An image of S. Katie Z. Ihnen, MD, PhD.

S. Katie Z. Ihnen, MD, PhD

  • Member, Division of Neurology
  • Assistant Professor, UC Department of Pediatrics
I try to put the child at the center of my interactions with the family, whether that child is a toddler, a school-age kiddo or a teenager. I also strive to let parents know that I value their input in the medical decision-making process, because that partnership of care is critical.



I’m a child neurologist specializing in pediatric epilepsy and pediatric drug-refractory epilepsy. My goal is to take a holistic view of each patient and consider the neurologic problems in the context of the patient’s life circumstances and other medical issues. I strive to keep in mind the importance of effective communication. I know that if I am unable to explain diagnoses and treatments clearly to my patients and families, I have not done my job.

In graduate school, I started out pursuing neuroscience research but quickly realized I also wanted a career in medicine. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to help people in a concrete, hands-on way that is different from how researchers work to help humanity. From there, choosing to become a brain doctor for kids was easy because kids are fun, resilient, silly, fascinating and inspirational. And the brain is the most exciting part of the body (obviously)!

I approach each patient and family by attempting to figure out what they seek from my care. I believe that if we as physicians listen well enough, our patients will tell us what the problem is —and usually what the answer is, too. I try to put the child at the center of my interactions with the family, whether that child is a toddler, a school-age kiddo or a teenager. I also strive to let parents know that I value their input in the medical decision-making process, because that partnership of care is critical.

When I’m not taking care of patients, I still love pursuing brain research. Broadly, my research aims to better understand epilepsy, especially epilepsy that is resistant to treatment with medications. I’m particularly interested in studying epilepsy in children with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC). My primary project asks whether electrically induced seizures during invasive electroencephalography (EEG) monitoring can provide helpful information for defining the surgical target for pediatric epilepsy surgery candidates. I am deeply grateful to the patients and families who participate in research studies like mine to help us take better care of kids.

In 2021, I was honored to be among the five winners of the Thomas F. Boat Lecture Series, selected from among all Cincinnati Children’s clinical fellow research projects. For this, I was invited to present during the lecture series and also at Pediatric Grand Rounds. I also received the May Liang & James Lintott Scholarship, awarded by the Epilepsy Foundation at the Epilepsy Foundation Pipeline Conference (2022). I was chosen as the pediatric epilepsy applicant with the most promise for improving the lives of people with epilepsy — big shoes to fill, indeed.

I am excited to have begun a new path as a Child Neurologist Career Development Program (CNCDP) K12 scholar (2022). This nationally competitive National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded grant facilitates a 3-year research project examining the value of electrically induced seizures for defining surgical targets in children with drug-refractory epilepsy.

One experience outside of medicine and science that fundamentally informed how I approach the world was the time I spent studying abroad in Italy during and after college. I’m so grateful for having had the rich experience of being immersed in a foreign language and culture and getting to exist outside of my comfort zone. These days with my free time, I enjoy hanging out with my family, attempting crossword puzzles and running. I’m also a proud native of Cincinnati.

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Comparison of outcomes after stereoelectroencephalography and subdural grid monitoring in pediatric tuberous sclerosis complex. Larrew, T; Skoch, J; Ihnen, SK Z; Arya, R; Holland, KD; Tenney, JR; Horn, PS; Leach, JL; Krueger, DA; Greiner, HM; et al. Neurosurgical Focus. 2022; 53.


Epilepsy Is Heterogeneous in Early-Life Tuberous Sclerosis Complex. Ihnen, SK Z; Capal, JK; Horn, PS; Griffith, M; Sahin, M; Bebin, EM; Wu, JY; Northrup, H; Krueger, DA. Pediatric Neurology. 2021; 123:1-9.


Electrical Stimulation Mapping of Brain Function: A Comparison of Subdural Electrodes and Stereo-EEG. Grande, KM; Ihnen, SK Z; Arya, R. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. 2020; 14.


Separable roles for attentional control sub-systems in reading tasks: a combined behavioral and fMRI study. Ihnen, SK Z; Petersen, SE; Schlaggar, BL. Cerebral Cortex. 2015; 25:1198-1218.


Developmental changes in the organization of functional connections between the basal ganglia and cerebral cortex. Greene, DJ; Laumann, TO; Dubis, JW; Ihnen, SK; Neta, M; Power, JD; Pruett, JR; Black, KJ; Schlaggar, BL. Journal of Neuroscience. 2014; 34:5842-5854.


Lack of generalizability of sex differences in the fMRI BOLD activity associated with language processing in adults. Ihnen, SK Z; Church, JA; Petersen, SE; Schlaggar, BL. NeuroImage. 2009; 45:1020-1032.

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