Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery (NICN)
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UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco's Neuro-Intensive Care Nursery is a specialized neurocritical care unit serving infants in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California who are born with or are at risk for neurologic conditions.

In addition to providing the highest level of care, our mission is to continually improve the lives of children and families at risk for long-term disabilities. Investigators at UCSF's Intensive Care Nursery have discovered many of the therapies and treatments now considered standard care for critically ill infants.

Watch a video about a recent UCSF study on a potential new treatment for hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy.

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Our Team

  • Highly specialized pediatricians (neonatologists) caring for critically ill newborns
  • Neurologists who are experts in brain care for children
  • Specially trained bedside nurses who monitor the impact of critical illnesses on the developing brain
  • Pediatric neurosurgeons: Brain surgeons trained to treat infants
  • Pediatric neuroradiologists: Radiologists with expertise in newborn brain imaging

Our experts work together to diagnose, treat and rehabilitate newborns.

Family-Centered Care

Having a child in the NICN can be a highly stressful experience for families. We want parents to feel as involved, informed and comfortable as possible with their child's care and encourage them to ask as many questions as needed.

In addition, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco offers a variety of services to help support the entire family during your baby's hospital stay.

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. It also gives tips for working with your child's care team to keep your newborn comfortable during an intensive care stay.

Conditions We Treat

Our Services

  • Continuous brain monitoring (EEG) to diagnose and treat seizures and epilepsy
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to pinpoint the location of brain injury or developmental anomaly
  • Hypothermia treatment for hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, including for babies who require heart/lung bypass (ECMO)
  • Rapid diagnosis and expert management of blood vessel malformations in the brain
  • Neurosurgical services and follow-up care for children born with spina bifida or hydrocephalus
  • Long-term follow-up to assess neurological health and identify children needing special services like occupational or physical therapy
  • The opportunity to enroll in research trials to investigate the newborn brain and/or test new therapies
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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

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

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