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Pediatric Neurocritical Care Faculty

Alicia Au, MD






Hülya Bayır, MD

Dr. Bayır is amongst the leading clinician/scientists in the country, with both clinical and basic research interests in the detection and mitigation of brain injuries. After completing her training both in Turkey and at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in Pediatrics and at the University of Pittsburgh in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Dr. Bayır was appointed to the faculty of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC in 2003. Throughout her brief career, she has earned numerous honors for her clinical care, her own research projects and mentoring others in their pursuits. Among these honors is (i) the best intern award from her residency program, (ii) 3 different national awards from the Society of Critical Care Medicine for her own work and (iii) 4 different awards from national organizations for her mentees. Shortly after joining to the University, she was appointed Associate Director of the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research and Associate Director of the Center for Free Radicals and Antioxidant Health.  In 2009, she assumed the role of Director of Research for the Pediatric Critical Care Division.

In 2009, Dr. Bayır began to lend her considerable neuroscience expertise on the recently formed Neurocritical Care Service in the PICU of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. In this capacity, she brings her expertise on pathophysiology of neurological dysfunction in combination with her expertise on free radical and oxidant stress to bear for children with traumatic brain injury, status epilepticus, cardiac arrest and more than a dozen other conditions. She contributes greatly to the educational and service goals of the Neurocritical Care Service and uses her basic science expertise in a number of projects, including the ongoing Phase I/II antioxidant trial for traumatic brain injury.


Robert S. B. Clark, MD

Dr. Clark has been a leading clinician/researcher in neurological critical care for more than 2 decades. After his training in Pediatric Critical Care Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh, Bob joined the faculty of the Division in 1995 and immediately had success in developing models of traumatic brain injury and cardiac arrest within the Safar Center. In some of his first endeavors into clinical research, he worked with the Department of Neurological Surgery at UPMC Presbyterian to determine the role of adenosine in cerebral blood flow regulation with Dr. Walter Obrist. He has maintained constant NIH-funding since 1996 and is a leading researcher in pediatric TBI and cardiac arrest. He is on the Editorial Board of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Journal of Neurotrauma and many other academic journals along with serving as leadership within these organizations. Most recently, he was the Neurological Section Editor of the textbook Pediatric Critical Care Medicine by Furhman and Zimmerman.

In 2009, Dr. Clark was named Division Chief of Pediatric Critical Care at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Amongst his first decisions was to form the Neurocritical Care Service within the ICU. This service, the first of the country as an intensivist-led clinical team for neurologically-injured children, has approximately 400 admissions per year and conducts cutting-edge clinical research on several neurological conditions. Within the Neurocritical Care program, Dr. Clark plays indispensible roles as mentor, advisor and skilled clinician. On a daily basis, he provides superior care for children on the service, mentors fellows and young faculty through research projects and supports the infrastructure of the team within the hospital administration. His current research interests with the Neurocritical Care Service include the completion of a translational trial of novel antioxidant therapies for severe traumatic brain injury (the ProNAC study) and developing effective neurological markers to track disease severity for children with neurological conditions.

Ericka L. Fink, MD

Dr.  Fink is one of the up-and-coming stars in pediatric neurocritical care. After receiving undergraduate and graduate training in biomedical engineering and microbiology, Dr. Fink received her medical school education at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. Since that time, she has completed her pediatric and pediatric critical care training at the University of Pittsburgh. During her training, she developed a translational model of asphyxia cardiac arrest in immature rats that is currently being used extensively to test novel therapies. After being awarded several awards for her clinical care at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC, she was then awarded a National Research Service Award in neurocritical care to advance her research. Over the next several years, she transitioned her research career into completing cutting edge clinical research for children with neurological illness. She is an active member of the international panel of experts who develops recommendations for cardiopulmonary resuscitation in children. She has been an active Scientist in the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research for years and was recently appointed as an Assistant Professor of the Clinical and Translational Science Institute of the University of Pittsburgh. Her current focuses are centered on maximizing neurological function of children after cardiac arrest and understanding the burden of neurological disease in children across the world.

Dr. Fink has been an active participant in the newly formed Neurocritical Care Service in the PICU of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. Dr. Fink is currently conducting a number of clinical trials on children after cardiac arrest, in an attempt to understand (i) the efficacy of the therapy, (ii) the optimal duration of hypothermia, (iii)the role of neuromarkers and MRI on the prediction of severity of the injury. She serves as an attending on the service where her expertise in hypothermia and neurological injuries is utilized by the hundreds of children admitted to the service each year.

Patrick M. Kochanek, MD

Dr. Kochanek has dedicated his career toward advancing the care of the brain injured. Upon his arrival to the University of Pittsburgh in 1986, he brought a focus of neurological injury to experimental brain injuries and to clinical brain injuries within the Pediatric Critical Care Division. In 1994, he assumed the leadership of the International Resuscitation Research Center, which he subsequently renamed the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research in honor of the late Peter Safar. As the Director of this Center, he has been a pioneer in developing experimental models of traumatic brain injury and cardiac arrest that have direct clinical relevance, including adding common secondary injuries to standard TBI models and developing novel models of blast injury to improve care for combat casualties. He has been on many editorial boards, but his largest contribution has been as the only Editor-in-Chief for the journal Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.  In this capacity, he has shepherded the field of Pediatric Critical Care for more than a decade and continues to have an enormous influence on the care of children at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.

Within the Neurocritical Care program, Pat plays an indispensible role as mentor and advisor. Given his vast clinical and basic research experience, he is a critical teacher of residents, fellows and faculty members who participate on the service. His wisdom and ideas are sought out to develop new clinical studies and to modify clinical standards so that maximal neurological outcomes can be achieved for children on the service. He leads a weekly case review (termed “Safar Rounds”) as well as a weekly journal club that touches on clinical and experimental topics. He has been the Principal Investigator for the T32 training grant in Pediatric Neurocritical Care for the past decade and has been responsible for training over 30 faculty members who now practice throughout the country.

Dennis Simon, MD

Dr. Simon’s basic science and translational research is thematically centered around neuroinflammation. As a Scientist at the Safar Center for Resuscitation Research, his first project as principal investigator was to evaluate the therapeutic potential of minocycline in a model of pediatric traumatic brain injury (TBI), and to determine whether effects were mechanistically linked to neuroinflammation. He found that treatment with minocycline inhibited nuclear to cytosolic translocation of high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1), reduced activation of microglia, and attenuated neuronal death after TBI compared with vehicle treatment. He presented his work the Society of Critical Care Medicine Congress, and received the In-Training Award for this work. Dr. Simon has also conducted translational studies including exploring the expression of the inflammasome component NLR Family Pyrin Domain Containing 3 (NLRP3) in cerebrospinal fluid from children after severe TBI; and examination of heavy and light chain ferritin in pediatric sepsis. Dr. Simon has also published several thematically-linked review articles and chapters and was a contributing author to the CDC Health Advisory on Acute Flaccid Myelitis. In 2016, Dr. Simon received the inaugural Young Investigator Award from the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Trust to fund his ongoing research. Working under the mentorship of Dr. Robert Clark, his current interests include 1) T-lymphocyte mediated acute and chronic neuroinflammation after acquired brain injury (traumatic, ischemia), 2) links between microbiome on neuroinflammation and recovery from acquired brain injury, 3) development of novel therapeutic strategies for children with acquired brain injury, and 4) emerging pediatric neurologic diseases.

Dr. Simon was hired as full time faculty in 2015 and attends on the Neurocritical Care Service in the PICU of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC. He has received numerous awards for his teaching and clinical care.  His administrative responsibilities include Associate Director of the Pediatric Critical Care Fellowship Program and he is the liaison from critical care to the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Benedum Trauma Program.