Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Ann Tilton, MD

Profile written by Robert S. Rust, MD

Ann Tilton, MD

Ann Henderson, born in Kingsville in far southwestern Texas, grew up right along the fence line of the famous King Ranch, then and now the largest ranch in the United States. She graduated magnum cum laude from her home- town school, Texas A&M, with a Bachelor of Sciences in biology, a minor in chemistry and certification to teach those subjects at the high school level. She completed bench research that led to publication of her first original paper, concerning medication-induced toxic hepatic mitochondropathy in 1975. her medical degree was granted by the University of Texas medical branch at Galveston with high honors, in 1978. During medical school she decided to become a pediatrician; Dr. John Calverly first attracted her to the study of neurology. her interest in basic investigation continued, including bench studies that resulted in publication of an original paper on genetic control of drug metabolism and a review article on genetic influences on the treatment of early-onset diabetes. Dr. Henderson graduated from medical school with high honors and was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha.

Internship and residencies in pediatrics and in neurology/child neurology followed at Children’s and Parkland hospitals of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in Dallas. Dr.Warren Weinberg was an important influence there, drawing her attention to the interesting and important indistinctness of the boundary between neurology and psychiatry. Jay Petegrew’s laboratory provided her with the opportunity to continue bench neuroscience during her child neurology residency. Roger Rosenberg encouraged her interest in heritable neurologic diseases, upon which topic she was to write several lengthy and well-organized chapters. While in Dallas, Dr. Henderson married Dr. Greg Tilton, a cardiologist. She completed her board certification in pediatrics in 1984 and her certification in neurology with special qualifications in child neurology in 985. She achieved additional ABPN certification, in clinical neurophysiology, in 1997. Although her original neurology/child neurology certification was without term, Dr. Tilton would elect, as a good example, to become formally re-certified in 2010.

Dr. Tilton joined the faculty of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School in 1983 with an additional appointment at the Scottish Rite hospital. In 1985 she moved to join the faculty of the Louisiana State University in New Orleans. She was simultaneously appointed Co-Director of the Rehabilitation Center of the Children’s hospital of New Orleans, a post she has maintained ever since. She has, in addition, established and directed that Center’s Comprehensive Spasticity Program. At LSU Dr. Tilton fell under the influence of Caroline Duncan, a legendary figure whose clinical sophistication was admixed with a strong foundation in neuropathology. Dr. Tilton became the Section Chair of Child Neurology at LSU in 1988 and Program Director in Child Neurology at Tulane University School of Medicine. She has supervised the training of eleven child neurologists. She advanced to the rank of Professor of Neurology in Pediatrics in 2002. Dr. Tilton is Co-Director of the Muscular Dystrophy Clinics of the Children’s hospital of New Orleans.

Despite their very busy professional careers, Drs. Ann and Greg Tilton have raised a family of four children in New Orleans: Lauren (currently completing her PhD in American Studies at Yale), Elizabeth (currently a pastry chef in New York), Gregory (a historical preservationist), and Scott (an undergraduate at UVA interested in a career in the foreign service).

Dr. Tilton has combined broad clinical and academic interests with a strong devotion to studying and implementing in practice the diagnosis and management of heritable or acquired developmental disabilities, particularly the cerebral palsies. She has formed particularly strong professional connections with Mauricio Delgado and Barry Russman, but has also participated with many other individuals in broad collaborative studies of these conditions. To date, Dr. Tilton has published 34 original full-length peer-reviewed papers, nearly half of which concern various aspects of the management of spasticity and cerebral palsy. Other papers consider brain malformations (5), genetics (4), hIV (3), myopathic and neuropathic conditions (3), electrophysiology (2), movement disorders (2), child abuse (1), along with numerous other topics – including medical education. She participated actively in analyzing the workforce issues of child neurology. Together with collaborators including those individuals that she has trained, she has written twenty-four excellent chapters, more than half of which concern various aspects of the “whole-person care of individuals with cerebral palsies. Dr. Tilton was the Guest Editor for an issue of Seminars in Pediatric Neurology concerning pediatric neurorehabilitation, and she has served on the editorial boards of the Journal of Child Neurology and Neurology.

Dr. Tilton has served on the Executive Committees of the Professors of Child Neurology, the American Society for Neurorehabilitation, and the Child Neurology Section of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). In 2011 she became Vice-Chair of the AAN Child Section. She has contributed richly to the educational activities of the AAN. She has been Director of the AAN Dystonia Workshop Committee from 2005 to the present. She is a member of the Counsel on Children with Disabilities for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Dr. Tilton was elected Councillor from the South of the Child Neurology Society in 1997, served as Secretary-treasurer from 2002 to 2004 and was elected President Elect in 2004, subsequently serving a two-year term as President from 2005 to 2007, and Past President in 2007-8. Dr. Tilton has been very active in the AAP and served from 2002-2009 on the National Council for Children with Developmental Disabilities. Dr. Tilton is well known for her interest and expertise in evaluation and treatment of the many disabilities that may be experienced by individuals with infantile-onset cerebral palsies or as the consequence of subsequent childhood traumatic head injuries. She is on the Research Review Committee of the NIH study section that constitutes the national task force on motor disorders in childhood and has participated in grant reviews on similar subjects for South Africa. Dr. Tilton has served on numerous committees for the school of medicine and for her hospital as well as state committees.

Dr. Tilton served for seven years on the Residency Review Committee for Neurology of the ACGME. During three of those years she held the position of Vice- Chair. She has a long history of serving as an oral examiner for part II of the ABPN and has held the position of Neurology Director from 2008 to the present. She acknowledges the support and influence that she has received in these efforts from Marvin Fishman, Alan Percy, and Michael Johnson. Ann has long been the very model of the manner in which the oral examination of candidates for certification in neurology and child neurology ought to be undertaken. She has exemplified in this task, as in all others, extraordinary energy, respect, knowledge and compassion that, according to Jim Bale, characterize her approach to life. Ann has manifested a remarkably practical and unfailing sense of what constitutes the right thing to do both personally and professionally. She credits john Bodensteiner with having provided, early in her professional life, an indelible example of the importance of such a firm foundation or touchstone for this critical element of professional life.

Dr. Tilton is an extraordinarily gifted teacher. Aside from her broad knowledge of child neurology and her exceptional knowledge of developmental disabilities, she is able to teach something of even greater importance. She provides perspective and engenders caring and sensitivity concerning the complex issues that surround the lives of individuals with developmental disabilities and their families. She exemplifies the manner in which the child neurologist may effectively be aware of the social and emotional contexts within which individuals with motor and intellectual difficulties must function. She demonstrates the manner in which assessments may provide opportunities to alleviate discomforts, present opportunities for improvement of function and for assurance of dignity. Dr. Tilton is someone who clearly recognizes and understands the struggles and disappointments experienced by individuals with developmental disabilities, along with their families. But she also notices, understands, and celebrates how much the lives of disabled individuals and of their families may be enriched by the support and interventions that are aimed at making the best of such capacities as are available. her approach is not one that is glum and pitying – it is one that engenders an appropriate degree of hopefulness. Dr. Tilton’s unfailing cheerfulness and practicality are remarkably uplifting. This is especially the case because she has a remarkable capacity to discern opportunities for making a difference. She has, in addition, an exceptional knack at enlisting others to similarly attempt to “make a difference” in the lives of others.

Marvin Fishman describes her as “an iconic figure” with a remarkable ability to be committed to and focus upon professional obligations, and to do so to an exceptional degree. These were exemplified in heightened, dramatic fashion by the way in which she dealt with the aftermath of hurricane Katrina. in short order, with the help of Gary Clark, she transferred her base of operations to houston, returning to New orleans as soon as it was practical to do so. She efficiently fulfilled any and all professional obligations she could during the aftermath of Katrina as if it were “just another day in the office.”

There is one final essential and remarkable feature of Dr. Tilton’s character and personality noted by David Mandelbaum in his letter of recommendation for the Hower Award – one he may not feel comfortable repeating from the podium on Saturday morning lest he embarrass her in his introduction. “While i recognize that it is not a criterion for the Hower Award,” he wrote, “the fact that everyone who knows Dr. Tilton loves her is at least worth mentioning.”