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Rebecca C. Ahrens-Nicklas, MD, PhD
Rebecca C. Ahrens-Nicklas, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Dr. Ahrens-Nicklas works to understand why patients with inherited biochemical disorders often suffer severe, untreatable neurologic and cardiac symptoms. She strives to elucidate the link between biochemistry and network excitability, in order to drive new approaches to therapy.



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For most inborn errors of metabolism (IEM), it is not known how the biochemical defect leads to neurologic symptoms. Yet, patients often have significant, untreatable central nervous system (CNS) disease. Dr. Ahrens-Nicklas and her lab team aim to establish a mechanistic understanding of these disorders, in order to develop novel therapies that prevent or reverse their neurologic manifestations.

Dr. Ahrens-Nicklas and colleagues discovered that neuronal networks underlying learning and memory are disrupted very early in CLN3 disease, a progressive neurologic lysosomal storage disorder and the most common cause of pediatric dementia. Functional circuit defects arise before any lysosomal storage or cell death is detectable in the brain. The team is working on developing therapies aimed at stopping or reversing these pathologic circuit changes.  

Dr. Ahrens-Nicklas’ research also focuses on gene discovery, clinical characterization, and targeted-therapy development for rare and novel inherited disorders of the heart and brain. 

Education and Training

BS, Duke University (Pharmacology), 2003

PhD, Weill Cornell Medical College (Physiology and Biophysics), 2010

MD, Weill Cornell/Rockefeller University/Sloan-Kettering MD/PhD Program, 2011

Pediatrics Medical Genetics Residency and Medical Biochemical Genetics Fellowship, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2017

Titles and Academic Titles

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Attending Physician

Professional Memberships

American Academy of Neurology, 2017-

American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics, 2014-

Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism, 2014-

Society of Inborn Metabolic Disorders, 2014-

Publication Highlights