I became interested in working with children with disabilities during high school, when I volunteered at a summer camp for children with special needs.
I worked with a child with down syndrome and became fascinated by how the brain works and by what wasn't working properly. On an emotional, personal and social level I developed a deep respect for the abilities of children with special needs and the families who help care for them.
I majored in psychology with a focus in neuroscience. During college I worked with Best Buddies, a group that matches students with young adults with intellectual disabilities, and greatly enjoyed these relationships.
From this interest, I trained in pediatric neurology. I became fascinated by, and developed a specialization in, autoimmune diseases of the brain and spinal cord. I realized that often children and teens with these conditions were greatly in need of cohesive, coordinated care.
My practice specializes in pediatric neuroimmunology, which involves autoimmune conditions of the brain and spinal cord in children and adolescents. The most well-known condition within this field is multiple sclerosis (MS), but there are many other conditions, including opsoclonus myoclonus syndrome (OMS), autoimmune encephalitis, and central nervous system vasculitis, among others.
As a resident in both pediatrics and pediatric neurology at Boston Children's Hospital, I became fascinated clinically by demyelinating diseases (such as MS), a group of neuro-immune conditions in which the immune system damages the protective covering of the nerves called myelin. After finishing of my five-year residency, I completed a two-year fellowship in MS, becoming one of the first physicians nationwide with formal training in both pediatric neurology and multiple sclerosis.
Prior to my training, most children who presented with symptoms suggestive of demyelinating diseases would be referred out from Boston Children's Hospital to adult centers. I saw an unmet need to make great progress and help these children, and created Boston Children's first Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis Program.
With this base, I also started to see many children with other autoimmune disorders of brain and spinal cord. I was able to apply the knowledge and lessons I had learned in multiple sclerosis to these other conditions.
As an international expert in the care of children with these conditions, I have built my team from a small clinic into a large multidisciplinary program. My program includes nurses, nurse practitioners, psychologists, neuropsychologists, educational specialists and multiple consultants to address all of the medical, psychological, educational and social needs of the patients and families we see. In addition, I direct the hospital's inpatient neurology service and was in 2014 selected as the Department of Neurology's Teacher of the Year by the residents.