Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Suresh Kotagal, MD

Profile written by Robert S. Rust, MD, MA

Suresh Kotagal, MD

Suresh Kotagal was born in India, where he completed seven years studying medicine and neurology. Two years of training in pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Michigan followed. Dr. Kotagal completed his fellowship in child neurology at St. Louis University in 1979, whereupon he was appointed to the faculty. In 1992, he founded the SLU Pediatric Sleep Disorders Program. He was to remain at SLU for two decades, rising to the rank of Professor of Pediatrics and of Psychiatry in 1996. Named Interim Director of the Pediatric Neurology Program at SLU in 1980, he became Training Director in 1983, serving in that position for 16 years. For ten years he also served as Director of the Child Neurology Clerkship and as a member of a large number of SLU’s administrative committees. While at SLU, he completed Fellowships in sleep disorders (Stanford, with ensuing board certification) and epilepsy (Bowman-Gray).

Dr. Kotagal’s participation in the CNS started in 1978. He organized a CNS Breakfast Symposium on sleep disorders in 2002. In 2011, he was elected to the CNS Board as Councillor for the Midwest Region. He has also served on the Legislative Affairs and International Affairs Committees, serving as Chair of the latter. Elected to the Professors of Child Neurology in 1984, he became Secretary-Treasurer in 2011. Dr. Kotagal served as an Examiner for the ABPN (1989-2008). Dr. Kotagal has served as Director of a number of MN Annual Meeting Courses, twice as Director of the Neonatal Neurology course. He became a Fellow of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine in 1992, serving on the Program and Nosology Committees and the Task Force for establishment of Practice Guidelines for Pediatric Polysomnography, chairing that committee since 2010.

In 2002 Dr. Kotagal joined the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, where he has served not only as a Consultant in Medicine and Neurology, but also in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. He served as Chair of the Mayo Clinic Division of Child and Adolescent Neurology for seven years. Since 2005, he has held a joint appointment in the Mayo Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care. Dr. He is also a member of the Pediatric Working Group on the International Classification of Sleep Disorders. In 201 0 he was appointed to the Panel on Neurologic Devices of the Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Kotagal has served in various Editorial capacities for six major journals and as a reviewer for sixteen.

Dr. Kotagal’s 75 peer-reviewed papers have garnered a total of 1,495 citations to date. Among the most highly cited are papers concerning characterization of sleep disturbances in children with autism spectrum disorder, or those with severe forms of cerebral palsy, psychiatric and other characteristics of children and adolescents with restless legs syndrome, childhood parasomnias, autonomic variations observed during sleep, cardiovascular disturbances associated with obstructive sleep apnea, pre teen narcolepsy, and the development narcolepsy cataplexy after Hl Ni encephalitis. Dr. Kotagal has published 36 book chapters on topics that include normal developmental changes in sleep; the relationship of sleep and sleep disorders to a wide variety of inherited and acquired neurodevelopmental, psychiatric, movement, intellectual, infectious, and other disorders to obstructive apnea, narcolepsy, hypersomnia; and various autonomic disturbances, such as postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome. In addition to the basic, structural understanding of sleep and rare disorders he has imparted to his colleagues, he has taught us as well about the relationship of the investigation and treatment of sleep disturbances to such common things as epilepsy, headache, the neonatal, childhood, and subsequent stages of life. He has published two superb books that consider in detail the nature of sleep in a broad variety of childhood neurological disorders, and another that reviews the characteristics and classification of sleep disorders. In each of these one immediately recognizes the skillful guidance that a master hand may exert in patiently and systematically enlightening us as to the nature, importance, and organization of his subject.

Dr. Kotagal’s capacity and willingness to serve as a mentor has been embraced by fourteen individuals. He has served as a Visiting Professor at fourteen Universities and has delivered 115 invited lectures at national or regional meetings. Chief among his many important contributions has been the leadership he has exerted in the very establishment of pediatric sleep disorders programs; his many contributions to the descriptions of sleep abnormalities in children and their association with a wide variety of other neurological processes, particularly periodic limb movements in sleep; and his demonstration that auditory evoked potentials represent an important element in the management of bacterial meningitis. His advocacy of that approach has made this practice a part of the standard of care or children with bacterial meningitis.

Dr. Kotagal’s teaching prowess has been widely noted throughout his tenure in St. Louis and at the Mayo Clinic, including four Excellence in Teaching Awards at the Mayo Clinic, as well as a separate award as an Outstanding Course Director. In 2013 he received the Excellence in Education Award of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. In 2014, he was named Pediatric Clinician of the Year by the Department of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine of the Mayo Clinic. The impact of Dr. Kotagal on those he has trained, his colleagues, his associates in a wide variety of settings ranging from regional to international has been remarkable. The depth of his knowledge, based on keen observation, his exceptional intellectual organization and keen desire to refine and elucidate every aspect of the mechanisms, effects, and amelioration of the broad range of sleep disorders that he has encountered has made of him a treasure to all the rest of us. Dr. Kotagal has shown us that in whatever areas of neurology we may have chosen to study and practice, we may encounter associated disturbances of sleep in quite a few of them. Dr. Kotagal has demonstrated the manner in which our systematic approach to recognition, diagnosis, and treatment of such problems may enable us to enhance our capacity to serve the needs of our patients and their families. He has also provided his students, residents, and colleagues throughout the world with a superb example of the capacities and character that constitute a model physician and teacher.