Tohma Morrison

Pioneering Neurological Research

Tohma Morrison
Pioneering Neurological Research

In 1972, Texas Children’s Hospital started a neurology clinic once a week for half a day – seeing about 20 patients a month. A few years later, in 1981, Drs. Marvin Fishman and Stanley Appel established an official neurology program. Today the Neuroscience Center has 13 specialty clinics and programs dedicated to providing the full continuum of care for the more than 34,000 patients we see annually.

Dr. Marvin Fishman with Dr. Huda Zoghbi in her lab. In 1999, Dr. Huda Zoghbi identified the defective gene, MECP2, that causes Rett Syndrome.

Dr. Marvin Fishman with Dr. Huda Zoghbi in her lab. In 1999, Dr. Huda Zoghbi identified the defective gene, MECP2, that causes Rett Syndrome.

#2  - U.S. News & World Report has ranked Neurology & Neurosurgery at Texas Children's Hospital as one of the best in the country.


Dr. Marvin Fishman set out to establish an exemplary child neurology section at Texas Children’s Hospital when he first arrived in 1979. Over the course of his distinguished 25 year career, Dr. Fishman built a program focused on training, research, and providing the best care for children with neurological problems. It was during his time at Texas Children’s that the neurology program flourished into the outstanding service it is today. 

  • 1973 - Established the first neurophysiology service in led by Dr. Peter Kellaway, a leader in the field of neonatal and pediatric electroencephalography (EEG) to diagnose seizure disorders
  • 1984 – Collaborative effort between Texas Children’s departments of Neurology and Pulmonology  to study the area of the brain that controls breathing and sleeping with Dr. Carol Rosen and Dr. Daniel G. Glaze
  • 1987 - Pioneered the classification of neonatal seizures led by Drs. Eli Mizrahi  and Kellaway
  • 1999 - Dr. Huda Zoghbi made a land mark discovery in neurological research when she identified the defective gene, MECP2, that causes Rett Syndrome, a genetic neurological disease that usually affects young girls

In 2004, Dr. Fishman recognized the need to continue to push boundaries with a new strategic vision. It was at this time that Dr. Fishman stepped down from his administrative duties, and relinquished responsibility to a new chief – Dr. Gary Clark. Dr. Clark carries the torch and continues to lead the division to the next frontier. 


A long way from the half day clinic of more than 40 years ago, now the Neuroscience Center at Texas Children’s Hospital is a comprehensive destination for children suffering from common neurological conditions like epilepsy and muscular dystrophy to more complex and rare disorders like lissencephaly and Rett Syndrome. Learn more about the Neuroscience Center -  By the Numbers.

In the Neuroscience Center, expert teams of neurologists, specially trained doctors in investigating and diagnosing neurological conditions, come together with neurosurgeons, to deliver complete care in specialty clinics. The Neuroscience Center is comprised of these areas of expertise:

  • Neurology
  • Neurosurgery
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neurological Critical Care
  • Genetics

Neurological Research

Research – it’s part of our DNA and it’s engrained in our mission – to create a healthier future for children and women throughout our global community by leading in patient care, education and research. 

A large component of accelerating pediatric neurological research came in 1988, when The Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Foundation was established by senior executives of the Houston-based companies founded by the late Gordon Cain, a pioneer in the chemical industry. This Foundation funds pediatric epilepsy research at the Gordon and Mary Cain Pediatric Neurology Research Laboratories, and seeks to identify underlying molecular causes and potential therapies for devastating childhood catastrophic epilepsies.

Again, in 1998, the mission for research expanded as the Blue Bird Circle aligned with Texas Children’s Hospital, further advancing the access to grants and volunteers for what is today known as the Texas Children’s Blue Bird Circle Clinic for Pediatric Neurology.

The Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute at Texas Children’s Hospital® 

In December 2010, under the visionary leadership of Dr. Huda Zoghbi, the Jan and Dan Duncan Neurological Research Institute (NRI) at Texas Children’s opened. The NRI is the world’s first basic research institute to use a multidisciplinary research approach to understand and treat childhood neurological disorders. 

The NRI includes more than 400,000 square feet of advanced research and office space. A $15 million grant from the NIH funded the build out of a new laboratory floor, a customized nuclear magnetic resonance imaging suite and additional vivarium space.
The past year saw many exciting advances from the NRI, including:

  • A compelling study published in Nature by NRI director Dr. Huda Zoghbi’s team recently showed that stimulating neurons of a specific brain region with electric pulses can restore cognitive ability in mice suffering from Rett syndrome.
  • A recent paper published in Molecular Cell by De. Christian Schaaf and colleagues described how mutation in MAGEL2, TRIM27 and USP7 gene triad causes Prader-Willi or Schaaf-Yang syndromes in seven affected individuals.
  • A study from Dr. Benjamin Deneen’s lab provides novel insights on how brain injuries in newborns can be repaired.