Welcome from the Program Director and Division Chief

Dear Candidate,

Thank you for your interest in the Child Neurology Residency at UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, ranked among the top children's hospitals in the country by U.S.News & World Report. We are proud to offer our five-year joint program with the Department of Pediatrics. We hope that you have the opportunity to visit and get to know our program.

Let us take this opportunity to highlight key elements:


The pride and strength of our division is its culture.  We are a team working together in service of our patients, learning together every day and supporting each other, always.  We are a community of 27 full-time physician faculty, 13 neurology or neurodevelopmental disability fellows, 8 pediatric residents in the categorical CN or NDD program, two research PhD faculty members with independent basic science lab programs, ten nurse practitioners/physician assistants, a genetic counselor, fifteen nurses, eleven EMU nurses, nineteen EEG technicians, nine secretaries, 2 schedulers, a social worker, a psychologist, a LCSW Behavioral Health Specialist, a research nurse, a residency coordinator and a division manager who all take responsibility for the journey we share.  The culture has been built by exceptional continuity of leadership from the inception of the division in 1972 and is bedrock solid. The traditional values of this program include total commitment to patient care, love of the intellectual community whether learning or teaching, scholarship, and respect for our patients, students, colleagues, and each other.  We are a diverse group in age and background and each spirit is cherished.  We love to laugh.

There is a strong family feel to the division and its alumni, which is evident as we bump into each other in small groups around the hospital or when current and past members gather in large groups at neurology meetings.     


The greatest strength of the program is the large and diverse patient population that it treats. Children’s is the only children’s hospital in the region, serving 3.5 million people and providing envelope-stretching care in every medical and surgical specialty. The intensive care units — Neonatal, Pediatric, and Cardiac — are large and busy. The University of Pittsburgh is known internationally for its care in transplant, oncology, and neurosurgery. As a child neurology resident, you will care for every type of primary neurological disease and every neurological complication of systemic disease. You will often be the first responder and your decisions matter.  I guarantee that when you graduate from this program, you will be comfortable addressing any patient who comes to your office and consulting on any patient, no matter how sick, in the hospital. You won’t always know the answer but you will know how to approach and think about the problem.

Faculty support

The program will support you. Unquestionably the greatest contributor to your education is yourself — your curiosity, interests, reading, researching, discussing, “googling” and thinking — but the faculty will always be present to help, guide and nurture. We will stand with you and take responsibility for the patients. We appreciate your skills, ambitions, hard work and care and hope to share our love of children, families, medicine and neurology with you. We are always available to discuss immediate problems, long-term goals and the wonders of child neurology.

” We will enthusiastically support your unique journey to becoming a skilled, creative and caring child neurologist” Jenna Gaesser, MD Residency Program Director of Child Neurology and NDD

Teaching program

The teaching and clinical program is structured and comprehensive. Our philosophy is to have about 50% elective time through all 3 years of neurology training so that each resident can choose a path that best meets their individual goals.  Neurology residency will begin with 3 weeks of didactic sessions to prepare you for your role as a specialist, 9 months doing various rotations and electives in adult neurology and 2 months fully dedicated to research. The nervous system is more clearly defined in the mature organism, and this year of experience will teach you to recognize the modular elements of the nervous system as they function and malfunction in adult humans.  The next two years will consist of approximately 11 months leading the inpatient child neurology team, inpatient consult service, outpatient and emergency room service, neonatal service or on-call service.  There will be approximately 13 months of elective and vacation time. You will see the nervous system as it matures from fetal to adult life. Metamorphosis will unfold in front of your trained eyes.  Trust the process.  By the second half of your final year, you will be a great child neurologist eager and ready to function independently.

Electives are available in most neurological subspecialties and are exceptionally strong: neuroradiology, EEG, EMG, epilepsy, muscle and peripheral nerve, movement disorders, stroke, neurosurgery, physical medicine and rehabilitation, psychiatry, neuro-ophthalmology, neuro-otology, neuropathology, neuro-oncology, sleep medicine, genetics and developmental medicine. The Child Neurology Division has specialized programs in epilepsy, headache, pseudotumor cerebri, ketogenic diet, metabolic and mitochondrial disease, tuberous sclerosis, neurofibromatosis, Fragile X syndrome, neuro-genetics, Tourette’s syndrome and movement disorders, autoimmune CNS disease, stroke, neonatal neurology, muscular dystrophy and neuromuscular disease. We are one of seven national centers with a program in neurodevelopmental disabilities and have a specialized center for autism. Accredited post-residency fellowships include Electrophysiology with emphasis in either EEG or EMG, Epilepsy, Headache, Sleep, Stroke and Neuro-Critical Care.  There are scheduled educational sessions each day of the week and one day featuring the clinical conference in child neurology. This conference presents a current patient with a difficult problem to the entire faculty for analysis and is a superb teaching opportunity. The program is large, with many faculty members eager to teach and four residents per year with whom to share experiences and call. Three faculty members with sub-specialty expertise in Stroke, Headache Medicine and Neuro-Immunology work part of their time in adult neurology and will be available to help and advise you during your adult rotations.  We believe in shared governance among the faculty and the residents. All educational and resident decisions are made by the education committee which consists of several faculty members and a resident elected by the resident group. Education Committee meetings are open to all faculty and residents.  Everyone has an equal voice and participates in all decisions which are generally made by consensus. The growth and well-being of our residents is one of our core missions.


UPMC is one of the great academic institutions in the United States. Almost every clinical program is outstanding and on the cutting edge of medical diagnosis and therapy. The library is supported by millions of dollars in federal grants each year and puts every journal, book, protocol and database on your computer for immediate access at no cost. The university houses an enormous amount and variety of top-tier basic and clinical research in every imaginable field and is generous in supporting young investigators. If you want to pursue research, you will find a scientifically exciting niche here and the university will support you. The university and our program will provide you with every opportunity to grow intellectually, scientifically and clinically. You will choose the direction but we will help with the means. You will begin research rotations in your first year and then can choose to continue research projects during elective time in the second and third years.


Finally, let’s discuss the city. Pittsburgh has small-town virtues with some big-city advantages. If you have a family, this is a wonderful place to raise children. There are beautiful neighborhoods, lovely parks, excellent day care, good schools, and special programs in music, art, and sports for children. More subtly, family is the major value here and you will quickly find a community of young parents who want to share the experience with you. If you are single, the medical center and the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon University and many smaller colleges, business, and legal communities are vibrant and filled with bright, intellectual, and ambitious young people like yourself. The faculty, residents and students at the medical center are an incredibly rich mixture of people from all over the world and every social background. The city has major league sports teams and world-class theater, art, and music. The city is filled with people of every age jogging, biking, paddling, and playing basketball, racquetball, squash, tennis, golf, and every other sport. In 2017, Pittsburgh ranked #8 on CBRE's list of tech talent momentum market. Millennials accounted for 25.3 percent of Pittsburgh's urban population, the second-largest concentration of the markets in the report. The report stated: "Pittsburgh, the city of three rivers, now has a trifecta of top tech talent, a growing base of millennials, and a strong and vibrant commercial real estate market, which is now home to a number of powerhouse tech companies as well as smaller start-ups gaining national recognition." In April 2022, Bloomberg news reported that Pittsburgh was named the most affordable city for housing: Most Affordable Cities to Buy Home: Pittsburgh, Oklahoma City, Rochester - Bloomberg. In fact, many residents buy homes when they arrive and enjoy them throughout residency and fellowship.

We are ready to welcome you into our wonderful culture: warm, exciting and fun.  Education is our mission and our passion.  We are thrilled to meet the next generation of child neurologists and take this journey with you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact any of us by e-mail or by phone.




Jenna M. Gaesser, MD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Child Neurology and Child Development
University of Pittsburgh
Program Director, Child Neurology Residency 
Program Director, Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Residency
E-mail: jenna.gaesser@chp.edu



Ira Bergman, MD, PhD

Professor of Pediatrics, Neurology and Immunology
Ronald L. and Patricia M. Violi Endowed Chair in Child Development 
University of Pittsburgh
Chief, Division of Child Neurology and Child Development
UPMC Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh
E-mail: ira.bergman@chp.edu