Bringing CNS Members Together to Make Children’s Lives Better


Councilor for the East

Yasmin Khakoo, MD, FAAN, FAAP

I am honored to be considered for the Child Neurology Society Councilor for the East position for 2023-2025. While some of my colleagues are winding down their careers, I am just hitting my stride. I am the child of 2 immigrant physicians who worked in underserved NYC hospitals, and modeled a culture of service to others, which I have strived to emulate. I am a board-certified pediatrician, child neurologist and neuro-oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Weill Cornell Medical College (WCMC). I care for children and young adults with primary brain tumors and have focused my career on onco-neurology: the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of neurologic complications in patients receiving cancer treatment. While I have been recognized for clinical excellence annually since 2013 by Castle Connolly, I am more honored to be seen as a trusted resource for medical colleagues and others. I have been recognized as an educator and received the 2021 WCMC Pediatric Neurology Faculty Teaching Award from the neurology residents. I have developed leadership expertise in faculty development, especially for women and underrepresented physicians, APPs and trainees. I have gained national recognition as a leader within the: 1) Child Neurology Society [Co-chair of the Scientific Selection and Program Planning Committee {SSPPC} from 2020-2024]; 2) American Academy of Neurology [one of 12 recipients of the Women Leading in Neurology fellowship in 2019; inducted as a fellow of the AAN in 2021; and the AAN Topic Chair for Child Neurology abstract selection 2020-present]; 3) United Council on Neurologic Subspecialties as a neuro-oncology examination question writer [2019-2023] and as one of 2 CNS representatives on the certification council [2019-present]. In 2022, I became Editor-in-Chief of Pediatric Neurology and continue to increase diversity of board members, authors, reviewers, readers, and article subjects. I recently learned that I am the recipient of the 2023 CNS Arnold P. Gold Humanism in Medicine Award. I ma truly humbled by this honor

I have been heavily involved in clinical research projects in neuro-oncology and opened my first IRB protocol in 2020: a registry for patients with large congenital melanocytic nevi and/or neurocutaneous melanocytosis to identify risk factors for developing CNS melanoma []. I am the MSKCC PI of the Boston Children’s Hospital led Pediatric-Onset Opsoclonus Myoclonus Ataxia Syndrome (POOMAS) program.

My most rewarding experiences within the CNS are many, from my first platform presentation as a resident in 1993, symposia in 2017 & 2021, and more recently, working to help CNS become more inclusive, not only of gender, race, and ethnicity, but also rank, institution and career type. As co-Chair of the SSPPC, I worked with the team to increase transparency of the proposal and abstract process: we give points for diversity and provide feedback to proposal submitters both successful and unsuccessful. Many child neurologists have participated in the AAN leadership programs and as Councilor I will encourage formation of similar mentoring networks within CNS. The recently created Junior member programming is essential for succession planning, and thankfully applicants to child neurology residency programs are at an all-time high.

Challenges facing child neurologists include transition of care, advocacy (for patients and medical staff), and training. As Councilor I will build and maintain CNS connections with other organizations including the AAN, American Epilepsy Society, and the American Academy of Pediatrics to harmonize transition of care models. Our most active CNS members have developed webinars and workshops and I will support Special Interest Group development for this topic. The Child Neurology Foundation is already leading in this space and I will work with the other board members to help maintain this connection.

I will advocate for recruitment and retention of our workforce, prioritizing our mental and physical health to ensure outstanding medical care for our patients and their caregivers. To promote generational harmony, I will develop workshops/webinars on team building and professional development. In 2021 I gave a CNS symposium talk on the impact of caregiving on medical education to encourage trainees and junior faculty to open lines of communication around starting a family and caring for elders. Division chiefs in attendance received tools on supporting faculty and trainees and the session was well received. Other advocacy issues include gun control, preservation of reproductive health rights and LGBTQI+/gender issues for patients and medical teams. The CNS Annual Meeting 2023 includes a symposium on sexual and gender minority healthcare in child neurology. Training is another challenge we all face in medicine. I will continue to encourage us to reach out to students as young as school age to pursue careers in child neurology. We need to make medical education more accessible to all, especially underrepresented minorities by increasing loan forgiveness programs and continue to tailor Child Neurology training based upon the trainees’ goals. Physician scientists and general child neurologists have different needs during training. We must encourage research focused trainees to apply to the Child Neurologist Career Development Program-K12 so that we better understand the neurobiology of disease and develop even more new therapies for our most vulnerable patients. The Professors and Educators of Child Neurology is one CNS program working to maintain high quality training. I will encourage the use of technology in curriculum development. It’s an exciting time to be a Child Neurologist and I hope you will consider me for the job of Councilor for the East.