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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
Department of Pediatrics
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Pediatric Neurology Fellowship

The child neurology residency at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine has a long history of excellence in education. The division head, Leon Epstein, MD, has been in his current role since 1999. Joanna Blackburn, MD, is the residency program director. She previously served as assistant residency program director.

Three residents are accepted annually into a five-year categorical child neurology program that includes the standard three years of child neurology training, following two years of pediatrics residency training. Program graduates have moved on to begin academic subspecialty careers at top institutions and current trainees come to us from esteemed medical schools and residency programs across the country.


Block Rotation Schedule

Integration of the required 12 months of adult neurology component throughout the three years of training is a distinctive feature of this program. Approximately one half of the adult neurology training occurs during the first year and one quarter during the second and third years, respectively. A sample block schedule (PDF) is available for reference. This allows for a greater proportion of "senior" adult neurology rotations and outpatient experiences rather than the standard inpatient general neurology and stroke service. This provides a broader and more comprehensive education in adult neurology for trainees.

There are three inpatient child neurology clinical services at Lurie Children's. The trainee on the general service is responsible for all neurology admissions, floor consults and emergency room consults. This trainee is also responsive for the epilepsy service. A separate neurocritical care service is responsible for neurologic consultations in the PICU and NICU. Each service functions autonomously and has a separate resident/attending team so as to maximize efficiency and learning opportunities.

There are number of "specialty" rotations. A month of training is scheduled in neuromuscular neurology for the first and second years under the supervision of Nancy Kuntz, MD, and Vamshi Rao, MBBS. Similarly, all trainees spend a month during the second and third years learning to read EEGs. All trainees spend the month of September during their first year in a formal introduction to neurophysiology/EEG/EMG. All trainees take pediatric psychiatry during either their second or third year as well as pathology their third year.  

Extensive opportunities for elective rotations are offered thorough the three years of training. Electives comprise more than eight months of the 36 months of training. The electives are selected based on the trainee's interests and career goals. Established electives that are popular with our trainees include:

  • Genetics
  • Movement disorders
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Neuroradiology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Ophthalmology
  • Rehabilitation medicine/Shirley Ryan AbilityLab
  • Research electives (bench or clinical)
  • Sleep medicine


A wide variety of scheduled lectures and experiences are offered, as listed below. Some conferences are considered multidisciplinary and include a variety of levels of training and specialties, while others are focused solely on child neurology residents. The core lectures are protected and coverage is arranged for beeper call when on service.


Division Conferences

Epilepsy EEG Conference
Monday, 9 a.m.
Review of weekly EMU EEGs and clinical cases.

Child Neurology Lecture Series
Tuesday, 12 p.m.
Series of formal didactic lectures on specific topic based on educational curriculum.
Supervised by Joanna Blackburn, MD.

Neurobiology Program Interdisciplinary Talk Series
Second Tuesday of each month, 12 p.m.
Series of basic science lectures provided by Northwestern and visiting faculty.

Brain Tumor Board
Tuesday, 3:30 p.m.
Neuro-oncology/radiology/neurosurgery/pathology faculty.

Epilepsy Center Radiology Rounds/Surgery Conference
Wednesday, 7:30 a.m.
Internal discussion of the most challenging patients for the epilepsy center. Review and discussion of epilepsy patients that had MRI, functional MRI, SPECT Scans. Surgical planning.

Neurology Clinic Lectures
Wednesday, 12:15 p.m.
Casual talks provided by attendings in clinic covering variety of topics, including outpatient neurology, epilepsy, quality improvement and mentoring.
Supervised by Joanna Blackburn, MD.

Neurology Chief of Service Rounds
Thursday, 7:30 a.m.
Residents present cases from the inpatient service. Neuro-anatomic localization, differential diagnosis and interesting points from current literature are discussed.
Supervised by Joanna Blackburn, MD and Leon Epstein, MD.

Pediatric Neurocritical Care Conference
Third Thursday, 4 p.m.
Monthly topic review with multidisciplinary approach with ICU, Neurosurgery and Neurology.

Neuroradiology Conference
Thursday, 8:30 a.m.
Follows Neurology Chief of Service Rounds.
Supervised by Joanna Blackburn, MD, Leon Epstein, MD, and neuroradiology faculty.

Neurocritical Care EEG Review and Journal Club
Friday, 12 p.m.
Weekly EEGs shown and discussed. Literature-based review of pertinent clinical and scientific topics for NCC service.
Supervised by Joshua Goldstein, MD.

Hospital Conferences

Lurie Outcomes Review
Two times per month.
Formal, hospital-wide presentation of two to four cases with case management, morbidity, hospital systems, medical utilization, cost effectiveness and ethics discussed.
Supervised by Steven Krug, MD.

Pediatrics Firm Conference
Tuesday, 8 a.m.
Weekly case-based discussion with involvement of multiple medical services.

Pediatrics Grand Rounds
Friday, 8 a.m.
Rotating slate of clinical and research-oriented topics presented by faculty and invited speakers.


All trainees have the opportunity to select a research mentor depending on their area of interest. Residents may choose to implement an independent research project or participate in a faculty member’s research project. We also participate in the NIH R25 Research Training and Career Development grant program with two recent graduates completing this research pathway.

 Clinical Experience

Resident continuity clinic takes place every Wednesday afternoon. There are at least two full-time faculty attendings who attend each clinic and are there solely for education (they do not have their own patients on those days). The first Wednesday of each month is scheduled as epilepsy clinic and is staffed by epileptologists, while the third Wednesday is PICU follow-up clinic and is staffed by neurocritical care attendings. The second, fourth and fifth weeks are general neurology clinics and are staffed by a variety of child neurology attendings. Patients are assigned to individual residents rather than being "pooled" and residents have primary responsively for their care. Residents see patients from all socio-economic backgrounds, with a wide variety of presenting complaints and levels of complexity.

Subspecialty Services

The Division of Neurology has a wide variety of subspecialty centers. All of these centers, listed below, are extensively involved in resident education; trainees will accordingly gain great exposure to all areas

  • Epilepsy
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Neuroimmunology/Demyelinating Disease
  • Neurocritical care
  • Neuro-oncology
  • Behavioral neurology
  • Neurogenetics

 Requirements & Eligibility

Successful candidates will have an MD or DO degree by the start of the training program. In addition, they must meet the ACGME requirements to begin a child neurology training program.

 Application Process

Applications for the categorical (five-year) child neurology program are accepted through ERAS through Dec. 31. Applicants to the categorical child neurology program do not need to apply separately to the pediatrics residency program. Pediatrics residency interviews and child neurology interviews are held on consecutive days. Applications should contain a dean’s letter, transcript, USMLE scores and at least three letters of recommendations. At least one letter should be from a neurologist or child neurologist if possible.



Contact Us

Aurea Abad

Program Coordinator, Neurology Fellowship


aabad( at )

More Information


Further program details, including the housestaff manual and a sample training contract, are available on the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University site.

Diversity & Inclusion


Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine seeks to attract inquisitive, motivated fellows and is committed to providing them with every opportunity for success. We encourage a diverse and inclusive work environment that allows each trainee to achieve their personal goals.

For more information on Northwestern’s commitment to diversity, please see the Northwestern McGaw Underrepresented Residents & Fellows Forum and Feinberg School of Medicine Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Graduate Research Resources

We offer a wide range of resources, mentorship opportunities and training to help our fellows excel as physician-scientists. Explore all of the resources and hear from housestaff who are making research a major part of their career development plans.

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