Dr. Doris A. Trauner, M.D.

Dr. Doris A. Trauner has served as Interim Chair of the Department of Neurosciences as well as Chair of the Health Sciences Faculty Council, Vice-Chair of the Department of Neurosciences, and Chief of Pediatric Neurology at UCSD.

Widely recognized and respected for her academic leadership, Dr. Trauner has held a joint appointment in Neurosciences and Pediatrics since 1977. Her research emphasizes the cognitive consequences of conditions that alter brain development early in life. These include both structural and metabolic disorders affecting the developing brain. Her study subjects include children with neurodevelopment, genetic, and metabolic disorders.

She has over 140 publications, including research articles and book chapters. Dr. Trauner also maintains an active clinical practice in pediatric neurology, specializing in neurodevelopmental disorders and epileptic behavior syndromes, including Landau Kleffner syndrome. She is board-certified in Pediatrics, in Psychiatry and Neurology with Special Competence in Child Neurology, and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities. She also teaches medical students and residents, and graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Trauner has served on numerous national and local committees, including Chair of the Neurology Section of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Councilor for the Child Neurology Society, Chair of the UCSD Health Sciences Faculty Council, and Chair of the UCSD Committee on Committees, all elected positions. She currently serves on the National Institutes of Health Developmental Brain Disorders Scientific Review Panel.

In 2003, the Autism Tree Project Foundation raised $60,000 to help Dr. Trauner continue her necessary research.

More than treating a child, Doris Trauner, M.D., treats families.

When a child has a neurological condition such as autism, the entire family is impacted. It's not unusual for parents to experience a strain in their marriage, perhaps caused by the stress of dealing with a chronic condition that affects behavior and thought, or by the strain of daily medication and other therapies on time and finances. Brothers and sisters often feel neglected because parents must spend so much time with the neurologically impaired child. For Dr. Trauner, it is imperative to identify potential family issues and recommend appropriate steps toward healing, coping, and hope.

A remarkable physician

Doris Trauner maintains a schedule that would wear out the youngest medical student. In addition to her clinical practice, she runs an extensive research program, teaches med students at the University of California, San Diego, and holds the position of Senior Attending Staff, Children's Hospital and Health Center, San Diego. She has published over 100 works on cognitive development in children, including her book, Childhood Neurological Problems. Dr. Trauner's clinical goals are straightforward: "I would like to see every child be able to lead a healthy life, and to be able to reach his or her full potential whenever possible." She facilitates this by providing a holistic kind of care: When a patient comes to see Dr. Trauner, he or she receives not only the benefit of being cared for by one of the leading professionals in her field but also referrals to her associates - experts who can approach the challenge on another level, such as speech or movement therapy.

Critical Research

Dr. Trauner's research goals are even more ambitious: to identify epidemiological factors that might contribute to the development of autistic disorders and to study the role of immune function in autism. Additionally, she hopes to identify some of the core neurological deficits in autism (e.g., the neurological basis of sensory integration deficits) and to identify more specific and effective interventions for children with autistic disorders. Very simply, she is looking for cause and cure. She also hopes to learn more about the ability of the developing brain to reorganize following early insults and to develop new techniques to improve the brain's ability to reorganize and learn more effectively. She is clearly determined, and those fortunate enough to be her patients are often the direct beneficiaries of her research. Many patients participate in studies in which they are given feedback on progress. This provides a patient with more than the typical amount of information she or he might receive from another, less qualified physician.

A Team of Experts For Our Children

Dr. Trauner understands that success in working with children with neurological difficulties requires comprehensive care. In addition to seeing a neurologist, many patients benefit from the expertise of child psychologists, behavioral therapists, child psychiatrists, social workers, learning and behavior therapists, speech pathologists, occupational and physical therapists. Dr. Trauner's vision for these children is to provide a comprehensive center with multidisciplinary expertise to treat children with complex neurological conditions under one roof. It is one significant way to lighten the enormous strain on those parents who are utterly overwhelmed by the news that their child has a neurological difficulty. How will Dr. Trauner do this? By establishing a network of professionals under the auspices of the Center for Autism and Neurological Disorders. "I've spent a lot of time reading reports from other professionals, talking with them personally, asking parents their opinions, and then compiling a list of professionals that I feel have the level of expertise needed for working with children with neurological conditions." Dr. Trauner is working toward a cure, and a component of that cure requires that people get all the help they need, not just a medicine or procedure to minimize a condition. 


  • 2006 Invited speaker - University of Chicago, Festschrift for Peter Huttenlocher
  • 2006 Invited Speaker - International Cystinosis Meeting, The Netherlands
  • 2005-present Member, Developmental and Brain Disorders Study Section, NIH
  • 2005-2006 Named in Best Doctors in America, Best Doctors in America
  • 2002 Service Award - Cystinosis Foundation of the U.K.
  • 2002 Named in Best Doctors in San Diego, San Diego Magazine
  • 1996-1997, 2002, 2003 Named in Best Doctors in America, Best Doctors in America
  • 1996-1997 Senior Faculty Teaching Award, UCSD Department of Neurosciences
  • 1985 Special Recognition Award, San Diego Chapter of the Occupational Therapy Association of California
  • 1984 Award for Outstanding Service to the Department of Neurosciences UCSD Department of Neurosciences (residents)
  • 1980-1981 Neurosciences Clinical Teaching Faculty Award University of California, San Diego, CA
  • 1976 Chicago Pediatric Society Research Award, Chicago Pediatric Society
  • 1966-1968 NIH Graduate Training Fellowship, NIH
  • 1965, 1971 Summer Research Fellowship, NIH-PHS