in 20th century epilepsy care, establishing the first comprehensive pediatric Seizure Unit in the world. The Epilepsy Center remains at the forefront of pediatric epilepsy care and research to this day, through the successive contributions of Drs. Cesare Lombroso, Gregory Holmes, and, currently, Philip Pearl, MD.

Dr. Randolph Byers, our leader in the mid-20th century, was the first to link lead poisoning to long-term cognitive and learning disorders in children. His studies of spinal muscular atrophy, kernicterus (brain damage in newborns with severe jaundice), brain inflammation and other neurologic disorders inform much of our clinical understanding even today.

In 1963, the Department of Neurology was officially established, becoming the first such program devoted to children in the U.S. During Dr. Charles Barlow’s 27 years as chief, a program in neuroscience research established here at Boston Children’s, together with what is now called the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

In 1990, Dr. Joseph Volpe became chief. From 1990-2005 he fostered the development of specialized neurology programs, especially Fetal/Neonatal Neurology. He was key in developing a robust residency training program for child neurologists and recruited 20 new physicians.

In 2005, Dr. Scott Pomeroy became our Neurologist-in-Chief, bringing a commitment to high-quality clinical and laboratory neuroscience. Dr. Pomeroy has overseen the development of numerous specialty programs: brain tumor, headache, tuberous sclerosis, Sturge-Weber syndrome, Rett syndrome, stroke, brain injury/concussion, autism, neuroimmunology/multiple sclerosis, movement disorders and spinal muscular atrophy.