Tristan T. Sands, MD, PhD

  • Assistant Professor of Neurology at CUMC
Tristan T. Sands, MD, PhD

Tristan Sands, MD, PhD is an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Irving Medical Center (CUIMC) in the Division of Child Neurology and the Institute for Genomic Medicine (IGM).

Dr. Sands completed his child neurology residency at the University of California, San Francisco under the mentorship of Dr. Roberta Cilio and epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology fellowships at Columbia University Irving Medical Center under the tutelage of Dr. Cigdem Akman and Dr. James Riviello.

Dr. Sands is a pediatric and neonatal neurologist and epileptologist with clinical and research experience in seizures, epilepsies and epileptic encephalopathies resulting from genetic causes. His research into treatments for genetic epilepsy has demonstrated that benign familial neonatal seizures caused by mutation of the KCNQ2 and KCNQ3 genes show a universal response to carbamazepine and that early use of carbamazepine reduces the length of hospital admission for these newborns.

Dr. Sands will be evaluating epilepsy patients with putative genetic etiologies in a new Translational Medicine Clinic for the Genetic Epilepsies and conducting research on precision medicine for the genetic epilepsies with the IGM.

Boards and other certifications:

ABPN – Epilepsy

Additional clinical expertise:

Genetic causes of epilepsy, including but not limited to, variants in KCNQ2, KCNQ3, SCN1A, SCN2A, SCN8A, KCNT1, CDKL5, PCDH19, KCNH1, SYNGAP1, DEPDC5, PIGW, DYRK1A, ARX, STXBP1, NBEA, DNM1, TSC1, TSC2, KANSL1, etc.

Departmental Appointments

  • Department of Neurology
    Division of Child Neurology

Board Certifications

  • Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology

Areas of Expertise

  • Neurogenetics
  • Lennox-Gastaut syndrome
  • Epilepsy with Myoclonic-Atonic Seizures (Myoclonic-Astatic Epilepsy, Doose syndrome)
  • West syndrome
  • Ohtahara syndrome and Early Myoclonic Encephalopathy
  • Benign Neonatal Epilepsy
  • Genetic Epilepsies
  • Neonatal Neurology
  • Pediatric Epilepsy
  • Pediatric Neurology
  • Epileptic Encephalopathies
  • Neonatal Epilepsy
  • Neonatal and Infantile Epileptic Encephalopathies
  • Aicardi syndrome
  • Dravet syndrome
  • Electrical Status Epilepticus during Sleep (ESES) and the Landau–Kleffner syndrome
  • Epileptic Seizures

Education & Training

  • MD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Residency: University of California San Francisco Medical Center
  • Fellowship: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center


  • CUMC/Neurological Institute of New York

    710 West 168th Street
    New York, NY 10032
    For new and current patient appointments, call:
    (212) 342-6867
    (212) 342-6865
  • CUMC/Harkness Pavilion

    180 Fort Washington Avenue
    Floor: 5
    New York, NY 10032
    For new and current patient appointments, call:
    (212) 342-6867
    (212) 342-6865
  • ColumbiaDoctors West 86th Street

    21 West 86th Street
    New York, NY 10024
    For new and current patient appointments, call:
    (212) 342-6867
    (212) 342-6865

Provider Affiliations

  • NewYork-Presbyterian/Columbia
  • NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital

Insurance Programs

Please contact the provider's office directly to verify that your particular insurance is accepted.

  • Aetna [EPO, HMO, Medicare Managed Care, NY Signature, NYP Employee Plan, POS, PPO, Signature Administrators, Student Health]
  • Affinity [Essential Plan, Medicaid Managed Care]
  • Amida Care [Special Needs Plan]
  • Cigna [EPO, Great West, HMO, POS, PPO]
  • Emblem/GHI [Medicare Managed Care, PPO]
  • Emblem/HIP [ConnectiCare, EPO, Essential Plan, HMO, Medicaid Managed Care, Medicare Managed Care, POS, PPO, Select Care (Exchange), Vytra]
  • Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield [Blue Access (Exchange), EPO, Gatekeeper (Exchange), HMO, Medicare Managed Care, Pathway (Exchange), POS, PPO]
  • Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield HealthPlus [Child/Family Health Plus, Essential Plan, Medicaid Managed Care]
  • Fidelis Care [Child/Family Health Plus, Medicaid Managed Care, Medicare Managed Care]
  • Healthfirst [Child/Family Health Plus, Leaf (Exchange), Medicaid Managed Care, Medicare Managed Care]
  • Local 1199 [Local 1199]
  • MagnaCare [MagnaCare]
  • Multiplan [Multiplan]
  • MVP Health Care [Child/Family Health Plus, Essential Plan, HMO, Medicaid Managed Care]
  • Oxford Health Plans [Freedom, Liberty, Medicare Managed Care]
  • UnitedHealthcare [Columbia University Employee Plan, Compass (Exchange), HMO, Medicaid (Community Plan), Medicare Managed Care, POS, PPO]
  • VNSNY CHOICE [Medicare Managed Care, SelectHealth, Special Needs Plan]
  • WellCare [Medicaid Managed Care, Medicare Managed Care]

This provider sees pediatric patients

This provider accepts new patients

Appointment Phone Number: (646) 426-3876

Teaching Responsibilities

Lectures in the Basic and Clinical Neuroscience Course, CUMC, 2017-

Neurology Rotation Preceptor, CUMC, 2017-

Neuroanatomy Teaching Assistant, UCSF, 2013-2015

3rd Year Medical Student Neurological Examination Preceptor, UCSF, 2013-2015

1st Year Medical Student Neurological Examination Instructor and Evaluator, UCSF, 2013-2015

Honors & Awards

American Epilepsy Society Young Investigator Award, 2017
Exceptional Physician (P.R.I.D.E.) Award, UCSF, 2012


Original Research

  • Sands, TT, Balestri, M, Bellini, G, et al.  Rapid and safe response to low dose carbamazepine of neonatal epilepsy.  Epilepsia. 2016 Dec;57(12):2019-2030.
  • Sands, TT, Nash, K, Tong, S, Sullivan, J.  Focal seizures in children with anti-NMDA receptor antibody encephalitis. 2015. Epilepsy Res. 112:31-6.

Invited Presentations

  • Sands, TT. “The phenotypic spectrum of KCNQ2–associated neonatal epilepsies” in Neonatal Genetic Epilepsies: A Personalized Medicine Approach. Invited Science Session, Pediatric Academic Societies. San Francisco, May, 2017.

Review Articles

  • Sands TT, Choi H. Genetic Testing in Pediatric Epilepsy. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2017 May;17(5):45.
  • Sands, TT & McDonough, TL. Recent Advances in Neonatal Seizures. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2016 Oct; 16(10):92.

Book Chapters

  • Cilio, M. & Sands, TT. "Neonatal Onset Epilepsies" in Neonatology: Questions and Controversies, 6th Ed. In Press.
  • Cilio, M. & Sands, TT. "Genetics of Epilepsy" in Swaiman's Pediatric Neurology. 6th Ed. Jun 15, 2017.
  • Sands, TT, Kedzierski, K, Makhani, N. “NMDA Receptor Antibody Encephalitis” in Pediatric Demyelinating Diseases of the Central Nervous System and Their Mimics: A Case-Based Clinical Guide. 1st Ed. Oct 27, 2017.


  • Sands TT, Miceli F, Lesca G, et al. Autism with benzodiazepine-responsive electrical status epilepticus in sleep (ESES) caused by KCNQ3 gain-of-function variants. Abstract. American Epilepsy Society. Washington DC, 2017.
  • Sands TT, Oldham, MS, Nunes, E, Cilio, MR. Apneic seizures in neonates. Abstract. American Epilepsy Society. Houston, 2016.
  • Sands, TT, Balestri, M, Bellini, G, et al.  Benign Familial Neonatal Seizures Exquisitely Sensitive to Carbamazepine. Abstract. American Epilepsy Society. Washington DC, 2015.

For a complete list of publications, please visit