Tristan T. Sands, MD, PHD

Pediatric Neurology
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Treats Children
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Tristan T. Sands, MD, PhD is Assistant Professor in the Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons (Columbia VP&S) Departments of Neurology and Pediatrics. He is a pediatric neurologist who treats children and babies suffering from epilepsy and a physician scientist with expertise in genetic causes of epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disease.
Dr. Sands completed his MD-PhD at Columbia VP&S through a Medical Scientist Training Program with thesis work in lab of Dr. Arnold Kriegstein. During child neurology residency at UCSF, Dr. Sands trained in electroclinical phenotyping of the epilepsies under Dr. M. Roberta Cilio. After finishing his clinical training at Columbia VP&S in epilepsy and clinical neurophysiology with Dr. Jim Riviello, Dr. Sands joined Columbia VP&S as faculty in 2017, first training in neurogenetics at the Institute for Genomic Medicine, and then returning to the bench to study genetic epilepsy using mouse models under the mentorship of Dr. Wayne Frankel.
Dr. Sands has worked closely with families to treat hundreds of children with epilepsy. He is the author of chapters on pediatric epilepsy and genetic epilepsy in major textbooks in the field of neurology, including Merritt’s Neurology and Swaiman’s Pediatric Neurology. Dr. Sands has served as an expert on ClinGen’s epilepsy gene curation panel since 2017. In 2023, Dr. Sands was named Fellow of the American Epilepsy Society in recognition of professional accomplishment and dedication in the field of epilepsy.
Dr. Sands is a 2024 Louis V. Gerstner Scholar. His research contributions include demonstration of the exquisite efficacy of carbamazepine for neonatal epilepsy caused by inherited loss-of-function variants in KCNQ2 and KCNQ3, work that led to changes to the International League against Epilepsy guidelines and recommendations on the treatment of seizures in newborn babies. Dr. Sands reported the electroclinical characterization of a new gain-of-function phenotype caused by de novo variants in KCNQ3. Dr. Sands reported variants in NBEA as a cause epilepsy and neurodevelopment, and he characterized the largest cohort of patients with epilepsy and neurodevelopmental disability caused by pathogenic variants in CSNK2B.
The Sands "END (Epilepsy & Neurodevelopmental Disease) Laboratory," established in 2022 in the Center for Translational Research in Neurodevelopmental Disease (CTRND), uses mouse and human cellular models to identify convergent disease mechanisms and novel therapeutic strategies for epilepsy and encephalopathy caused by rare genetic mutations. These research efforts are supported by federal grants from both NIH and private agencies.

Areas of Expertise / Conditions Treated

  • Developmental & Epileptic Encephalopathy
  • Drug resistant epilepsy
  • Genetic Epilepsies
  • Neonatal and Infantile Epileptic Encephalopathies

Academic Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics

Hospital Affiliations

  • NewYork-Presbyterian / Columbia University Irving Medical Center
  • NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital


  • Male

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180 Fort Washington Avenue
New York, NY 10032

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  • Child/Family Health Plus
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Credentials & Experience

Education & Training

  • MD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
  • Residency: University of California San Francisco Medical Center
  • Residency: 2015 University Of California At San Francisco
  • Fellowship: NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center

Board Certifications

  • Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology

Honors & Awards

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


Selected Publications

Original Research

  • Autism and developmental disability caused by KCNQ3 gain-of-function variants. Ann Neurol. 2019 Jun 8. Sands TT, Miceli F, Lesca G, Beck AE, Sadleir LG, Arrington DK, Schönewolf-Greulich B, Moutton S, Lauritano A, Nappi P, Soldovieri MV, Scheffer IE, Mefford HC, Stong N, Heinzen EL, Goldstein DB, Grijalvo Perez A, Kossoff EH, Stocco A, Sullivan JA, Shashi V, Gerard B, Francannet C, Bisgaard AM, Tümer Z, Willems M, Rivier F, Vitobello A, Thakkar K, Rajan DS, Barkovich AJ, Weckhuysen S, Cooper EC, Taglialatela M, Cilio MR.

  • The Epilepsy Genetics Initiative: Systematic reanalysis of diagnostic exomes increases yield. Epilepsia. 2019 May;60(5):797-806. Epilepsy Genetics Initiative.

  • Long-term safety, tolerability, and efficacy of cannabidiol in children with refractory epilepsy: results from an expanded access program in the US. CNS Drugs. 2019 Jan; 33(1):47-60. Sands TT, Oldham MS, Caminha Nunes E, Tilton N, Cilio MR.

  • The ClinGen Epilepsy Gene Curation Expert Panel-Bridging the divide between clinical domain knowledge and formal gene curation criteria. Hum Mutat. 2018 Nov;39(11):1476-1484. Helbig I, Riggs ER, Barry CA, Klein KM, Dyment D, Thaxton C, Sadikovic B, Sands TT, Wagnon JL, Liaquat K, Cilio MR, Mirzaa G, Park K, Axeen E, Butler E, Bardakjian TM, Striano P, Poduri A, Siegert RK, Grant AR, Helbig KL, Mefford HC.

  • NBEA: Developmental disease gene with early generalized epilepsy phenotypes. Ann Neurol. 2018 Sep 30. Mulhern MS, Stumpel C, Stong N, Brunner HG, Bier L, Lippa N, Riviello J, Rouhl RPW, Kempers M, Pfundt R, Stegmann APA, Kukolich MK, Telegrafi A, Lehman A; CAUSES study, Lopez-Rangel E, Houcinat N, Barth M, den Hollander N, Hoffer MJV, Weckhuysen S; EuroEPINOMICS-RES-MAE working group, Roovers J, Djemie T, Barca D, Ceulemans B, Craiu D, Lemke JR, Korff C, Mefford HC, Meyers CT, Siegler Z, Hiatt SM, Cooper GM, Bebin EM, Snijders Blok L, Veenstra-Knol HE, Baugh EH, Brilstra EH, Volker-Touw CML, van Binsbergen E, Revah-Politi A, Pereira E, McBrian D, Pacault M, Isidor B, Le Caignec C, Gilbert-Dussardier B, Bilan F, Heinzen EL, Goldstein DB, Stevens SJC, Sands TT.

  • Refining the phenotype associated with GNB1 mutations: Clinical data on 18 newly identified patients and review of the literature. Am J Med Genet A. 2018 Sep 8. Hemati P, Revah-Politi A, Bassan H, Petrovski S, Bilancia CG, Ramsey K, Griffin NG, Bier L, Cho MT, Rosello M, Lynch SA, Colombo S, Weber A, Haug M, Heinzen EL, Sands TT, Narayanan V, Primiano M, Aggarwal VS, Millan F, Sattler-Holtrop SG, Caro-Llopis A, Pillar N, Baker J, Freedman R, Kroes HY, Sacharow S, Stong N, Lapunzina P, Schneider MC, Mendelsohn NJ, Singleton A, Loik Ramey V, Wou K, Kuzminsky A, Monfort S, Weiss M, Doyle S, Iglesias A, Martinez F, Mckenzie F, Orellana C, van Gassen KLI, Palomares M, Bazak L, Lee A, Bircher A, Basel-Vanagaite L, Hafström M, Houge G; C4RCD Research Group; DDD study, Goldstein DB, Anyane-Yeboa K.

  • Lack of response to quinidine in KCNT1-related neonatal epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2018 Sep 4. Numis AL, Nair U, Datta AN, Sands TT, Oldham MS, Patel A, Li M, Gazina E, Petrou S, Cilio MR.

  • De novo variants in the alternative exon 5 of SCN8A cause epileptic encephalopathy. Genet Med. 2018 Feb;20(2):275-281. Epilepsy Genetics Initiative.

  • Rapid and safe response to low dose carbamazepine in neonatal epilepsy. Epilepsia. 2016 Dec; 57(12):2019-2030. Sands TT, Balestri M, Bellini G, Mulkey SB, Danhaive O, Bakken EH, Taglialatela M, Oldham MS, Vigevano F, Holmes GL, Cilio MR.

  • Focal seizures in children with anti-NMDA receptor antibody encephalitis. Epilepsy Res. 2015 May; 112:31-6. Sands TT, Nash K, Tong S, Sullivan J.

Invited Presentations

  • "Genetic landscape of epilepsy" in Child Neurology: Genetic and Metabolic Testing in Pediatric Epilepsy. American Academy of Neurology. Philadephia, May 2019.

  • "The genetics of epilepsy" 6th Human Genetics in NYC Conference, New York, Oct 2018.

  • "Advances in neurogenetics: epilepsy" in Advances in Neurogenetics. American Academy of Neurology. Los Angeles, April 2018.

  • "The genetics of epilepsy" and "Neonatal seizures" 7th Pedia Dubai International Pediatric Conference, Dubai, April 2018.

  • "The genetics of epilepsy" in Managing Epilpesy: Many Routes on the Journey to Full Control. New York, Sept 2017.

  • "The phenotypic spectrum of KCNQ-associated neonatal epilepsies" in Neonatal Genetic Epilepsies: A Personalized Medicine Approach. Invited Science Session, Pediatric Academic Societies. San Francisco, May 2017.

Review Articles

  • Rasmussen Encephalitis: An Update. Semin Neurol. 2020 Mar 17. Cay-Martinez KC, Hickman RA, McKhann Ii GM, Provenzano FA, Sands TT.

  • Neonatal Epilepsies: Clinical management. Semin Fetal Neonatal Med. 2018 Jan 31. Cornet MC, Sands TT, Cilio MR.

  • Genetic Testing in Pediatric Epilepsy. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2017 May. 17(5):45. Sands TT & Choi H.

  • Recent Advances in Neonatal Seizures. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2016 Oct. 16(10):92. Sands TT & McDonough TL.

Book Chapters

  • "Seizures and Epilepsies in Neonates and Children" in Merritt's Neurology, 14th Ed. In Press. Sands TT & Cilio MR.

  • "GNB1 Encephalopathy" in: GeneReviews® [Internet]. Mar 5, 2020. Revah-Politi A, Sands TT, Colombo S, Goldstein DB, Anyane-Yeboa K.

  • "Neonatal Seizures" in Workbook in Practical Neonatology, 6th Ed. In Press. Sands TT & Akman CI.

  • "Neonatal Onset Epilepsies" in Neurology: Neonatology: Questions and Controversies, 3rd Ed. Sept 17, 2018. Cilio MR & Sands TT.

  • "Genetics of Epilepsy" in Swaiman's Pediatric Neurology, 6th Ed. Jun 15, 2017. Cilio MR & Sands TT.

  • "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, Kedzierski K, Makhani N.

Abstracts & Platforms

  • PIGW-associated early-onset developmental & epileptic encephalopathy. Abstract. American Epilepsy Society. Baltimore, Dec 2019. Bhalla S, McBrian D, Tanji K, Sands TT.

  • A novel variant in the S4 voltage-sensor of KCNQ3 implicated in Benign Familial Neonatal Epilepsy. Abstract. International Kv7 Channels Symposium. Naples, September 2019. Sands TT, Miceli F, Stong, N, Goldstein DB, Mandel A, Cilio MR, Heinzen EL, Taglialatela M, Cooper EC.

  • Pediatric longitudinal cortical thickness pipeline maps atrophy in Rasmussen Encephalitis. Abstract. Human Brain Mapping. Rome, June 2019. Provenzano F, Sands TT.

  • Autism with benzodiazepine-responsive electrical status epilepticus in sleep (ESES) caused by KCNQ3 gain-of-function variants. Platform presentation. 3rd Dianalund International Conference on Epilepsy. Denmark, June 2018. Sands TT, Miceli F, Lesca G, Beck A, Cimino M, Stong N, Heinzen EL, Goldstein DB, Lowenstein DB, Weckhuysen S, Cooper EC, Taglialatela M, Cilio MR.

  • Autism with benzodiazepine-responsive electrical status epilepticus in sleep (ESES) caused by KCNQ3 gain-of-function variants. Abstract. American Epilepsy Society. Washington DC, Dec 2017. Sands TT, Miceli F, Lesca G, Beck A, Cimino M, Stong N, Heinzen E, Goldstein DB, Lowenstein DB, Weckhuysen S, Cooper EC, Taglialatela M, Cilio MR.

  • Apneic seizures in neonates. Abstract. American Epilepsy Society. Vancouver, Dec 2016. Sands TT, Oldham MS, Nunes E, Cilio MR.

  • Benign Familial Neonatal Seizures Exquisitely Sensitive to Carbamazepine. Abstract. American Epilepsy Society. Washington DC, Dec 2015. Sands TT, Balestri M, Bellini G, Mulkey SB, Danhaive O, Bakken EH, Taglialatela M, Oldham MS, Vigevano F, Holmes GL, Cilio MR.