Matthias A. Karajannis, MD, MS

Pediatric Neuro-Oncologist

Chief of Neuro-Oncology Service

Conditions Treated

Matthias A.  Karajannis, MD, MS
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About Me

I am a pediatric neuro-oncologist who has cared for children with brain tumors, spinal cord tumors, and neurofibromatosis for 11 years. As Chief of Neuro-Oncology Service Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering, I feel privileged to be a part of a community of the most dedicated clinicians and scientists in the world. We are all committed to our young patients with brain tumors and driven to accelerate progress in the way we diagnose and care for them.

I went to medical school during a time when rapid progress was made in treating children with cancer using chemotherapy, particularly in children with leukemia. I witnessed the power of combining interdisciplinary collaboration, laboratory research, and careful clinical research to turn once-deadly diseases into curable conditions. After completing pediatric residency training and a fellowship in pediatric hematology/oncology, I decided to pursue additional training in pediatric neuro-oncology. I realized that despite progress, many children with brain tumors still had poor prognoses and were in urgent need of new, more-effective, and less-toxic therapies.

At MSK, we have the most skilled and experienced medical and surgical specialists, who are experts in caring for children with brain tumors. We rely on each other, first and foremost, to make the most accurate and precise diagnoses. Because of recent advancements in our molecular diagnostics capabilities, we have the unprecedented ability to distinguish brain tumors that may look the same under the microscope but have very different clinical behavior and treatment requirements. These advancements also allow us to identify vulnerabilities in individual tumors that may be treatable with molecularly targeted drugs. This is called precision medicine and holds tremendous potential for treating subsets of our patients.

Once we establish a diagnosis, our team of experts — together with the patient and his or her family — creates a personalized treatment plan. These range from careful observation for some patients with low-grade or benign tumors to aggressive therapies using many different treatments, possibly including surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or immunotherapy. We also take into consideration the wide array of clinical trials for children with brain tumors offered at MSK and incorporate them into care plans whenever possible. For each patient, our goal is to achieve the best possible outcomes while minimizing any toxic effects of treatment.

My research translates findings from the laboratory into better ways to diagnose and treat children and young adults with brain tumors. I am currently the principal investigator of several early-phase clinical trials for patients with neurofibromatosis, with the goal of finding new treatment strategies for this inheritable condition that predisposes people to multiple nervous-system tumors. I am also actively involved as an investigator in cooperative clinical trial groups such as the Children’s Oncology Group and the Pediatric Brain Tumor Consortium.

I recognize that a cancer diagnosis is perhaps the most difficult and challenging time in the life of a child and his or her family, and I know that each situation is unique. To that end, all patients and families should know that we have a team of experts who will be with them throughout the entire experience — from diagnosis through treatment and into long-term follow up care. We are a team, and we are here to make sure that our patients have the best possible outcomes. 

  • Clinical Expertise: Brain and Spinal Cord Tumors; Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumors; Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis, Neurofibromatosis
  • Languages Spoken: English; French; German
  • Education: MS, New York University School of Medicine; MD, Free University Berlin
  • Residencies: Pediatrics – Duke University Medical Center
  • Fellowships: Pediatric Hematology/Oncology – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Pediatric Neuro-Oncology – Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
  • Board Certifications: General Pediatrics; Pediatric Hematology/Oncology


Visit PubMed for a full listing of Matthias A. Karajannis’ journal articles

Pubmed is an online index of biomedical articles maintained by the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

Clinical Trials

Research is integral to our mission at Memorial Sloan Kettering, and clinical trials help us discover better forms of patient care and treatment. For you, this could mean access to a new therapy or therapy combination. Click to see a list of the trials I’m currently leading.


Most major health insurers offer plans that include MSK as one of their in-network providers. If MSK is in-network, it means all our doctors are too. Medicare and New York State Medicaid also provide benefits for care at MSK.

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