Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Doris Trauner, MD

Profile written by Robert S. Rust, MD, MA

Doris Trauner, MD

Doris Trauner majored in biology at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland, where she received honors at graduation. During college she was awarded an NIH-Public Health Service Summer Research Fellowship. Three years of ensuing training at Case Western Reserve, supported by an NIH Graduate Training Fellowship, earned her a Master’s degree in Physiology for research completed in the Department of Psychiatry. She attended medical school at the Medical College of Virginia and was awarded her M.D. in 1972. During two years of medical school she also held the position of Research Associate and carried out investigations in the Department of Physiology. Her decision to become a neurologist was influenced particularly by the examples provided by professors Ron David, Roger Rosenberg, Cary Suter, and Hooshank Kooshmano. Her decision to specialize in child neurology was due in particular to the influence of Ron David. Dr. Trauner trained in pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego, followed by a year of residency there in neurology. This was followed by a two year Fellowship in Pediatric Neurology at the University of Chicago under Peter Huttenlocher.

The combined influence of Ron David and Peter Huttenlocher strongly confirmed her intention of entering a career that would continue to include neuroscientific investigations. Indeed, her first research award, from the Chicago Pediatric Society, was presented during her child neurology training. She received excellent training in epilepsy and neurometabolic diseases from Peter Huttenlocher, areas of concentration that would form major parts of a career that would include bench and clinical neuroscience and quite a considerable dedication of time to medical education. Other areas of subspecialization have included cognitive development of children, behavioral neurology, electroencephalography, and intractable epilepsy. Professor Trauner received ABPN certification in Neurology with Special Competence in Child Neurology in 1979, and was initially certified in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in 2001with re-certification in 2011.

Professor Trauner rose from Assistant to Associate Professorship in Neurosciences and Pediatrics 1983. In 1985 she was elevated to Associate Professorship in Neurology. She has served as Adjunct Professor of Psychology and San Diego State University from 1995 to the present. Dr. Trauner was also elevated to Professorships in the Departments of Neurosciences and Pediatrics in 1988, titles that were amended to Distinguished Professorships of Neurosciences and Pediatrics in 2014. Given her career-long highly successful devotion to providing and, where possible, improving the practice of clinical neurology, along with her profound devotion to teaching, mentoring, research, and publication, it is noteworthy that Dr. Trauner has held a remarkable number of important administrative positions as well. She was Director of the Learning Evaluation Clinic at UCSD from 1977-1985 and Chief of the UCSD Department of Neurosciences, Division of Pediatric Neurology from 1979-2014. She served two terms as Vice Chair of the UCSD Department of Neurosciences (1985-1990, 1993-2007). She has been Director of the Project in Cognitive and Neural Development at UCSD from 2003 to the present. She became the first woman to be elected as Chair of the School of Medicine in 2002.

During her highly successful career, Dr. Trauner has received many awards. Very early in her career (1976) she received the Chicago Pediatric Society Research Award. Awards that have followed at UCSD include the Neurosciences and Clinical Teaching Faculty Award 1980-81, the Award for Outstanding Service to the Department of Neurosciences, the 1984 Senior Faculty Teaching Award, and the Neurosciences Award for 1996-97. She has been listed in Best Doctors in America every year from1996 to 2013. In 2006 she was recognized as a Distinguished Alumna at the College of Notre Dame of Maryland. In 2008 she was awarded the Pritchard Lectureship of the University of Toronto. In 2009 she was awarded the Bruce Berg Lectureship of the University of California San Francisco. In that same year she was recognized with San Diego’s Women Who Mean Business Award. She received the Lifetime Achievement Award of the National Reye’s Syndrome Association in 2010. In 2012 she was recognized as the Top Neurologist in La Jolla by International Association of Healthcare Professional. She achieved a place among the Top Doctors in America by US News and World Report in 2012. In that same year she was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha.

Dr. Trauner has competed successfully for 28 research grants from 1977 to the present, including: Easter Seals (1), American Cancer Society (1), March of Dimes (1), National Reye’s Syndrome Foundation (1), Stallone Foundation for Autism Research (1); and 10 NIH competitive grants for the study of various aspects of normal and abnormal aspects of neurodevelopment; she has served as PI, Co-PI, or Site PI for nine of these.

Given her exceptional leadership skills, fairness, and vision, Dr. Trauner has been greatly in demand throughout her career for services on important national and local committees, often assuming various senior leadership roles. The committees include two of the AAN, two of the AAP, and nine of the CNS, serving also a term as Councillor for the CNS from 1986-88. She has served on four Study Sections of the NIH and one of the Institute of Medicine. She has served on 16 university-wide committees of the University of California San Diego, including service as Chair of the Faculty Council. She has also served on 14 Departmental Committees, 16 Hospital Committees, and sat on the Medical School Board of Governors. She has taught eight medical school courses over varying intervals of 2-3 years. A particularly great commitment was made during each of three years to the Neuroscience course. A course entitled Evidence for Neuroplasticity was offered in 2010 with Dr. Trauner as the sole lecturer. Professor Trauner has served as a reviewer for 24 journals.

Dr. Trauner has sustained an extraordinary amount of effort as an educator at all levels. She is currently a mentor to three members of the junior faculty in her section. She has recruited and directed the training of 20 child neurology residents. She has also recruited and trained one Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Fellow. She currently sustains 12 adviserships for medical students. Over the years she has served as a thesis advisor for the Independent Study Projects for 47 medical students and the mentor for the summer research projects of 18 1st year medical students. She has been a member of the thesis committees for two senior medical students. She has been a member of the dissertation committees for 12 graduate students, variously from neurosciences, psychology, linguistics, or cognitive sciences. She was a member of Minor Proposition Committees for three neuroscience graduate students and was the postdoctoral research advisor for eight. She has been the Advisor to two individuals in the International Physician Master of Clinical Sciences Program. Professor Trauner has been the dissertation advisor to five graduate students, all of whom succeeded in having their advanced degrees conferred. She has quite successfully directed the Undergraduate Student Internships of 45 individuals, including seven individuals who completed successful Honors Theses. One neuroscience graduate student successfully completed a laboratory rotation with Dr. Trauner. Nine medical students have also successfully completed research electives with Professor Trauner, as have six neurology residents. Twelve high school students have done so as well.

During her career, Dr. Trauner has produced 151 original papers. She served as the first author of 33, the senior author of 47, and the sole author of 26 of these papers; she was thus the senior participant in nearly two thirds of them. The subjects of these original reports (the number of papers in each category are indicated parenthetically) include: effective facial expression after early brain injury (2), anticonvulsant toxicities (1), apraxias (2), Asperger syndrome (2), Autism (10), behavioral disturbances after early brain injury (1), block design error assessment after early brain injury (1), cardiac neuroregulation (4), cerebral maturation in adolescence (1), childhood post-stroke perceptual asymmetry, the effective approach to clinical judgement (1), CNS vasculitis (2), comparative efficacy of language impairment tests (1), corpus callosal volume loss after prenatal or postnatal stroke (1), cortical and subcortical brain development in normal children and adolescents (1), developmental visual perceptive errors (1), dialysis encephalopathy (1), disabilities produced by focal brain injuries (1), Down syndrome (1), dysprosodia after early brain injury (1), and epilepsy (8).

The subjects of additional original papers include free radical cerebral metabolism (1), heritable metabolic diseases (28), higher cortical function disturbances (9), imaging approach to mild traumatic brain injury, intracranial hypertension (2), intraventricular hemorrhage (1), learning disabilities, including selection of testing strategies (14), monoclonal antibody neurological toxicity (2), movement disorders (2), nephopathic cystinosis (6) , neurobehavioral disturbances (3), neurocognitive testing of anticonvulsant toxicity (1), neurodevelopmental disorders (2), neurogenic speech and language disorders, neurological intoxications (4), neuro-ophthalmology (4), neonatal stroke (21), childhood stroke (4), osteomyelitis (2), ethical aspects of “persistent vegetative state” (1), plasticity of developing brain (3), post-stroke cortical corpus callosal volume loss (1), prenatal cerebral injury pathophysiology and outcome (2), proprioceptive error testing (1), Rett syndrome (2), Reye syndrome (21), rickets (2), Schwachman-Diamond syndrome (1), speech disturbances after caudate nuclear injury (1), Syringomyelia (1), traumatic brain injury (3), uremia (1), verbal and non-verbal IQ disparity after childhood stroke (1), visual attentiveness testing (1), and Williams syndrome (5).

Professor Trauner has published two books as sole author: Childhood Neurological Problems: A Textbook for Health Care Professionals (1979) and Cystinosis and the Brain (2013). She served as a co-author of Neural Plasticity and Cognitive Development: Insights from Children with Perinatal Brain Injury. She has published 40 chapters from 1977 to the present, the subjects of which are similar to the subjects of her published original papers; she is the sole author of 29 of these chapters, the senior author of 8. In addition to many presentations at various neurological societies in North America, Professor Trauner has been invited to deliver 21 honorary and overseas lectures; the locations of these lectures include Leuven, Belgium (1), Sao Paulo, Brazil (1), Calgary, Canada (1), Montreal, Canada (2), Toronto, Canada (2), Victoria, Canada (1) Manchester, England (2), Walsall, England (1), Traunstein, German (1), Amsterdam, Holland (1), Dublin, Ireland (2), Bergamo, Italy (2), Lisbon, Portugal (1), Tarragano, Spain (1), and Valencia, Spain (2). Professor Trauner’s interests outside of medicine and neuroscience include, in addition to her family, reading, travel, aerobics, and music.