Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery
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The Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery, or NICN, is a component of the UCSF William H. Tooley Intensive Care Nursery. The NICN provides specialized, high-level care for infants at risk for neurological injury. We treat babies with conditions such as stroke, hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, seizures, intraventricular hemorrhage, arteriovenous malformations, genetic disorders, brain malformations, extreme prematurity and other related conditions.

Founded in 2008, the NICN was the first program of its kind in the country, and continues to remain the leader in "brain-focused" neonatal care. Currently, UCSF is one of just a handful of hospitals nationwide that provide the highest level of care to this vulnerable population. Many of our patients are transported to UCSF from other hospitals within California and from across the country.

The NICN team consists of world-renowned specialists — board certified neonatologists, neonatal neurologists, pediatric surgeons, neuroradiologists, specially trained NICN nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners trained in neonatal neurology and others — as well as many other care providers, such as respiratory care therapists, physical and occupational therapists, palliative care specialists, social workers and lactation consultants. The entire team works together to provide our patients with the best care modern medicine has to offer, around the clock.

  • Hear an interview with Dr. Sonia Bonifacio, a neonatologist, who discusses hypothermia treatment to prevent brain damage in newborns, and Kelsey Dimitropoulos, whose son Luke was born without a heartbeat but survived after undergoing treatment in the Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery.

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Our Services

UCSF NICN "brain-focused" care includes:

  • A fully integrated team of renowned specialists and highly trained staff, all dedicated to delivering optimal care and improving outcomes for newborns at risk of brain injury.
  • Advanced continuous monitoring of brain activity and function to guide diagnosis and treatment of neonatal seizures.
  • Advanced evaluation with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), using MRI-compatible incubators. Imaging tests pinpoint the location of brain injury and guide diagnosis and treatment.
  • Access to hypothermia treatment, which involves cooling a newborn's brain and body by a few degrees immediately after birth to treat hypoxic (lack of oxygen) brain injury. This treatment is now standard care for full-term infants with hypoxic brain injury. UCSF can provide hypothermia treatment to even the very sickest babies who require ECMO, a type of bypass used to support infants with respiratory failure.
  • Rapid diagnosis and expert management of vascular malformations, or AVMs.
  • Neurosurgical services and follow-up neurological care for babies born with spina bifida.
  • Long-term comprehensive follow-up of our patients to assess their neurological health, identify any needs for treatment and facilitate access to services.
  • The opportunity to enroll in cutting-edge research clinical trials designed to test new therapies for brain injury.


In addition to providing the highest level of care, a large part of the NICN's mission is to continually improve upon that level of care — and thus the outcomes — for this population of patients. UCSF's Intensive Care Nursery is responsible for discovering many of the therapies and treatments now used as standard care for critically ill infants.

We have many ongoing research trials in our Neonatal Clinical Research Center. Should your family choose to participate, special research doctors and nurses in the NICN will coordinate your child's care within the study.

Family-Centered Care

Having a child in the NICN can be a highly stressful experience for families. The NICN staff wants you to feel as involved, informed and as comfortable as possible with your baby's care. We encourage parents to ask as many questions as they need.

In addition, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital offers a variety of services to help support your family during your baby's hospital stay, which are listed below under "Patient Services."

A handbook for parents, "Comforting Your Baby in Intensive Care," is available for free download in the iTunes store. The handbook teaches parents how pain works and how they can partner with their baby's care team to keep their baby comfortable during a stay in intensive care.

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Getting Here

Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery
UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital
1975 Fourth St., Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1565
Fax: (415) 353-1202


Parking at Mission Bay

Public parking options at UCSF's Mission Bay campus include:

Weekdays: $3.75/hour
Daily Maximum: $30/day

More Information

Download a Mission Bay campus map

Public Transportation

UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay is accessible via the following Muni bus routes:

  • 22
  • 55
  • T-Third Street line

More Information

(415) 673-6864 (MUNI)
SFMTA website

UCSF Shuttles

Free UCSF shuttles connect the Mission Bay campus with our Mount Zion and Parnassus campuses as well as other UCSF locations and the 16th Street BART station.

More Information

Shuttle routes and timetables
Shuttle system map
Shuttle hotline: (415) 476-4646 (GOGO)

Referring Physicians

Information for Referring Physicians

Address: UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco
505 Parnassus Ave., 15th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94143
Referrals and provider consultation: 24/7 Access Center
Phone: (877) 822-4453 (UC-CHILD)
Fax: (415) 353-4485
Maps and directions:


The Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN) at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco was the first program of its kind in the United States. An integral part of the Pediatric Brain Center, the NICN provides a unique model of brain-focused care that incorporates the combined expertise of board-certified neonatologists, neonatal neurologists, neonatal epileptologists, pediatric neurosurgeons and neuroradiologists. This multidisciplinary team delivers a novel approach to evaluation and treatment designed to provide the most effective care for newborns at high risk for short-term brain injury and long-term disability.


  • World leaders in neonatology, neonatal neurology, neonatal neuroradiology, neonatal epilepsy and interventional radiology.
  • The first MRI-compatible incubator was developed at UCSF and allows for safer and easier MRI imaging of extremely premature infants.
  • The nursery was one of the first to use hypothermia to reduce neurological damage in babies with neonatal hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE).
  • Continuous video-EEG (24/7) application and interpretation.

Conditions Treated

  • Arterial stroke and sinovenous thrombosis
  • Arteriovenous malformations (AVM), including vein of Galen
  • CNS infections
  • CNS malformations (including myelomeningocele)
  • Congenital CNS tumors
  • Inborn error of metabolism
  • Intracranial hemorrhage
  • Neonatal encephalopathy, includinghypoxic ischemic encephalopathy (HIE)
  • Neonatal-onset epilepsies
  • Neuromuscular disorders
  • Seizures

Criteria for Referral

  • Abnormal brain imaging or brain monitoring
  • Brain malformation
  • Concerning neurological exam findings
  • Seizures
  • Suspected perinatal HIE, stroke or AVM

Services Offered

  • Bedside aEEG monitoring
  • Comprehensive transport and continuous treatment from referring center to NICN
  • Continuous video-EEG monitoring
  • Family-centered care
  • High-Risk Infant Follow-Up (HRIF) program for children up to 5 years of age
  • Hypothermia treatment
  • Interventional neuroradiology
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS)
  • Neonatal MRI imaging
  • Neonatal neurology follow-up program
  • Pediatric palliative care program
  • Robust website with resources for physicians:

Multidisciplinary Specialists

  • The NICN offers the full spectrum of board certified, sub-specialists experienced in brain-focused care:
    • Neonatologists
    • Neonatal neurologists
    • Pediatric stroke neurologists
    • Neonatal epileptologists
    • Pediatric neurosurgeons
    • Pediatric neuroradiologists
    • Interventional neuroradiologists
  • Advanced practice nurse coordinator dedicated to NICN
  • Neonatal nurses specially trained in brain care

Innovation and Research

  • Neuroprotective study using erythropoietin (EPO) in combination with hypothermia
  • BAMRI: Birth asphyxia MRI study — Multiple MRIs correlating with follow-up and outcomes
  • PREMRI: Premature MRI study — Multiple MRIs during infant's development correlating with follow-up and outcomes
  • Study evaluating the effects of cooling therapy during transport
  • Ongoing clinical research trials for brain-focused care

Our Team

A. James Barkovich, M.D.
Pediatric neuroradiologist

Sonia L. Bonifacio, M.D.

M. Roberta Cilio M.D., Ph.D.
Neonatal epileptologist

Debby Dewar, N.N.P.
Neonatal nurse practitioner

Christopher F. Dowd, M.D.
Interventional neuroradiologist

Donna M. Ferriero, M.D., M.S.
Neonatal neurologist

Audrey E. Foster-Barber, M.D.
Child neurologist

Heather J. Fullerton, M.D.
Pediatric stroke neurologist

Hannah C. Glass, M.D.
Neonatal neurologist

Fernando Gonzalez, M.D.

Nalin Gupta, M.D., Ph.D.
Pediatric neurosurgeon

Gavin Henderson, M.D, Ph.D.

Roberta Keller, M.D.
Neonatologist / ECMO

J. Colin Partridge, M.D.

Susan Peloquin, R.N., M.S.
NICN nurse coordinator

Elizabeth E. Rogers, M.D.
Neonatologist / HRIF

David H. Rowitch, M.D., Ph.D.

Thomas Shimotake, M.D.

Joseph E. Sullivan, M.D.
Pediatric epileptologist

Yao Sun, M.D., Ph.D.

Yvonne Wu, M.D., M.P.H.
Child neurologist

Related Information

Ways to Give

Condition Information

Clinic Team

A. James Barkovich
Sonia Bonifacio
Dr. Sonia Bonifacio,
Donna Ferriero
Dr. Donna Ferriero,
pediatric neurologist
Hannah Glass
Dr. Hannah Glass,
pediatric neurologist
Elizabeth Rogers
Dr. Elizabeth Rogers,
David Rowitch
Dr. David Rowitch,
Thomas Shimotake
Dr. Thomas Shimotake,
Yao Sun
Dr. Yao Sun,
neonatologist and perinatologist
Yvonne Wu
Dr. Yvonne Wu,
pediatric neurologist