Dr. Cigdem Akman Leads Child Neurology at Columbia
Cigdem Akman, MD, has been named Chief of Child Neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. An expert in child and adolescent epilepsy, Dr. Akman has served as Director of the Pediatric Epilepsy Program since 2010 and was named Interim Chief of the Division of Child Neurology in 2017. With this formal appointment, Dr. Akman continues the exceptional leadership she has demonstrated over the past year in driving the overall expansion of the division’s clinical, research, and education programs.
“I am truly honored to lead the Division of Child Neurology,” says Dr. Akman, an Associate Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics in the Department of Neurology at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons. “My goal is to ensure that we provide the most advanced treatments available to address the full spectrum of both common and complex pediatric neurological disorders. Through our recent and ongoing recruitment of talented physician-scientists in key areas of need, including autism and learning disabilities, pediatric neuroimmunology and multiple sclerosis, pediatric movement and sleep disorders, and translational genomics, we are well-poised to take child neurology services at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital to the next level.”
Under Dr. Akman’s leadership, the division has already expanded its outpatient practice to include two new locations, at 21 West 86th Street in Manhattan and 155 White Plains Road in Tarrytown, New York. In addition, plans are underway to expand pediatric epilepsy and child neurology inpatient services at NewYork-Presbyterian Lawrence Hospital in Bronxville, New York.
“Currently, there are only a few centers providing pediatric epilepsy surgery in New York City, and we are one of them,” explains Dr. Akman. “What makes our program unique is the level of engagement and expertise offered by our multidisciplinary team of pediatric specialists, all of whom are committed to a highly personalized, compassionate approach to care. With our expansion into Westchester County, we hope to offer families in the tri-state area more treatment options, including access to less invasive, cutting-edge techniques for hard-to-treat epilepsy and other neurological disorders.”
About Dr. Akman
Dr. Akman, who was born in Ankara, Turkey, graduated from Ankara University School of Medicine. “It was my father who first encouraged me to consider becoming a doctor. I always trusted his judgment and listened to his advice. I still do,” says Dr. Akman. “Going to medical school turned out to be the best decision I could have made. In medicine, every day brings a different challenge but also different opportunities to help others.”
Starting out in internal medicine, Dr. Akman quickly realized she was drawn to pediatrics. “When you are treating a child, it’s very much a team approach with the family,” she says. “Understanding their needs, gaining their trust, and collaborating on the decision-making all require much more in-depth connections.”
Dr. Akman came to the United States to continue her medical education, completing her residency in pediatrics and neurology with special qualifications in child neurology at State University of New York. She subsequently completed a fellowship in clinical neurophysiology and epilepsy at Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School. “What’s rewarding about pediatric epilepsy is the impact you can have,” says Dr. Akman. “By making timely diagnoses and choosing the right medications, treatment methods, and surgical options, you truly have the ability to change the course of someone’s life.”
Dr. Akman joined the Division of Child Neurology at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in 2003, where she participated in clinical education and patient care until 2008. Between 2008 and 2010, Dr. Akman served as the Director of Clinical Epilepsy Research at Texas Children’s Hospital-Baylor College of Medicine. Dr. Akman returned to NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital in 2010.
Dr. Akman is a member of multiple national organizations, including the Child Neurology Society and the American Epilepsy Society, and her work on the diagnosis and treatment of childhood-onset epilepsy has been widely published in peer-reviewed journals.
“Over the years, I have learned that success in medicine requires not only hard work, but also empathy and patience,” adds Dr. Akman. “Listening to the concerns of our patients and their caregivers, understanding their needs, and observing their progress are essential to accomplish our goals in medicine.”