2021 CNS-PECN Training Director Award

Miya Asato, MD

Profile written by Patricia Crumrine, MD

Miya Asato, MD

Miya Asato has been the glue that has bonded child neurology residency and neurodevelopmental residency programs at the University of Pittsburgh for many years. Her energies, administrative skills, and willingness to be creative have been some of the skills that have facilitated the growth of these residency training programs over the years. 

Miya was born and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. She and her sister were the daughters of parents who were born in Japan, and migrated to Hawaii during WWII. Education was important to both of her parents. Because of this drive, they migrated to the mainland and to Trenton. Her father was an organic chemist whose achievements were in the field of agricultural chemistry, and her mother was an educational professional. She graduated from high school, going on to Tufts University where she received a BS in occupational therapy. She worked as a therapist prior to applying to medical school; it was during this time that she became fascinated with brain plasticity, and decided to pursue a career in medicine. 

Miya completed a Post Baccalaureate program at Goucher College prior to entering Jefferson Medical College, graduating cum laude in 1995. She completed a Pediatric Residency (1995-1998), and a Child Neurology Residency (1999 –2002) at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh under the direction of program directors Dr. Dena Hofkosh (Pediatrics) and Dr. Nina Schor (Child Neurology). From 2002-2005 she completed a Post-doctoral Clinical Research Fellowship at the Western Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Pittsburgh, supervised by David Brent, MD and Beatriz Luna, PhD. She joined the child neurology faculty in 2005 as an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Psychiatry. She became Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Associate Professor of Psychiatry in 2013, and Associate Professor in Clinical and Translational Science in 2014. She was appointed as Professor of Pediatrics at the University School of Medicine in 2018.

In 2007 she became the Program Director for the Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Residency and in 2009, Associate Director for the Child Neurology Residency Program, and Associate Director for the Neurocognitive Program at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh. She was boarded by the American Board of Pediatrics in 1998, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in Neurology – with Special Competence in Child Neurology in 2004, recertified in 2015; and by the American Board of Neurology and Psychiatry – Neurodevelopmental Disabilities in 2007 and recertified in 2015.   In 2011 she was appointed as Co-Director of the LEND program at the University of Pittsburgh, and in 2017, as the Director of LEND.

Miya’s many awards are testaments to her teaching and mentorship skills over the years and include the Jeffrey S. Farkas Memorial Pediatric Intern Teaching Award from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (1996), Pediatrics Primary Care Award from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (1998), Fellow of the Year Award from Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (2002), John Merck Fund Summer Institute on the Biology of Developmental Disabilities (2004), NINDS Research Career Award (K23) (2005), NIDA Young Investigator Invited Poster Session and Travel Award (2005), Adelyn Stroup Pediatric Epilepsy Lectureship, Johns Hopkins University (2010),  AAN Donald M. Palatucci Advocacy Leadership Forum Advocate (2014), Philip Troen, MD, Excellence in Medical Health Sciences Award, UPSOM (2014, and AAN Transforming Leader Program 2017. She has been named as a Best Doctor in Pittsburgh Magazine.

Miya has been an active educator both to professional learners, to other educators and to parents and patients. At University of Pittsburgh Medical School level she has been active in curriculum development and educational leadership at divisional, departmental and medical school levels,  participating in clinical competency committees for child neurology and neurodevelopmental disabilities; graduate medical education committees at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), Co-organizer and Moderator for the GME leadership conference, Judge for 2016 Medical Education Day of the University School of Medicine. As an educator she taught Advanced Physical Examination Skills Course, Clinical Neuroscience Clerkship, has been a PBL facilitator for MS1 students, provided seminars on Diversity to MS1 students, lectures on Area of Concentration “Cognition and The Developing Brain in Pediatric Epilepsy,” “Transition to Internship,” and “Focus on Disabilities” as Co-Director. Other Pittsburgh University teaching has been to Dental Students and in the School of Rehabilitation and Health Sciences, lectures in the Pittsburgh School of Education (applied Psychology). She participates in resident teaching in the Departments of Pediatrics, Psychiatry, Neurology and Child Neurology. At the lay level, she has been an active supporter of the Epilepsy Association of Western/Central Pennsylvania and the Epilepsy Foundation of America, serving on their professional boards and providing lectures for lay audiences.   

She has served as a mentor for many medical students who have gone on to complete Child Neurology or Neurodevelopmental Disabilities training programs, and joined child neurology faculties throughout the country. Her mentorship extends to a wide group of learners that include not only medical students, but students in applied developmental biology, school of nutrition, and child neurology residents. Her skills as a mentor include the ability to help the learner to develop an organized plan of approach to a problem, and a realistic plan for accomplishing the plan within a reasonable time frame. She is always there for the mentor when needed and provides insight and support as needed. 

Miya has been successful in achieving funding from HRSA for the LEND program at the University of Pittsburgh, from HRSA and NIMH. In addition to her many professional and educational duties, she finds time to participate on the editorial boards of Epilepsy and Behavior, and Journal of Pediatric Epilepsy; as an ad-hoc reviewer for a variety of medical and professional journals; and as a scientific reviewer for a number of organizations and foundations. She serves her community as a Medical Advisory Board Member for the Epilepsy Association of the Western/Central Pennsylvania region, and the University of Pittsburgh as a Local Advisory Board Member for the Office of Child Development, the UPMC Children’s Hospital, as an Ethics Committee consultant. She also serves on several local volunteer boards in the Pittsburgh Community. 

Miya’s dedication to the education of trainees at all levels and types of training exemplifies the traits of a superb educator. Her parents’ goal, which was to provide excellent training for themselves and their children, has been successfully achieved with the work that Miya has accomplished. As she finishes her time at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh, she will continue her work at Kennedy Krieger Institute.

Miya has had the support of her husband, George, and their two children, Sam and Laura. In addition, the entire family provides support to the pediatric, child neurology, and neurodevelopmental disability residents and their families during their time in Pittsburgh. They and their children Sam and Laura are active in the community and their neighborhood. They are often seen as a family walking the streets and park trails in the East End of Pittsburgh and buying ice cream at a local store in the area. Congratulations Miya on a job well done and continuing!