About Our Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery Program

The Brain Care Institute (BCI) at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is made up of a world-class team of specialists. These physician-scientists work with specialists from many other divisions and support services to break new ground in the diagnosis, treatment, and research of pediatric neurological disorders and in the education of new generations of specialists.

Multidisciplinary Care

There is not a one-size-fits all approach to addressing pediatric neurological disorders and conditions. That’s why our approach at the Brain Care Institute includes physicians with expertise in:

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Genetics
  • Neurotrauma
  • Neonatal and pediatric neurocritical care
  • Neuro-imaging
  • Neuro-ophthalmology

The Brain Care Institute also offers an extensive network of support resources that reach far beyond the neurosciences. These pediatric specialty areas include:

  • Audiology
  • Behavioral health
  • Occupational therapy
  • Otolaryngology
  • Orthopaedic surgery
  • Plastic surgery
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation medicine
  • Social work

The core services of the Brain Care Institute integrate a wide range of disciplines to treat the most common disorders, as well as some of the rarest. Not only do the neurology clinics work with their colleagues in neurosurgery, these well-established clinics offer many support resources, such as social services, behavior modification, neuroimaging specialty areas, and more.

Our core neurology services and clinics include:

  • Comprehensive Mitochondrial and Metabolic Clinic: This is the region’s leading clinic for diagnosis and treatment of mitochondrial and metabolic disorders in infants, toddlers, adolescents, and transitioning young adults.
  • Epilepsy Center: The nationally recognized, Level 4 Epilepsy Center at Children’s Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh Epilepsy Center offer a multidisciplinary team that provides diagnosis, treatment, and high-quality care for children with epilepsy. When appropriate, the Epilepsy Center works closely with the Epilepsy Surgery Program to provide children with the best care possible.
  • Fragile X Center: The Fragile X Center provides evaluations, treatment, and support for children with Fragile X syndrome and their families. Fragile X is one of the most common genetic causes of mental disabilities, and our center’s experienced team offers the knowledge and understanding parents need to manage their child’s condition.
  • Headache Clinic: For children suffering from chronic headaches, the clinic provides neuroimaging and diagnosis, counseling, and ongoing pain management support.
  • Ketogenic Diet Clinic: The ketogenic diet is a treatment option for refractory epilepsy, a type of epilepsy that does not respond to seizure medicines. The clinic is staffed by physicians and experts that fine-tune your child’s diet to their medical needs.
  • Movement Disorders Clinic: Providing diagnosis and treatment to children with a variety of movement disorder conditions, this multidisciplinary clinic works closely with the Movement Disorder and Spasticity Clinic under the Neurosurgery branch of the Brain Care Institute.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU): As a part of the neurotrauma and neuro–critical care function of the Brain Care Institute, our NICU offers comprehensive care to the tiniest patients. Providing around-the-clock supervision, our team of neurologists and neuroimaging experts specialize in newborn medicine.
  • Neurofibromatosis Clinic: Neurofibromatosis (NF) is a common genetic condition characterized by the growth of benign tumors called neurofibromas. At the NF Clinic, we’ve assembled a team of neurologists, geneticists, ophthalmologists, neurosurgeons, and other related specialists, who handle more a complete scope of issues and treatment options for children with NF.
  • Neuroimmunology Clinic: Physicians at the Neuroimmunology Clinic are experts in understanding the delicate relationship between the nervous system and immune system.
  • Neuromuscular Disease: Neuromuscular diseases affect the lower motor neurons of the nervous system, which may include muscles, nerves, or the junction between muscles and nerves.
  • Pediatric Stroke Program: The Brain Care Institute offers a comprehensive program for the diagnosis, education, treatment, and prognosis of children with stroke and their families.
  • Program for the Study of Neurodevelopment in Rare Disorders (NDRD): This research-intensive program works to provide clarity in diagnosis, cutting-edge treatment, and education to children with some of the rarest neurodegenerative diseases and their families.
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Clinic: Tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is a genetic condition characterized by seizures and tumor growth in vital organs. At the Brain Care Institute’s TSC Clinic, our multidisciplinary team can help educate and support patients and their families, and decide on the best treatment plan for managing symptoms medically.

A Research Leader

UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh is one of the fastest growing research programs in the United States. Michael Bell, MD, director of Pediatric Neurocritical Care and Neurotrauma in the BCI, and a colleague at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health, recently received a $16.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to lead an international study evaluating treatments for pediatric traumatic brain injuries.

From developing breakthrough vaccines to treating complex brain tumors to discovering new medications for epilepsy patients, our physician-scientists are at the forefront of brain care research. New understanding of the genetic, molecular, cellular, and organizational basis for diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves, and muscles helps the Brain Care Institute offer exceptional care that is driven by research. These advances are helping to improve the diagnosis and treatment of many previously incurable disorders of the nervous system.

Through cutting-edge medical treatments and innovative clinical trials, our research has helped:

  • Improve treatments and therapies
  • Expand the use of minimally invasive surgical techniques
  • Shed new light on movement disorders, nerve tissues, childhood cancers, head injuries, and more

In 2012, Ian F. Pollack, MD, chief, Pediatric Neurosurgery, received the prestigious Mahaley Clinical Research Award from the National Brain Tumor Society for first-of-its-kind study of peptide vaccine that showed evidence of immunological response in children with gliomas. Children’s PICU and NICU participated in an international clinical trial that studied the effects of hypothermia therapy in the treatment of children with traumatic brain injuries.

Pediatric Neurology and Neurosurgery Publications from UPMC