Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


M. Richard Koenigsberger, MD

Profile written by Robert S. Rust, MD

M. Richard Koenigsberger, MD

Richard Koenigsberger was born in Guatemala City, Guatemala in 1933. he attended Stanford University, achieving a Bachelor of Science degree in chemistry in 1955. he then attended the University of Chicago Medical School graduating in 1959. A one-year rotating internship was followed by two years of pediatric residency at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York. Interestingly, and typical of Dr. Koenigsberger’s strong commitment to provide help where it was needed most, he interrupted his professional education to be among the first to perform service as a Peace Corps volunteer physician, serving in Togo, West Africa. Dr. Koenigsberger completed an NIH fellowship in neonatal neurology in 1964-1965 and training at the Centre des Rechersches Neonatales (CRN) in Paris. At the CRN Clinique Baudeloque, Dr. Koenigsberger studied neonatal neurophysiology under the famous mentor, Mme Dreifus-Brisac. he was subsequently able to apply his rare expertise in examination of the neonate, ultimately publishing in 1973 an important paper characterizing the developmental changes in neurophysiology that distinguish myoneural junction function in the neonates of different gestational ages. Dr. Koenigsberger completed an NIH-sponsored fellowship in neurology and pediatric neurology between 1965 and 1968 at Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center.

At Columbia, Dr. Koenigsberger served as the co-principal investigator with Dr. Sydney Carter of neurophysiological studies of high- risk full-term and premature newborns funded by the United Cerebral Palsy Association. Dr. Koenigsberger’s research allowed him to qualify as principal investigator for three successive UCP grant renewals. he remained a member of the faculty of Columbia University from 1968 to 1980, rising to the rank of Associate Professor of Clinical Neurology and Pediatrics. From 1980 to 1999 Dr. Koenigsberger served as associate professor of neurosciences and pediatrics at UMDNj-Nj Medical School, New York/New jersey. Tenure was granted in 1982. Dr. Koenigsberger returned to Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2000, where he is currently clinical professor of neurology and pediatrics. his academic career has been marked by the considerable leadership he has exerted in the care of children, including his election as President of the Tristate Child Neurology Society (New York/New jersey/ Connecticut).

Dr. Koenigsberger has served as Director of Pediatric Neurology at the Harlem hospital in New York, co-director of the neonatal high risk follow-up clinic at Baby’s hospital in New York, Director of Pediatric Neurology at the University hospital Newark (1980-1999), Director of Pediatric Neurology at the United hospitals, New York/New jersey (1980-1997), and Director of Pediatric Neurology at the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center (1980-1997). he has held consultative appointments at the Clara Maass hospital, the St. Barnabas Medical Center, and the Hackensack Medical Center, all in New jersey. For the past 12 years he has been director of the pediatric neurology clinic at the New York Presbyterian hospital. his honors have included Teacher of Year at the Harlem hospital (1972-1973), the Ramon Cajal Prize for Outstanding Contributions to the Ibero-american Academy of Child Neurology (2000), and appointment to the status of professor emeritus at the UMDNj in 2001. Dr. Koenigsberger has been a very active and exceptionally effective teacher and mentor for individuals training in child neurology in New York and New Jersey since 1967. his academic credentials are further represented by his appointment and service as an examiner for the ABPN. In addition to his ward and clinic teaching he has proven an exceptional teacher of neonatal electroencephalography to neurology residents. As noted, he has actively directed the Columbia- Presbyterian Pediatric Neurology Clinic and has served as attending in neonatal neurology, teaching activities involving medical students, neurology and pediatric residents. Dr. Koenigsberger’s devotion to teaching is legendary. he has shared his expertise throughout the United States as well as in Mexico City; Maracibo, Venezuela; Guatemala City, Guatemala; Puerto La Cruz; Tegucigalpa, honduras; Cancun, Mexico; Avila, Spain; Quito, Ecuador; Costa Rica; Toledo, Spain; Vina del Mar, Chile; Valencia, Spain; and Cartagena, Colombia and Bogota, Colombia.

Dr. Koenigsberger is the author of 42 original papers. Particular emphasis is placed on neonatal neurology (18), genetic diseases (12), muscle and nerve (7), infectious illnesses with particular interest in HIV (6), inheritable metabolic conditions (5). Dr.Koenigsberger was one of the first child neurologists to identify and describe congenital HIV infection. A series of papers authored by Dr. Koenigsberger and others – notably Leon Epstein – on the clinical and laboratory aspects and pathophysiology of this condition were described in meticulous detail in an excellent series of papers published between 1985 and 1998. These papers have been cited with remarkable frequency, ranging from 35-300 times. To place this in perspective it must be borne in mind that most published papers are never cited and very few receive more than 10 citations. Dr. Koenigsberger produced a number of highly cited papers on genetically determined neurological diseases. These included detailing the clinical manifestations of mitochondrial DNA depletion (88 citations), of the effects of paternal imprinting on abnormalities of chromosome 5 (34) and on risk for spina bifida (37). he described the relationship between the risk for childhood stroke and hLA-B51 expression (31). Dr. Koenigsberger has written twenty-four chapters and two review articles the subjects of which are similarly distributed to the interests represented in his original publications.

Dr. Leon Epstein emphasizes Dr. Koenigsberger’s exceptional skill in neonatal neurological examination as well as the diseases to which the newborn is subject. he notes as well Dr. Koenigsberger’s unstinting compassion for children and for their families. he further comments that in the more than 30 years that he has observed other child neurologists, none can match Dr. Koenigsberger’s ability “to walk into the room of a sick child and immediately put that child at ease”. Dr. Koenigsberger’s qualification for the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Child Neurology Society is on the firm foundation of lifetime achievement. his contributions have been broadly distributed. Dr. Doug Nordli has describes him as a “remarkable and charismatic man who has had a very large impact on patients, trainees and colleagues.” All of those who have nominated him for this award describe him as a meticulous individual with an enormous amount of information to convey, especially as regards neurological care of the neonate. his style of teaching is interspersed with humorous and educational anecdotes. he has proven over time to be reliably protective of colleagues who are attempting to enrich and enlarge their own careers. he is a person whose inquisitiveness is insatiable and whose attitudes in general are broad minded. Dr. Mike Painter asserts that no one embodies more core values of child neurology than Dr. Koenigsberger. Dr. Darryl De Vivo observes that the selflessness of Dr. Koenigsberger and his unceasing desire to be “useful” are marks of his great value to our community as a “consummate academician” – an individual who has a particularly strong nurturing influence on trainees and young faculty members. According to Dr. DeVivo, few of us have greater skill in the practice of neonatal neurology than Dr. Koenigsberger due to his remarkable rich and complimentary combination of fundamental and practical knowledge. Moreover, in his capacity as mentor, Dr. Koenigsberger possesses the rare quality of gravitas that irresistibly draws other’s attention to what he has to say.