Karen L. Skjei, M.D. was inspired to pursue a career in medicine after witnessing the impact of a lack of access to medical care during her 2 years in the U.S. Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic. She attended medical school at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), followed by a pediatric neurology residency at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. She then did a 2- year fellowship in Clinical Neurophysiology/Epilepsy at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. She is active in health disparities research and founded and leads the Health Equity Committee through the Pediatric Epilepsy Research Consortium.
After serving in academic leadership positions in epilepsy for 10 years, she chose to combat health disparities directly by setting up the first pediatric epilepsy practice in El Paso, Texas, a city of 850,000 with only a single pediatric neurologist.
Internationally she has given invited lectures in English and Spanish on a variety of pediatric epilepsy topics at regional education conferences organized by the American Epilepsy Society (AES), American Academy of Neurology and the International Child Neurology Society in locations as diverse as Ecuador, Paraguay, India and the Sudan. She has been editor of the ICNA Journal Watch since its inception in 2019.
She is a fellow of the AES and has published more than 13 peer-reviewed articles and two book chapters. She has won several major awards throughout her career including the Chancellor’s Award for Public Service at UCSF, the Mayo Brother’s Distinguished Fellows award at the Mayo Clinic and the Tower Award for Outstanding Faculty at the University of Texas at Austin. She founded the Pediatric Epilepsy Fellowship at the University of Texas at Austin and has garnered several teaching awards throughout her career. Perhaps most importantly, she has inspired many trainees to enter the fields of pediatric neurology and pediatric epilepsy and continues to mentor trainee from the undergraduate level through fellowship.