Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Radha Giridharan, MD

Profile written by Harvey Bennett, MD; Yasmin Khakoo, MD, FAAN, FAAP; Rajeshwari Mahalingam, MD; and Sakkubai Naidu, MD

photo of Radha Giridharan, MD

Throughout her illustrious career, Radha Giridharan, MD (“Dr. Giri”) has combined clinical expertise, excellence in teaching and a humanistic approach to the care of patients. Her clinical skills were honed by two excellent neurologists, Drs. Joseph Marcus and Mahendra Somasundaram. In addition, Radha was mentored by some of the giants of pediatric and adult neurology – among them are Drs. Arthur Rose, Joseph H. French, Henryk and Krystina Wisiniewski, and Joan and Roger Cracco. Dr. Giri is a superb clinician – from her ability to connect with pediatric patients of all ages, to the methodical way in which she examines children, to the thought process behind localization, differential diagnosis and workup.

After fellowship, Radha joined the faculty at SUNY Downstate and has cared for the children of Brooklyn, a population who has often felt the negative impacts of healthcare disparities. In 2010, she helped found the non-profit organization, The Brooklyn Children’s Society of SUNY Downstate which supports supplemental health care programs for underprivileged children in the borough of Brooklyn.

The impact she has had in the field of Pediatric Neurology is far-reaching and extends beyond the individual patients she has taken care of directly. Her influence is felt in the medical students and pediatrics residents she inspired to pursue Child Neurology as a specialty through the many pediatric neurologists that she has mentored and trained throughout her career who are taking care of children across the country.

Radha has mentored more than 40 fellows over her career. Some of the more prominent Downstate and Brooklyn Hospital alumni that were her fellows include Dr. Andrew Mower at Nemours Children’s Health in Philadelphia, Dr. Kapil Arya at Children’s Hospital of Arkansas in Little Rock, Dr. Christian Ionita at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Dr. Namrata Shah at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Dr. Charuta Joshi at UT Southwestern, Dr. Priyamvada Tatachar at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and Dr. Sagarika Nallu at USF in Tampa.

Radha is known to be unflappable and a great sport. She is a beloved and admired figure at the annual Child Neurology Society (CNS) meetings. Over the last forty years, since her first meeting in Hanover, New Hampshire in 1979 as a fellow in pediatric neurology at SUNY Downstate, she has been a regular attendee. Radha has also developed a niche in mentoring young Pediatric Neurologists of Indian Descent (PNID or APNI). She relays that at a CNS meeting in the mid 80’s she and Dr. Saku Naidu looked around and saw just two other pediatric neurologists of Indian descent. They decided to have a luncheon and so was launched the annual PNID dinner that has taken place now for so many years. It generally takes place on a Wednesday or Thursday night at a local Indian restaurant in the host city. There are over 130 names on Radha’s invite list and many honorary APNI attend as well. Roger Larson attended, and President emeritus Phillip Pearl has promised to attend an upcoming dinner. It appears that PNID (APNI) have become a substantial percentage of our Society. She participated in a terrific CNS webinar for AAPI month in June 2022 and was interviewed by previous CNS executive director Roger Larson in 2021.

Radha’s concern for humanity goes beyond clinical medicine. Since 1985 she has been leader and active member of Heart and Hand for the Handicapped (HHH), an organization that supports programs for handicapped children in India and the U.S. ensuring that their medical and social needs are being met through funding programs for children with developmental disabilities and autism as well as polio vaccination programs, eyesight restoring surgeries to name a few.

This giant of Pediatric Neurology comes from humble beginnings. She was born in South India to a nurturing mother and a father who was in the military. Due to his career, the family had to move frequently. Radha relayed that her father decided that she would be a physician and so it was. She attended Sri Venkateswara Medical College. Admiration for her excellence in clinical skills and teaching began early. She was a brilliant medical student who was awarded a ‘Gold Medal’ for Best out Going Medical Student in India with Honors in Physiology, Forensic medicine, Gynecology & Surgery. In the United States she was also appreciated as an outstanding attending in the Deportment of Pediatrics at Brooklyn Jewish hospital (1982), Brookdale Hospital, Brooklyn, N.Y (1987, 1990), Attending of the year Brooklyn Hospital NY (1996) and Maimonides Hospital (2000). She was given a Certificate of Appreciation for “Outstanding service and dedication at SUNY Downstate University in Kings County Hospital (2007). At a national level, she was recognized with the “Teacher Recognition Award “ from the America Academy of Neurology and A.B. Baker section on Neurologic Education – AAN Annual Meeting, April 2009.

In 1972 she was married to Dr. Swaminathan (Giri) Giridharan. Giri had been accepted to a residency in Internal Medicine in Brooklyn, NY, and when their daughter was 6 months old, the young family moved across the oceans and began their sojourn in the United States.

Radha and Giri have two children, Varsha and Sivaswami (Siv). Varsha followed in her parents’ medical footsteps and is a Family Physician. She and her husband, Karthik, live in Chicago where they are raising their 2 sons. Siv is a Solution Manager at AIM Specialty Health and also lives in Chicago with his wife, Cecilia, and their 2 young children. Giri continues to practice Internal Medicine and Endocrinology in Brooklyn as he has done for the last 40+ years.

Radha also has many hobbies. Among them, reading and travel are her favorites. Places she has visited include China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Egypt, Israel, Tanzania, and many European countries. She frequently visited her mother in India. Radha and Giri also have traveled to see the Olympics (Lake Placid, Los Angeles, and Atlanta) and several international tennis tournaments (US Open and Wimbledon).

Radha’s love affair with the borough of Brooklyn, its children, Downstate Medical Center, and the field of Child Neurology, never stops even in semi-retirement. Her keen mind and big heart continue to push forward. We are proud to have her as a friend, colleague, and mentor. She is a credit to the field of Pediatric Neurology, to the Society, and to the world at large.